Hotel Management: As the hotel industry shifts into 2015, in regard to the overall operations of hotels, what do you perceive to be your biggest opportunity?
JS: Our focus at Crestpoint is always to create exceptional experiences. The experience opportunity this year is to showcase to our guests the renovations and upgrades completed at our properties. Increasing the value for the price paid is our way of telling guests that we're staying ahead of the differentiation curve in our efforts to enhance customer loyalty. We want to give the guest a reason to call us each and every time they travel.
HM: In regard to the operations of hotels, what do you perceive to be your biggest challenge?
JS: We're starting to see the labor market tighten just a bit. The trend is moving away from employers dictating the pace and cost of labor toward prospective employees leveraging their opportunities. In itself this is not a bad occurrence for those that are prepared. We emphasize and offer professional development through learning and training resources in an effort to promote from within. This results in less negotiating for outside top level managers and enhanced staff loyalty.
HM: As it relates to technology in 2015, what hotel service or amenity do you believe will most surprise and wow hotel guests?
JS: It amazes me the pace of mobile technology and how it is advancing throughout the hotel industry. Even a couple years ago I would have had a hard time imagining I would reserve a room, download a "key," bypass the front desk, open a knob-less door with the wave of my hand, and have a pre-requested on-demand show waiting - all on a 6-inch phone. With the speed of that kind of technology, I think the next wow amenity hasn't been created yet.
HM: What goals has your hotel company set forth in 2015 to make sure it is improving the overall guest experience?
JS: Our focus this year is value for the price. We truly want guests to have an incredible experience, however they define it. With so many booking options, our goal is to have our customers request us, preferably on speed dial, because they know we'll take care of them.
HM: As it relates to technology and hotel operations, where will the majority of your attention be placed in 2015 and what will be your biggest cost?
JS: The cost of providing ever expanding internet bandwidth continues to dominate. We see the biggest challenge, and cost, in keeping up with the equipment and service required to deliver the volume of data guests consume. We're currently testing various methods of data and entertainment delivery in an effort to provide a consistently reliable hi-speed internet experience throughout the hotel.