Lodging Leaders show

Lodging Leaders

Summary: Lodging Leaders is an award-winning weekly podcast that examines trends and issues impacting the hospitality industry. Each week, we bring listeners on a journey through engaging stories narrated by co-hosts by Jon Albano and Judy Maxwell, and amplified by interviews with hospitality experts and other thought leaders. Each enhanced episode leverages modern media to provide closed captions, chapter markers with images and links, and an expanded multimedia report with downloadable transcriptions, while adhering to strict editorial standards. The longest running, top-ranking hospitality podcast, Lodging Leaders received a Bronze Stevie® Award in 2020 for Podcast of the Year in the 17th annual Stevie® Awards for Women in Business. Its parent company, Long Live Lodging, also received a Bronze Stevie® Award in the Media Hero of the Year category for its expanded coverage of the coronavirus COVID-19 crisis on the hotel industry.

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  • Artist: Jon Albano and Judy Maxwell
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 317 | Together Again: U.S. hotel industry begins to see return of small meetings | File Type: audio/x-m4a | Duration: 23:14

{caption}NEW MEETING MIXER: The hotel industry is seeing small meetings begin their return, with most planners booking for the second half of 2021. More planners are organizing hybrid events that feature live streaming of in-person events to attendees that cannot or do not want to travel or meet face-to-face in the age of COVID-19.{/caption} Corporate business makes up majority of events, say experts who anticipate an unleashing of pent-up demand s public health agencies expand COVID-19 vaccination programs across the U.S. and states ease up on public-gathering restrictions designed to keep the virus at bay, the hotel industry is seeing small meetings begin a comeback. On March 10, Knowland reported meetings in the U.S. increased 110 percent from January to February. That’s a significant uptick, even though the first month of the year typically sees the fewest meetings, said Kristi White, vice president of product management at Knowland. “January is always a little bit slower of a month, but this was a significant pickup,” White said. “It’s the biggest pickup we’ve seen month over month since the very beginning of tracking it back at the beginning of the summer.” That’s when Knowland noticed markets closed because of the COVID-19 outbreak began to reopen. “That brought some different volume back in,” White said, adding meetings “are not coming back in dribs and drabs. They came roaring back.” “It was almost as if companies knew that meetings were going to be allowed the next week, and they all called and booked a meeting,” she said. “There wasn’t that sense of hesitancy.” {caption}TOGETHER AGAIN: The U.S. hotel industry is beginning to see a comeback in small meetings more than a year after the coronavirus pandemic put a stop to public gatherings. Episode 317 of Lodging Leaders podcast explores the state of the small meeting sector and how hotels can grab their share of the market resurgence.{/caption} Knowland’s report also noted that in February the average number of meeting attendees was 39. It was the same number reported in February 2020. Thirty-nine people makes for a small meeting, but that’s not unusual in the meeting-planning world. White said it’s a “fallacy” that most meetings are large conventions when, in fact, the majority of meetings in the U.S. are small. “Sixty percent of the meetings that occur fall under the 100-person mark,” she said. “The vast majority of meetings that are physically occurring aren’t the behemoths that we’re all thinking about. They’re in that smaller space. The behemoth meetings, the ones above 500 people, actually make up less than 4 percent of the meetings in the United States.” {caption}MEETINGS BUSINESS: Knowland’s latest report shows corporate meetings account for the majority of small meetings booked in February. Kristi White, vice president of product management at the analytics company, said this is a sign that pent-up demand for meetings is beginning to unleash and hotels should start to promote their spaces.{/caption} With regard to the event space, Knowland noted that in February meetings’ square footage increased year over year, largely because of social distancing protocols created during the coronavirus pandemic. Though, most meetings in 2020 were leisure-driven and included events such as weddings and family reunions, Knowland reported that in February corporate business accounted for nearly 62 percent of meetings. White said although the term “revenge travel” usually refers to leisure bookings, she believes businesses are part of the pent-up demand hotel-industry forecasters expect to be unleashed in the last half of this year.

