Brenna Halliday, VP, strategic insight for lodging REIT Host Hotels & Resorts Inc., knew she wanted to have a career in the hospitality industry after a family trip to Southeast Asia.
“When I was 17, we visited Malaysia. Seeing the incredible mix of cultures there, tasting the unfamiliar foods and interacting with staff at our rainforest resort left a vivid and lasting impression,” she said. “Hospitality creates this opportunity to experience new things and, most importantly, to share and understand others; I wanted to be a part of that.”
The graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration originally sought a career in hotel operations, but “quickly became fascinated with the real estate side of the industry. After nearly 15 years on this side, my role has evolved from detailed transaction analysis on individual properties, to big-picture market forecasting and strategic portfolio-level insight.”
Following two years at Hilton as senior analyst, feasibility and investment analysis, Halliday came to Host Hotels in 2005 as senior director, portfolio strategy and feasibility. She was elevated to her current position in June 2012.
“My job is to understand the big picture,” said Halliday, who last year earned her master’s degree at Georgetown University. “Timely and succinct insight on macroeconomic and industry fundamentals is a critical tool for senior management. I evaluate trends in consumer preferences, market supply and demand, and the global economy in order to identify the destinations and property types that are likely to outperform. These insights improve our decision-making capabilities so that we can prioritize investments and take advantage of market opportunities.”
She has created a proprietary forecasting tool that predicts which markets will outperform in the future. “This enables us to make smart acquisition, disposition and reinvestment decisions,” she said.
Halliday believes that there will be massive change in the industry based on expanding capabilities in data analytics, in particular in leveraging artificial intelligence (AI). “This will impact not just operations and consumer insight, where there is still tremendous opportunity in our industry, but also how we invest successfully,” she said. “I see myself at the forefront of that shift.”