Four Hospitality Innovators Share Their Plans for 2019

Throughout the years, LODGING has profiled and connected with countless hoteliers, 
hospitality professionals, brands, and other industry organizations. Sometimes, the stories told within these pages are just the beginning of something much bigger. That’s why for LODGING’s final issue of 2018, the editorial team checked in with four previously profiled executives and companies to see what they were up to and what’s on the horizon for 2019. Read about each of them below.

1Castell Refresh 

Castell Project Year One Class (2017) and Board
Castell Project Year One Class (2017) and Board

Peggy Berg is director of Castell Project, Inc., a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the careers of women professionals in the hospitality industry. Formed in January 2017, the Castell Project, which will begin its third year in January, operates both the Castell Leadership Program that provides leadership training to rising female executives, and WILL, an ongoing network supporting the career development of women who have completed the program; it also conducts original research on diversity in hospitality industry leadership.

Berg recently spoke to LODGING after the organization’s first Castell Refresh, a supplemental leadership development and resource–building program available only to those women who have already completed the Castell Project program. Read more about Castell Refresh and what participants of the program have to say about it here.

2Margaritaville in the Smokies

Margaritaville Lobby Fireplace

A Margaritaville resort in the Great Smoky Mountains? Actually, there are three.

The Margaritaville Island Inn and the Margaritaville Island Hotel—both in Pigeon Forge—are nearly side by side, and Margaritaville Resort in Gatlinburg, Tenn., is just eight miles away. All are doing very well, thank you, say the people behind these Smoky Mountain properties: Bob McManus, president and developer, Margaritaville Resort Gatlinburg and Margaritaville Island Hotel in Pigeon Forge; Ken Leone, president, Marlin Hospitality Group; John Cohlan, CEO, Margaritaville Holdings; and Darby Campbell, president, Safe Harbor Development, who is developer of the Margaritaville Hotels in Pigeon Forge and a soon-to-open property in Nashville, as well as overseeing development of Margaritaville at Lanier Islands, an all-season destination just north of Atlanta.

In an update on Margaritaville’s expansion, these owners and developers discussed with LODGING the appeal of the brand, how its culture transcends the beach, and why mixing business and pleasure—within reason—has proven profitable, even in unlikely locations. Read what they have to say here.

3The Future of Hotel Housekeeping

When the LODGING team first met Maidbot founder and CEO Micah Green in 2016, his company was a small robotics startup in the midst of launching a pilot program around its guestroom-cleaning robots. Now, with plans to integrate 100 working units into hotels all over the country by the end of the year, Green’s focus is broader, and he’s starting to see exactly how the technology pioneered by Maidbot could change the hotel industry at large.

Maidbot’s housekeeping robots (called “Rosie” by Green and the Maidbot team, after the Jetson’s housekeeper) clean guestroom floors while room attendants take care of the rest. “When we last spoke, we had just launched our first pilot with a partner in Houston,” Green says. “That was our first technology lesson and deployment experience, and by all accounts, it went really well. It also made clear what should be our areas of focus. It’s very different once you introduce a product to end-users—in this case, room attendants and management—and start to encounter all of the little variations in environment that need to be addressed for a larger rollout.” Read more.

4Scaling Up: La Quinta 

La Quinta Inn & Suites Opelika-Auburn in Opelika, Ala.
La Quinta Inn & Suites Opelika-Auburn in Opelika, Ala.

When LODGING profiled Rajiv Trivedi back in 2014, he was executive vice president and chief development officer of La Quinta, which had then just gone public. Catching up with him four years later, he is still involved with the La Quinta brand, serving as its president, but that brand is now a part of Wyndham Hotel & Resorts, which acquired La Quinta’s hotel franchising and hotel management business last year. (Its real estate investment trust, CorePoint Lodging Inc., which owns 316 La Quinta hotels, had been spun off prior to the purchase, and was not included in the deal.)

Trivedi views La Quinta’s new relationship with Wyndham as “a sort of marriage made in heaven” due mainly to their highly compatible cultures and strategies—as reflected in their leadership teams, the companies’ relationship with their franchise partners, and their internal guest relationships. Read more about his thoughts on the relationship here.

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