Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference: June 1 - 3, 2014

The annual "International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference" may be a mouthful but it signifies one of the cardinal events in the calendar of the entire hospitality sector. It takes place every year at the Tisch Center of New York University. This year's agenda was particularly interesting.

The Tisch Center: joining academia and industry

Jonathan M Tisch
The Tisch Center, in NYU's School of Continuing and Professional Studies, excels at teaching three related fields: hospitality, tourism and sports. It places high value on immersing its students in the inner workings of the industry that exists outside the classroom, in fact all around it, in Manhattan. It is this junction or meeting place between academia and industry that makes the Tisch Center and the conference itself so interesting. In fact, a careful look at the conference agenda reveals a number of other such intersections between apparent opposites. 

Students and leaders

One of the prime motivations of the Tisch Center is to create opportunities for its students to network with industry leaders. The students are able to participate in this annual event that brings together real decision makers around core issues. But the intent is also for the leaders to meet these exceptional students who are well-positioned to assume positions of leadership themselves in the future.

Putting out fires versus predicting trends

Industry leaders want to provide true leadership, rather than put out fires. A conference permits them to step away from the burning responsibilities that currently vie for their attention, and take a long view, so that they can be anticipate future crises and seize opportunities on time. Many of the panel titles were exactly about this. The hospitality industry, like the travel industry, is prone to sudden shifts and tremors in the economic climate. Understanding trends is crucial for success.

Is the economy robust or fragile?

Investors need to know when and where to invest but are currently faced with contradictory economic indicators. Many of the panel discussions dealt with the conundrums of the financial climate.

Consumer loyalty versus fickleness

Today's hotel industry mainstay may tomorrow be passé. Some of the panels tried to examine generational trends among consumers: how to create loyalty; when to introduce new features; changing attitudes to value and luxury; what the customers are looking for and why.

Competition versus cooperation

The conference topics were wide ranging, though very focused on real and pressing issues that can make or break fortunes. One of the most interesting questions is whether the industry is shaped more by competition or by cooperation. Conferences like this seem to prove that cooperation has a much higher value and that all players can benefit by networking, putting heads together, and leading the hospitality industry as a whole towards prosperity and success.

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