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Airbnb leads $160M investment in hospitality platform Lyric

Airbnb is leading investment in business travel hospitality startup Lyric, which has just announced a $160 million Series B round.

In addition to the home-share giant, investors in Lyric include Tishman Speyer, RXR Realty, Obvious Ventures, former Twitter CEO and COO Dick Costolo and Adam Bain, respectively, and existing investors Barry Sternlicht, NEA, SignalFire, FifthWall and Tusk Ventures.

San Francisco-based Lyric, which partners with real estate developers to turn multifamily buildings into short- or long-term rentals with hotel-grade amenities for business travelers, has in total raised $185 million.

For Airbnb, the deal arrives just weeks after it confirmed investment in Indian hospitality brand OYO for a rumored $100 million to $200 million, as well as its acquisition of HotelTonight in March.

Its interest in Lyric comes as it gets its ducks in a row ahead of an eventual IPO, and as it continues to navigate urban regulation concerns, which Lyric skirts by working directly with real estate companies and landlords.

“At Airbnb, we have seen how hospitality entrepreneurs like the team at Lyric can help deliver amazing experiences and help guests feel like they can belong anywhere in the world,” says Airbnb president of Homes Greg Greeley in a statement.

“Lyric has combined the latest technology, strong partnerships with the real estate community and cutting-edge design, and we are excited to support their work.”

Lyric says it works with 20 of the National Multifamily Housing Council’s Top 50 multifamily owners, managers and developers and provides owners “economic advantages by offering a professional, end-to-end experience built for the future of real estate and the changing shape of the modern traveler and resident.”

“We’re incredibly excited to have Airbnb, the company that reinvented how we travel, along with renowned real estate partners and elite investors believing in us at Lyric to create a new category of accommodations for the modern traveler,” says Andrew Kitchell, co-founder and CEO of Lyric.

“When people search for beautiful spaces or experiences, what they’re really looking for is a connection to a local community. From the music and artwork we hand-select, to the wallpaper we curate, our job is to be a storyteller for that community or building, and to help guests feel like they are a part of it.”

Its “Creative Suites” for professionals are available for stays of from one night to more than 200 nights, and each suite is curated by an in-house design team for optimal productivity and inspiration.

Lyric uses its proprietary technology to determine site locations and to manage revenue as well as safety and cleaning operations.

It’s currently available in New Orleans, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, Houston, Minneapolis and Pittsburgh, but more markets will be added thanks to the new funding. The capital will also be used to build out Lyric’s technology and data platform.

Lyric joins others in the apart-hotel space receiving investment attention such as Sonder, which has raised $135 million, as well Domio, which counts $67 million in funding.

Added to the mix yesterday was Austin, Texas-based Locale, which landed $2.5 million in funding.

By: Jill Menze – Source:

The Future of Travel, Tourism & Hospitality Increasingly Is Likely To Be Chinese

If you buy into the politically, culturally and commercially popular “Demographics are Destiny” theory – and not everyone does – you probably should begin learning Chinese. Korean would be good to learn, too, especially if you now work or expect to work in the future in the travel or hospitality industries.

      That’s because Chinese consumers collectively spent nearly $258 billion on international travel last year. That’s more than twice the combined amount spent on international travel by people from the United States and Germany, the next two biggest-spending nations, combined. And the Chinese are relative newcomers when it comes to venturing beyond their nation’s borders. A smallish percentage of them travel outside of China each year, though given the size of that nation’s population even that small percentage represents well over 100 million Chinese travelers to foreign destinations.

Yet Chinese citizens flew, on average, just 65 miles last year vs. the 227 miles flown on average by U.S. residents, the 285 miles flown on average by Germans, the 271 miles flown on average by those from the United Kingdom, and the whopping 632 miles flown by the average Canadian last year.

               That’s all according to a recent report issued by GetGoing Travel Insurance, one of the globe’s most prominent providers of short term travel insurance coverage.

