Michelle S. Russo, CHAM, MAI, CHA

Founder and CEO   


Michelle Russo has more than 25 years of practical, hands-on experience with hotels, restaurants, resorts, convention centers, real estate and finance. She has worked on thousands of hotel assets across the United States and, in 2003, founded Hotel Asset Value Enhancement. While Ms. Russo oversees the practice, she is very involved in strategic asset positioning, management contract negotiations and interacting with senior level brand and management executives on behalf of the portfolio.

Prior to founding hotelAVE, Ms. Russo was Vice President, Senior Leisure Analyst for Deutsche Banc Alex Brown where she also garnered capital markets experience.  Her experience on Wall Street forced her to be very forward focused.  Ms. Russo also managed a $500M portfolio for John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company where she improved the portfolio and achieved 20% cash-on-cash returns. She is well-known for initiating the legal action taken in the 2660 Woodley Road case in which Hancock was originally awarded $52M. In addition, Ms. Russo was responsible for changing the property’s management and overseeing a $100M repositioning renovation of the 1,500-room convention hotel.

Ms. Russo is a regular guest lecturer at Cornell University and has appeared on CNBC and CNN to provide commentary on the hospitality and leisure industry. She has also been invited as a speaker at numerous industry conferences such as NYU, ALIS, ULI, Boston University, Distressed Hotel Summit, and Hunter Hotel Conference. Ms. Russo serves on the Dean's Advisory Board for Cornell University's School of Hotel Administration.  She is also a member of ULI’s Hotel Council, Marriott’s Distribution Strategy Advisory Committee, the AHLA’s Financial Management Committee, Morgans Board of Directors, and the Pillsbury Institute for Hospitality Entrepreneurship Advisory Board at Cornell University.



Professional Experience

  • Deutsche Banc Securities, Inc.
    Vice President, Senior Leisure Analyst
  • John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company
    Investment Officer, Hotel Real Estate Asset Manager
  • Pinnacle Advisory Group
    Senior Vice President
  • Hospitality Valuation Services
    Vice President



  • Appraisal Institute (MAI): Designated Member
  • AH&LA - Certified Hotel Administrator (CHA)
  • AH&LA - Certified Hotel Asset Manager (CHAM)


Affiliations and Awards

  • Cornell University, School of Hotel Administration: Dean's Advisory Board Member
  • Urban Land Institute: Hotel Development Council Member
  • Hospitality Asset Managers Association (HAMA): Board Member (1996-2000), President (1999 and 2000)
  • Hospitality Financial & Technology Professionals (HFTP): Influential Women in Hospitality Finance Recognition (2015)
  • AH&LA Financial Management Committee: Member (2013-present)
  • Independent Lodging Congress (ILC) Guidance Committee: Member (2013-present)
  • Cornell Hotel Society: Member



  • Bachelor of Science - School of Hotel Administration, Cornell University



  • Quoted: How can hotels keep up with endless stream of devices? Hotels Magazine (December 2016)
  • Featured: Leading Women in Lodging Lodging Magazine (September 2015)
  • Author of white paper:  How Will the 11th Edition of the Uniform System Affect Your Management Agreement? (2014)
  • Co-Author of white paper:  Owners at Risk of Losing $2.1B in Asset Value: An Analysis of the New Expedia Traveler Preference Program (2012)
  • Co-Author:  Benchmarking & Financial Analysis (Chapt 11) - Hotel Asset Management Principles and Practices 2nd Ed. (2009)
  • Co-Author:  Benchmarking & Financial Analysis (Chapt 9) - Hotel Asset Management Principles and Practices 1st Ed. (2004)


