SALT LAKE CITY—Leading hotel owners and developers offered their insight into some of the most talked about topics in the lodging industry during the 2014 Hotel Business Owners & Developers Executive Roundtable. Hosted by Red Lion Hotels and presented by Hotel Business, the roundtable was held Thursday, August 14 at Red Lion Salt Lake Downtown, located here.
Sponsored by Arthur J. Gallagher Hospitality Services, Merchant Link and Valley Forge Fabrics, the roundtable discussion primarily explored three main topics that included the viability of AirBnB as a competitor to the hotel industry, capturing the interest of the Millennial generation and lessons learned from overcoming the last economic downturn. Jay Schultz, SVP, ICD Publications Hospitality Group, moderated the executive panel.
When asked about the rising presence of AirBnB, panelists expressed their concerns that this global network poses a feasible threat to the industry and supported the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s advocacy for fair regulations. “I think it’s a big deal and it scares me,” said Navin Dimond, president & CEO, Stonebridge Co. “This is a viable competitor, just in its infancy. We need to be very vigilant.”
Addressing a popular topic in the industry, executives brainstormed on how best to capture the purchasing power of the Millennials. Bill Linehan, EVP, chief marketing officer, Red Lion Hotels, noted that this demographic wants greater recognition and instant gratification. “We’re changing our loyalty program,” he said. “Instead of a points-based program, we are moving toward a program that instantly recognizes them.”
The executive panel also discussed lessons learned from the last economic downturn. As opposed to purchasing assets, Robert Olson, CEO & president, R.D. Olson Development, managed to find opportunities in new construction and opened seven new hotels since 2008.
Other panelists included: Rolf Tweeten, chairman, Alliance Hospitality; Samuel Reynolds, SVP development, Apple REIT Companies; Michael Cahill, CEO & founder, HREC; Adam Suleman, acquisition & asset management, Equinox Hospitality; Jeffrey Summers, VP, business development, Hampshire Hotel Management; Kenneth Fearn, managing partner, Integrated Capital; Walter Barela, principal, Peak Hospitality; Greg Mount, president & CEO, Red Lion Hotels; Chris Diffley, managing director, investment management, Rockbridge; Bill Sipple, managing director, HVS Capital Corp.; Michael Everett, chief investment officer, Sage Hospitality; and Rick Takach, president & CEO, Vesta Hospitality.
For more information, look for the Executive Roundtable editorial feature that will appear in the Hotel Business Top 100 Owners and Developers Issue, which will be released September 7th. Additionally, video interviews of the panelists will soon appear on HotelBusiness.com.