3 Things We Learned At ALIS
Demand for hotels is up. International travel to the U.S. is down. Hotel owners are committed to grooming a new generation of workers in the field.
Those were among the hot issues discussed during the Americas Lodging Investment Summit Jan. 22-24 at the JW Marriott in Los Angeles.
The annual conference attracted more than 3,000 attendees from around the world, with panels and experts discussing the state of the hospitality industry, upcoming technology in hotels and other issues.
Here are three things we learned:
Training The Next Generation
The American Hotel & Lodging Association, the trade group that represents hotels, has partnered with the U.S. Department of Labor to support and bring in new workers to the hospitality industry.
American Hotel & Lodging Association President and CEO Katherine Lugar said the program helps bridge the skills gap and provides young people a legitimate pathway to a career.
"[The apprenticeship task force program] would help provide a management track program to those who want to advance their career without having to go to the traditional four-year college,” Lugar said.
Since the program launched in June, employers from partner hotels such as Hyatt, Wyndham, Hilton and others have committed to enrolling more than 400 apprentices nationwide.
Hotel management identifies current employees who show high potential to move into management positions, as well as new hire employees for the program.
Employees are placed in a structured training program that leads to an accelerated path to management positions such as general manager, assistant general manager or a supervisory role, American Hotel & Lodging Association officials said after the summit.
Addressing Less Travel To The U.S.
The World Travel & Tourism Council Chairman Gerald Lawless, citing data from the U.S. National Travel and Tourism Office, said international travel to the U.S. is down 6.4% to 19.9 million year over year.
But travel and hospitality industry experts said it is more complicated than that.
CBRE Hotels Senior Managing Director Mark Woodworth said the foreign travel decline trend began in 2015 before Trump came into office. He also said the strong U.S. dollar makes it more expensive for foreigners to vacation in the U.S.
Citing travel statistics, Lugar said of the top 15 countries in the world, only two have seen a decline in inbound travel — the U.S. and Turkey. International travel to New York City is down 21%, she said.
“This means not just fewer people in hotels, but fewer people eating at our restaurants, fewer people shopping, fewer people visiting our national attractions and, most importantly, fewer people coming into our country and falling in love with it,” Lugar said.
“That is why I think we have an opportunity to work with the administration and say, ‘This isn’t just a flight decrease. This means $32B in lost revenue so far this year,’” she said.
Lugar said there is a great opportunity for the Trump administration to issue a message that the U.S. is open for business.
More Demand Ahead
Experts were cautiously optimistic to see how well the hotel industry nationwide is holding up.
With the economy in its ninth year of growth, hotel demand remains up and there is no sign of a drop-off in the near future.
In 2018, supply for hotels will rise 2% and demand by 2.3%, according to hotel data company STR. While occupancy is expected to rise 0.3%, the average daily rate is slated to increase by 2.4%. Revenue per available room is forecast to grow 2.7%.
Woodworth said the recent tax reform could mean an increase in consumer spending and possibly lead to higher revenue per available room.
“There’s a growing view perhaps that we’re getting ready for or already in a cycle within a cycle," Woodworth said. "We could see a bit of a surge [in consumer spending] in the next six, nine or 12 months."