What does the future hold for the independent hotelier?
When gazing into the proverbial crystal ball at the future of the independent segment of the industry in an attempt to plot the very best path forward, what do the next one to three years look like? Better? Worse? The same?
The answer, it turns out, depends on whom you ask. During this still-evolving post-COVID period, there remains no shortage of uncertainty in the industry as a whole – including fluctuating costs, a persistent staff shortage, and the economic states of our nation and world at large. As we end the year, it seems independent and branded properties alike are anxious and nervous to gain some insight on the near- and long-term future for this industry and our economy. Depending on whom you talk to or which metrics you observe, the future might look grim or it might look bright. The good news, however, is that either perspective offers great potential.
Regardless of which particular expert or resource you trust, we’ve consistently seen that history tends to repeat itself in this industry, which means we can look backward to determine the best way forward. For example, looking at the state of the industry during the challenges we all experienced from 2006 to 2009 can offer some clues as to what we might expect in the next few years.
For starters, some experts are predicting a slowdown in inflation as interest rates continue to rise, thus easing the financial burdens to hoteliers and consumers alike. Certainly, the war in Ukraine hasn’t helped lower the price of oil, which will hamper travel, and we should expect that to continue to affect our industry throughout at least the coming year. Also, as we approach the 2024 presidential election, we shouldn’t be surprised to see an increase in anxiety involving corporate travel. Eventually, this will trickle down to affect the revenue of the independent hotels as the branded properties continue to compete to grab more business by way of their extensive resources.
PLAY THE LONG GAME
Though the outlook might not seem overly bright for the coming year, there is light at the end of the tunnel when looking at the bigger picture. As economic conditions continue to make waves that force us all to work extra hard to stay afloat, it’s highly likely corrective measures will create a more positive impact on 2024 as a whole. And, by the summer of 2025, things should start to normalize. The looming presidential election will be a memory by then, and with a newly elected government taking further actions to continue to repair the issues that have plagued the industry during the past several years by decreasing interest rates, working to lower oil prices in an effort to bring travel back, and implement much-needed change to help address the ongoing labor shortage.
For the independent hotelier especially, the next three years will almost certainly present a raft of difficult challenges, but the independent hotelier is never one to shy away from a challenge. And, amid the challenges lies great opportunity. As we face these obstacles together, it’s vital that we stay strong and focused, and maintain the creativity necessary to keep heads in beds.