HB on the Scene: ALIS day 2

LOS ANGELES—The hospitality industry came together again here at the JW Marriott Los Angeles for the second day of the 2022 edition of the Americas Lodging Investment Summit (ALIS). Top of mind for many of the attendees and presenters was how the industry will look in 2022.

During the session, “Boardroom Outlook: Operations—Increasing Profitability Without Sacrificing Quality,” moderator Chip Rogers, president/CEO, American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA), discussed the issues that hoteliers will face in the new year with panelists Larry Cuculic, president/CEO, BWH Hotel Group; Sloan Dean, CEO/president, Remington Hotels; and Jeff Wagoner, president/CEO, Outrigger Hotels & Resorts.

Rogers began the session by asking the audience, as well as the panelists, what they felt the biggest issue facing the industry will be for the near future. Not surprisingly, both the audience and company leaders agreed that the workforce challenge is No. 1.

Cuculic said that since he took over the leadership of his company on Dec. 1, 2021, he has taken a listening tour of properties across the country. “Overwhelmingly, the answer to that question is labor,” he said. “When I ask our members how many of them have made beds in their hotels in the last year and a half, they all raise their hands.”

Dean said raising wages can help, but it is important to make sure that potential new workers—know that hospitality is more than just a job. “It is a good choice for a career path,” he said. “It is one of the few industries where you can only have a high school diploma and go on to become the CEO.”

Cuculic added that he thinks that those who have left hospitality for other industries will return. “People who have in their DNA caring for others will return to hospitality because that is what they enjoy doing,” he said. “Eventually, working at Amazon, scanning barcodes and pushing boxes down the line—I think that is a short-term decision that they will get tired of.”

Wagoner said that his company, which is based in Hawaii, does not have as big a problem with labor as the others. But, he added, he has to deal with inflation. “Inflation truly is something that we’re all going to be wrestling with for some time,” he said. “I think there are plenty of examples of inflation and how it is going to affect us, and I don’t think it is going to go away.”

Look for more conference coverage in the February issue of Hotel Business.