1 HM: Looking into your crystal ball, and with everything you’ve seen in 2013, how will the hotel industry fare in 2014 in terms of overall operating metrics and profits?
NK: Overall, we’re anticipating another year of solid revenue growth. The extent of that growth will vary by market but our expectation is that we will exceed six percent and that profit growth will be at least a couple of points higher than that depending on the type of hotel.
2 HM: Most pundits are predicting healthy growth for the industry over the next three years, but what out there (government or otherwise) has the possibility to upset this optimism?
NK: Aside from the unexpected, there remains uncertainty over government-related demand in a number of markets. We also are facing new competition in many markets and that always has the potential to change the dynamics that drive revenue growth.
3 HM: They say all business is local. What is happening within your region that is affecting your business the most? What micro concerns do you have?
NK: We operate in many diverse markets so there is no one single answer. As I mentioned, government demand and new supply are factors that are common to a number of markets. Other factors that affect specific markets include higher or lower city wide convention activity and major company relocations in to or out of the trade area we operate in.
4 HM: Developing new markets is always top of mind. In 2014, and beyond, where are you concentrating on for growth and expansion?
NK: We look for specific instances of opportunity rather than concentrating on certain geographic territories. We develop where we see a niche or clear evidence of a need for product. We are developing hotels in Manhattan, Washington, D.C., and Miami—but we also are pursuing development opportunities in much smaller markets, as we always have.
5 HM: Technology and social media play major roles in the hospitality industry today. What is your company doing on those fronts to stay ahead of the curve?
NK: We have well-established IT and e-commerce departments in our company and we continually look for ways to further support our hotels in both of these critical areas. We are a certified provider of high-speed Internet systems for Marriott International and for the past few years, we have sourced online media monitoring for all our hotels in support of our own, in-house social media activity. Over recent years, excellent, reliable, high-speed Internet has become table stakes in our industry—as has the need to respond rapidly to every online review, positive or otherwise. As a franchisee of most of the major brands, we also work closely with our brand partners as they look to drive competitive advantages across their systems in these areas.