 316 | Pandemic Trailblazer: Hunter Hotel Investment Conference leads lodging industry’s 2021 event circuit | File Type: audio/x-m4a | Duration: 19:21

The Hunter Hotel Investment Conference will be the industry’s first large event to be held during the coronavirus pandemic. The Atlanta event will be a hybrid format of in-person and virtual access, also an industry first. Lee Hunter, chairman of the conference, knows the level of expectation is high after more than a yearlong hiatus. Episode 316 features Hunter as he tells what it takes to re-launch the industry’s conference circuit amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

 315 | COVID Comp Sets: The pandemic has dramatically altered hotels’ playing fields | File Type: audio/x-m4a | Duration: 34:08

{caption}The coronavirus crisis has forced hotels to reexamine their traditional competitive set as nearby properties close or transition to other uses.{/caption} Experts advise owners and operators look differently at business drivers, including who is booking these days he coronavirus crisis has altered the business models of many hotels. For that reason, the pandemic also is forcing hotel managers to reconsider their competitive sets and how to benchmark their hotel’s business performance. Just about every hotel owner and operator is familiar with STR’s STAR Report. STAR is an acronym for Smith Travel Accommodations Report. Smith Travel Research is the original name of STR Inc., which switched its official company name to the initialization several years ago. The STAR Report is a weekly roundup of how one hotel operation is faring against similar lodging businesses in a given market. The STAR Report has been around for more than 20 years. It identifies a competitive set of hotels in a specific market and enables hoteliers to see the performance metrics of nearby hotels of like size and service levels. It’s a valuable tool for hotel managers crafting a strategy to grab their hotel’s fair share of business in a market. {caption}COVID COMP SETS: The pandemic has dramatically altered the playing field for hotels that use competitive sets to benchmark their business against similar hotels in their market. Episode 315 of Lodging Leaders podcast explores the origin of the competitive set and how the coronavirus crisis as reconfigured the traditional business-performance tool.{/caption} Birth of the Comp Set As common as a competitive set or comp set has been to hotel operators, it is among many things the coronavirus crisis has changed in the lodging industry. In fact, the lead creator of the benchmarking tool says comp sets, if used today as originally conceived, can misguide business decisions during and post-pandemic. Mark Lomanno was president of STR from 1999 through 2011. During his tenure, Lomanno led the creation of the traditional competitive set. Each week, STR provides a hotel that pays to participate in its benchmarking program a look at its own business metrics as well as those of nearby similar hotels. Many hotel managers value the information they can glean from the regular updates. However, Lomanno, who is now a partner and adviser at Kalibri Labs, which also tracks lodging industry business metrics, said so much more information is available to hotels these days that traditional comp sets merely reveal the tip of the iceberg of a lodging market’s performance. STR first came up with the concept of a comp set at the turn of the 21st century when the company was “looking for a way to get a little bit more granular data” to help hotel businesses compare their performance against likewise competitors, Lomanno said. “The idea behind the comp set was to try and mirror where a guest would choose to stay if they didn’t stay with you.” The STAR Report focuses on segments of guests as “no hotel competes with another hotel for a hundred percent of its guests,” Lomanno said. Today, the STAR Report is used by some hotel owners and managers in a way it was not originally intended, Lomanno said. Many companies evaluate hotel employees’ job performance and compensation on the results revealed by STAR Reports. This is not a smart way to use the report, he said. “It basically reduces everybody’s pricing and view of how they want to attract customers down to the lowest common denominator of who they have in their competitive set,” he said. “And so the competitive sets were almost solely based on who was in proximity to your hotel and who ...

 314 | No Discounts Available: Smart rate management keeps hotels afloat amid COVID-19 storm | File Type: audio/x-m4a | Duration: 21:12

The U.S. hotel industry has seen rates decline over the past 12 months, but the numbers may not be telling the whole story. Industry rate watchers as well as asset managers Lodging Leaders interviewed say, for the most part, hotel owners and operators are being smart about pricing while other pandemic-related factors are skewing rate metrics. Episode 314 of Lodging Leaders podcast explores what is truly impacting hotel pricing during the coronavirus crisis.