               What China’s high total spending on international travel and its low average number of miles flown on international travel tells us is that while only a relatively small percentage of China’s residents actually do travel outside their homeland, those who do spend a lot of money and don’t tend to go all that far.  China has approximately 1.4 billion, making it the most populace nation on Earth.  But it’s low average of miles travel on international trips is the function of two factors:

·        A relatively small percentage of Chinese now have the financial ability to travel internationally, though the numbers who do travel outside of China are growing rapidly every year.

·        A relatively large percentage of Chinese travelers beyond their nation’s borders stay relatively close to home. In fact, a big share of them go to Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. They go there either to visit friends and relatives who live in those places that historically were – and in some cases technically are – a part of China, or to gamble in the casinos andor enjoy the entertainment venues in Macau and Hong Kong. Hong Kong attracted 44.5 million Chinese visitors, Macau 17.2 million and Taiwan 10.7 million.

Those numbers imply strongly that as more and more Chinese attain middle class status and the financial ability to travel internationally, and as Chinese become more and more interested in traveling visiting destinations farther and farther away from home their spending on international travel and the average distances flown will both rise exponentially.

               American’s last year collectively spent about $135 billion on foreign travel last year according to the GetGoing report, for second place on the top 10 list of foreign travel spending. Germany ranked third at $89.1 billion. The rest of the top 10 include: the United Kingdom ($171.4 billion); France ($41.4 billion); Canada ($31.8 billion); South Korea ($30.6 billion); Italy ($27.7 billion); Australia $34.2 billion; and Russia ($31.1 billion).

               Like China, South Korean’s average number of miles flown internationally is noticeably low. Right now that’s mostly because South Koreans’ most common foreign destinations are Japan, China, Thailand and the U.S. But as more South Koreans’ are able to afford international travel – as expected, given the strength and growth rate of that nation’s economy – and as they become open to venturing further away from home and to less obvious destinations, they too, like the Chinese are likely to see a large increase in combined foreign travel spending and international miles flown.

By: Dan Reed – Source:–hospitality-increasingly-is-likely-to-be-chinese/#669441246591

CHLA Hospitality Foundation Formed to Support Industry Education in California

SACRAMENTO, Calif., April 16, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — The California Hotel & Lodging Association (CHLA) announced today that its Education Foundation has partnered with the Hotel & Restaurant Foundation (HARF) to form a new foundation to support hospitality education in California: the California Hotel & Lodging Association Hospitality Foundation. 

The Hospitality Foundation boasts $3.4 million in funds, which will be used toward scholarships and educational support for students interested in pursuing careers in the hotel and restaurant industries. 

“By combining the impressive strengths of these two foundations, future leaders of the tourism and hospitality industries will benefit exponentially,” CHLA President and CEO Lynn S. Mohrfeld said. “Our goal is to invest in students, foster their careers and create outstanding new hospitality leaders.”

CHLA also announced today that its Board of Directors appointed Deb Kurtti as the Hospitality Foundation’s Executive Director, bringing with her more than a decade of experience in foundation management, government and community relations and business development. 

“With her exceptional combination of energy, industry knowledge and proven leadership, Deb is the perfect candidate to lead this effort,” Mohrfeld said. 

Kurtti, a California native from the Bay Area, has worked as the Executive Director of HARF for the past year. Previously, she was the Executive Director of the Quality Care Health Foundation, the educational and workforce arm of the California Association of Health Facilities. Kurtti is involved in a leadership position with the Meeting Professionals International Sacramento-Sierra Chapter and also she sits on the Capital Regional Council of the California Society of Association Executives.  

“I am grateful to the board for the opportunity to lead this exceptional new organization,” Kurtti said. “I am eager to put my passion and skillset to work to build upon the great efforts HARF and CHLA’s Education Foundation already had in place, while finding new opportunities to foster and support the future of our industry.”

HARF was one of the oldest and largest hospitality scholarship granting organizations in the country. Since 1948, HARF granted merit-based scholarships to thousands of hospitality students throughout California, awarding more than $2 million to more than 740 students in the past decade. HARF’s scholarship recipients now work in hotel, restaurant and the tourism industries as chefs, managers and business owners across California and around the world. The organization brought with it $3.2 million of the $3.4 million in funds for the new foundation in the merger with CHLA’s Education Foundation.

