While many of us have been traveling again for nearly a year, visiting properties and meeting with partners and colleagues, last month seemed to mark the return of the conference circuit in the hospitality industry. From intimate industry gatherings to the mega trade shows, there is no denying that hospitality professionals were, and are, ready. We are ready to travel, to find solutions, to make deals, and to celebrate surviving the last 18 months.
Continental Contractors attended three of the most recent shows – not entirely sure what to expect, as each event approached the issue of gathering under the cloud of COVID differently.
- HD Expo, held in Las Vegas, had a full indoor mask mandate at the time of the show, and several exhibitors declined to attend. However, the organizers did an excellent job of re-arranging the show floor, providing wide aisles, spacious meeting areas, and interesting panels throughout the day.
- HotelPoint, in Scottsdale, Arizona, provided attendees with stickers for name badges, allowing each to signal their individual level of comfort with close contact (yellow = elbow bump, green = hand shake).
- And at The Lodging Conference in Phoenix, the evening events were held outdoors, under clear skies in perfect weather.
We were thrilled to see each other face to face, full of optimism in anticipation of an industry on the mend.
Balancing out the optimism, however, were common threads of concern as we approach the close of 2021. Most notable: the labor shortage. From housekeepers to cooks to construction workers, the demand is undeniably greater than the supply (and this is being felt across industries). Each conference heard cries for immigration reform, laments over wage increases, and ideas for technologies to increase productivity.
Another concern, perhaps felt more acutely by those in the hotel construction sector, was the rising cost of freight and the shortage – and escalating costs – of materials. From lumber and paint pigment to sheets and kitchen equipment, everyone is struggling to not only source the products they need for a reasonable price, but to receive them in a timely manner, all while the cost of freight has increased more than 10 times since 2019.
Adding to the pressure: looming deadlines for property brand standards while CapEx reserves are still in the beginning stages of being replenished.
So why do we remain genuinely optimistic about what’s next? Why do we believe we are “poised for an upswing” despite all the hurdles still to overcome?
Because we have been here before. We have overcome economic downturns and catastrophic terrorist attacks, and we are a resilient bunch that knows we are capable of persevering.
Because necessity is the mother of invention, and incredible innovations will come from this era.
Because humans have an innate desire to travel, and we are seeing the guests begin to show up again. They expect a warm welcome and a comfortable bed, and we, the hospitality industry, will be there to provide it to them.
— Renee Bagshaw, COO
Blake Snow with Ferguson Enterprises, Continental’s Renee Bagshaw, and Karin Harrington with Studio Partnership in Las Vegas for HD Expo.