A Look Ahead – The Lodging Conference 2019

Andrew Hazelton, Matt Peterson | GENERAL COMMENTARY
Later this month the 25th Annual Lodging Conference will be held in Scottsdale, Arizona, an event that historically caps off the “conference year” for many in the hotel business. It is a time to reconnect with industry friends and colleagues, but it also gives us a few days to pause and reflect on the past year and speculate on the year to come. Heading into the event there are a number of agenda items that pique our interest, so let’s dive in.
  • The State of the Union: Like many of those attending, we have a high level of curiosity as to how key leaders and economic experts feel about the general pulse of the industry and how the current economic climate will impact the hospitality business. Hearing from Bernard Baumohl of The Economic Outlook Group should prove captivating, especially his thoughts as to how the current US/China Trade Wars, Brexit, and the upcoming election year will affect the industry in 2020. Inevitably, that will tee up two panels in which top executives from organizations including Aimbridge, Best Western, Accor, Radisson, IHG, and G6 Hospitality will provide their perspective on the overall industry. These key panel discussions tend to set the conference mood — one we suspect will be filled with continued “cautious optimism.”
  • Travel Trends & Disruptors: Sitting in on the “Travel Trends” conversation will also be of high interest to us, specifically when there are major players like Booking.com and Facebook on the panel. As we know, consumers, specifically the next generation of savvy travellers, continue to lean toward more “bespoke” and customized travel experiences. It will be interesting to hear how hot hotel companies are driving initiatives to capitalize on such demand that will ideally differentiate themselves from their competitive set. We also know major “sharing economy” players like Airbnb and Uber aren’t going away anytime soon, and they continue to see increased usage from leisure and business travellers. We are intrigued to understand what the data and statistics are really telling us about these “disruptors.” We are also curious as to what the panel’s perspective will be on the future of the existing hotel model and how it will evolve. It will be interesting to see how the traditional hospitality organizations will join in the evolution.
  • Technology: Lastly, any topic that has to do with technology and innovation will be of high interest as well. Hotel brands and owners continue to try and leverage technological advancements for a better overall guest experience, such as mobile technology and user-friendly platforms for connectivity in rooms and common areas. Big Data will continue to be a hot topic and how it is being leveraged by hotel companies to further personalize their guest experience. As the savvy traveller continues to seek out and identify with a more personalized experience, companies will be more proactive in acquiring guest information and curating these experiences. However, with Big Data comes the enhanced need for cyber security. Hotel companies must continue to spend dollars to protect guests’ privacy from online bookings, apps, and on-property usage. It would ultimately be great to hear some statistics on the overall ROI from implementing these new technologies; at the end of the day, it is providing an experience that keeps the guest returning and, with that, a valuable and smart investment.
See you in Scottsdale!