Softscribe Inc., an award winning hotel tech PR firm, attended the 11th annual Hotel Data Conference (HDC) this month in Nashville, TN with industry leaders and technology providers. STR hosted 734 attendees, with 91 on the waitlist, at the new JW Marriott® Nashville for a 3-day deep dive into data, industry & property performance, and trends for the global hospitality industry.
Softscribe Inc. CEO Julie Keyser Squires attended on behalf of the company’s PR clients.
Top Ideas and Quotes from Hotel Industry Leaders
A series of panels, breakout tracks and plenary sessions featured leaders from the global hotel industry. Speakers shared insights about trends, market changes, and actionable scenarios. Here is Softscribe Inc.’s recap of important trends, quotes and takeaways from conference leaders.
The Industry Outlook
“We are in the golden age of lodging. We’re in a great, great time.” – Marc Laport, President and CEO, Officer, Concord Hospitality Enterprises Company
“There are 200K rooms in construction and 96% will open. The last high was in 2007 with 211K rooms in construction.” – Dominik Kozissnik, Director, Global Census at STR
“We are at one of the best times in the hotel business in my lifetime. People are traveling; there is record unemployment.” – David Duncan, President, First Hospitality Group, Inc.
“RevPAR is up 2.7% with steady growth. Year to Date is 1 to 2%. This supports the story line that we are seeing a national slowdown. Demand and supply are growing at the same clip, 2%. Occupancy growth has flat lined. Seventy percent of the top 25 markets are experiencing occupancy declines.” – Vail Ross, Vice President, Global Business Development and Marketing, STR
“Labor grew at 4%. For the third year in a row labor costs rose faster than revenue.” – Vail Ross
“We’re at the tail end of a long upcycle.” – Carter Wilson, SVP Consulting & Analytics, STR
What Sectors Show Strength?
“Income distribution has shifted to the upper end. Lower chain scales are not as much in demand.” – Adam Sacks, President, Tourism Economics
The Economy Outlook
“The slowdown will be a mild one. ADR is the most at risk. We need rates stronger in the second half of the year. 2020 will be slower than 2019.” – Amanda Hite, President & CEO, STR
“Don’t freak out. The lag is three years to a recession. The consumer is in a place of strength; they save a lot. The Fed will lower short-term interest rates in September.” – Adam Sacks, President, Tourism Economics
“Consumer confidence is elevated. Household wealth is up 50% from pre-recession highs. Households have high savings, 8%. The economy is expected to slow gradually, but not abruptly.” – Adam Sacks
“We will see one or more interest rate cuts over the next two quarters.” – Mark Woodworth, Senior Managing Director, CBRE Hotels Americas Research
“There will be no sharp downturn and the consumer holds on. Our outlook for a recession is 15% in 2019 and 40% in 2020. RevPAR is in record territory; it could take a hit and still be strong. Travel will continue. I am on a recession watch, but not on a recession call.” – Adam Sacks
What’s coming? “Something is coming. It’s just a matter of when and how big?” – Matthew Jalazo, Winston Hotels, LLC
“What are business conditions a year from now?” – Carter Wilson
“60% positive, 40% negative.” – Mark Woodworth
Catering to the Consumer
What’s different? “We voice-enabled our website so guests can search verbally: ‘Where is the best place to eat closest to the airport?’” – Chris Green, Chief Commercial Officer, Chesapeake Hospitality
“Create Instagrammable moments for on-property guest experiences like Instagrammable desserts.” – Chris Green
“Yes. That is why we are putting money into dreaming.” – Chris Wilroy, SVP & Commercial Director, Americas at Hilton
“We are in the individual person-to-person business.” – Chris Wilroy, Hilton
“Ask, ‘How can we apply technology to every stage of the customer journey? Digital key. In 4,000 hotels, open the door with your phone.” -Chris Wilroy, Hilton
“Meet the consumer the way they want to be met.” – Chris Green, Chesapeake Hospitality
“We are preparing for the younger guest. 60% of younger guests want hotels.” – Amy Hulbert, VP Boutique and Upscale Brands, Best Western® Hotels & Resorts
“Explore what’s next. Personalized pricing for guests, which is what we did for Gaming.” – Tammy Farley, Co-Founder, Rainmaker, a Cendyn company.
“We did a partnership with Delivery.com so guests do not have to go outside the hotel.” – Robert McDowell, Chief Commercial Officer, Choice Hotels International, Inc.
Tips for Operators, Hoteliers
“Grow travel demand from international markets.” – Amanda Hite, President & CEO, STR
“To be able to differentiate in the eyes of the consumer is what it’s all about.” – Colin Reed, Chairman of the Board & CEO, Ryman Hospitality Properties, Inc.
“We like the idea of targeting family groups. We asked Nashville consumers, ‘What do you want?’ Then we spent $19M and built SoundWaves water park at Gaylord Opryland. In July we put 50,000 people in that facility. You have to be a hotel guest to get into it. We generate more revenue outside the room. We focus on Total RevPAR.” – Colin Reed
“Be prepared at the property level. Treat people respectfully. Stay strong on pricing.” – David Duncan, President, First Hospitality Group, Inc.
“Explain revenue management to GMs, it is the hard conversation to have.” – Rhett Hirko, Global VP, Revenue Optimization, Preferred Hotels & Resorts
“Make sure you understand pricing’s impact on profit.” – David Duncan
How to get guests back that you lost to Airbnb?
“Give them a good experience.” – Javier Egipciaco, SVP and Managing Director, Arlo Hotels
Going in to 2020:
“Be sure to have money in your reserves.” – Purvi Panwala
“Ditto, and provide education on revenue management.” – Rhett Hirko
“And get the most out of your marketing dollars.” – Wendy Norris, Corp Dir of Revenue Strategy & Distribution, Valencia Hotel Group
Monetize Unused Spaces.
“We just purchased an upscale ACME hotel in Chicago. In the basement, which was unused space, we created the “Bunny Slope Bar.” It accommodates 15 people. We get great social media coverage.” – Amy Hulbert, VP Boutique and Upscale Brands, Best Western® Hotels & Resorts
“Cater to the local environment. – Hot chicken in Nashville. You want to experience that city on property.” – Purvi Panwala, AAHOA. President & CEO, Purvi LLC
A Future Travel Trend
“We’ll see Uber in the skies in the next 8 to 10 months. We’ll see private airline suites, JFK to Miami, in the next 10 months.” – Alison Taylor, American Airlines, SVP of Global Sales and Distribution
The 2020 Hotel Data Conference will be held August 12 to 14, 2020, at the JW Marriott® Nashville. Watch for details at www.hoteldataconference.com.
Tech Companies, do you want to increase sales and influence? Call or email Michael Squires, President of Softscribe Inc., at 404-256-5512 or mbs(at)softscribeinc.com to set up a discovery meeting and brainstorm a few PR and marketing ideas.
About Softscribe Inc.
Achieves Significant Business Growth for Tech Clients in the Hospitality Industry.
We are the best in the industry at achieving significant business growth for technology companies. Our clients deliver enterprise solutions to the global hotel market and related industries.
Generates the Right Client Messages 100% of the Time.
Our focus is marketing content, search, and social media. We generate the right messages for client audiences 100% of the time. This is essential to close sales.
Softscribe Inc.’s professional team exceeds expectations with an average 19 years’ industry experience in branding, marketing communications and technology PR.
Julie Keyser-Squires, APR, CEO
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