Editors recap the second and final day of the Hotel Data Conference with takeaways, quotables and more highlights from the event.
NASHVILLE, Tennessee—As hoteliers settled into the reality of slowing growth, the second and final day of the Hotel Data Conference included further analysis of what’s coming on the horizon.
Before breakout sessions on the sharing economy, food and beverage, and the perks of loyalty programs, a panel of industry leaders kicked off Thursday’s morning general session with a plethora of topics including more end-of-cycle speculation, what could still happen with Marriott International’s pending acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, and more.
Here’s a recap of Day Two of HDC, compiled by the HNN editorial staff. Missed out on Day One of the conference? We’ve got you covered.
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Quote of the Day
“The word ‘peak’ often comes up when we talk about cycles. You think when you hit the peak, the only way to go is down. But anyone who spends time in mountains knows there are ranges of mountains. The peak you’re on may be a false peak; there may be more to come.”
--Michael Murphy, head of lodging and leisure capital, First Fidelity Companies, on Thursday’s “Leader Insights: Data, details, direction” general session panel, when asked where we are in the current lodging cycle.
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Slide of the Day
There are obviously more things for hoteliers to be worried about in 2016 than 2015, but if there’s a through line for this week’s conference, it’s that opportunities exist for those who are smart and enterprising enough to unearth them.
The numbers and forecasts paint a clear picture: Things are worse. They’re still not bad, but they’re clearly worse.
The last few years were so good that success started to feel automatic. Now you have to make an effort, but those who can think creatively and three-dimensionally will still be rewarded for that effort.
I’m struck by how many panels and events touched on the fact that you can still find growth if you’re willing to look in ways you might not have before. During the sharing-economy panel, hoteliers questioned whether it’d make sense to partner with Airbnb hosts to sell services like laundry or sell sharing-economy guests access to amenities to drive incremental revenue. The transactions panel I moderated touched on how—while transactions are down—more off-book deals are out there to be had.
So that’s the moral of the 2016 Hotel Data Conference story: Get out there and hustle, hoteliers.
--Sean McCracken, News Editor
As a millennial myself, some of the comments about millennial guests during the closing session of the conference rang true. On one hand, it makes a lot of sense that members of the generation would have that sense of entitlement and want hoteliers to respond to social media comments and messages. Millennials grew up when the internet went mainstream, so it’s a natural environment for them to want to communicate through social media when they learned how to speak online with AOL Instant Messenger and the development of blogs. Hotel companies have gone all out to find their roles online through social media to connect with millennials, so again, it seems perfectly natural for millennials to expect hotel companies to engage them in conversation. And as for expecting some form of action in response to requests or complaints, why would hotel companies only want to pay lip service through social media?
On the other hand, as someone who first entered the workforce in 2008 when the recession hit, I can see why it’s more difficult for millennials to take time off and go on vacations. To either get a new job or maintain employment when so many other people, including peers and older colleagues, might be losing their jobs, installs a certain fear of appearing to be slacking off when work needs to be done, especially when so many companies were trying to do more with less. While the economy has improved somewhat since the recession, that mindset prevails in the generation, making it tougher for hoteliers to entice millennials to become leisure guests instead of just business guests.
--Bryan Wroten, Reporter
In Thursday’s “The pros & cons of independence” debate, Eric Horodas, president and CEO of Greystone Hotels, brought up an interesting perspective I haven’t really thought much about: the uncertainty surrounding the future of soft brands. Horodas said he believes the story hasn’t been told yet when it comes to soft brands because there currently aren’t that many soft-branded hotels out there in the industry. He said he believes as more and more soft brands pop up, the more standardized and bureaucratic each soft-branded property will become. Going forward into 2017 and beyond, I think it will be interesting to see if soft brands lose a little bit of the creativity they currently have on the independent side because of the brand standards they’re required to follow.
--Danielle Hess, Reporter