The new foundation is overseen by an executive committee whose members are seasoned hospitality industry leaders from some of the largest and most respected hotels in California. The board includes Chair Michael Pace (GM, Intercontinental Mark Hopkins, San Francisco), Co-Vice Chairs Tom Patton (GM Ramada Inn Santa Barbara) and Roger Huldi (The W Hotel, San Francisco), Secretary James Lim (GM, Omni Hotel San Francisco), and Treasurer Thomas Costello(Former Director of Hospitality Program, University of San Francisco).

Students who would like to apply for a scholarship through the California Hotel & Lodging Association Hospitality Foundation, may visit The Foundation asks students who meet basic requirements to submit an application and other required information, write a short essay, and, if selected, appear before an industry interview panel.

About California Hotel & Lodging Association
Recognized as one of the most influential state lodging associations throughout the country, the California Hotel & Lodging Association’s mission is to protect the rights and interests of owners and operators and be their indispensable business resource.


New MTSU Tourism and Hospitality Management program will launch in the fall

ABOVE: MTSU student Will Mitchell, right, is pictured inside Embassy Suites Murfreesboro, where he also works, in this recent promotional photo for the university’s new Tourism and Hospitality Management degree program. MTSU’s program launches in fall 2019. // MTSU photo by Eric Sutton


Middle Tennessee State University officials on Thursday came to the Omni Nashville Hotel to announce the creation of a Tourism and Hospitality Management degree.

The degree will become available in the fall 2019 semester and is the only such degree program in Middle Tennessee.

The multitrillion-dollar industry supports 1 in 10 jobs worldwide and is growing by about 5 percent each year, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council. That organization projects that the tourism and hospitality field will support more than 413 million jobs by 2028.

With industry leaders and university officials looking on, Joey Gray, associate professor of leisure, sports and tourism studies, explained that the program has three emphasis areas: travel and tourism, hospitality and hotel, and event planning. Students can choose one or combine all three.

“It’s an industry that you work in because you love it,” Gray said. “It’s a job that you look forward to going to every day … They know how to keep their employees. They know how to make their employees happy.”

While taking note of the hotel construction underway outside, MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee emphasized that the tourism and hospitality field is less about gleaming high-rise buildings and more about taking care of people.

“This program will work in making sure that our students have those people skills, those ‘soft skills’ — interpersonal relationships, communication, empathy — so that they can be the best that they can be in this industry,” McPhee said.

The program includes an advanced bachelor’s to master’s track that will enable students to graduate with both degrees in five years, enabling graduates to enter the workforce more quickly.

MTSU is well-positioned to offer the degree because of its existing leisure, sports and tourism classes in the Department of Health and Human Performance.

Murfreesboro native Brooke Culver, who will graduate in May 2019 with a degree in sports and tourism management, already has a wide variety of internships and other working experiences to show future employers, including work at Arrington Vineyards in the wine tourism industry, character performance for Walt Disney World and field studies with Hilton Hotels and Resorts.

“I am fully prepared to enter the workforce as a hospitality and tourism professional, and I will always be grateful for the doors that this degree has opened for me,” Culver said.

Omni Hotel General Manager Eric Opron applauded MTSU’s development of a program that he feels will serve as a pipeline of talented graduates attractive to his company and others.

“How would it be to know that when you go to school, as soon as I graduate, I have a great job waiting for me?” he said. “Because you do, trust me you do.”

Partners in supporting the new program include the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce; the Tennessee Recreation and Parks Association; the Rutherford County Hospitality Association; Embassy Suites; Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation; the Tennessee Hospitality and Tourism Association; and the Rutherford County Convention & Visitors Bureau.

“We are committed to putting out the most educated, the most well-prepared graduates that will not only represent our university very well, but will also take this industry to the next level,” McPhee said.


