This was a big year for hotels, with the industry recording record profits and posting strong metrics across the board. Granted, it wasn’t all good news, as 2018 also delivered its fair share of challenges the industry was forced to overcome. Before celebrating the New Year, Hotel Management is taking a look back at the top operations-related stories to break this past year.
Online travel agencies in 2017 began a push to shift their posture from that of a perennial hotel competitor to an ally, albeit with mixed results. In January 2018, Hotel Management analyzed the existing relationship between hotels and OTAs, and questioned whether or not hotels were being handed the short end of the stick once again as these conversations continued.
Managing expenses became a priority for hotel operators throughout 2018, spurring Hotel Management to release a list of 10 ways to control costs throughout the year. While occupancy remained high all year, the industry struggled to push rate. Cutting back on expenses is unlikely to go out of style in 2019, so this might be helpful for any hotel with big goals for the coming year.
Hotel restaurants became more popular than ever, but operating a successful hospitality eatery didn't get any easier. Many hotels began separating their identity from any attached restaurants, running two separate businesses under one roof, with distinct designs, leaders and brands. As Garron Gore, creative director at Hospitality Ventures Management Group Restaurants and Bars, observed: “The challenging part is making your restaurant seem like it isn’t part of your hotel.”
Hotel guests were trending toward having their travel experiences be as green as possible, and thanks to the savings behind sustainability hotels were finally on board. Hotel Management looked at six ways sustainability in hospitality changed shape and how it impacted hoteliers.
In September, Millennium & Copthorne Hotels' CEO Jennifer Fox abruptly left the company just three months after signing on. To date, no reason has been given for her departure, but her unforeseen exit from the company during the latter half of the year came as a surprise to industry experts.
Another major shakeup occurred during second half, as workers at several Marriott hotels vacated their posts, calling for higher wages, better benefits and improved job security. The strike came to a head after spreading across properties from Boston and California to Hawaii before finally concluding in the workers’ favor.
Meanwhile, Hyatt Hotels Corporation supplemented its 2017 acquisitions of Miraval and the Exhale spa brand with its 2018 purchase of Two Roads Hospitality. As a result, the Alila Hotels & Resorts, Destination Hotels, Joie de Vivre Hotels, Thompson Hotels and tommie brands joined Hyatt’s global portfolio.
Finally, in late November Marriott International revealed it had been infiltrated by hackers largely via its Starwood Hotels & Resorts brands and dating as far back as 2014, two years before it closed on its acquisition of the global chain. The hack exposed the data of as many as 500 million travelers, and may have international ramifications as the perpetrators left clues the hack may have originated in China. The full extent of the data breach remains to be seen in the months ahead, but it’s likely Marriott has placed damage control and consumer relations at the top of its list of New Year's resolutions.