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.
inflation and the threat of a recession affected the U.S. hotel industry?
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.
ALIS: What’s the biggest
lesson you’ve learned during the last 2.5 years, and how will you apply it
CUCULIC: There is no substitute for
a strong team. When challenges present themselves, it is collective teamwork
ALIS: How have guest
expectations evolved over the past year, and how do you expect them to change
CUCULIC: Heightened expectations
regarding a clean and comfortable stay – to which guests are absolutely
ALIS: 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?
CUCULIC: 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.
ALIS: What’s the most
frequently asked question you receive from BWH Hotel Group hoteliers and how do
CUCULIC: 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.
ALIS: 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?
CUCULIC: 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.
ALIS: What’s the most under-estimated challenge the hotel industry
faces, and why?
CUCULIC: Hoteliers are generally optimists. As a result, we often have
short memories of past challenges regardless of their seriousness.
ALIS: What’s the most under-estimated opportunity for the hotel
industry, and why?
CUCULIC: 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.