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The Importance Of Meeting Guests Where They Are In Hospitality

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In hospitality, not only is it important to meet the specific needs of guests, but competition is also something that should be valued, according to IHG CEO, The Americas Elie Maalouf.

IHG CEO, The Americas Elie Maalouf and moderator, Team Leader Lockton Insurance China, US Business Claudia Margolis.
IHG CEO, The Americas Elie Maalouf and moderator, team leader Lockton Insurance China, U.S. business Claudia Margolis

"We compete with every form of accommodation, and that's good because competition is important," Maalouf said at the recent Big West Coast Hospitality Event in LA. "Competition is what keeps companies and businesses relevant, keeps them in front of their customers and makes sure they are taking care of their customers."

InterContinental Hotels Group has more than 5,000 hotels in nearly 100 countries.

IHG CEO The Americas Elie Maalouf at BLIS West.
IHG CEO, The Americas Elie Maalouf

IHG's new 350-room Hotel Indigo Downtown LA, which had its inaugural opening a few weeks ago, was developed with Greenland USA and is part of the $1B Metropolis development.

"We design each of our brands to have a specific personality to meet your purpose, but then we have to continue evolving," Maalouf said.

IHG has 58 hotels in LA and 17 more in the pipeline. He said it makes sense to go big on LA sinceĀ it is such a global gateway city.

IHG CEO The Americas Elie Maalouf and moderator, Team Leader Lockton Insurance China, US Business Claudia Margolis.
IHG CEO, The Americas Elie Maalouf and moderator, team leader Lockton Insurance China, U.S. business Claudia Margolis

Globally and in the U.S., the fundamentals are strong with industry demand continuing to grow at about 3% to 4% despite supply going up and down, according to Maalouf.

IHG started with one or two brands 70 years ago and now has 12.

IHG is expanding its Middle Eastern brands. The company recently signed for four new hotels in the Middle East and Africa. IHG also is opening six new hotels across Gulf Cooperation Council nations this year.

Facebook Industry Manager for Travel Kate Hamill, Proper Hospitality COO Arash Azarbarzin and Marriott vice president of development Tiffany Cooper.
Facebook Industry Manager for Travel Kate Hamill, Proper Hospitality Chief Operating Officer Arash Azarbarzin and Marriott Vice President of Development Tiffany Cooper

Marriott International also believes in the importance of putting guests first.

It is about creating an emotional connection with guests, according to Marriott vice president of development Tiffany Cooper.

"We feel we have a brand to fit each lifestyle," Cooper said of Marriott's 30 distinctive brands.

As a result, Marriott has the size and scale to be able to provide choices, she said.

Trust Hospitality CEO Richard Millard, Marriott VP Development Tiffany Cooper, ACE Hotel Head of Development Kelly Sinclair, Facebook Industry Manager for Travel Kate Hamill, Proper Hospitality COO Arash Azarbarzin and G6 Hospitality CDO Robert Palleschim.
Trust Hospitality's Richard Millard, Marriott's Tiffany Cooper, ACE Hotel's Kelly Sinclair, Facebook's Kate Hamill, Proper Hospitality's Arash Azarbarzin and G6 Hospitality's Robert Palleschim

G6 Hospitality chief development officer Robert Palleschim said for his company's hotels, which include Motel 6 and Studio 6, the draw is distribution and the price point.

"Millennials want to spend money on the experiences on local markets, on attractions, with the great restaurants," Palleschim said.

G6 has 1,400 locations around the U.S.

Mobile is also important for the industry to focus on because that is where Millennials are spending the vast majority of their time, according to Facebook industry manager for travel Kate Hamill.

"Very few of them have cable subscriptions or subscribe to magazines, so when you're thinking about how to reach Millennials, mobile is absolutely the way to do it," Hamill said.

Facebook has 1 billion people connecting via mobile devices worldwide every day, and one in every five minutes spent on mobile is on Facebook and Instagram's apps, she said.

CORRECTION, MAY 2, 12:30 P.M. PT: A previous version of this story erroneously said IHG CEO, The Americas Elie Maalouf had flown in the night before the event. The story has been updated.