“It’s going to be 18 months. It’s going to get worse before it gets better.”
Those words from Barry Sternlicht, chairman and CEO of Starwood Capital Group, said on 4 June 2008 during the 2008 New York University International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference, ended up being an understatement. Other members of the leaders’ panel echoed his sentiments. Little did anyone know what was ahead for the global economy, let alone the hotel industry.
Thirty-two months later, we know we’ve been through hell, and while we’re not quite all the way back, we’ve made progress. With January numbers from STR on the books, there looks to be some momentum.
Sternlicht’s quote reminds me of simpler times for HotelNewsNow.com. We were a fledgling entity then, backed by the confidence that STR owners Randy and Carolyn Smith and Mark Lomanno had in the concept. The article in which Sternlicht was quoted was the first bylined article for HotelNewsNow.com. We were so new that it only appeared in a newsletter; we didn’t have a web home yet—something that wasn’t rectified until 17 September of that same year.
I’m visiting memory lane because on Monday we celebrated the posting of the 5,000th article on HotelNewsNow.com. The celebration was muted by an ice/snow storm and subsequent day-long power outage on Monday as we posted Patrick Mayock’s article “Meetings contribute US$263b to US economy.” But it was a celebration nonetheless.
The HotelNewsNow.com platform has come a long way since those early days when Stacey Mieyal Higgins, the current International News Editor for the site, and I covered the NYU conference from the balcony at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York. People weren’t sure what to expect from us, and honestly, we weren’t so sure what to expect either.
Our goal remains the same as it was then: to provide vital information for hotel decision makers. It’s a simple goal that has yielded many positive results. We’re on pace in February to surpass 100,000 visitors to the site for a month (we get to that number by averaging the number of visits recorded by the three analytics tools that we use to measure such things—GoogleAnalytics.com, GetClicky.com and StatCounter.com.) Our internal measurement tools show we’ll soon surpass the 23,000-mark for subscribers to our Daily Update newsletter. The business model for the HotelNewsNow.com site is to make our dough through advertising, and we’ve had some great sponsors and advertisers join us because of the reach that we have in the industry.
But I won’t bore you with numbers. The biggest mission we have is to provide unique content that informs our readers and subscribers—those hotel decision makers that need vital information. We subsequently launched the Hotel Stock Index, the Hotel Investment Barometer and HotelNewsNow.com’s Product Showcase. We’ve got more launches coming as our quest to be a vital information provider intensifies.
HotelNewsNow.com was launched during one of the toughest economic environments of our lifetimes. We’ve weathered the storm and are looking forward to continuing our growth. From the editors who have joined along the way—Higgins, Patrick Mayock, Shawn Turner and Jason Freed—to our excellent sales executive Lynsie Chamberlain to our superb public-relations manager Rachael Spann Urie to our newest member, Sarah Lomanno, our mission remains true: We want to provide information you want to read.
So what was the headline on that first story? It certainly revealed that the industry knew there was a storm on the horizon: “Hotel leaders see trying times ahead.”
All things considered, it’s a pretty timeless headline that says a lot about the hotel industry. That’s similar to what we believe HotelNewsNow.com has become: a respected, timeless voice that says a lot about the hotel industry.