 01 | First But Not Last | File Type: audio/x-m4a | Duration: 31:41

NextGen in Lodging launches its inaugural program with an episode featuring three self-starters carving unique paths in the hospitality industry. Their ventures encompass hotel investment, management and education. The entrepreneurs tell how they altered business strategy and professional goals amid the coronavirus crisis. NextGen in Lodging co-host Davonne Reaves leads the conversation with Purvi Panwala of Panwala Property Management Corp. and CRC Construction Corp; Andrea Aguilar of Typsy and Preshift; and Kendra Plummer of Elise Capital.

 313 | Staging a Comeback: Hospitality leader Ron Vlasic helps industry build post-pandemic revival | File Type: audio/x-m4a | Duration: 24:31

Ron Vlasic has held several leadership roles over the course of his 30 years in the hospitality industry. While serving as COO at Hostmark Hospitality Group, the Chicago native has answered the call to help the U.S. travel and tourism industry recover from the devastation wrought by the coronavirus pandemic. For the next two years, he will serve on the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board, a division of the U.S. Department of Commerce. In Ep 313, Vlasic tells the story of his career journey.

 312 | Spring Breaks for Homebodies: Staycations are a growing trend amid the coronavirus pandemic | File Type: audio/x-m4a | Duration: 22:10

Staycations are increasing as people tired of being cooped up seek a respite close to home. Episode 312 of Lodging Leader podcast explores the origin and evolution of the staycation and how hotels can capitalize on people’s desire to get away from it all, even if it’s just for one or two nights.

 311 | Shelters From the Norm: Hotels used for hospitals and housing face unexpected problems | File Type: audio/x-m4a | Duration: 25:09

As hospitals throughout the U.S. turned to hotels to absorb patient overflows caused by the coronavirus pandemic and public agencies contracted with properties to house unsheltered populations, many owners weren’t prepared for the challenges these urgent decisions have created, including property damage, increased costs and eviction bans. Episode 311 of Lodging Leaders podcast is the final in a two-part series examining the pros and cons of opening hotels to alternative uses amid the coronavirus crisis.

 310 | Hotels Convert to Housing: Federal COVID-19-relief funds fuel transactions | File Type: audio/x-m4a | Duration: 25:06

Though the hotel transaction pace has slowed during the coronavirus pandemic, an influx of hundreds of millions of dollars in federal pandemic-relief money boosted by state and local government grants is fueling the sale of lodging assets to affordable-housing developers. Episode 310 of Lodging Leaders podcast is the first of a two-part series examining what it takes to convert a hotel into long-term housing.

 309 | ‘Stay the Course’: Kathleen Bertrand recalls hospitality career focused on growth through diversity | File Type: audio/x-m4a | Duration: 25:31

Kathleen Bertrand believes Atlanta is a city where dreams can come true. A jazz recording artist, she served at the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau for more than 30 years, finding new ways to promote to the world the best things about the city she calls a “melting pot” of races and cultures. In Episode 309 of Lodging Leaders podcast Bertrand gets vocal and tells her story of rising through the ranks as one of the few Black women in leadership in the tourism industry.

 308 | From Guests’ Mouths to Managers’ Ears: J.D. Power study reveals what satisfies hotel customers in COVID-19 age | File Type: audio/x-m4a | Duration: 20:38

Although most hotels in the U.S. have remained open since the coronavirus pandemic outbreak, many guests are traveling for the first time in months. Hotel staff are tasked with helping guests navigate a whole new world while easing their fears of contracting COVID-19. Episode 308 of Lodging Leaders podcast explores how Crestline Hotels & Resorts, winner of J.D. Power’s inaugural Third-Party Hotel Management Guest Satisfaction Benchmark report, is keeping customer satisfaction at an all-time high in a challenging business environment.

 307 | ‘A National Story’: Black travel in America evolved with the Civil Rights Movement | File Type: audio/x-m4a | Duration: 30:50

Travel means freedom for most Americans, but not too long ago and even today, that’s not always the case for Black citizens. While leading the quest for civil rights, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. advised his followers to “keep moving forward,” no matter what. Episode 307 of Lodging Leaders podcast explores how African American travelers learned to safely navigate the nation’s highways and byways during the age of segregation. This report is part of a special project by Long Live Lodging that commemorates Black History Month by exploring the impact the travel and hospitality industries had on the Civil Rights Movement.

