It’s all optimism at The Lodging Conference
08 OCTOBER 2015 8:10 AM
Hoteliers continue to exude heady optimism during Day One of The Lodging Conference in Phoenix.
PHOENIX—Day One of The Lodging Conference was a continuation of the optimistic mood that has characterized the U.S. hotel industry so far in 2015. Speakers at general sessions and breakouts shared the attitude that, with hotel operating fundamentals still incredibly strong, the good times should last for the next two years or more.
One particular tailwind speakers addressed several times is the willingness of consumers to travel. Whether it’s international or domestic, people today are taking advantage of the strong economy and traveling.
“While the world is facing is its greatest challenge since 2008, we think the U.S. will be fully insulated from that to continue growing (gross domestic product) at 2.5%,” said Bernard Baumohl, chief global economist with The Economic Outlook Group, speaking at Wednesday’s general session. “That means that moving forward, the U.S. will be one of the few bright spots in the global economy.”
Photo of the day
|From left: Eric Danziger of the Trump Hotel Collection, Don Landry of Top Ten Consulting and John T. Campo of John T. Campo & Associates, share a light moment following the opening general session of The Lodging Conference at the Arizona Biltmore on Wednesday. (Photo: Jeff Higley)|
Quote of the day
“Things are fun. Everybody is happy here. It’s a great time to be in the business. Seeing customers happy, making money and enjoying themselves is really a lot of fun.”
—David Pepper, senior VP, global development, Choice Hotels International
Slide of the day
“Group demand is back and back in force,” said Jan Freitag, senior VP of STR, to the private Lodging Industry Investment Council on Wednesday at The Lodging Conference. “That has all sorts of positive implications for operators because they see what’s on the books for a year out, a year-and-a-half out. This is really helpful. It gives everyone confidence, and with that comes pricing power.”
Tweet of the day
Marriott's Liam Brown says company has had many discussions & meetings with Airbnb. #LodgingConference "Keep friends close, enemies closer."— Eric Stoessel (@Eric_Stoessel) October 7, 2015
“This point in the cycle always brings out the inevitable comparisons to sporting events—most notably baseball games—while the real focus of what’s affecting hotels tends to be under-emphasized. During the first day of The Lodging Conference, I was somewhat surprised by what seems to be a lack of concern over the effects of Airbnb, supply growth and the growing strength of independents. These are all topics that have varying degrees of impact on every hotelier’s bottom line, and the industry needs to take them seriously.
“The Airbnb question goes beyond the ‘we just want a level playing field’ approach that most executives take. Meanwhile, several conference attendees told me they are in markets that are seeing supply growth of more than 30%. That’s a serious addition to the comp set for sure. And the confidence of independent hoteliers continues to grow as more owners figure out that technology allows them to test and experiment their way to prosperity.
“Beyond that, talk throughout the Arizona Biltmore’s halls focused on peaking hotel values and the vast amount of money available for deals and (gulp!) new construction projects.”
—Jeff Higley, Editorial Director
“I spoke with several hotel brand companies today, and now is when we’re beginning to see the results of the post-recession brand explosion come to reality. It seems like just about every brand (from economy to upper-upscale) has grand plans for new-build expansion both domestically and overseas, in many cases. Nobody seems worried about overall supply numbers, though supply trends in certain markets—namely New York City and some spots in Texas—do have regional developers second-guessing their decisions.”
—Stephanie Ricca, Editor-in-Chief
“Skilled labor continues to be an issue for hotel development, particularly because the construction industry hasn’t recovered to the same level it was at prior to the recession. Jim Amorosia, president and CEO of G6 Hospitality, said labor is ‘particularly tight’ along the U.S. coasts but less so in the South. The problem with the coasts appears to be a lack of qualified people in certain trades to handle the jobs, he said, specifically naming roofers and electricians. Likewise, while some other costs have decreased, labor costs are inching up, said Marriott’s Liam Brown. Because there are fewer workers available, the trades are continuing to grow more expensive and delaying construction projects, he said.”
—Bryan Wroten, Reporter