Hospitality Consulting Services
400 Spear Street, Suite 106
San Francisco, CA 94105
|by Rick Swig, September 2007
At the start of the Year, The International Society of Hospitality Consultants determined what would be the top 10 issues for the industry in 2007. They were, in order: labor and skills shortages; construction costs; technology; changing demographics and their impact on travel trends; future of hotel profits; branding; distribution revolution; travel restrictions; global emerging markets; and capital availability. Now that the year is halfway complete, let’s see how their predictions panned out.
ISHC noted that the availability of labor was the most critical issue. Hotels are now importing workers from Jamaica, the Philippines and various other locations just to support basic housekeeping and culinary services. In terms of salaried positions, hotel expansion and human resource attrition have reduced the experience and skills available for key positions. The industry must take some aggressive action, from improving pay scales to pressuring the government to adjust immigration policies, if it is to attract a workforce to deliver the services expected by customers. Construction and renovation costs have continued to soar in 2007. Global pressures on resources have overwhelmed even the most liberal budgets, while the ability to deliver goods on time to match renovation schedules has declined.
Technology continues to alter the ways hoteliers manage their businesses and customers make their purchases. Hotel owners and operators who have fallen behind the curve must invest now to catch up, whether it relates to operations, marketing and distribution or guest entertainment and telecommunications.
Demographic studies are proving that boomers, Gen X and Gen Y travelers are coming together to create a culture clash with their different moods and whims. And if you add travelers from emerging markets such as China and India, or the various subsectors within those demographic groups, from seniors and singles to families and gay travelers, there is even more product slicing and dicing to be considered.
Revenue managers are the new and dominant force, but can they figure out a way to successfully mix rate increases and market penetration tactics to boost profits? When will most markets learn to charge rates that are adequate to overcome expense growth and prevent further cutbacks on quality and service standards?
PricewaterhouseCoopers identified 24 new hotel brands in the last two years. Will any of them get the critical traction necessary to build familiarity with the customer?
Meanwhile, the transformation of global distribution systems in the 1990s helped to somewhat level the playing field. In many cases, the Internet has become the new distribution medium. Hotel operators, however, are now struggling to get their websites found over the clutter of key words and other optimizers.
And just when the dollar hits an all-time low, the US government makes it even more difficult for international travelers to gain entrance to the greatest travel bargain in decades. Meanwhile, greater global competition for travel currency has stimulated emerging destinations.
Tourism has become the number-one industry in too many locations, and traditional destinations may be sustaining volume but losing market share. Why go to Vegas when there is Macau? Dubai is now the resort superstar. Luxury travel is as accessible in the “third world” as it is in the first world. Domestic leisure destinations and the US government’s marketing initiatives need makeovers in order to compete.
Lastly, capital availability is contingent on maintaining investor and lender interest. Support will continue as long as the hotel industry’s cyclical expansion continues. The gap between cap rates and interest rates is thinning, so is it time to worry about the length of the cycle?
All of these critical issues are only continuing to escalate, rather
than subside, in 2007. And 2008 may be too late to start concentrating
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and not Real Estate Media or its publications.
Rick Swig is president of RSBA & Associates, a hospitality industry consulting firm based in San Francisco. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
RSBA & Associates
400 Spear Street, Suite 106
San Francisco, CA 94105
Tel: (415) 541-7722
Fax: (415) 541-5333
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|Lack of Human Capital Is Becoming Serious Issue for Hotel Owners, Operators / Rick Swig / December 2006|
|Successful Hotel Brand Differentiation Means Connecting With Customers / Rick Swig / RSBA Associates / June 2006|
|Shortage of Sites, Rising Expenses Should Keep Hotel Development in Check / Rick Swig / RSBA Associates / February 2006|
|In Today’s Hotel Acquisition Market, How Much Do Cap Rates Matter? / Rick Swig / RSBA Associates / January 2006|
|Lodging Business in Transitional Year, But Challenges Will Remain After ’05; A Hotel with Truly Unique Attributes Is Worth a Premium / Rick Swig / October 2005|
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|Travelers Prefer Innovation, Creativity Over Predictability, Discount Pricing / Rick Swig / March 2005|
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|Hotel Success Hinges on Relationship Between Owner, Asset Manager, GM / Rick Swig / August 2004|
|Hotel Operators Can Gain Market Share Through Distinctive Brand Images; A 100-room boutique hotel can develop more identity within a market than its 1,000-room competitor through customer impact points / Rick Swig / May 2004|
|Hotel Operators Must Share Blame with the Economy for Stagnant Performance / Rick Swig / RSBA Associates / January 2004|
|Investors Seeking Opportunistic Hotel Buys Are Likely to Come Up Empty Handed / November 2003|
|Hotel Sector Remains in the Game Despite Reaching Strike Three; Occupancies are now beginning to improve compared with last year and a poor first half of 2003 / September 2003|
|Some Stability Has Returned to the Hotel Sector, But Its Staying Power Is in Question; The Plundering of Lower Market Tiers Has Cost Upscale Hotels / May 2003|
|New Business Practices Essential to Lodging Companies’ Success / February 2003|
|Unreliable Market Trends Yield an Uncertain Direction / October 2002|
|The Bigger They Are, The Harder They Fall / September 2002|
|News of Boutiques’ Demise Is Greatly Exaggerated / May 2002|
|Management by Spreadsheet Erodes Full-Service Hotel Core Values / Feb 2002|
|Hotel Lenders Face Challenges In Tough Climate / October 2001|
|Where We Are Now Depends on Starting Point / Summer 2001|
|Solid Management Practices Can Improve Franchise Value / May 2001|
|Hotel Market Stagnation To Continue / January 2001|
|Here Today…but Tomorrow? / November 2000|
|Ready, Willing, and Unable? / August 2000|
|Independent Hotels: The New Brand Alternative / June 2000|
|Ankle Biter Syndrome / January 2000|
|Redefining a Mature Hotel Sector / November 1999|
|Focus On Operations Is Not Enough / August 1999|
|What’s Next?? / May 1999|
|Growth Through Management / Feb 1999|
|Expect a Subdued Market in 1999 / Feb 1999|
|Hotel Real Estate: Back to Fundamentals / Nov 1998|
|The Hotel Investment Barometer For Institutional Investors / 1998|
|The State of Independents / 1998|
|Success (or Survival) of Boutique Hotels and Resorts / 1998|