Minneapolis has a diverse collection of hotels to serve a wide range of guest needs. The largest property in the city, and the state for that matter, is the 821 room Hilton Minneapolis. Ken Jarka is the general manager and is an active Meet Minnepaolis partner.
Hilton's President and Chief Executive Officer, Chris Nassetta was interviewed recently, as a part of keynote session, during one our major convention industry events that several Meet Minneapolis team members attended. Hilton has more than 5,000 properties worldwide and over 300,000 team members. Here are some of his key observations from the interview.
Impact of Airbnb on the Lodging Industry
When asked about the impact of Airbnb, Nassetta first feigned ignorance of such a possibility. However, on a serious note he clearly described Airbnb as only lodging whereas Hilton, is "in the hospitality business." In October, the Minneapolis City Council voted to mandate that Airbnb and other rental platform hosts secure an annual license. Our local Greater Minneapolis Hotel Association worked with the City of Minneapolis, Meet Minneapolis and others to have these regulations in place in advance of the Super Bowl.
Recognition of the Hospitality Industry
Many of our readers may not fully appreciate Nassetta's analogy that hospitality is the Rodney Dangerfield of industries because it doesn't get the respect it deserves. He related his own start in the industry, as a teenager, when he was an engineer at a Holiday Inn. His point is that the upward mobility in the hospitality industry is under appreciated. He said that his upcoming role as World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Chairman will give him the platform to deliver this and other key messages about our industry. At the local level, Meet Minneapolis bestows a quarterly Hospitality Hero award as a means to increase awareness about the importance of our industry and to express appreciation to the men and women who make their living as hospitality industry professionals.
Enhancing the Guest Experience
Nassetta opined that in order to develop a deeper customer connection, it is important to evaluate the frequency and relevance of interactions outside of the guest's stay in the property. Hilton, and other lodging companies, invest significantly in a variety of campaigns to keep their respective brand top of mind for the consumer. But based on feedback, he believes in customized communications on multiple platforms. In short, Nasetta concluded that guests want more experiences. Meet Minneapolis research also concludes that the visitor experience is paramount and our marketing efforts will reflect this more and more.
Hospitality Industry Outlook
Nassetta didn't use charts and graphs to give his prognostication on the future growth in the hospitality industry. His interaction with personnel from Hilton's more than 500 hotels worldwide provided his perspective. He saw 2017 as a stable year for his company and he sees an incremental increase in earnings growth moving forward. He said that Hilton will continue to invest with partners to grow their overall inventory of hotels. And in Minneapolis, after months of recording double digit hotel supply increases and plummeting rates, we have begun to see some stabilization in occupancy based on the surprisingly strong November and December performances many of our hotels have reported. Even without the Super Bowl, we expect 2018 to have stronger industry performance than 2017.
It's important to compare notes with multiple sources of information such as comments from industry leaders like Chris Nassetta. We will continue to share other data points in order to help our partners and stakeholders in their business planning.