Speaking Engagements    

  • Panelist: Law and Practice - PLI's Hotels 2016 (November 28, 2016)
  • Moderator: The Acquisitions Outlook - ALIS Summer Series, Boston (July 19, 2016)
  • Moderator: High Yield Returns - Leveraging Creative Business Plans to Achieve High Yield Returns at This Point in the Cycle - NYU International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference (June 7, 2016)
  • Panelist: What Planet Are You From? Understanding the Owner's Perspective on Revenue Management - HSMAI Revenue Optimization Conference (June 22, 2016)
  • Guest Lecturer: Cornell University Dean's Distinguished Lecture Series - Cornell University (October 16, 2015)
  • Guest Speaker: Asset Management Discussion - Urban Land Institute (October 7, 2015)
  • Moderator: Legal Panel Discussion - Hospitality Asset Managers Association (HAMA) 2015 Fall Meeting (September 16, 2015)
  • Panelist:  New Players, New Models - Revenue Strategy Summit (July 29, 2015)
  • Guest Speaker:  How Will the 11th Edition of the Uniform System Affect Your Management Agreement? - Greenberg Traurig (February 25, 2015)
  • Guest Speaker:  State of the Loding Industry - BLIS Bisnow's National Lodging Investment Summit (May 13, 2014)
  • Panelist:  State of Real Estate - Cornell Hotel Society (CHS), DC Chapter (October 4, 2013)
  • Panelist:  Capex - Hospitality Asset Managers Association (HAMA) (September 26, 2013)
  • Panelist:  Revenue Management - Hospitality Asset Managers Association (HAMA) (September 26, 2013)
  • Panelist:  Best Practices - Hospitality Asset Managers Association (HAMA) (May 8, 2013)
  • Guest Speaker:  Dean's Distinguished Guest Lecture Series - Boston University School of Hospitality Administration (April 22, 2013)
  • Cornell Hotel Society Big Apple Update - Cornell University (October 26, 2012)
  • Moderator:  Electronic Distribution Discussion - Urban Land Institute (October 17, 2012)
  • Moderator:  Expedia Traveler Preference Program- Hotel Asset Management Association Conference (October 10, 2012)
  • Owners Panelist:  Discover the Difference - 2012 Manager Conference (March 5, 2012)
  • Guest Speaker:  Conversations with Entrepreneurs - The Leland and Mary Pillsbury Institute for Hospitality Entrepreneurship, Cornell University (March 8, 2011)
  • Panelist:  Checking In: Hospitality Investment and Development 101 - NAIOP Massachusetts (February 23, 2011)
  • Co-presenter:  Key Business Terms/Concepts in Major Hotel Agreements and Mastering Key Reports & Metrics - 2011 Hospitality Law Conference (February 9, 2011)
  • Panelist:  Hospitality Industry Leaders Panel: News From the Corner Office - Distressed Hotel Summit (November 1, 2010)
  • Panelist:  Distressed Hotels - Urban Land Institute (May 15, 2010)
  • Panelist:  Asset Management - Now More Than Ever - Hunter Hotel Investment Conference (March 18, 2010)
  • Moderator:  Asset Management: Needed Now, More Than Ever? - NYU International Hotel Investment Conference (June 5, 2006)
  • Guest Lecturer:  Hotel Revenue and Expense Benchmarking - Cornell University (2005)
  • Moderator:  The Game is the Same, But the Rules Are Changing - NYU International Hotel Investment Conference (June 6, 2005)
  • Guest Lecturer:  Asset Management Fundamentals - Cornell University (2004)
  • Guest Speaker:  Creating the Asset Management Plan - American Lodging Investment Summit (January 20, 2004)
  • Moderator:  Owner/Manager Relations: Making the Marriage Work - NYU International Hotel Investment Conference (June 8, 2004)
  • Panelist:  You Are An Asset Manager Whether You Realize It or Not - Hotel Investment Conference (March 16, 2004)
  • Panelist-Broker's Forum:  Are Deals Being Done? The Brokers Speak Out - NYU International Hotel Investment Conference (June 3, 2003)
  • Speaker:  Hotel and Leisure Industry Outlook - Timothy C. Russell Distinguished Speaker Series, University of Denver School of Hotel Restaurant & Tourism Management (2002)