Training Students With Disabilities for Hospitality Work

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The waffle irons are crucial pieces of equipment at Ma Momma’s House of Cornbread, Chicken & Waffles. Two of the restaurant’s three titular specialties — the cornbread and the waffles — are cooked in the irons, and most of the restaurant’s menu features one or the other, either as a main item or a side to fried chicken.

“People come here for our waffles,” said owner Nicole Mackie. “And one of Eddie’s functions is he takes waffles out of the machines,”

Eddie is Eddie Thomas, a 20 year-old Ma Momma’s employee. Mackie wore a smile as she watched Thomas move from the restaurant’s open kitchen to the dining room, delivering flatware, water and plates of those steaming waffles.

“I like them,” Thomas said, bashfully, when asked about the cornbread waffles, which two visitors from Florida seated nearby had just proclaimed worth the trip to New Orleans.

Thomas is one of six students from Opportunities Academy, which caters to students with intellectual and developmental disabilities, who have worked part-time at Ma Momma’s in the past year. They are part of a small but growing O.A. student presence in the local hospitality workforce — one that is only likely to grow larger after O.A. opens in its new facility next fall, in the current home of Kipp Central City Primary.

O.A. is a post-secondary school, serving students between 17 and 22, run by the charter school network Collegiate Academies. One of the school’s goals is to teach students life skills necessary to live on their own, including the mastery of conventional tasks some might take for granted, such as filling out job applications, setting an alarm clock and taking public transportation.

Many students refine these skills working in rOAst, the on-campus coffee shop run by Academy students. On a visit last year to the Opportunities Academy at G.W. Carver Campus in New Orleans East, several students worked in the kitchen to fill school staff members’ orders for avocado toast. Others delivered orders and practiced making coffee.

A year later, many of these students are honing those same skills in paying hospitality industry jobs, participating in a virtuous cycle that furthers their development while filling a need in an employee-strapped industry.

“You have to be able to thrive in life outside of your family,” said Michael Smith, general manager of the Hyatt Regency New Orleans, which employs four Opportunities Academy students in its culinary department, as well as at the hotel’s Starbucks.

“If our program didn’t exist, Eddie would probably be sitting at home” said James Lukens, the Academy’s executive director, referring to Thomas.

Lukens, working through a plate of Ma Momma’s red beans, said that O.A. serves students who would otherwise fall through the cracks of New Orleans’ education system. The recent, exponential growth of its student body is evidence of demand: This year’s 50 students is more than twice last year’s enrollment of 21. Next fall, when Opportunities Academy opens in its new location, which has 35 classrooms, Lukens expects the enrollment to be between 70 and 80 students.

“We want to create more diverse and inclusive environments,” Lukens said.”To do that, we have to ensure people with disabilities qualify for jobs.”

The students who move from O.A. into the workforce are not typical employees, at least not at first. O.A. provides professional job coaches who help the students adjust to their surroundings and meet their responsibilities.

Mackie said that while training O.A. students takes more time at first, the job coach ensures a more gentle learning curve by breaking down tasks into smaller steps. In relatively short order, Mackie said, her O.A. employees “are coming in here ready to rock and roll.”

She adds that the time invested in students is returned “many times” over.

“We enjoy helping others,” Mackie said, referring to her family, several of whom are her business partners. “We grew up extremely poor, and if it wasn’t for people helping us, we wouldn’t be where we are today.”

And employers get more out of the arrangements than warm feelings. Smith, the Hyatt Regency general manager, expects students to become valuable, long term company employees.

“What we find is that certain associates can work here and then can go work at” other Hyatt properties, he said.

Ephraim Frey, a 19-year-old O.A. student with autism, started working at the Hyatt’s Starbucks as part of an eight-week program. He arrived on the job with experience, having worked at the on-campus coffee shop, and excelled enough that Starbucks asked him to stay on after the program was complete.

“It’s a pretty good job,” Frey said, “if you’re interested in getting into the workforce.”

He takes the bus to the Hyatt from his home in the Lower Ninth Ward, where he’s lived all his life, save for a period his family evacuated to Texas for Hurricane Katrina. He juggles his job responsibilities with his studies, including computer programming.

