A Hotel Wish List For 2005

With rising demand, increased rates and healthy profits, 2004 was a very good year for the hotel industry. Unfortunately, it was also a year of challenges, most of which were out of our control: SARS-induced panic, destructive hurricanes, a frustrating and costly war, deadly tsunamis and an ailing airline industry. While I believe the new year will be even better than '04 for most of us, a number of things need to occur for that to happen. Specifically, for 2005 I wish:

that the U.S. and global economies continue to improve and the U.S. and the rest of the world are free from terrorism;

that hotel owners take the opportunity to push rates higher using a combination of technology and common sense;

that greedy hotel owners don't use crises and natural disasters (e.g., the hurricanes in Florida) to gouge helpless customers;

that developers resume construction of new hotel properties but with the sense to realize that the industry's current boom will undoubtedly turn downward someday;

that the entrepreneurial spirit that built this industry reemerges in the form of new hotel concepts, marketing ideas and customer service strategies;

that the current condo hotel mania (see cover story on pg. 30) be tempered with common sense and a healthy dose of market realities;

that the supposedly business-friendly Congress and Administration finally recognize the economic power of the U.S. tourism industry;

that the Commerce Department's modest, but historic ad campaign (a clever $4-million effort aimed at British consumers) succeeds in luring more international travelers to the U.S.;

that the industry's lobbying arms (i.e., AH&LA, Travel Business Roundtable and Travel Industry Association) are able to effectively raise their voices on behalf of the tourism industry;

that everyone in the hospitality community — owners, operators, managers and associates — exercise their political rights to influence adoption of government policies that are favorable to their industry and their livelihoods;

that government officials, in shaping immigration policies, understand the need to balance the demands of homeland security with the requirements of many businesses, especially hotels, for a legal immigrant workforce;

that the nation's airline industry overcomes its mountain of problems, even if the solution means that some troubled carriers go out of business and that airfares rise to levels that make economic sense;

that the resurgence in hotel food and beverage (see October 2004, pgs. 32-36) remains a trend that results in higher levels of customer satisfaction and an increase in profitable revenues for owners;

that hotel owners and their representatives are able to reach a fair and equitable détente with the newly emboldened labor unions;

that the industry's fascination with boutique hotels and design for the sake of looks before comfort recedes to a sensible level;

that hotel technology companies continue to innovate and create products that help hoteliers cut costs, improve service and build business;

that cities and states finally realize that casino gaming is a powerful economic engine but not a cure-all for their ills;

that all readers of Lodging Hospitality and www.LHonline.com have a safe, enjoyable and highly profitable 2005.

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