HB on the Scene: The Hospitality Show hosts inaugural conference

The inaugural edition of the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA)’s The Hospitality Show opened at The Venetian Las Vegas with a reported 3,500 attendees.

During “The Demand Generation: Asking for Everything!” opening panel, moderated by Danielle Bozarth, senior partner, McKinsey, panelists Jay Caiafa, COO, The Americas, IHG Hotels & Resorts; Leslie D. Hale, president/CEO, RLJ Lodging Trust; and John Murray, president/CEO, Sonesta International Hotels Corporation, offered their takes on what guests are looking for in their stays.

Murray said that guest demand often varies by market. “There are some guests after the pandemic are still a little bit skittish about daily housekeeping. About 30% to 40% of our guests who are going to stay for a couple of nights are not going to have their rooms cleaned.”

Caiafa said that what guests expect has not changed that much from prior to the pandemic. “Generally speaking, I don’t think there’s been a revolution what the guests expect,” he said. “They’ve always expected the same things. They want a safe experience. They want it to be clean, they want to feel secure. They want their amenities to be there. They want things to be open.”

What has changed is that the guests are expecting more because the rates are higher. “If somebody checked into a hotel and there was small a problem and you recovered really well, it actually generated more loyalty from that recovery,” he said. “It’s not really that way [anymore], because now they’re paying rates that are so high that they feel as if services should be perfect.”

With the rise of bleisure travel and more guests having a combined stay, Hale said that the focus has changed. “When we used to think about capital deployment in the asset, we used to focus our renovations around what the business customer needed. Now we are being a little more sensitive to what the leisure travelers’ needs are.”