Sifting through the last decade of hotel industry news demonstrates that the same recurring themes illuminate an industry trying to figure out key issues. That’s not expected to change much during the next 10 years.
While nothing in Bill Murray’s acting career compares to his extraordinarily sad-but-funny death scene in “Zombieland,” it’s his performance as Phil Connors the weatherman in 1993’s “Groundhog Day” that best epitomizes the hotel industry. Hotel News Now’s look back at its first decade illustrates a number of examples of this phenomenon.
Over the years the industry has had its share of Murrayesque moments, including:
- The outrageous hilarity of “Caddyshack” at some industry events, such as during late nights of The Lodging Conference on the patio at the Arizona Biltmore.
- The flawed, myopic humor of “Scrooged,” as demonstrated by hotel companies in their efforts to protect their turf.
- The irreverent regard of “Stripes,” from hotel company CEOs who charge ahead at all costs.
- The calculated, indulgent, and sometimes conniving Peter Venkman of “Ghostbusters,” from those hotel executives who want the world to know how smart they are.
You get the picture. I’m sure you can find your own ways to relate “Garfield,” “Lost in Translation,” “Toostie,” “Rock the Casbah” and all the other Murray classics to the hotel industry. (Don’t be shy—please feel free to share them in the comments section below or reach out to me on Twitter @jeffhigley1.)
But it was “Groundhog Day” that kept popping into my mind during the last three months as I read through each installment of HNN’s 10-year anniversary retrospective. So much has changed for the hotel industry during HNN’s first decade of existence—but at the same time, so much has stayed the same.
I hope you have enjoyed our trip down Memory Lane as much as me. Since 17 September (to commemorate our 17 September, 2008 launch date), our excellent editorial team has shared top stories from each of the past 10 years. We looked back at the people, places and events that shaped our coverage over that span.
The joy for me as I’ve watched the HNN team delve into the past decade’s key stories and trends has been watching them better understand the intertwined recurring messages and learn that the hotel industry truly is an extraordinary business. Many members of our team were just starting their careers, were in college, and a few were still in high school when we launched HNN. Rather than feeling old, I look at that as being part of something that stands the test of time—even if that test is repeated on multiple occasions.
Reading through the installments led me to recall some gems over the years. HNN was launched at the beginning of the last recession, so I kept wondering if the industry had learned anything from the days when it experienced that mind-numbing 16% drop in revenue-per-available-room growth. Only time will tell as we have yet to experience another downturn, but leaders are saying the right thing:
“The greatest lesson is to be prepared. Establish contingencies for numerous ‘What if?’ scenarios. Be adaptable and embrace change.”—Richard Lewis, CEO, Northern Powerhouse Developments Hotels in “Hoteliers around the globe reflect on Great Recession”
“The biggest lesson is that you must have a plan that can withstand all economic conditions.”—Janis Cannon, SVP, upscale brands, Choice Hotels International in “What US hoteliers learned from the 2008 recession”
“The Great Recession taught all of us to be prepared for events you can’t control. Don’t panic!”—Tom Corcoran, president and CEO, TCOR Hotel Partners in “What US hoteliers learned from the 2008 recession”
The lesson learned from these industry leaders is that there are always lessons to be learned. While history regularly repeats itself in the hotel industry, learning from that history is the difference between success and failure.
My favorite stories of the decade
With that in mind, here’s my list of some of my favorite recurring stories of each year during the past decade:
2008: “Gray happy with Hilton acquisition” is a summary of Blackstone’s Jonathan Gray’s views on his company’s $27-billion acquisition of Hilton Hotels Corp. The acquisition served Blackstone well and helped catapult Gray into the role of president & COO at Blackstone and chairman of the board at Hilton Worldwide. This story also formally introduced us to Hilton’s hiring of Ross Klein and Amar Lalvani from Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. That move led to the introduction of “corporate espionage” to the hotel industry and provided the juiciest story line during HNN’s first decade.
2009: Online travel agencies had been on the scene for less than 10 years, and “Choice’s stand delivers the story of the year” epitomizes the love-hate relationship between them and hotels—a relationship that remains to this day (we’re still waiting to hear how Marriott International’s renegotiation with Expedia is progressing).
2010: Are you aware of this thing called a “millennial?” The hotel industry was learning how to cope with this massive demographic in 2010—as “10 surefire ways to rein in millennials” demonstrates—and it still hasn’t completed the task.
2011: Three buzzwords/phrases we got to know well—“lifestyle,” “new brands” and “consolidation”—emerged in the “Joie de Vivre and Thompson merge, plan new brands” during the aftermath of the Great Recession. We’ve been overwhelmed by the key references ever since.
2012: Not too surprising that we’d be addressing the same topic in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 … and beyond … that we covered in “REIT CEOs: Up-cycle will last awhile.”
2013: Distribution. Distribution. Distribution. I hear that word in my sleep as “The evolution of hotel room distribution” is an ongoing topic in the industry.
2014: Guests want more control. Hoteliers want to give guests more control. So why is the “More hoteliers opt for self-service check-in” debate still unanswered?
2015: It’s true that the “Hotel industry consolidation wave crested in 2015” but I don’t think we’ve seen the end of it yet.
2016: There is a definite trend as “20 years of OTAs: How they changed the hotel industry” clearly describes.
2017: Yes, indeed, hoteliers are searching for revenue any place they can find it: “Hoteliers adapting to changes in resort-fees revenue” addresses the latest elephant in the room for the hotel industry. The big question: Will they all follow Uniform System of Accounts for the Lodging Industry (USALI) 11th edition guidelines to classify the revenue?
2018: Who knows what will transpire during the next month, but at this point I’m leaning toward “How Sébastien Bazin has transformed AccorHotels” because Bazin’s bold moves to make Accor a company that encompasses more than just hotels is the talk of the industry. Whether it’s successful remains to be seen, but there are many eyes watching it.
… and now for a look ahead
And finally, the crystal ball says to look for potential topics such as the following that HNN will be highlighting 10 years from now as we celebrate our 20th anniversary:
- Wyndham Hotels & Resorts wins race to acquire Graduate Hotels—a process involving every major chain.
- Optimistic hoteliers at Americas Lodging Investment Council think up-cycle will last forever.
- Expedia’s acquisition of Hyatt Hotels Corporation and InterContinental Hotels Group resets distribution landscape.
- Brokers: Now is the time to buy or sell your hotel.
- Choice Hotels International converts half of its inventory to hostels, makes billions for investors.
- It’s official: Industry boasts of having a conference every day of the year.
- Sales of Hawaiian, New York and London hotels reach $4 million per key.
- Marriott, Hilton introduce holograms to boost meeting business.
- Latest launch gives global hotel industry 10,000 brands.
- Groundhog Day: Higley runs same column a decade later as same topics surface!
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