People to watch—and things to wish—in the coming year

It’s hard to believe another year has passed and we’re putting the finishing touches on this issue as well as our annual Green Book, our last issues of the calendar year. It’s also hard to believe that this year’s list of “10 to Watch” is already our fifth such issue. It seems like just yesterday we discussed the idea of highlighting hospitality executives that we felt were poised to make their mark on the industry.

As is generally the case, this year’s list, which begins on page 14, includes executives representing a wide cross- section of the industry from brands such as Motel 6, Value Place and upstart Commune Hotels to OTAs like TripAdvisor, as well as the new AH&LA president Katherine Lugar.

As with any list, this one is bound to generate discussion and controversy about who was included and shouldn’t have been—and who was unfairly omitted. That’s okay, we know the passion our readers have for this industry and we would be disappointed if there wasn’t some debate. In fact, it wouldn’t be an ALIS conference without some- one grabbing me and saying, “Hey, how come I wasn’t on that list?”

This issue culminates what has been a good year, not just for Hotel Business, but for the entire industry. After all, RevPAR continued to grow throughout the U.S., transactions were on the rise,
and lodging stocks soared to new levels. And the industry continued to evolve this year,
as it always does, whether it was well-known brand companies going public or the supposed death of room service (stay tuned as the verdict is far from being in on that one). The more things change the more they stay the same.

The good news is that according to those firms that track such things, 2014 is setting up to be a pretty special year as well. Of course, there are things that bear watching, such as the impact of health care, but the general consensus is that business conditions should be pretty solid.

Since it’s that time of the year, here are a few personal wishes I have for the industry in the coming year. First and approach to new projects. (As an addendum to that, demolishing some of the old, existing product would be a good thing too.) Another wish of mine would be that the industry continues to invest in technology and look for ways to be more efficient, as well as increasing guest satisfaction.

Last, but definitely not least, let’s come up with a new des- ignation for hotels other than full-service and select- or limited-service. The lines have been sufficiently blurred among all of them and traditional select-service hotels are pretty much all in the f&b game to some extent now. I think the best answer is just to classify them by price point and move on.
First and foremost, a significant uptick in group travel that would lift the entire industry. I would also like to see us avoid the overbuilding trap we seem to always fall into and take a careful, measured approach. Here’s hoping you get what- ever’s on your wish list for 2014. Have a happy and healthy holiday season.