MEMPHIS, Tenn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Officials of the Southern Lodging Summit, an annual gathering of hoteliers specializing in development and operations in the southern United States, today announced that the event achieved record attendance. Additionally, the organization released the results of its second annual “State-of-the-Industry” report compiled from attendees’ opinions. Participants were queried on such topics as to which presidential nominee would likely have the “best” impact on the industry, social media, Millennial travelers and which recent issues have had the largest impact on the hospitality industry.
“With most industry prognosticators believing we are near or at the top of this phase of the current hospitality cycle, hoteliers are eager to learn how they can make the most out of the current economic environment for their hotels,” said Chuck Pinkowski, president of Pinkowski & Company and conference co-founder. “We believe the continued upbeat outlook has positively impacted attendance, with record numbers achieved at all of our scheduled events. Our combination of networking events and our distinctive panels that include content unique to our sector of the country have struck a chord with attendees. The bar for 2017 has been set that much higher.”
The “State-of-the-Industry” Report shed some interesting light on a variety of topics. Nearly 64 percent of respondents believe that Donald Trump could be better for the hotel industry, though the question was not intended to necessarily endorse any nominee. Minimum wage levels and the new overtime ruling were viewed equally (29 percent) as the two recent issues that have most dramatically impacted the industry of late. Presumably of great relief to newer brands targeted towards younger travelers, 44 percent of attendees felt lobbies were the most important improvement/renovation a hotel could make to attract Millennials. Perhaps most importantly, 69 percent and 61 percent respectively reported the belief that rate and occupancy will outpace 2015 levels. Full results of the poll are available at the SLS website: http://www.southernlodgingsummit-memphis.com/.
The day-and-a-half conference, held at the Memphis Cook Convention Center, began with its annual “Lunch with Speakers” at the world renowned Rendezvous BBQ Restaurant and evening cocktail party/dinner at the Peabody Hotel before a full schedule that included industry updates and outlooks from STR’s Jan Freitag, senior vice president of strategic development.
Additional panels included The Presidents’ Panel, moderated by Isaac Collazo, vice president of performance strategy and planning for Intercontinental Hotels, and featuring Alex Cabanas, Benchmark Hospitality International CEO; Mark Carrier, BF Saul Company Hospitality Group president; John Hamilton, Pyramid Hotel Group senior vice-president of business development; and Bhavesh Patel, ADM Hotels principal and AAHOA vice-chairman. Introduced by John J. Koshivos, vice president/managing director development for the southeastern region for Hilton Worldwide, Fred Kleisner, Caesars Entertainment/Aimbridge Hospitality independent director, gave this year’s keynote address. Stephanie Ricca, editor-in-chief at Hotel News Now, led a lively discussion during the “Money, Mindset & Marketing” panel, while Larry Spelts, vice-president of business development for Charlestowne Hotels, Inc., hosted “Leading the Market! Staying Ahead of the Dining Curve” panel featuring Bob Puccini, CEO and founder of Puccini Group; Michael Kitchen, vice-president of acquisitions & development at Aparium Hotel Group; Andrew Leber, senior vice president of asset management at CHMWarnick; and Peter Karpinski, co-founder and COO of Sage Restaurant Group.
Celebrating its 14th year, the Southern Lodging Summit was co-founded by Pinkowski & Company, an independent, Memphis-headquartered hotel industry consulting firm, and the Metropolitan Memphis Hotel & Lodging Association. The hospitality industry event brings together hotel professionals who target the southern and mid-south region of the United States for development and operations. The annual event draws a diverse group of owners, operators, sales executives, financial institutions, architects, attorneys, and hotel company representatives from more than 22 states nationwide.