Get involved in government affairs
 
Get involved in government affairs
08 AUGUST 2014 12:59 PM
Many owners and operators of independent hotels carry a lot of clout with government officials. It’s important to wield that clout in your own best interests.
Today more than ever, it’s crucial that owners and operators of all hotels—but independent hotels more so—get involved in government affairs on a local, state and federal level. Independent hoteliers share some of the same problems as do operators of chain hotels, but they don’t have large chain organizations to help them fight their battles.
 
Yet, many independent hoteliers have closer ties, relationships and influences in their local communities, and it is important to wield whatever clout they carry to protect their interests and the interests of the hotel and tourism industries in their communities, states, provinces and countries.
 
You should make a resolution to once a month call an elected official in your area and invite him or her for a cup of coffee to discuss the issues that concern you the most.
 
However, the best lobbying is done when you can show a government official what effect enacted or proposed laws will have on your employees. You have one vote and one pocketbook to support candidates, but your hotel might have 25, 50, 100 or more employees who are also voters. That’s the message that will turn the head of any elected official.
 
On a federal level in the United States, a number of critical issues are on the table and under consideration by Congress. Make sure you familiarize yourself with these issues and how they affect your business and what impact they have on the livelihoods of your employees.
 
Here are a few items to discuss with your congressman or senator when you invite them in for a talk. The U.S. Congress is in recess until after Labor Day, so now is a great time to reach out to them.
 
Brand USA. Last month, the House of Representatives passed legislation and sent to the Senate a bill to reauthorize Brand USA, the government’s tourism marketing agency. The key message to your representative is Brand USA has produced results, and it is costing the taxpayers zero dollars. 
 
Minimum wage. While Congress is hesitant to consider new minimum wage legislation, a number of local governments have already boosted the mark, in some cases as high as $15 an hour. It seems as though it’s inevitable government-mandated minimum wage will rise, but it’s important for you to ensure your voice is heard on the subject, especially as it relates to your ability to maintain present employment levels at your hotel and hire additional workers.
 
Patent trolls. Much like unscrupulous lawyers preyed on hotels and other businesses with frivolous lawsuits based on the Americans with Disabilities Act, so too are some companies attempting to extort other business, including some hotels, with questionable patent claims. In the case of hotels, these patent trolls often target a hotel’s Internet access system. 
 
Health care. The Affordable Care Act has been a point of contention since its passage and ongoing implementation. As with many pieces of legislation, the ACA is complicated and subject to regulations implemented by the executive branch. Be sure to keep abreast of the latest developments in the implementation of this landmark law to be sure your business and your employees are as protected as possible.
 
There are scores of other proposed laws and regulations on the federal level and even more at the state and local levels on which you need to keep informed. Information is king, especially when you’re articulating your positions on these issues with your government officials.
 
Now to recent news from the world of independent hotels:
 
Another solid month for U.S. independent hotels
Hotels in the independent chain scale in the U.S. posted positive results in June in all three performance metrics, according to STR, the parent company of Hotel News Now.
 
When compared to June 2013, occupancy for the segment increased 3.3% to 68.1%, while average daily rate rose 3.7% to $114.77. Revenue per available room rose 7.2% to $78.19.
 
Year to date through June, RevPAR for the independent segment is up 7.5% compared to the same period in 2013.
 
Independents join health destinations initiative
Six independent hotels became founding members of a new non-profit organization aimed at helping hotels measure and improve their health-related programs, amenities, facilities and personnel.
 
The Institute for Healthy Destination Accreditation certifies hotels meeting criteria as wellness-oriented properties. The institute also operates a website consumers can use to find information about healthy travel options in the U.S. and eventually throughout the world. 
 
The first six properties approved as meeting Healthy Hospitality Best Practices and are committed to providing Healthy Guest Experiences are The 
Breakers in Palm Beach, Florida; The Hotel del Coronado, Coronado, California; the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colorado; the Coeur d’Alene Resort in Idaho; the Airlie in Warrenton, Virginia; and the Mauna Kea Resort in Hawaii.
 
Independents reign in three markets
An analysis by Ali Hoyt of STR Analytics, a sister company of Hotel News Now, shows in three U.S. markets—New York, Boston and Miami/Hialeah—luxury independent hotels consistently outperform the average daily rates of luxury chain properties.
 
According to the analysis, Miami independents have the largest ADR premium of the three markets, topping out at $80 year to date in 2014. New York followed with a $46 premium for independents. In Boston, the rate premium is $15. 
 
 
Deals and developments
  • Destination Hotels & Resorts assumed management of the 326-room Scottsdale Resort & Conference Center in Arizona. It is the company’s third property in the Phoenix market.
  • An affiliate of Starwood Capital Group purchased The Roxburghe, a 223-year-old, 199-room hotel in Edinburgh, Scotland. Terms of the deal were not announced.
  • Scalzo Hospitality plans to replace the 86-room Park Vue Inn across the street from Disneyland in Anaheim, California, with a new 162-room property. The original hotel opened in 1962.
  • Heritage Hotels and Resorts will break ground this fall on a 118-room independent hotel in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The hotel, which opens in the spring of 2016, is adjacent to the Hotel Albuquerque and will share its swimming pool, ballrooms and chapel.
  • In December, ClubCorp and Zhejiang Construction Real Estate Development Group will open West Lake Lu, a 170,000-square-foot private club and 100-unit boutique hotel in Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province, China.
  • Strand Development assumed management of the city-owned, 42-room St. James Hotel in Selma, Alabama.
  • Pebblebrook Hotel Trust paid $127 million to acquire The Nines Hotel in Portland, Oregon. The property will continue to be part of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide’s Luxury Collection, and Sage Hospitality and Sage Restaurant Group will continue to operate the hotel.
  • A joint venture that includes First Hospitality Group will convert part of an office building in Columbus, Ohio, to a 147-room boutique hotel that will be part of Marriott International’s Autograph Collection.
  • In October, a partnership that includes The Singh Company will open the 96-room Marker Waterfront Resort in Key West, Florida.
  • A former Four Points by Sheraton in Washington, D.C., has been converted to the Twelve & K Hotel, a 265-room property operated by Crestline Hotels & Resorts.
  • Sage Hospitality opened The Crawford, a 112-room boutique hotel inside Denver’s Union Station, which recently underwent a $54-million transformation.
  • Crestline Hotels & Resorts was named to manage the 383-room Fort Magruder Hotel & Conference Center in Williamsburg, Virginia.
  • St. Joe Club & Resorts was tapped to manage The Pearl, a 55-room resort in Rosemary Beach, Florida. The property is a member of Preferred Boutique and the Southern Living Hotel Collection.
  • Spring Capital Group selected Crescent Hotels & Resorts to operate the 205-room Salishan Spa and Golf Resort in Gleneden Beach, Oregon.
 
The opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Hotel News Now or its parent company, STR and its affiliated companies. Bloggers published on this site are given the freedom to express views that may be controversial, but our goal is to provoke thought and constructive discussion within our reader community. Please feel free to comment or contact an editor with any questions or concerns. 
 

1 Comment

  • Tom Kelley August 8, 2014 8:09 AM

    Ed, great piece - very good summary and call for action. As long time industry advocates, we agree that constant and consistent outreach by individuals is a must. Tom Kelley President AccessPoint Group

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