Michelle has more than 30 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 Russo oversees the practice, she is very involved in defining the forward outlook that establishes how the company manages its portfolio to maximize results, strategic asset positioning, management contract negotiations, and interacting with senior-level brand and management executives on behalf of the portfolio.
Michelle has been named one of the 30 Influential Women in Hospitality by Hotel Management Magazine (October 2017), one of 20 Women in Lodging by Lodging Magazine (September 2015) and one of 15 Women of Hospitality Finance by Hospitality and Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP). hotelAVE is a 100% Women Owned Business Entity certified through the Center for Women & Enterprise (CWE).
Prior to founding hotelAVE, Michelle was Vice President, Senior Leisure Analyst for Deutsche Banc Alex Brown where she garnered capital markets experience covering lodging and leisure (including cruise, ski and golf industries). Michelle also managed a $500M portfolio for John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company where she improved the portfolio and achieved 20% cash-on-cash returns.
Michelle 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 is a regular guest speaker at NYU, ALIS, ULI, Boston University, BLLA, Distressed Hotel Summit, Hunter Hotel Conference IHRSA National Convention, and Seatrade Cruise Shipping Convention. Ms. Russo serves on the Dean’s Advisory Board for Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business Leadership Council. She is a member of ULI’s Hotel Council, Marriott’s Distribution Strategy Advisory Committee, the AHLA’s Hospitality Investment Roundtable, AHLA’s Global Finance Committee, and formerly a board member of Morgans Hotel Group and the Pillsbury Institute for Hospitality Entrepreneurship at Cornell University. She is also a two time past president of the Hospitality Asset Manager Association (HAMA), a Certified Hotel Asset Manager (CHAM), Certified Hotel Administrator (CHA) and a Member of the Appraisal Institute (MAI).
“I wake up every day excited to make our clients successful and to support our associates in pursuit of that success.”
Affiliations and Certifications
Dean’s Advisory Board for Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration: Member
Johnson Cornell SC Johnson College of Business Leadership Council: Member
ULI’s Hotel Council: Member
Marriott’s Distribution Strategy Owner Advisory Committee: Member
AHLA Hospitality Investment Roundtable
Morgans Board of Directors and Pillsbury Institute for Hospitality Entrepreneurship Advisory Board at Cornell University: Former Member
Certified Hotel Asset Manager (CHAM)
Certified Hotel Administrator (CHA)
Member of the Appraisal Institute (MAI)
Challenging the Industry Standard Paradigm to Management Performance Tests – December 2019, Hotel Asset Management Magazine
Add Value to a Hotel by Focusing on Cash Flow – 2017, Hotel News Now
How Will the 11th Edition of the Uniform System Affect Your Management Agreement? – 2014
Owners at Risk of Losing $2.1B in Asset Value: An Analysis of the New Expedia Traveler Preference Program – 2012
Benchmarking & Financial Analysis (Ch. 11) – Hotel Asset Management Principles and Practices 2nd Ed. – 2009
Has worked at hotelAVE since
Interests and Hobbies
Michelle enjoys playing tennis, paddleboarding, spending time with family, and cheering on her son at fencing. Her other hobbies include cake decorating and photography.