Hotel ROI program educates, connects hoteliers

Alexi Khajavi, managing director of Questex EMEA, addresses attendees at an earlier Hotel ROI conference. Photo credit: Questex

On Oct. 30, Questex—the parent company of Hotel Management—will host the second Hotel ROI conference at the Wyndham Grand Chicago Riverfront in partnership with the Asian American Hotel Owners Association.

The one-day conference connects hospitality professionals and experts to create an intimate environment for networking and deal-making in an incubator setting that is ideal for maximizing profits. Throughout the day, insiders can learn from their peers and experts on new ways to improve return on investment. They will have time to network with local developers, investors, owners and consultants to help maximize profits on their current properties or meet with new prospects to find the next big deal. And taking advantage of the in-demand location, attendees also will be able to learn more about the lucrative Chicago market as well as its surrounding secondary and tertiary markets that are currently driving demand (including Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Detroit, Cincinnati and others).

After two years, the event has already proven popular with industry insiders. Jim Rozell, founder/CEO of Chicago-based hospitality data firm Hotel Compete, attended a previous conference in Chicago. "It was nice to be at a conference where people were sharing ideas rather than trying to promote their products," he said. Pyramid Hotel Group SVP of Acquisitions Josh Hamilton, who attended the conference in Atlanta, said that he was able to catch up with business associates he had not seen in a while in a "relaxed and comfortable forum." He also met with vendors that his company will consider going forward.

“We are seeing a major convergence around the theme of optimization at Hotel Management; optimizing guest experience, operations, technology, entertainment and much more,” said John Siefert, group president and market leader for Questex's hospitality division. “Our approach with Hotel ROI 2019 is to focus on this topic with the underlining theme of how this drives a return, whilst creating an environment that enables our hospitality executive audience and award winning editorial team to share ideas, best practices and lessons learned along their journey.”

“There are really two important things to take away from a Hotel ROI event,” said Kathija Mohammed, director of education, AAHOA. “First, the opportunity to gain exposure to local information so you can make better decisions for your business. The second, which is really at a close tie to #1, is the access to industry professionals in the room—this includes the speakers as well as peers in the audience. Networking opportunities may prove to be a more profitable benefit.”


The scheduled sessions and panels will touch upon a range of topics. The "Market Snapshot" session, for example, will provide insights on what kind of knowledge investors and developers need to approach—and succeed—in any market, from public/private partnership availability to distressed assets to government-created Opportunity Zones. The "Focus on Technology" panel, meanwhile, will be a “down-to-earth discussion” on what apps, programs and devices are most relevant within the hospitality sphere today and what hoteliers will need to know for the future. 

The "Minimizing Costs" panel will look at a range of cost-producing issues facing the industry, and will help owners and managers alike improve ROI. The session will explore everything from salary and wages to franchise fees, insurance, taxes and furniture, fixtures and equipment reserves, as well as sales and marketing and commissions.

Another panel will examine additional revenue streams, helping owners and operators find new ways to offer distinguishing guest experiences (always a bonus in the age of Instagram) and drive incremental revenue at the same time. Insiders will discuss the ways they leverage everything from coworking rental spaces in lobbies to pop-up shops and cafes and performance spaces to bring in extra income.

The "Cost-Effective Construction" session will examine the various costs involved in constructing new-builds, hotel renovations or single-property refreshes, focusing on logistics, sustainability, tariffs and trade wars.

Perhaps one of the most timely sessions will focus on the dramatic shift in labor and how hotels are working to attract and maintain an empowered, impassioned workforce. With more than a million hospitality jobs sitting vacant, owners and managers need to understand what is happening on the labor front, from revamped minimum-wage requirements and healthcare benefits to training on concerns outside traditional hotel instruction, such as human trafficking. 

Brand Lightning Rounds

The day will feature several 15-minute brand lightning rounds in which owners and developers can learn about a range of flags that might suit their assets. These quick sessions will help match brands to buildings, ensuring that whatever name an owner selects for his or her asset will be a good fit in every regard, from capturing market share and providing a great experience to having strong support from the franchisor involved. 

Battle of the Universities

With numerous colleges and universities now offering education programs in hospitality, Hotel ROI will offer a chance for students to show off what they’ve learned—and for experienced hoteliers to learn how the next generation of industry professionals is looking to change the business.

Following the "Shark Tank" model from the hit TV series, the teams from several universities will face a “firing squad” of industry executives to present hotel brand ideas complete with development plans, marketing strategies and food-and-beverage concepts. Following each presentation, the teams will answer rapid-fire questions from the panel to demonstrate how their concepts stand up to logistics.



Hotel owners, managers, developers and investors


Wyndham Grand Chicago Riverfront


Oct. 30, 2019

8 a.m. to 6 p.m.