1 HM: With everything you’ve seen in 2013, how will the hotel industry fare in 2014 in terms of overall operating metrics and profits?
WG: Supply and demand fundamentals continue to be in check, so RevPAR growth for our industry should be strong again in 2014, with a higher percentage coming through ADR. This should also, in turn, drive industry margins and profitability.
2 HM: Most pundits predict healthy growth for the industry over the next three years, but what out there could upset this optimism?
WG: Since supply and demand fundamentals are in check, and new supply growth takes time, I agree that the next three years will be robust for the hotel industry. The factors to worry about are: continued government regulation, political uncertainty and some type of unforeseeable disaster that significantly affects the economy.
3 HM: Developing new markets is always top of mind. In 2014, and beyond, where will you concentrate for growth and expansion?
WG: We continue to focus growing our presence in key urban and central business markets. We are also strategically focused on growing our brand in the markets where it is not currently present.
4 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?
WG: Bandwidth continues to be a challenge for the hotel industry. While today our minimum standard for bandwidth is already higher than most of our competitors, we are in the process of significantly increasing the amount of bandwidth delivered to the guest once again. When complete in the next few months, 90 percent of all company owned hotels will deliver 50 MBPS of bandwidth or higher.
5 HM: Nothing can ruin a hotel stay—or transaction—more than bad customer service. How do you ensure your teams are delivering the best in guest satisfaction?
WG: Training, Training, Training! You don’t build loyalty by merely satisfying, you do it by driving engagement. Highly engaged and motivated employees drive a great customer experience. A great customer experience drives guest satisfaction, which drives customer loyalty, which drives strong hotel performance. Strong performance drives growth that comes full circle and creates motivated, engaged employees.