As part of the Americas Lodging Investment Summit’s Patron sponsorship program, ALIS organizers asked BWH Hotel Group’s Larry Cuculic eight timely questions as we prepare for the 22nd annual event January 23-25, 2023, at the JW Marriott/Ritz-Carlton Los Angeles L.A. LIVE. Following are his responses.

1) How has inflation and the threat of a recession affected the U.S. hotel industry?
BWH Hotel Group has experienced an exceptionally strong rebound from the pandemic despite inflation and economic concerns. Inflationary headwinds have not lessened pent up demand for leisure travel while business travel is rebounding judiciously. We remain cautiously optimistic that this demand will continue throughout the end of 2022 and into 2023.

2) What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned during the last 2.5 years, and how will you apply it going forward?
There is no substitute for a strong team. When challenges present themselves, it is collective teamwork that succeeds.

3) How have guest expectations evolved over the past year, and how do you expect them to change going forward?
Heightened expectations regarding a clean and comfortable stay – to which guests are absolutely entitled.

4) How have BWH Hotel Group and its hoteliers been impacted by the labor crisis? Is there a way the industry can overcome that issue any time soon?
The entire hospitality industry is dealing with labor challenges. We have an exciting opportunity to reimagine our reputation and to effectively position our industry as an employer of choice. Hotels are a great place to work with tremendous professional development and advancement opportunities.
5) What’s the most frequently asked question you receive from BWH Hotel Group hoteliers and how do you answer?
It’s not a question, it’s a request – drive superior revenue to the top line and help with operating costs so that bottom line success is achieved.

6) Based on your portfolio and what you’re seeing throughout the industry, what segments are the most sought after for development and franchising opportunities? Why?
Noting the cost of new construction, to include increasing costs of materials and debt service, there is more demand for conversion development. Consistent with this context, hoteliers are increasingly looking to upward reposition “traditional” hotels as boutique offerings that have higher average daily rate.

7) What’s the most under-estimated challenge the hotel industry faces, and why?
Hoteliers are generally optimists. As a result, we often have short memories of past challenges regardless of their seriousness.

8) What’s the most under-estimated opportunity for the hotel industry, and why?
Our industry will change and adapt from within. There is a generation of young, bright, and creative hoteliers who will inspire and develop fresh strategies to help our industry reach new levels of success. We need to ensure we do not underestimate the value they will bring in shaping the future of our industry.

* as of September 30, 2022