As HD gets ready for a few busy months with our HD Summit (happening this week in sunny California—which I’m not mad about), HD Expo, and our HD Awards, we’ll see firsthand how the industry has changed even over the past year. It’s exciting time to be in the business and that feeling of positivity is palpable, and a welcome relief from the years of the recession.
It’s been a little over a month since the Americas Lodging Investment Summit (ALIS), and there’s still so much to talk about. But when many hotel leaders are in one room, what they say resonates—creating a ripple effect in the industry.
Indeed, during a hotel leaders panel at ALIS, top industry executives were also looking forward to the year ahead. Here are some of their top takeaways about the ever-evolving industry.
- IHG acquiring Kimpton was a long time coming, said Michael Depatie, CEO at Kimpton, and not surprising either. “When I joined Kimpton 12 years ago, someone made me an offer to buy the company … and as the boutique segment of the business has gotten more popular and better known” it was logical that people would look at Kimpton more seriously, he says.
- “Having a big brand behind you might not be such a bad idea,” Depatie added. With the initiation of more soft brands (Autograph, Curio by Hilton, Loews’ OE Collection), it helps boutiques go more mainstream, giving guests a unique experience but also something they’re familiar with, as well—the best of both worlds.
- The big question on everyone’s mind, especially in the wake of IHG’s acquisition of Kimpton: Do boutique hotels lose their uniqueness as it gets “branded?” asked Jon Bortz, president and CEO of Pebblebrook Hotel Trust.
- An unsurprising trend, according to Bortz, is that people want better experiences so they can share online.
- “We’re really focused on keeping things simple and innovative,” Gregory Mount, president and CEO of Red Lion Hotels, said. That means hiring the right people and embracing things the industry hasn’t in the past. “One of the things I learned is to bring folks in who don’t work in the industry,” he added.
- Other concerns: the drop in oil prices and continued efforts to make it easier for international travelers to come to the U.S.