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Hotel leaders’ positive outlooks at NYU hotel investment conference

Several of the world’s leading hoteliers have given their outlook to several thousand delegates at the 39th Annual NYU International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference in New York this week (June 5-6), with many expecting the industry to remain positive.

On the ‘CEOs Check In: A View From the Top’ panel moderated by Bloomberg TV’s Betty Liu, Thomas J. Baltimore, Jr., chairman and chief executive officer, Park Hotels & Resorts; Sébastien Bazin, chairman and chief executive officer, AccorHotels; Mark S. Hoplamazian, president and chief executive officer, Hyatt Hotels Corporation; and Dara Khosrowshahi, president and chief executive officer, Expedia, discussed the rise of the experience economy, the crucial need for strong investment in infrastructure, and the importance of empathy and human engagement in creating a better customer experience.

When discussing today’s discerning travellers, who increasingly want to immerse themselves in an experience that includes impeccable service at an affordable price, Bazin said: “People want time well lived, not money well spent.”

Bazin’s sentiment was echoed by his fellow panelists who also underscored the importance of customer interactions and experiences.

In addition, all panelists agreed that infrastructure needs to be a top priority of the new presidential administration and that the industry must make certain its voice is heard on this important issue.

Baltimore reiterated remarks made earlier in the morning by Jonathan M. Tisch, chairman and CEO of Loews Hotels and Company and co-chairman of the Board and member of the Office of the President of Loews Corporation, on the need for industry to be engaged, using its voice to support reforms and initiatives that are critical to the country’s economic productivity and success.

The panel also touched on the latest innovations in the industry. Khosrowshahi discussed the ways in which voice search and interaction will change the industry as well as the larger customer experience, while Hoplamazian emphasized the important role of empathy, human engagement, and common-sense approaches that allow hotel employees to provide a better customer experience.

During the ‘Leaders Check In – Part Two’ the next day, five top industry thought leaders convened for an open conversation on the financial state of the hospitality industry and the potential challenges and growth opportunities it faces in the current economic environment.

In a panel moderated by PwC’s Scott D. Berman, Chris Cahill, chief executive officer, Luxury Brands, AccorHotels; Steve Haggerty, global head of Capital Strategy, Franchising, and Select Service, Hyatt Hotels Corporation; Kevin J. Jacobs, executive vice president and chief financial officer, Hilton; Elie Maalouf, chief executive officer, The Americas, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG); and Mit Shah, chief executive officer and senior managing principal, Noble Investment Group, discussed the industry’s growth potential as it related to geopolitical and economic shifts. Most have seen, and believe they will continue to see, moderate growth while also acknowledging the industry’s track record of solid growth over the last 25 years.

Focusing on customer service, all agreed that it is a pivotal part of their business, echoing a key theme that was expressed throughout the conference. Cahill of AccorHotels also noted that many individuals now see travel as their right rather than as a discretionary spend.

The final portion of the discussion explored business scalability, with an emphasis on specific segments and markets, as well as leveraging scale to analyze customer data and introduce and test new technologies.

Pictured at the top of the page from left to right: Thomas J. Baltimore, Jr., chairman and chief executive officer, Park Hotels & Resorts; Sébastien Bazin, chairman and chief executive officer, AccorHotels; Betty Liu, anchor, Bloomberg Television and founder and CEO of Radiate; Mark S. Hoplamazian, president and chief executive officer, Hyatt Hotels Corporation; and Dara Khosrowshahi, president and chief executive officer, Expedia. Photo Credit: NYU SPS/Mark McQueen.

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