This year's Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association (ORLA) annual conference represents the culmination (and celebration) of months of hard work by the boards and members of both the former Oregon Lodging Association and the Oregon Restaurant Association to bring the two organizations together under a single common roof. While the number of restaurant members greatly exceed the number of lodging members, the newly combined organization has made a great effort to ensure that the interests of both constituencies are fairly represented. I applaud the efforts of Steve McCoid, Jeff Hampton and the other ORLA staff members and wish the newly combined organization continued success. Well done.
As to the actual program, the highlight of the first day for the lodging members was likely Smith Travel's update and forecast of key Oregon lodging metrics. A few highlights:
- Quite unexpectedly, transient lodging demand has staged a strong recovery (despite continued unemployment challenges)
- Year-over-year improvement in occupancy was the story for most segments and regions in the Oregon market, but rate continues to be the challenge
- Continued rate discounting on the transient side has led (and will continue to lead) to serious rate challenges in the group segment for the upcoming 16 - 18 months
Let me know if you would like a complete copy of Smith Travel's presentation.
The second day included great presentations on (i) green lodging trends (hats off to Steve Faulstick and the Westmont team at the Portland Doubletree and Jon Tullis and his team at the Timberline Lodge for the examples they've set in adopting sustainable (and expense-reducing) practices in their hotel's operations) and (ii) recent developments in federal law and their effect on Northwest hotel and restaurant owners (check this blog for future posts on these developments and AHLA's excellent summary). More information on sustainable tourism and the current marketing being done to promote sustainable tourism can be found here.
While the mood in the conference hallways was somewhat subdued (largely because of continued uncertainty over the future of the Northwest economy), the conference proved once again the great value in attending these meetings and re-connecting with friends and clients.
I look forward to seeing what the newly combined organization has planned next fall.
For those of you that didn't know, Sunday marked the end of a 10-week sabbatical that took my wife and me and our three small boys (ages 5, 7 and 9) first to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons for nearly 3 weeks and then to Western Europe for the month of August. What a summer break - our boys had great stories to share with their classmates when it was time to describe how they has spent their summer vacation.
Time away from the office and practice taught me many things - among them, it takes a great deal of patience and perseverance to traveling with three little boys. The time away also reminded me of the value of travel and seeing and experiencing things (even your own local practices) through others' eyes. Our experience underscored the need to include foreign travel as the part of any education - whether formal, professional or otherwise. Travel opens our minds to other viewpoints and ideas that we might not otherwise experience.
I am thrilled to be back to my practice and to re-connect with clients and friends. I'm also anxious to apply some of the new ideas and perspectives gained over the past few weeks.
A huge thanks to my partners and colleagues at our office - especially those in our hospitality practice - Ryan McFarland, Ruth Walters and Diana Shukis - who have once again reminded me that this practice has grown well beyond me. I look forward to touching base with all of you over the next few weeks and to sharing some of these my new ideas in future posts.
Greg and I were fortunate enough to be asked to present at this year's Northwest Chapter of PCMA and MPIWSC's 9th Annual Meetings Industry Summit: The New Norm at The Conference Center here in Seattle. For those of our excellent attendees who asked so many good questions both during and after the session and who requested an electronic copy of our slides, and for those who would no doubt have attended had they known, here you go.
As the post title suggests, we discussed trends in group sales/event contract negotiations attributable to the "new norm," primarily, the economy and its attendant changes (AIG effect, any one?) from both the venue and the group perspective. We took a look at contracts we had seen in the last year or two, group and meeting publications and did a brief and entirely unscientific survey of some of our clients to see what new things, if any, they were seeing.
We also talked about what has not changed, namely, the basic positions from which each party negotiates and what their objectives are, as well as some of the most imporant provisions in any group contract.
Thanks again to Tom Norwalk of the SCVB for recommending us and PCMA and MPI for having us.
Greg Duff, Editor
Greg Duff founded and chairs GSB’s national Hospitality, Travel & Tourism group. His practice largely focuses on operations-oriented matters faced by hospitality industry members, including sales and marketing, distribution and e-commerce, procurement and technology. Greg also serves as counsel and legal advisor to many of the hospitality industry’s associations and trade groups, including AH&LA, HFTP and HSMAI.