For two men who usually speak publicly in 15-minute increments, it was a rare treat to hear Randy Smith and Mark Lomanno expound on their business and the state of the hotel industry for an hour and a half.
Among the topics: supply and demand; online travel agencies; franchisors; and the ever-present rate struggle.
Two of the three founders of Smith Travel Research (Smith’s wife, Carolyn, is the third) were open books for attendees’ questions during “Randy and Mark’s Fireside Chat” Wednesday at the Hotel Data Conference in Nashville, Tennessee.
I didn’t really expect to get a news story out of the experience (possible headline, “STR leaders discuss hotel supply, fishing”), but it turns out that I came out with several compelling story leads. Thanks, Randy and Mark, for making my job easier.
- “Price compression is not a small issue,” Lomanno said. “OTAs are in direct opposition to the brands because they are treating all of the rooms the same.”
- Hotels have reduced rates more than any other industry outside of commodities themselves, Smith said. There’s no other industry where you can haggle like the hotel industry.
- “We taught mediocrity” Lomanno said of competitive sets. “If there is anything we could do over it would be to teach to compete to the top performer.”
- “New supply has nothing to do with demand,” Smith said. “It has everything to do with the availability of cash.” Lenders are supposed to serve a positive role, and in the last few years they have abdicated that role, he said.
- Brands have changed their focus during the past 30 years, which is not a bad thing—it’s just a change in the industry, Smith said. “They’re getting out of the ownership game. There is a focus on fees rather than profitability.”
There were more potent quotables from Smith and Lomanno, but I can’t give our competitors every story idea, now can I?
Stay tuned as we develop stories around some of the insights from the STR leaders. Thanks to all who made it out to the conference and continue to visit HotelNewsNow.com for HDC coverage!