HB ON THE SCENE: NABHOOD Exec Panel Discusses Shaping Talent, Defining Trends

MIAMI—Several industry executives took the main stage at NABHOOD’s annual summit in front of a packed ballroom of developers, owners and students to discuss top industry issues, including shaping talent, defining trends and raising capital.

Here’s a snapshot of what was discussed.

How can hospitality students excel in the industry?
“I think what’s most important is preparation,” said Norman Jenkins, president of Capstone Development.

The panel encouraged students in the room to try different roles in the industry to determine what they’d be good at before committing to a particular path.

“I didn’t like hotel operations, but I was pretty good at finance, management and accounting, and got on that track,” said Bill Fortier, SVP of development of Americas at Hilton, when sharing his story about how he first began in the industry. He also suggested students find mentors who can assist with opening opportunities.

Who’s controlling the trends?
“The customers are really telling us what they want,” said Warren Fields, CEO of Pyramid Hotel Group.

Customers are doing this in various ways, including sharing personal data, but even this has its limits. Brands find guests don’t mind providing data as long as it’s being used to enhance the guest experience.

“You don’t want to tell a hotel three times that you like feathered pillows,” said Julius Robinson, VP and global brand leader of classic full-service brands at Marriott.

Today’s lending landscape: How’s it looking?
For hoteliers in need of capital for projects, there’s plenty of capital to go around.

“Lending is as good as it’s ever been right now,” Fields said. “There are more firms that are lending—between private equity, debt funds, banks. It’s as good as I’ve ever seen it.”

The “A View From the Top” panel also discussed technology, innovations and other industry topics. For additional coverage of the panel and other discussions from NABHOOD’s annual summit, read the 8/21 issue of Hotel Business.