It seems fitting that my first post of 2014 would come from the year's first major industry conference - the Americas Lodging Investment Summit (ALIS) held each January in Los Angeles. As expected, this year's Summit set near record attendance (nearly 2,600 registered attendees) and its attendees were brimming with confidence.
For me, however, the highlight of this year's Summit occurred on Monday a few blocks away. On Monday afternoon, Thayer Ventures hosted its third annual meeting focusing on innovation (and investing in innovation) in the travel industry. This year's meeting included a presentation by Skift CEO and founder, Rafat Ali, a panel discussion by the CEOs of each of Thayer's portfolio companies, and a final presentation by three well-known investors in the travel technology space.
Of the three presentations, Rafat Ali's was the most noteworthy. Rafat provided his predictions for the travel industry in 2014, including Rafat's top travel trends:
1. The Rise of the (Digitally Empowered) Silent Traveler
3. Visuals - the New Language in Travel
4. The Rise of Locality
5. The Rise of the Chinese Independent Traveler
6. Low Cost Carriers Eat the World
7. The Rise of the Sharing Economy
8. Substandard Travel Start-ups
9. Mobile Is Not a Trend - It Is Everywhere
If you are not a regular reader of Rafat's many websites, blogs or tweets, I strongly encourage you to become one.
The discussion among Thayer's fund companies that followed Rafat's presentation, included the CEOs from Adara Media, Duetto, Hipmunk, HotelMe, Posiq, tripBAM, and others, and focused on many of the trends identified by Rafat as well as distribution, the underserved (and often ignored) business travel market, millennials' demand for personalization, and each participant's thoughts on what it takes to truly become a "disrupter" within the travel industry. Nearly all of the participants had strong feelings about all or nearly all of the panel's topics.
Thayer's own Jeff Jackson moderated the final presentation by representatives of Gideon Hixon Fund, Altimeter Capital and the Priceline Group. Among their many observations, they each acknowledged seeing unprecedented numbers of new start-ups in the travel and technology industry.
Returning to the Summit on Monday evening and overhearing the many lobby conversations about interest rates, discount rates, and other real property investment metrics and attributes, I was reminded of the growing chasm between those who own and operate hotels and those who are using technology to reach, communicate with, and anticipate the needs of, those who stay in those same hotels. More on my observations on this issue in future blog posts.
Wednesday marked the end of another Americas Lodging Investment Summit (ALIS) Conference. This year's Conference celebrated the 10th anniversary of the venerable hospitality development and investment conference held each year in sunny Southern California.
Happy New Year (belated)! The new year means new opportunities, and in the Hospitality industry that means it’s events time! The calendar of upcoming events is varied, but here are a couple that I plan to attend:
ALIS (America’s Lodging Investment Summit): I will be attending this San Diego event, January 24 through 26. According to the website, ALIS is the “leading and largest hotel investment conference in the world, attracting more than 7,000 delegates from around the globe over the past three years.” If you plan to attend, and you’d like to get together, please email me.
2011 Hospitality Law Conference: Held at the Omni Houston Hotel in Houston, Texas, this event covers the latest trends and issues in hospitality law. This year, I’ll be speaking at the conference on the topic of distribution. I would love to meet up with you in Houston; just send me an email and let’s get together.
Of course, I’ll be providing updates and a thorough follow up after each conference. If there is a topic to be covered at either of these events that you’d like particularly to hear about, please let me know and I’ll do my best to cover it.
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.