Record profits. Airbnb. Millennials. Healthy travel. Hostile takeovers. New brands. New York’s hotel building boom.
Expect the above topics to be the biggest talkers next week, when hotel industry VIPs gather for the 36th Annual NYU International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference at the New York Marriott Marquis in Times Square. The conference runs June 1-3. (Yes, I – Travel Update – will again attend this year attend to keep you informed, so I encourage you to leave questions in the comments section below.)
The CEOs of Marriott, Hilton, InterContinental, Starwood, Best Western, Loews and other well-known brands will be there in full force, largely to do deals and convince developers and bankers that their brand names are the best to hang on buildings.
This year’s NYU conference comes at a time when the U.S. hotel industry is generating record profits and selling a record number of room nights, which will make for interesting discussions about when the heady times might fade.
The conference also comes shortly after British media broke news – citing unnamed sources – about an alleged offer to buy Holiday Inn-parent IHG. According to the reports, IHG spurned an unsolicited $10 billion bid by a company believed to be Starwood Hotels & Resorts. Wall Street analysts have been issuing reports on the alleged takeover attempt; spokespeople for both IHG and Starwood on Memorial Day told Travel Update that the alleged bid was rumor and speculation.
Other hot topics:
- Airbnb: Expect the industry’s business leaders to debate the size of the threat posed by the growing popularity of Airbnb short-term rentals. Some hotel industry insiders I’ve spoken to believe it fills a need and will grow globally; some, however, want to fight the industry’s growth. Dennis Nessler, the top editor of the trade publication Hotel Business, noted the divisive nature of the Airbnb topic in his own NYU curtain raiser column. “It may not be Hilton or Marriott, but (Airbnb) certainly is hospitality,” Nessler wrote. “And there’s little question that a company, which has some 600,000 listings for accommodations, certainly will impact the industry, in a major way.”
- New York hotel boom: “Supply in New York is certainly going to be a hot topic,” said Patrick Scholes, a lodging analyst at Suntrust Robinson Humphreys. The New York market is a priority for the NYU conference crowd because it’s the most expensive market in the U.S., and CEOs of the biggest publicly traded hotel companies all described it as one of the weakest markets in the U.S. during first-quarter earnings calls over the past month.
- Group business: Most hotel CEOs on their first-quarter earnings calls told analysts that group business had picked up year over year, so Scholes thinks we’ll hear more about this at the conference. “That definitely has been picking up noticeably in the last couple of months,” he said. The question, he said, is if hotels will be able to begin raising prices as group business continues to grow. “That’s the question mark.”
Readers: Have a question that I should ask a CEO during the NYU conference? Send it to me in the comments section below.
Photos taken by Barb DeLollis at the 2013 NYU conference; above is a CEO panel, and below is (facing the camera) Choice Hotels CEO Steve Joyce and (back to the camera) Hilton Worldwide CEO Chris Nassetta.