NEW YORK — On Monday, the NYU School of Professional Studies Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality convened top hospitality industry executives and thought leaders from across the United States and around the world for its 44th Annual NYU International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference at the New York Marriott Marquis in New York City. The conference provided a deep dive into the current state of the industry and what is to be expected in the months to come.
The first day of content included general sessions with high-profile leaders and innovators sharing their insights, as well as break-out sessions that covered groundbreaking topics—from “Digital Securities: Tokenized Property Interests and the Capital Stack of the Future” to “Private Capital—Land of Opportunity in the New Normal Environment.”
Conference Chair Jonathan M. Tisch, chairman and CEO of Loews Hotels & Co. and co-chairman of the board of Loews Corporation, delivered remarks that focused on the future of a reimagined travel industry. While he acknowledged the disruptions the industry has faced, he remained optimistic, stating that “travel is essential to the way we work and live—because it has tremendous potential to connect us—to each other, to ideas, and to opportunity. It brings people together, broadens perspectives, and spurs innovation and progress. It’s the antidote to isolation and tribalism. And at a time of turning in, locking down, and scaling back, it’s more urgently needed than ever.” He reminded those attending the conference that “by connecting people to each other, to ideas, and to opportunity, we can demonstrate just how essential we are—not just in spite of the challenges of the past several years, but because of them.”
“The CEOs Check-In: A View from the Top” session featured hospitality executives who discussed the evolving investment landscape, and how the hospitality industry is growing once again. Sara Eisen, anchor, “Closing Bell,” CNBC, moderated this discussion with Keith Barr, CEO, IHG Hotels & Resorts; Sébastien M. Bazin, chairman and CEO, Accor; Anthony Capuano, CEO, Marriott International; Mark S. Hoplamazian, president and CEO, Hyatt Hotels Corporation; and Christopher J. Nassetta, president and CEO, Hilton. All of the CEOs were optimistic regarding the resiliency of the industry and the pent-up demand for travel caused by the pandemic. They also however acknowledged the continuing problem of the labor shortage and the fact that they must make hospitality jobs more attractive by offering flexible schedules and pay. The CEOs also discussed the critical need for sustainability and for offering travelers choices and greater services for the higher prices they are paying. They addressed the increasingly blurry line between business and leisure travel and the new opportunities it provides hotels and travel destinations to satisfy increasing demands for combined experiences.
During “Hotel Values and Trends – Statistically Speaking and Analysis of Industry Trends,” Amanda Hite, president of STR, and Stephen Rushmore, Jr., president and CEO, HVS, provided deep data on trends in the hotel and travel industry that indicate things are looking up. There have been regular gains in occupancy since President’s Day weekend, business travel has started to pick up, and because household income and employment is strong, increases in travel are expected to continue, but growth may be less pronounced in 2023. While things continue to look up and current construction projects are being finished, new hotel development projects are not where they were pre-pandemic. Inflation, volatility, and supply chain issues have had a real impact on hotel development.
During “Beyond the Boardroom,” which took the form of a fireside chat, conference Chair Jonathan M. Tisch, chairman and CEO of Loews Hotels & Co. and co-chairman of the board of Loews Corporation, interviewed New York City Mayor Eric Adams. The two discussed the importance of travel and tourism for the city and the ways to increase it to pre-pandemic levels. The Mayor focused on continuing to reduce crime, on making the city more business-friendly, and encouraging workers to return to their offices. He also touted the city’s diversity in being a major selling point for attracting visitors, industries, and businesses.