Six Trailblazers Moving the Hotel Industry Forward

The hotel industry is notorious for being slow to change. However, not everyone got the memo. The six people and companies highlighted below are trailblazers, moving the industry forward with audacious ideas and cutting-edge technology. From booking to bars, it’s an interesting time to be in hospitality.

1Tyler Morse on changing “the way it’s always been done”

TWA Hotel

Tyler Morse is CEO and managing partner of MCR, the hospitality company he founded in 2006. Although he barely mentions his degree from Harvard Business School, this hospitality innovator proudly produces for LODGING a laundry list of the varied life work experiences he considers “a core tenet of being an effective CEO”—including that of LAX baggage handler, bank teller, car valet, busboy, and ski instructor. They, as well as some of the loftier positions he has held, are perhaps at the heart of his willingness to challenge the status quo in an industry that is ever reluctant to stray from its long-held practices—including what he calls the “free option” of booking a hotel room without penalty for cancellation, despite the cost to owners of securing and holding that reservation, sometimes only to find out too late that the credit card number is fake. Read more.

2Dr. Jonathan Leary is changing how hotel guests recharge

Remedy Place

At one time, it was new and exciting for hotels to offer a room service menu featuring cheeseburgers and cold drinks to guests looking to unwind at the end of a long day. But thanks to the work of one forward-thinking health expert, some hotels can now offer a new kind of menu: one featuring IV drips and cryotherapy.

Dr. Jonathan Leary built a successful wellness practice fine-tuning world-class athletes and high-performing executives using holistic methods to make his patients more proactive when it came to their mental and physical well-being. Now he’s helping to shape the future scope of health and wellness services that high-end hotels can offer supremely health-conscious guests looking to rebalance during long, taxing trips. Read more.

3Chicago’s Kimpton Gray hosts pop-up plant hotel

Kimpton Gray Plant Pop-Up Hotel

It’s no secret that people care more about authentic experiences than ever before. Pop-up restaurants and shops have been meeting that need for years, and the hotel industry is starting to get in on the fun. But while pop-up hotels are more popular than ever before, they’re generally harder to put together and run than restaurants and shops. Pop-up hotels need to provide access to food, water, hygiene products, sleeping arrangements, and much more. Not only do guests need to be comfortable, hotels are a 24/7 business, which means employees need to be on-property from the moment the popup opens to the moment it closes for good.

Pop-up hotels can also meet a need not yet met in the industry. Orbitz recently surveyed millennials to find what the generation is missing from typical hotel stays; of those surveyed, 63 percent said live plants were missing from their usual travels. Orbitz, along with the Garfield Park Conservatory and the Kimpton Gray in Chicago met that need by opening a plant pop-up hotel from October 18-20, 2019. Read more.

4She Has a Deal Pitch Competition offers ownership opportunity

Tracy Prigmore of TLTsolutions is the founder of the

When Tracy Prigmore wanted to make a career move from investing in residential real estate to investing in commercial real estate, she was unsure about which asset class would be the right fit. She conducted extensive market research, but didn’t realize the value of hotel ownership until she took a personal trip to a Hampton Inn.

That experience opened her eyes, and she determined that hotels were where she wanted to steer her career. However, time and time again, Prigmore came up against barriers to entry. Her lack of mentorship and accessible information hindered her journey, but through persistence, her dream eventually became a reality. Now Prigmore, managing director for TLTsolutions, is using learnings from her past to mentor and guide women in the hotel industry.

In an effort to encourage women to enter the industry, Prigmore developed the She Has a Deal Pitch Competition, which provides young women with access to a hotel deal. Read more.

5The Gerber Group sets a new course for food and beverage

Taco Electrico
Taco Electrico

Scott Gerber, principal and CEO of the Gerber Group, has done something many thought was impossible: He got New Yorkers excited about going to the airport.

Gerber helped to turn JFK Airport into a destination for tourists and locals alike, with its three vintage-inspired venues attached to the buzzy new TWA Hotel.

The Gerber Group built the plush red Sunken Lounge within the restored TWA Flight Center as the hotel’s main bar. It looks out onto a second bar, which is nestled inside the cabin of a repurposed plane from the 1950s that’s parked on the tarmac. Finally, the pool bar sits up on the roof, where guests or day-pass holders can soak in the infinity pool and take in sweeping views across the busy runway and down rows of jets resting at the next terminal. Read more.

6Vertical Booking USA looks to even the playing field with OTAs

Mark Lewis-Brown - Vertical Booking USA

For many years, hotels lost ground to online travel agents due in large part to the fact that OTAs just offered a better user experience and concentrated more resources on developing and marketing their digital products. OTAs outperformed hotels in technology and strategy, as the hospitality industry was no match for the technology sector when it came to creating tech solutions to more easily shop for and book rooms.

But the game is changing again, and hotels are winning back some of the digital turf gobbled up by those OTAs. One of the reasons is the availability of direct booking tools developed by companies like Vertical Booking USA, a Portland, Ore.-based global reservations technology provider looking to level the playing field. Read more.


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