From securing the best labor force available in a strong economy to designing destination experiences for markets eager for the next new thing, at HotelSpaces industry insiders opened up about the biggest challenges they’re facing today.
Hilton’s Randy Gaines admitted that the hospitality market has been softening and that owners are asking “us to bring more to the bottom line. Rigor, hard work, partnership and strengthening collaboration with our owner groups are key challenges,” said the brand’s SVP Operations & New Project Development.
“Labor!” said Birju Patel, President of BPR Properties. “Labor is hard to call upon, but if you don’t have access to good labor, you’ll have a hard time.”
“Labor is hard to call upon, but if you don’t have access to good labor, you’ll have a hard time”
Trump Hotels’ Kathleen Flores agreed. “In hotel development and brand development, speed to market is our greatest challenge. So when we can find partners to work with to expedite any given project, I think that gives us an advantage,” the EVP of Brands & Innovation said.
Himank Goswami, (former) Sr. Manager of Architecture & Technical Services at Emaar Hospitality Himank Goswami said fulfilling brand vision was a constant battle. “The designers that we work with are not necessarily able to uphold our vision. That’s one of the biggest challenges we face.”
Educating the Market about Prefab
A big advocate for offsite construction, architect Danny Forster is working to transform the image of modular design from trailer park to luxe. “One of our biggest challenges is perception, that modular doesn’t mean cheaper. It can be a bespoke, well-crafted, 5-star project,” he said.
“I’m speaking to spread the gospel and to get people excited,” Forster said. “To show the industry that this type of technology is applicable, works and that it is available today.”
Concord Hospitality’s Director of Development Steve Kohn shared a universal concern for those at the forefront of prefab-based development. “The biggest challenge we’re facing in the modular sector is the experience of everyone—making sure the team is on board and understands it. We have to educate the submarket on how modular works and try not to get overpriced because they don’t understand it.”
Strong Partners Make a Difference
“Aligning service and products, needs and budgets--It’s all very expensive right now. And having good individuals to partner with is one of the more difficult things, which is why a conference like this is helpful. Through one relationship you can change direction. It’s a chain reaction if you will,” said Lou Carrier, President of Distinctive Hospitality Group.
Nick Muir, Head of Project Management and Construction for CitizenM Hotels, also emphasized containing costs by building strong teams.
“Construction costs are rising every day, especially with uncertain tariffs. So finding the right formula and partnerships to build our hotels quicker and more efficient is an ambition of ours,” he said. “However, it’s forever challenging due to this aggressive, growing market.”