“We’ve already learned how to make websites,” Frey said.

Frey searched for ways to express how his Starbucks job has helped shape his thoughts about his future: “Stimulation, that’s the word I’m looking for!”

“What I really want to do is more physical, where I can put my hands into something,” he continued. Frey cataloged his tasks — filling orders for coffee and tea, keeping the lobby clean — as his eyes moved around the shop and out into the hallways of the massive hotel, which buzzes with activity.

“There seems to be a lot going on here,” Frey said. “It seems to be a place where I could really start something.”


Entrepreneurs behind popular StreetAway app launch new hospitality platform

The entrepreneurs behind New Apex Ltd’s promotion app, StreetAway, are pairing with some big hospitality names as they launch a new smart hospitality management system.

Spark will be released this month, and has been trialled across various Newcastle venues. The founders aim to help the region’s hospitality industry with new tech.

Marketing director, David Cook, said: “With hospitality being such an important part of the economy in the North East and the large number of fantastic venues we’re lucky to have here, we can’t think of a better place to base ourselves and serve the industry.

“We’ve been lucky to have benefited from many of the local regional growth funds and are proud to do our part to bring new jobs and wealth to the region.

“We’ve brought together a team of leading hospitality experts to design a full hospitality management system, incorporating EPoS, unlimited reservations and CRM into one unified package.”

In a recent survey, 82 per cent of companies see ‘Online Ordering’ & ‘In App Payments’ as the most important future tools for their business – according to UK Hospitality in 2018.


How Important Is Live Music In The Hospitality Industry?

Spring fever is currently taking effect in New Jersey and all across the East Coast. For the Hospitality Industry, the start of Spring season means an influx of people coming out of the woodwork to enjoy local restaurants and bars. The combination of good food, sincere service, and entertaining live music have become the key factors in a community member’s decision to come out and play on nicer Spring days and evenings.
“Start the fire buddy! C’mon man, play something from The Stranger!” screams an event attendee. “We strictly do 80’s Joel music sir…” reasons the musician.

Any idea where this situation goes after this interaction? Even if this Step Brothers reference just flew overhead, it’s no secret that live music is amazing–until it really isn’t. What’s more, young restaurant upstarts along with their guests do not realize that there is a ton of ground to cover in between the time that restaurant managers decide they want to have live music and when the event actually occurs. From booking the bands, setting a music schedule, playing music to the vibe of the restaurant, and doing it all over again; restaurant managers, servers, bartenders, and live musicians are constantly working to get on the same page in order to make dining out with live music an enjoyable experience. 

“There’s so many restaurants out there, so it’s nice when you have an opportunity to give a customer some added value to enhance their experience. Everyone can serve a burger and everyone serves pasta with shrimp but, live music is something that makes you different from everyone else,” said Joe Amore, a restaurant manager at The Blue Horse Restaurant in Highland Park. Amore and the team at CAM Hospitality Group recently opened the new restaurant back in October 2018 and decided almost immediately to introduce live music every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

Since The Blue Horse is so new, the team had to start from the bottom up when looking for musicians and when setting a schedule. However, as soon as word got out that musicians were in demand, “there were weeks where I had six different bands coming in, asking if they could play. So, how do you organize that? We linked up with this gentleman John Bianculli. He’s a local artist with so many connections. He keeps track of our scheduling so we can focus on what we do best, which is food, beverages, and service,” said Amore.

A definitive schedule of events is one of the most important aspects when trying to successfully pair the Music and Hospitality industries. As much as customers appreciate a band or solo performance whilst sipping wine or slurping spaghetti, there is such a thing as “overplaying” live music. The Blue Horse, has three days of music each week and never more. Other restaurant owners like Kevin Trimarchi of 22 West Tap and Grill also have their own scheduling methods when it comes to booking musicians.

