Give in to that ‘back-to-school’ feeling

Fall always conjures up that “back-to-school” feeling for me, and I am tempted to buy new notebooks and binders and pens at Target. Oh, who am I kidding? I give in to that feeling every year. Not only do I buy shiny new notebooks, but I usually get a shiny new pair of shoes or two as well. And maybe a backpack. And pencils, even though I sit in front of a computer all day.

I may not be going back to school, but fall definitely means a return to education season here in the hotel industry. Lucky for us, continuing education in the hotel world doesn’t involve 14-page term papers and quizzes every week. Our continuing education is a lot more fun and less stress-inducing. Whether you’re headed to large conferences (like The Lodging Conference, this year in late October), brand conventions, specialty events that cover everything from independent operations to revenue management, or interactive investment conferences (like our own NATHIC, this year in mid-November), there’s something for everyone.

Maybe you go to all these events and more every year. Maybe you’re thinking about trying a new show this year for the first time. I encourage you to make the investment, because now’s the time. Operating fundamentals are strong, investment activity is back and hotels are operating without having to cut all expenses to the bone. Now is when you should really soak up all the best practices and tips you can, to take advantage of these good times. All the industry conferences these days offer great programming that addresses any issues at your property or corporate office and gives you real take-home tips.

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Every now and then I like to hit up a conference that’s not in my usual lineup, maybe even something from a different-yet-related industry. Recently I attended an international conference called Content Marketing World, which brings together all sorts of people—marketers, brand executives, writers and editors and more—around the topic of content marketing. It’s the new wave (well, not that new at all) of really communicating your brand message through strong, effective content across all sorts of platforms and channels. There were executives from huge international brands at this conference, and there were one-person shops as well, representing small, regional companies. It reminded me of a panel I recently moderated on the topic of branded vs. independent hotels at the Hotel Data Conference. The speakers on that panel were adamant about one thing—no matter if you’re a single independent hotel or a massive chain, your product (and even yourself) is a brand and should be treated as such.

So see how that worked? I was at a completely non-hotel-related conference and I found myself picking up some great tips and connections about the industry I work in.

That’s why continuing education as an adult is a lot more fun. Speaking of fun, I want to invite all of you to come to our own Hotel Management show, NATHIC. This year it’s back in Chicago, November 19-21 at the Hyatt Chicago Magnificent Mile. Last year was our official relaunch of this annual event and it was a huge success. Everyone loved being in Chicago, and the vibe was upbeat and interactive. The event brings hotel owners, developers, investors, operators and more together to really dig in to issues affecting the industry. We have fun networking events, great sessions and speakers, and a couple of really unique events that really open your eyes. My personal highlight is a student competition we call the “Firing Squad.” Student teams from top hospitality schools put together brand concepts and business plans, then present their ideas to the “firing squad” of big-name hotel executives. These student teams go all out, and the production value of their presentations—not to mention their business plans—will blow your mind. This year we’re also welcoming industry legend Jack DeBoer as keynote speaker, and so many other big names and ideas. I invite you to visit www.nathic.com to learn more about this year’s event and to register.

Have a great back-to-school season!

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