Six Hospitality Experts on Industry Recovery Post-COVID

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, hotel companies have had to change policies, marketing tactics, and projections. The BHN Group recently hosted another ALIS 6×8 virtual panel of industry leaders to share their thoughts on recovery and beyond. Moderated by Jeff Higley, president of BHN Group, this ALIS 6×8 panel included Keith Barr, CEO of IHG; Monty Bennett, chairman and CEO of Ashford Inc.; Amanda Hite, president of STR; Gilda Perez-Alvarado, Americas CEO of JLL Hotels & Hospitality; Cecil Staton, president and CEO of AAHOA; and Greg Friedman, managing principal and CEO of Peachtree Hotel Group. Here’s what’s been on their minds during the crisis.

1Keith Barr, CEO, IHG

“How do we communicate to consumers what we’re doing around cleanliness and hygiene? How do we get out there and show our customers that hotels have always been safe? How do we let customers know that we’re doing that and more? … I have been humbled by our teams who have worked around the clock to produce trainings for our employees. The level of detail that has gone into it has been extraordinary.”

2Monty Bennett, Chairman and CEO, Ashford Inc.

“Our industry is in a crisis. These are tough times—the toughest times in terms of our industry that I’ve ever seen. In order to get through this, we’re going to need some help from the government and from lenders especially.”

3Amanda Hite, President, STR

“In the U.S., we [now] have only 3.5 percent of hotels currently closed, which is a huge improvement from where we were in the middle of April, when we had over 20 percent of hotels in the U.S. closed… Every week we’re looking at leisure demand and recovery demand; that’s what we’re keeping an eye on right now. We’re carving out what the future will look like now and we’re setting the example—this industry responds well, works well together, and, as competitive as we all can be, we’re all connected.”

4Gilda Perez-Alvarado, CEO-Americas, JLL Hotels & Hospitality

“Everyone’s just trying to make sense of the situation. 2020 may be a bit of a write-off year for transaction volumes, but 2021 will be back in action. There’s still a long way to go… Our job right now as investment advisors is (1) staying in front of our client and (2) making sure that we’re providing as much intel as possible.”

5Cecil Staton, President & CEO, AAHOA

“I’m very concerned because every day, our team is on the phone and talking to members of Congress, state legislators, governors, lieutenant governors—I’m sort of struck by the amount of work we’ve had to do to educate our elected officials on issues of what’s taking place right now in the world. We have to make them aware of [our industry’s challenges]… We’ve got to have more hope, and really communicate to our legislative friends what this really means for this incredibly important industry and economy.”

6Greg Friedman, Managing Principal & CEO, Peachtree Hotel Group

“I’m very optimistic about the long-term [prospects] of our business, but we have incredible challenges over the short-term… The fact is, I really think we need the media to buy in and really tell everyone that it’s safe to travel. That’s going to be a huge signal for me… 2020 is a really challenging year, but 2021 has the potential to be really great.”

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Lara Becker is a LODGING Magazine Summer 2020 intern.