President of hotel industry gives stirring speech at Lodging Conference

(Credit: Martin Barraud)

With the presidential election coming up in just a little bit more than a month, I decided to give up my column today. Instead of writing about something clever such as the "Top 5 ways guests complain about the price of your hotel’s bottled water," I’m doing something different. I’m ceding this space to the president of the hotel industry. That’s right, during last week’s Lodging Conference, the hotel industry's president delivered this rousing State of the Hotel Union speech. Unfortunately, it was delivered in the parking lot of a Costco, and everyone at the Arizona Biltmore missed it.

I happened to secure a copy, so I am printing it here for the benefit of all hoteliers:

Hello my fellow American hoteliers. I would like to thank everyone for having me here today. Especially Harry Javer, organizer of the Lodging Conference, who was skeptical of my existence.


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But today, I am here to report not just on the validity of my existence, but that the state of the hospitality union is great; a rarefied time when all our lodging dreams can come true. And are coming true. Today is a time filled with opportunity, one where we are only limited by our imaginations in what we dare to dream and build.

Yes, my fellow American hoteliers, this is a time resonating with buoyant rates and many opportunities to make deals paving the way for personal and business success. It is a time when the bold have been exceptionally bold, and the bright have shone a light on all of us, sharing how they envision the perfect lodging experience. And guiding us through change. Of course, that change is hanging out in the lobby with a bunch of strangers 25 years younger than us. But I digress.

It has been a time of excelling for those who have dared grab hold, and seize opportunity not always obvious to others. Today, I applaud the ones who cast fear aside during the late days of the Great Recession four score and seven those years ago, minus the four score. They have forever altered the landscape of this incredible business by debuting new brands, finding better ways to connect with guests and taken the leap to invest in forward-thinking technologies allowing us to know that Jane in room 423 loves fluffy pillows, but not ones that are too fluffy.

I look around at the crowds gathered here today and cannot help but see all do not feel this way. Though we are enjoying peak profitability for quite some time now, there are those drowning in a foreboding feeling. They feel they’ve been held back during this great tsunami of opportunity. Do not let this feeling halt your momentum. Do not let negativity sidestep your mission.

Sure, there are challenges, as there are with any great mission. And while we are not yet accommodating guests on the moon, we must continue to shoot for it.

That is why you must act now, before the window of opportunity closes, leaving you outside during the coming winter. I am here to tell you it is not too late. Not too late to strike a deal to build that lovely focused-service hotel, not too late to convert that old building into a hospitality showplace.

There is still money out there for the right people from the right banks. And while demand is starting to fade, we must remember to focus on only our markets. Do not fall prey to those negative outside forces from cities irrelevant to your hotels cloud your judgment.

Today, more than ever, you can make your business even more profitable. Remember that at the end of the day you are the facilitators of moments. Setting the stage to create powerful memories lasting a lifetime. But it is up to you to find new and more exciting ways to connect with guests.

And while guests are changing, and demanding new things like the ability to stream shows featuring obnoxious people doing obnoxious things, we must never waiver from our mission to deliver amazing hospitality. If we collectively focus on making every guest feel like the only guest, we will have many more great years to come.

My fellow hoteliers, the state of the hotel industry is indeed great. But it is up to each and every one of us to deliver thoughtful, individualized service, and find new ways to surprise and delight travelers.

Thank you all for having me here today, and have a happy year of profitability. Thank you.

What are your thoughts? Email me at [email protected] or on Twitter and Instagram @TravelingGlenn and let me know your opinions.

Glenn Haussman is editor-at-large for HOTEL MANAGEMENT. His views expressed are not necessarily those of HOTEL MANAGEMENT, its parent company Questex Media Group, and/or its subsidiaries.