Happy New Year

Happy New Year

The year 2011 appears to be winding down peacefully with the now all-too-familiar “cautious optimism” tag tied around the hotel industry’s collective neck for 2012. Looking back on the year that was, the industry fared mostly as expected, and I think we can expect more of the same in 2012.

We have to learn to get used to more uncontrollable social media and all the attention it brings — probably more bad then good, in my opinion, and many more months of expensive-to-acquire, low-priced room nights brought to you by owners who feel the need to sell rooms at any price — rate integrity be damned.

I think we will see the continued casualization of the entire hotel experience with the lobby becoming an even greater focal point – a trend I like and an opportunity for operators to generate even more ancillary income.

I hope we continue to see plenty more of Bill Marriott. While he recently announced his stepping out of the CEO role while remaining as chairman of Marriott International, he likely will remain the face of the brand and the steady hand that has helped guide this industry for decades.

But the industry has evolved quite a bit in the past few years, and perhaps Mr. Marriott’s stepping aside for the very capable Arne Sorenson does mark a moment in hotel history that is more about its evolution and turning a page.

The industry appears more than ready to further embrace its new forms — both in terms of design and delivery, as mentioned above. Yes, even Marriott is trying to brand with more of an edge, but make no mistake that everyone has a lot of work left to make this new model work for for all guests on all levels. While you perfect your information age-driven products, please Mr. and Ms. Hotelier, let us not forget from where we came and the importance of what this ancient profession is all about — providing shelter, sustenance and service with humility. Embrace the change, but please stay focused on the basics. Always stay focused on the basics.

Happy holidays from everyone at HOTELS, and we will see you in 2012 for another exciting ride.