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?
SF: The industry will continue its recovery with growth in RevPAR through ADR improvement. Profits may be affected by increased rates of pay and increased costs of goods as Affordable Care Act costs factor into suppliers and to our costs. The full impact won’t be known until sometime in 2015 after plans are adjusted and coverage requirements are fully understood.
2 HM: In regard to how you handicap 2014, what specific or significant goals have you set for your company?
SF: 1) Evaluate existing business based on a quality model. As we continue to recover, we continue to have the opportunity to remix our business to maximize revenue potential and thereby profitability; 2) Drive quality through both product improvements and personalized service delivery. As rates move north, guest expectations of both product and service will have an even greater impact on their satisfaction with each hotel stay; 3) Continue to evaluate options to reduce costs through shared service programs with the brands, payment processors and purchasing organizations. And when they have certain potential for success, adjust our business practices to maximize these benefits.
3 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?
SF: As we wind down from military activity in multiple theatres, there is already an impact being felt in our hotels as the government supply chain slows. We may also see the impact from future government shutdowns or slowdowns. There could also be travel effects as a result of corporations attempting to reduce travel to offset increasing company costs.
4 HM: Developing new markets is always top of mind. In 2014, and beyond, where are you concentrating on for growth and expansion?
SF: Dimension continues to be bullish on developing and acquiring hotels in key markets. We look at multiple opportunities each week; our focus has been principally on markets where we operate today. With four owned and/or managed hotels in New Orleans, we continue to look at opportunities in that market.
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?
SF: For the on-property guest experience, we continue to expand bandwidth to meet customer expectations and are pleased that the brands are looking at incremental models where guests can enjoy Internet access for limited or no cost, or for a fee if there bandwidth demands require more. This in turn will lead to greater guest satisfaction with the technology experience on property.