Alex Tisch recognizes the challenges that continue to face the industry, including Loews Hotels & Co, the 70-year-old company of which he is the first of his generation—the fourth generation of leadership—to assume the presidency. But, as he told LODGING, he has no intention of pitching the playbook that has served his family’s company well throughout its long history—i.e., prudently managing capital and resource allocation, and overseeing general operational effectiveness. “Frankly, we’ve got a pretty good thing here, and I want to keep it going,” he says.
Having just taken on the presidency of your family’s company during a pandemic, how are you planning to proceed during this challenging time?
Like every firm, ours has made some really tough decisions in the past six months. Although we are in fine shape under the circumstances, we are very much in sustainability mode as we work our way out of the crisis toward better times. Barring a significantly sharper downturn, we plan to continue making decisions that demonstrate that our customers are our greatest concern while our hotels continue to reopen.
Do you have any recovery plans in place yet?
Right now, all of our hotels outside Orlando, with the except two, are open. Our plan for navigating back to a more normal world is to scale up operations and facilities. The thing we’ll have to make decisions on is future development of projects—determining the right way to grow our company in the coming years in light of our firm belief that what we’re experiencing is a cyclical downturn, not a secular downturn.
Do you have anything specific you plan to do for starters?
Our firm is built on a few things that are unique to the industry: (1) embracing being the owner/operator; (2) making sure our team members are empowered to make the appropriate decisions at the asset level; (3) making sure the customer experience is unique and catered to the asset.
These are not things that are new to our culture; they’ve been around for 70 years. That’s why the one thing I plan to do right from the start is continue to embrace those things, even in this crazy world.
How does being the fourth generation with your family’s company inform your overall approach to the business?
As a firm, what we want to do is empower our team members and create value for our shareholders. I think as long as we find good projects to do and continue to be great allocators of capital and great fosterers of a great culture for team members, it’s an amazing opportunity for the fourth generation to build on. And I certainly won’t be going it alone; Jon Tisch will remain chairman and CEO.
Looking to the future, what might the fifth generation take away from the current crisis?
I honestly hope and believe our industry will never again endure a situation as bad as that in late March and early April. But, I do see that the way we managed our firm during these past six months has put us in a stronger competitive position than when we went into this crisis, believing that what so many others felt forced to do in order to manage capital—sell assets and eliminate the sales teams that drove future business—will weaken their competitive stance in the industry.
Clearly, not all will survive, given that many considered the market going into the pandemic already saturated. Yet the enormous number of us with true love for the industry look forward to its coming back, hopefully stronger than ever, in the coming years—although I won’t predict how quickly.