A big thank you to all of our readers who so graciously helped with the content of this issue by responding to my invitation to take a walk with Hotel Business down memory lane: a 25-year hike. We heard from Vimana’s Steve Belmonte who was featured in our first issue when he was with Ramada, as well as RLHC’s Roger Bloss, who was, at the time, with Economy Lodging Systems. And then there’s Jonathan Tisch, who has been at Loews the whole time. I also received a few letters, sharing stories of the past. It’s been a fun read for the editors who have not been here 25 years to gain insight into the topics that have shaped our industry. And, for Jay Schultz, SVP, Hospitality Group—who started his career at Hotel Business in 1993—it has been a chance to recall what makes this industry great and to share those recollections with us—and you.
What have been the hottest stories Hotel Business covered? Number one: Starwood’s acquisition of Sheraton—the deal that set Barry Sternlicht on his path to mega success. Also, Airbnb. We haven’t seen its full impact on the marketplace yet. And the continued growth of Disney and how its hotels have become nearly as important to the overall brand as its theme parks. Also, who can forget Henry Silverman changing the face of franchising by acquiring a dozen-plus brands during the ’90s and early 2000s?
Fondest memory? Attending the now-defunct Hopgood conference (an investment conference in Hartford, CT) and meeting Barry Sternlicht before he was larger than life. He was there, flying solo, and it was raining. I met him in an elevator. He was soaking wet. No umbrella. No fanfare. And within the year, he had won the battle with Hilton’s Steve Bollenbach in the quest for Sheraton. Shortly thereafter, he acquired Westin. From then on, Barry was always dry—and had an entourage!
Biggest change? The industry becoming more of a real estate play, and hotel stocks being welcomed on Wall Street.
Five topics that shaped the industry? Consolidation. Franchising. Disruption. Relationships. Innovation.
What you hope the future of lodging holds? For developers to learn from their mistakes.
Best advice from someone in the hospitality industry? Nobody’s bigger than the brand.
Most surprising thing about the industry? How such a few made such a difference in creating and evolving it.
Any stories about Hotel Business? We literally stopped the presses. The 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center had to be covered in a timely manner. This was before we had a digital media presence to get the news out. We stopped everything to accommodate the story and handle it with the reverence it deserved.