“When we opened, we had entertainment every single Friday and Saturday for the first five months. We really evaluated things after that, and instead we wanted to make it something special rather than make it repetitive or washed up,” said Trimarchi of his location in Bridgewater, NJ. “We switched every Friday to a band and every Saturday to a DJ. We focused on the acts that really brought in the money as well as special themed nights like 90s Night or Techno Night.”

Once a band has been hired and added to a restaurant’s schedule, the work still does not stop for restaurant owners and musicians. Restaurant managers must begin to anticipate the crowd that each live act may bring through the door.

“We get music from New York, South Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Each band always has followers, so it introduces the Blue Horse to different people every single week,” said Amore. “We have our regulars but we also like to have new artists as well because you get another 10 to 20 people that may have never been here.”

However, once the night begins and the music goes live, the restaurant staff and performer(s) must always prepare to adjust spontaneously. Being a proper judge of the crowd’s mood or the restaurant’s atmosphere is a necessary characteristic for both musicians and staff. 

“It is important that they are in tune with what’s going on around them. If there’s a musician that just plays the same 20 songs no matter what the situation well, that’s not the right person for us,” said Amore. “As we look for quality food and the right ingredients, we also have to look for the right musicians that can adapt to the crowd. Is it an older crowd or is it a younger crowd?  Is it too loud to converse or not loud enough? It’s music volume, it’s interaction, it’s music selection, it’s all of that stuff.”

Vic Della Pello, a musician out of Asbury Park, NJ agrees. “The place I’m playing tonight, I noticed that when I do their Happy Hour there’s an older clientele. So, I can’t go in there and hit them over the head with some of my harder material. I find they respond to things like the Beatles, James Taylor, or America. The types of bands that are a little bit lighter, a little bit more of the singer-songwriter type.”

Playing to a crowd is a tough, but a necessary skill when it comes to this line of work. Musicians like Della Pello have to be in sync with managers like Amore or Trimarchi when it comes to taking breaks in performance, keeping customers in the restaurant, and responding to the ever changing vibe of the evening.

Often times, a live performance can allow a server, bartender, or manager to take their time and get a dinner or drink order correct, instead of having to rush something out. “Music definitely gets a customer’s mind off of the question, Where is our food, when there’s something nice to listen to,” said Trimarchi. “I would say customers are also more inclined to hang out a little longer, get another beer, order appetizers before entrees, and stay out a bit later.”

While live music isn’t directly correlated to increased restaurant sales, studies do show that louder music volumes (such as those that are produced at live performances) do tend to lead to higher consumption of (alcoholic) beverages. Della Pello has noticed instances like this first hand… 

“I think for the most part people are going to leave when they’re going to leave, but the other night a lady asked if we played any Bad Company. So, I said Hang out a little and when we come back on we’ll play a Bad Company song,” Della Pello recalled. “We played, the night continued, and then I saw that this individual was ready to leave. I turned to the band and said, let’s Play Another Bad Company song. And she ordered another drink [laughs]. That’s a very specific instance, and I can’t think a whole room is doing that, but there you go.”

There is never any guarantee that a restaurant’s food or a band’s music can satisfy the palettes of each guest who comes in–that has to be why Yelp exists. However, coming to the table or the stage with a plan of action and the know-how to make adjustments will assure waitstaff, barkeeps, entertainers, and administrators are satisfying their guests during this budding Spring season and during the busiest time of the year for two industries that couldn’t be more suited for each other.


Two-thirds of hospitality managers expecting an increase in employee absence this Easter

As the hospitality industry kick-starts its preparations for a busy Easter season, almost two-thirds (65 per cent) of managers in the sector are bracing themselves for an increase in unexpected absences compared to a normal working week, revealed a new Censuswide survey on behalf of HR and payroll provider MHR. 

The survey of managers in the UK hospitality sector was commissioned to gain an insight into how they plan employee rosters in the run up to busy periods and cope with seasonal peaks in demand.

It found over two-thirds (69 per cent) of hospitality managers believe their employees are more likely to call in sick during busy seasonal periods like Easter.

