It goes without saying that when it comes to the long-term success of any hotel brand company, the CEO is vital. In addition to setting the strategic direction, these high-profile execs represent the faces of their respective companies and we see them often at the numerous industry events offering their insights and philosophies.
When it comes to the C-level suites, the industry is fortunate to have had such strong leadership for the past several years. There has been stability at the top and nothing much to report on in the way of change.
But there is another “developing story” in the industry, so to speak. A host of companies have seen development executives depart for “greener” pastures and the opportunity to grow the pipelines of competitive brand companies. In fact, it’s been a veritable game of musical chairs for the development executives in the industry and it’s been keeping us busy in the media.
For starters, page one of this issue features a story on Chris Ivy, a veteran development executive who recently left Interstate Hotels & Resorts to join Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group as chief development officer for the Americas. Ivy’s career includes several years with Hyatt Hotels Corp and Marriott International. In his new role, Ivy will pushing forward development of the Radisson Blu brand and looking to push the company’s Country Inn & Suites brand well beyond the 500-milestone.
Our Feb. 21 issue included a story on Ron Burgett leaving Red Lion to join Value Place as executive vp, franchise development. Burgett, whose experience includes several years with AmericInn as well as Choice Hotels International, is leading a new national team charged with doubling the company’s portfolio in the next five years.
Meanwhile, the lead story in our Feb. 7 issue covered industry veteran Phil Hugh joining Red Roof Inn as chief development officer earlier this year after 25 years of experience, including senior roles with Cendant Corp, HFS, and Wingate Inns. Hugh is looking to add some 50 hotels this year and double that in 2015.
Going back a little further, this past fall long-time Best Western development chieftain Mark Williams sent shock waves through the industry as he left the company to join G6 Hospitality, which includes the Motel 6 and Studio 6 brands, as director of business development.
There’s nothing new about brand executives changing companies, as we all know it’s a very incestuous industry by nature. But to see so many in such a short period of time makes you wonder what the impact will be. After all, anytime you leave one company for another you bring part of that company with you.
All of these executives have set forth aggressive growth targets in terms of numbers. Will they reach those targets? Probably not but that’s what brand guys do. In reality, if you take what they say and cut it in half you’re probably in the ballpark. Nevertheless, these guys figure to be busy as all of these aforementioned companies are eager to expand their pipelines in what promises to be a better economic environment than we’ve seen in several years.
At the end of the day, no one is more critical to a brand’s growth than the “development guy,” not even the CEO. The big question is are there more changes coming on the development front for the brand companies or is this it? I guess in the hotel industry the more things change the more they stay the same.