Hunter celebrates 30 with strong attendance

ATLANTA—There was cause for celebration at the Hunter Hotel Conference, held here at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis, as organizers and attendees of the investment event marked its 30th anniversary.

Hospitality leaders were buoyed by strong economic indicators, including the Federal Reserve’s move to raise interest rates from 1.5% to 1.75%—the highest level since 2008—with at least two more increases forecast.

Elie Maalouf, CEO, Americas, IHG, noted that a growing gross domestic product, tax cuts, increased consumer spending and high consumer confidence equals a favorable outcome for the hotel industry. “Profits are profits and people will spend on travel,” said Maalouf. “I’m watching consumer debt and the credit card delinquencies. It first starts to trickle.”

Brand proliferation remained a hot topic, with less talk about “how many brands are too many” and more discussion around “how many will survive.”

And now, for a question often asked at this conference—and many others: What inning are we in? Bob Hunter captured the overall mood, stating, “Cycles don’t die of old age. In 2014 and ’15, we were in the sixth inning of a double header. In ’16, we were concerned. In ’17, we were in the 10th inning of an 18-inning game. In 2018, we are tired of baseball analogies,” he said. “We are now 96 months positive vs. 56 months prior (2002-2009) and 111 months prior (1992-1999).”

Play ball. HB