Lodging Day Two: A ‘slow trot’ for development
Lodging Day Two: A ‘slow trot’ for development
29 SEPTEMBER 2016 8:41 AM

HNN editors recap the second day of The Lodging Conference with takeaways, quotes and more highlights from the event.

PHOENIX—During Day Two of The Lodging Conference on Wednesday, hoteliers addressed a number of issues, including pending legislation that could hurt the industry, loyalty and the development landscape in coming months.

A majority of audience members polled during the morning’s general session, “A view from the top (let’s talk development),” said it’s going to be a “slow trot” on the development side in the near future.

Here’s a recap of Day Two of The Lodging Conference, compiled by the HNN editorial staff.

Photo of the day

Irvin Sandman, partner at Sandman Savrann, performs “Peaceful Easy Feeling” by the Eagles during the evening cocktail party and talent show during the last night of The Lodging Conference. (Photo: Bryan Wroten)

Quote of the day
“M&A is definitely good for development … the whole point is to grow scale and grow the value proposition.”
–David Pepper, chief development officer, Choice Hotels International, during the “A view from the top (let’s talk development)” general session panel discussion.

Tweet of the day

Editors’ takeaways

There was a surprising candor in the air at the Arizona Biltmore. The fact that there could be some turbulent times ahead was not lost on the 1,800-plus attendees—whether they’re big-time head honchos at major hotel companies or hard-working insightful leaders of smaller enterprises.

Talk of regulatory and operational challenges, falling metrics and development hurdles filled the air throughout the conference. But the most interesting aspect of this year’s Lodging Conference was that conversations—whether on stage, in roundtable discussions or at late-night patio powwows—almost always included people and culture as central topics.

I’m not convinced those topics are regularly discussed in corporate boardrooms or at investor meetings, but the fact they were top of mind for many attendees at one of the industry’s premier investment conferences demonstrates just how important they are to the business of hotels.

It’s not lost on the lenders, vendors and hoteliers at the conference that hotels are a labor-intensive business. The mere idea of people and culture being discussion points at a hotel investment conference shows how essential it is to pay attention to the core success of all disciplines in the field.

--Jeff Higley,

Based on general conversations, interviews and panel discussions, as well as observing countless small meetings all around the Arizona Biltmore during the past few days, it would appear that hoteliers are proceeding with business almost as usual these days. There’s constant talk about the peak of the industry’s cycle and when that other shoe drops (including if it drops and how big it will be), but no one, at least openly, appears to be heading to their bunkers to completely close up shop.

While hoteliers are lamenting a drop in performance compared to 2015, they also recognize that last year was a record year for the industry, meaning any year after would have to clear a high hurdle. Compared to 2015, anything that would be considered otherwise fairly positive looks disappointing. Are things as good as they have been? No, but hoteliers don’t appear to be letting that stop them. There are a number of uncertainties ahead, and hoteliers are cautiously moving forward.

--Bryan Wroten, reporter

During a breakout session at Day Two at The Lodging Conference, there was talk of a subject that’s been floating around the industry for a long time: millennials. I’ve usually heard hoteliers talking about how they can get millennials’ by providing them with experiences, but this time around hoteliers were talking about how they can get millennials to work for them and stay on their teams.

Panelists talked about how millennials are looking for that special experience in their travel, but they’re also looking for a fulfilling work experience with a company they believe in, and if a company doesn’t give them a good reason to work there, they’re not going to suffer through it and stick around, unlike boomers. It’ll be interesting to see how hoteliers go about creating a work environment, from back-of-house staff to the higher-ups, that millennials can get behind, believe in and stick with. A panelist said you can pay millennials as much as you want, but if you don’t show them why your company is a good one to work for, they’re gone.

--Danielle Hess, reporter

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