This month, Bill DeForrest, president and CEO of Lane Hospitality, will be installed as chairman of IAHI, the owners’ association for IHG. IAHI represents the interests of nearly 3,000 owners and operators of IHG hotel brands. A 24-year veteran of the hotel industry, DeForrest talked with Editor Len Vermillion about the relationship of IAHI and IHG, as well as the role of an owners’ association in general.
1. Len Vermillion: What role does IAHI play in the betterment of IHG hotels?
Bill DeForrest: The mission of the IAHI is to represent the interests, concerns and ideas of our members to improve the performance of their hotels. Delivering Great Hotels Guest Love, which is the stated mission of IHG, can only be done with great owners working together with the great brands of IHG to deliver an amazing experience for our guest. Working with the talented leadership at IHG to ensure the execution of the guest experience commitment can be accomplished in every hotel, every time is the role that IAHI has played since its very formation.
2. LV: How does the association and the company work together? Any examples?
BD: Today, there are many key initiatives that IAHI and the IHG are working together for the success of the system. Great work is being done around talent development, associate engagement and the quality of the experience for our hundreds of thousands of associates who are delivering the brand promise to our guests everyday. Leveraging the significant talents and resources available within IHG and expanding the existing successful human resource initiatives they have into our entire franchisee community will help to ensure an even stronger guest experience going forward.
3. LV: What is the importance of a symbiotic relationship between an owners’ association and corporate?
BD: The ability to deliver a quality, efficient and rewarding guest experience in a way that will enhance the long term interest of the owners and investors of our hotels can only be done with a clear understanding and alignment around the mission, vision and strategy of the brands with the franchise community. The alignment of our interest in achieving these key objectives is very strong today.
4. LV: As incoming chairman, what issues would like to see the association address in the coming year?
BD: We are still in very challenging economic times and even though our industry and our brands are performing better than expected and better than the prior year, the fundamental values in our real estate are still under enormous pressure. We must be clear about delivering an outstanding guests experience based on what we know truly matters to our guest, and they will value and reward us with their loyalty. The continued efforts to build on the success of the Holiday Inn repositioning work is critical to our owners who have invested over one billion dollars in this process. Managing our costs in both ongoing operating expenditures, as well as necessary capital investments while managing cash flow, will allow us to deliver a rewarding guest and associate experience.