An influx in unexpected absences during busy seasonal periods – when managers must balance employee levels to meet demand and maintain excellent customer service – can prove an administrative headache, with 42 per cent of respondents admitting they find it difficult to manage workforce and rotas over the busy seasonal periods.

The task facing managers is compounded by the fact that 55 per cent are still using paper processes to capture working patterns.

Stuart Price, business analyst at MHR, said: “With Easter falling in late April this year, quickly followed by the peak May bank holiday season, hospitality managers face a real challenge to optimise employee rotas whilst contending with an anticipated spike in unauthorised absences and last-minute holiday requests.

“To make matters worse, the research highlights that managers still don’t have the right tools to help them to effectively plan and manage their people, with many still relying on outdated paper methods to capture work patterns and just under a quarter (22.5%) of managers spending between four and six hours on planning employee rosters.

“Today’s workforce management systems provide the functionality to enforce absence policies fairly and consistently while alerting managers of unauthorised absences and problematic individuals based on historical data so they can create accurate rosters to budget easier and faster.

“Easing the administrative strain facing managers will free up their time to spend on what they do best, which is delivering memorable experiences and excellent customer service.

“To help deter employees from pulling last-minute sickies, managers are also advised to remind them of their responsibilities and outline their absence policy.”

By: Molly Hockings – Source:

Hospitality Financial Leadership – OH, BROTHER

It was early October 1987. I was newly married and questioning my hotel career plans. I aspired to be a general manager, but this hotel environment veered me off track. As these thoughts occurred to me, this was one of the places where fate and other people changed my life’s direction.

I’d been with the hotel for 18 months. Just another day at the office started with a ringing phone. It was the hotel manager’s administrative assistant requesting my appearance in his office. Now!

What did the manager need to see me about? My head was spinning with the possibilities. Most of them not good.

I didn’t know what I might have done to create this summons.

The hotel was a very dramatic place.

The most recent controversy with the food and beverage manager was my discovery that the evening chef was taking beer home. I was told to look the other way. This chef was cooking steaks and other high dollar meals for another manager every evening and therefore it was considered an even trade. That was how the game was played in this hotel and the food and beverage control department was like the secret police with no teeth.

I must have overstepped some invisible, contradictory and hypocritical boundary and spoke to the wrong person. Maybe that was the reason for this summons.

I waited 10-15 minutes at the manager’s office. Those minutes went by like sitting in the dentist chair waiting for him to appear to pull teeth without numbing medication.

Finally, a sweet and reassuring voice interrupted my thoughts, “The manager will see you in his office now.”

The office was a completely foreign place for me. The manager smiled, revealing a certain uneasiness considering I saw him holding all the power as my judge, jury and executioner.

I held back from screaming, “I was simply doing my job and following orders.”

He sighed, “I bet you’re wondering why you’re here, David.”

“Yes!” I replied, “My imagination was running wild.”

He smiled again, “David, I have good news and bad news, which would you like first?”

Seriously? What game was he playing?

Wanting desperately to get this over with, I replied, “The bad news.”

He looked me in the eye, “We hired your brother to be the new hotel controller here.”

A brief pause and neither one of us moved. Then he followed up with, “Since this company has a strict no nepotism policy, you can no longer work here after the end of the month.”


My brother what?

Why didn’t I know about it before now?

I was pretty sure my brother had my phone number. Of all the reasons I thought about possibly being fired, this one didn’t rank anywhere in my imagination. This scenario wasn’t anywhere on the radar. How could it?

None-the-less shock gave way to relief. At this realization, I believe I took my first deep breath in several minutes.

Halleluiah! There was no scandal getting pinned on me.

Then it occurred to me to ask, “So, what’s the good news?”

“The company offered you a transfer to another one of our hotels in British Columbia.”


“Doing what?” I asked.

He frowned and said, “Good question. I don’t know. Let me find the memo.”

He shuffled through a few stacks of papers. I could hear the wall clock ticking, mocking me. Tick Tock Tick Tock.

Then, he pulled out an envelope and stared at it. Tick Tock Tick Tock.

