Here I sit, trying to fulfill my editorial duties for Day One of the 32nd Annual New York University International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference.
It’s not always easy to find new and interesting information from the panel discussions. While some repetition is good, I believe these people gather together often enough that the conversation on stage should advance, not repeat.
Here’s the news coming out of the opening session with the hotel brand leaders, in my opinion.
Where are the big companies focusing their time and talent in development?
- David Kong, president and CEO of Best Western International said six of the top 10 markets are in Asia—in India and China. Europe and Brazil also are areas of focus.
- Mark S. Hoplamazian, president and CEO of Hyatt Hotels Corporation, said China, India, Brazil and Europe.
- Andy Cosslett, chief executive of IHG, said China is the big story. The government of China just announced travel and tourism is one of its five economic pillars. But for brand renewal and refresh, the U.S. is still the home.
- “The biggest challenge in the industry from a world standpoint and from the U.S. is getting back to embracing travel,” said Arne M. Sorenson, president and COO, Marriott International. “We’ve got to get the poetry back into travel.”
The questions I wish they would answer:
At what point will the hotel companies step in to the Gulf Coast issue and lobby on behalf of their owners or offer assistance? When oil reaches Key West? The East Coast?
How do you measure a recovery?
The Travel Promotion Act seems like a start. What’s the next step?
How many more brands can we add to the marketplace? Are you going to let any existing brands fade into the sunset? Have any just simply outgrown their relevance?
Why don’t all of the big hotel brands get together and figure out a unified position on online travel agent relationships? Would demand dry up without the third-party sites?
Are you seeing a leisure-led recovery?
… Will LeBron James stay in Cleveland?