 306 | Calculated Risks: Catastrophic 2020 means higher insurance costs for hotels | File Type: audio/x-m4a | Duration: 21:05

When it comes to insurance coverage for hotels, the coronavirus pandemic is top of mind for most owners and operators these days. However, other areas of business protection cannot be a low priority. The U.S. in 2020 experienced a record number of billion-dollar weather-related catastrophes. Expect the same level of threat this year, say experts. Episode 306 of Lodging Leaders podcast explores how a hard commercial property insurance market is affecting the hotel industry.

 305 | ‘Traveling on Hospitality’: Andrew Young remembers life on the road toward civil rights | File Type: audio/x-m4a | Duration: 27:03

{caption}Andrew J. Young Jr. sits with other civil rights workers in a room at the Lorraine Motel on April 4, 1968, hours after their leader, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was assassinated on the balcony of the property in Memphis, Tennessee. In a recent interview with Long Live Lodging, Young said, because of changes related to the Rev. Dr. King’s lodging plans, he believes local police conspired with others in the killing. (Photo: Withers Museum){/caption} *EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second installment of a Long Live Lodging series looking at how the hospitality industry was involved in the Civil Rights Movement in mid-20th century America. The series is produced in commemoration of Black History Month. ndrew Jackson Young Jr., who will turn 89 years old on March 12, has led a storied life. He began his career in social service in the mid-1950s as a Baptist minister in Georgia. He went on to become executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and a civil rights activist alongside the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He served as a U.S. congressman, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and mayor of Atlanta. Read his biography here. Though many refer to him as Ambassador Young, the civil rights icon is mostly revered for his campaign for social justice as he traveled alongside the Rev. Dr. King to spread the gospel of racial equality. What’s not often talked or written about is how lodging businesses enabled Young and other civil rights workers to travel throughout a segregated South. In many cases, he said, they depended on the kindness of strangers who opened their homes for a night and a meal. At other times, they were able to find a motel that welcomed guests of all colors. Often, these lodging establishments were Black-owned. “One of the first hotels I remember going to had no sheet rock on the wall. It had a bed and a wash pan. It looked like something out of a Western movie, very rough. But I was tired, so I slept well. “This was a black owned, black-operated rooming house. “That was typical of our stays in the early days. For the most part, we didn’t stay in professional lodging because there was none. But there was almost an unwritten rule that everybody who had a home had a guest room that they made available for anybody passing through. “During the civil rights movement, there were no hotels in these small Southern towns where you could stay, but everybody, if they had an extra bed or a couch, you were welcomed. “I slept on the floor in sleeping bags. I remember a couple of very hard iron army beds, with little thin mattresses on them.” {caption}NIGHT MARCH: St. Augustine, Florida, honors civil rights leader Andrew Young, who in June 1964 was beaten by members of a white mob when he led the Night March through the city to quell riots as Congress debated the Civil Rights Act. The city named the path Andrew Young Crossing in recognition of its place in the Civil Rights Movement.{/caption} Black dignitaries’ favorite way station in Selma, Alabama, was the home of Amelia Boynton, a civil rights activist herself. She hosted such luminaries as the Rev. Dr. King, George Washington Carver and Langston Hughes, along with Young and others. Boynton was an outspoken participant in the Civil Rights Movement. She was a key organizer of the 1965 marches from Selma to Montgomery. In the first demonstration on March 7, Alabama State Troopers attacked Boynton and others, including John Lewis and the Rev. Hosea Williams, with tear gas, whips and Billy clubs as the marchers attempted to cross the William Pettus Bridge. The incident became known as Bloody Sunday. President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into l...

 304 | ‘This is Huge’: Choice Hotels makes history with Black-owned multi-unit deal | File Type: audio/x-m4a | Duration: 32:07

A new hotel investor, Fred Washington recently made history when he signed Choice Hotels International’s first minority-led multi-unit franchise development deal. Episode 304 of Lodging Leaders podcast kicks off our special series commemorating Black History Month that explores the impact the hotel industry has had on the Civil Rights Movement. This report also is part of our ongoing coverage of the state of diversity, inclusion and equality in hospitality leadership.


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