After what seemed like hours, the manager retrieved its contents, read it to himself for a moment. Tick Tock Tick Tock.

The manager replied simply, “Staff accountant – revenue.”

I went home that Friday evening for a long talk with my new bride of three months. Were we going to move to British Columbia in three weeks for me to transform into, what? An accountant?

On one hand this move, this new job made no sense. But on the other hand, it was a chance to get out of a job I grew more and more concerned about and uncomfortable with. It was a chance to start over at a new hotel in a new city. A city three time zones away from this hotel’s mess.

* * * * *

My brother was not aware of the hotel’s nepotism policy. He was waiting to surprise me with his new job news until the paperwork was completed.

My wife was not happy about the circumstances of the move, but we both did get excited, alternating with a little scared, about the move all the way to the west coast of Canada!


Hotel Industry Growth Continues, Labor Shortage a Concern, Says Industry Researcher

The U.S. hospitality industry expects to see sustained construction growth in 2019, particularly in coastal markets like Miami. Earlier this year, Netherlands-based citizenM acquired 27 acres in this market for the development of a 348-room hotel. 

ATLANTA — The hotel industry is still setting records.

According to Jan Freitag, senior vice president of Tennessee-based STR, United States hotels in 2018 had the highest availability, most sales and the highest average daily rate (ADR) ever recorded.

The total inventory of rooms available was up 2.1 percent in February year-over-year, the first time in history that the annual pace of supply growth has exceeded 2 percent, Freitag said.

Freitag presented the research during the 31st annual Hunter Hotel Investment Conference, which was held from March 20 to 22 at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis in the city’s downtown area. The conference drew approximately 1,850 attendees.

STR found that in 107 out of the past 108 months, the industry has posted an increase in revenue per available room (RevPAR). The lone exception was September 2018, a month Freitag called an anomaly.

Although hotel revenue continues to grow, there is a large chunk of travelers around the world that the U.S. is missing out on due partially to the exchange rates that don’t favor travelers from developing countries, says Freitag.

More people are traveling than ever before, backed by greater leisure spending among the emerging middle classes of India and China. But the prevailing sentiment is that the American hospitality industry is not fully capitalizing on this opportunity.

According to U.S. Travel Association, in 2015, only 11 percent of international travelers included the U.S. on their itineraries. The organization projects that number to fall to 4 percent in 2019 and down to 3 percent in 2020. What’s more, January 2019 saw the lowest month-to-month ADR growth since May 2010, notching a 0.8 percent change.

“This is easy money that U.S. hotels are losing,” says Freitag. “We need to get these travelers in here and take the money, because they want to spend it.”

A Million Job Openings

Freitag warned conference attendees of other concerns that could derail industry earnings in the near future, namely the labor shortage. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that there are more than 1 million open positions in the accommodations and food service industry. Labor shortages force hotel owners to drive up wages. As an indicator of a tight market, he noted that hospitality wages for nonsupervisory employees have risen 4.9 percent year-over-year.

Freitag rightly conceded that many of these job openings were not exclusive to the hospitality business, but that the hotel, restaurant and retail sectors tend to compete for labor among certain demographics.

“There are restaurants in hotels,” he said. “We are competing for the same person.”

Accounting for Mother Nature

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 2016, 2017 and 2018 were three of the four most active years ever recorded in the U.S. for natural disasters that generated billions of dollars of damages. There were 14 such events in 2018.

Freitag points to these growing numbers as a call to action for hotel owners and operators to add weather resiliency to their valuation models.

“How do you, the owners and operators, function off the grid for multiple days?” Freitag asked. “How do you have access to staff? Can you retrofit your hotels to be more resilient?”

Furthermore, 31.3 percent of U.S. hotels are in low-lying coastal areas, meaning roughly one-third of the total volume of hotel properties could be affected by a six-foot storm surge resulting from a hurricane or tropical storm.

“When people are displaced, they look to hotels to provide food, shelter, communication and electricity,” says Freitag. “We’re not first responders, but we’re kind of first responders. If somebody’s house gets wiped out, they look to us for assistance.