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This year's HSMAI Lodging Chief Digital Officer Executive Roundtable was held on December 8, 2015 at Washington, D.C.

For those of you who attended, or did not attend the Roundtable, my presentation, "Distribution Parity: Where Do We Go From Here?", is available below. It features an overview of recent worldwide parity developments in the online distribution world.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.


This week finds me at LA Live in downtown Los Angeles attending this year's PhoCusWright Conference. Those in the hotel industry know LA live well - for the past few years the JW Marriott at LA Live has served as the host hotel for the industry's annual ALIS Conference. While ALIS is known for bringing together the hotel industry's best and brightest, I would submit that the 1600 plus attendees (from 40 plus countries) at this year's PhocusWright represent the future of travel and the hotel industry.

For those of you who attended, or even those of you who did not attend, below are the slides from my recent presentation in New Orleans at the Executive Vendor Summit. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

It seems fitting that my first post of 2014 would come from the year's first major industry conference - the Americas Lodging Investment Summit (ALIS) held each January in Los Angeles. As expected, this year's Summit set near record attendance (nearly 2,600 registered attendees) and its attendees were brimming with confidence.

The Hospitality Group hosted events in Seattle and Portland March 11 and 12, to discuss the comeback of hotel and hospitality-related development. More than 140 attendees ranging from construction industry representatives to flag representatives and investment bankers participated in the discussions. One panel about Construction and Transactional Development highlighted the return of bricks and mortar to the hospitality conversation.

“Out of the valley – Toward the peak” summarizes PKF Consulting USA’s predictions as offered by Chris Kraus, at the annual Northwest Hospitality Forums in Seattle, Washington and Portland, Oregon hosted by Garvey Schubert Barer’s Hospitality, Travel & Tourism practice group and program sponsors, CBRE Hotels, Premier Capital Associations, LLC and PKF Consulting USA. The forums are designed for hotel owners, developers, investors and operators as well as hospitality industry service providers, consultants and lenders.

One suspects that most Forum attendees liked what they heard about the status of Northwest economy generally from economists Mathew Gardner of Gardner Economics and Mark McMullen, State Economist and Director of the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis, and in particular the Northwest Hospitality Report from Chris Kraus. The linked chart offers Chris’s analysis regarding the hospitality industry’s place in the market cycle, and shows Seattle ahead of the curve.

Last week saw another Americas Lodging Investment Summit come and go. Over the course of 3 days, nearly 2500 lodging owners, operators, investors, consultants and other industry members descended on host hotel JW Marriott and the surrounding LA Live attractions. The 2500 attendees were the third highest in ALIS history, nearing the peak achieved back in 2006 and 2007 prior to the recession.

From the many attendees I spoke with during the course of the Conference, I’d describe the mood of most attendees as incredibly optimistic. With operating fundamentals expected to continue to improve in 2013 and beyond (more on this later) and supply growth expected to stay below the industry’s 30-year average, there was much to celebrate. From the discussions I had, many owners and operators are looking at 2013 as a year of incredible growth.

While I usually don’t make many of the sessions while at the Conference, the one session I try to make each year is the annual industry forecast. This year’s forecast entitled, “The Numbers – Where Are We Now and Where Are We Headed?” featured presentations by Randy Smith (Smith Travel Research), Mark Woodworth (PKF Consulting), Art Adler (Jones Lang LaSalle) and Adam Weissenberg (Deloitte & Touche). Highlights from Randy Smith’s presentation included . . .

    • Since 2010, U.S. lodging demand has increased at an annual rate of 15.7%
    • December 2012 set a new U.S. lodging demand record – 91.7 million guest rooms
    • It has taken approximately 5 ½ years to restore U.S. ADRs from the peak achieved in 2007

Travel industry and technology experts gathered at the Four Seasons Seattle this past Wednesday to participate in the region’s first conference devoted exclusively to the intersection of hospitality, travel and tourism with technology. The TNT Travel & Technology Conference was hosted by the Hospitality, Travel & Tourism practice group at Garvey Schubert Barer and local angel investment/opportunity facilitator and industry connector Zino Society. I conducted an informal interview of participants and attendees, which I selected randomly via a complex, proprietary algorithm (red wine vs. white wine; preference for mushroom quiches over Vietnamese spring rolls, cocktail napkin or no cocktail napkin) and 100% of respondents indicated the event was an unqualified success.

Garvey owner and chair of the firm’s E-Commerce and Technology practice, Scott Warner, and Hospitality, Travel & Tourism Practice chair, Greg Duff, each hosted a panel of experts—Scott, a group of expert technologists and Greg, a group of expert users. The former consisted of representatives from Expedia, Microsoft, Intelity, Sabre Hospitality, Google, Concur Technologies, Urbanspoon, Tnooz and Ascension Software and the latter of panelists from Evergreen Finance Consulting, Virtuoso, Alaska Airlines, Benchmark Hospitality, American Casino & Entertainment Properties, Mandarin Oriental and Holland America Line. See the linked Conference Program for a more detailed description of the panels and each of the panelists.

Garvey Schubert Barer’s Hospitality, Travel & Tourism practice group, in conjunction with program sponsors and presenters, recently hosted two morning Hospitality Forums in Seattle, Washington and Portland, Oregon. The forums were designed for hotel owners, developers, investors and operators as well as hospitality industry service providers, consultants and lenders. Both events were well attended—a testament to the sponsors and presenters who offered current data, insights and analysis into issues of importance to those in the hospitality industry. 

In particular, Matthew Gardner, of Gardner Economics, provided a macro-level discussion of current economic trends and then narrowed the focus to the Northwest. Matthew sees Seattle as having strong institutional underpinnings that will contribute to continued economic growth.  Within the Northwest, condominium projects are not being approved by banks. Apartment construction projects in Seattle are being approved but that segment may soon be over saturated. Matthew did not express concern with the limited amount of hospitality construction underway. A similar presentation by Tom Potiowsky, the PSU Chair of Economics and Director of the Northwest Institute for Applied Economic Research, led off things in Portland. Although not quite as bullish on the local economy as Matthew, Tom was confident that a recovery (although slow) was underway in Oregon, and more particularly, the greater Portland market. Copies of Matthew’s presentation and Tom’s presentation are attached. 

Days 2 and 3 at this year's ALIS conference were filled with numerous highlights, including a very well attended presentation (or should I say, political commentary) in the Nokia Theater by "the Donald" himself, Mr. Donald Trump. Days 2 and 3 were also filled with hundreds of meetings by conference attendees in nearly every hallway and corner of the hosts JW Marriott and Ritz Carlton.

While optimism continued to be the theme most often heard in the meetings I attended, the optimism was far from unbridled. With so many unknowns remaining in the world (e.g. European debt crises, continued high unemployment, the upcoming presidential election), nearly everyone recognized that the many signs pointing to an industry rebound could quickly change.

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About the Editor

Greg Duff founded and chairs Foster Garvey’s national Hospitality, Travel & Tourism group. His practice largely focuses on operations-oriented matters faced by hospitality industry members, including sales and marketing, distribution and e-commerce, procurement and technology. Greg also serves as counsel and legal advisor to many of the hospitality industry’s associations and trade groups, including AH&LA, HFTP and HSMAI.

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