HB Exclusive: IDeaS hosts Thought Leadership Roundtable

Prior to the opening of the 45th annual NYU International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference at the New York Marriott Marquis, hospitality revenue management software and services provider IDeaS, a SAS company, held a Thought Leadership Roundtable that brought together a varied group from around the hospitality industry.

The roundtable, moderated by Michael Frenkel, principal, Travel Conversations LLC, included Chris Green, president, Remington Hotels; David Israel, EVP, hotelAVE; George Limbert, outgoing president, Red Roof; Krishna Paliwal, president, La Quinta by Wyndham; Garth Peterson, global area VP, new business sales, IDeaS; Vikram Pradhan, global head, revenue, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts; Brian Quinn, chief development officer, Sonesta International Hotel Corporation; Chip Rogers, president/CEO, AHLA; Thomas Song, CFO, Aimbridge Hospitality; and Russ Stanziale, chief sales and growth officer, IDeaS.

Frenkel opened the conversation by asking whether 2019 matters compared to the current hospitality statistics.

Green offered that it does matter because it was the all-time high bar, for occupancy, ADR and other performance in the industry. “Obviously, we’ve seen things change now and it’s a different view that we’re looking at, but that still matters for us ops guys that are in the room,” he said. “We want to know how we’re doing and where things are heading.”

He said that 2023 is “shaping up to be new and different.” Remington’s group bookings are up some 19% over 2019 for the first half of the year and F&B is up, with an 89% increase in catering bookings over the same time in 2019. “There is tremendous energy around that, which really speaks to the fact that we are moderating back to more normal travel,” he added.

Red Roof’s Limbert said that they are starting to see the economy traveler starting to pull back a bit. “We’re doing the Hokey Pokey with a recession—’you put one foot in a recession, and you put one foot out, you do the Hokey Pokey and you hope it’s not true.’ So it’s an interesting year.”

Quinn said that while he is cautious of a recession, the numbers are telling a different story. “We keep waiting for the one foot in on the recession piece to hit the summer demand, but we just don’t see it—the reservation volume is strong, bookings are strong…[and] food & beverage and catering, we are definitely seeing more events at the hotels that are not necessarily always attached to rooms.”

No gathering of hotel industry leaders could take place without the topic of the labor crunch, which was a concern before the pandemic, coming up. “We try to convince lawmakers that this is a problem, that it’s not a blip—it’s structural. And so there are two ways to do this….at least from our industry perspective, we have to steal employees from other industries, which is really tough and hard to keep them once you do that, or you have to have more available employees. …If every single person that is allegedly out there looking for a job and went and got a job tomorrow, we’d still have millions of unfilled positions. That has to get fixed.”

He did say that there has been more movement on work visas, but there hasn’t been much on immigration.

Aimbridge’s Song said that labor cost and labor management are a “great place” for the industry to rethink what it takes to run a hotel. “The more we think and talk about labor, getting better people and retaining better people, and retention is a conversation we don’t talk about enough.”