What’s Developing on the Hospitality Development Front?

05/13/2022 2:30 PM | Cinnamon Thompson (Administrator)

The Southern California Development Forum (SCDF) is an organization that brings together a community of real estate leaders on the latest trends, strategies, projects and provides networking opportunities. The organization hosted a panel discussion on Tuesday, May 10, 2022, discussing what’s developing on the hospitality development front. 

Malcolm Davies, Founder and Senior Managing Director of Way Capital, served as the moderator for panelists Doane Liu, Chief Tourism Officer for the City of Los Angeles; Jamie Cho, Director of Development for Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants; and Matt Bailly, Vice President of Real Estate for Prospera Hotels, Inc.

The Hospitality Industry is On the Rebound After COVID-19

The hospitality industry witnessed a significant disruption from the COVID-19 pandemic, but all indications are that the hospitality industry will continue moving toward recovery in 2022 and beyond.

“The mayor of Los Angeles set a goal when he took office in 2013 to reach 50 million visitors by 2020, and we achieved that in 2018,” said Doane Liu, Chief Tourism Officer for the City of Los Angeles. “Following the disruption of the pandemic, the numbers we’re getting from the tourism board shows an increase in tourism and a positive upward trend. We’re hopeful by 2023 we will be back to pre-pandemic occupancy levels.” 

Leisure Travel Makes a Swift Comeback

Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants have seen an influx of leisure travel, with more flexibility in travel plans than ever before. Cho believes this is a result of hybrid and remote work.

“Pre COVID, most travelers would check out on a Friday or Sunday, but what we’re seeing now is people leaving on a Wednesday or a Monday,” said Jamie Cho, Director of Development for Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants. “People are itching to travel again. I’ve even heard people calling it the year of revenge travel.”

Although people are traveling again, business travel is one area that has not seemed to pick up pre-pandemic paces. Liu says business travel has only rebounded about half of what it was in early 2019. 

The Need for In-Person Meetings is Here to Stay

“I think the reality is, once we opened the doors and started having in-person meetings again, normalcy returned,” said Matt Bailly, Vice President of Real Estate for Prospera Hotels, Inc. “The need to do business face to face is not going to change.”

Bailley says his company uses Zoom to stay connected, but also makes it a priority to meet in person at least once a month. This, as a result, creates more travel and hotel demand.

“During the pandemic, we were all relying on Zoom, and it actually created more of a need for in-person meetings,” explained Cho. “Zoom can only take you so far.”

As the world emerges from the pandemic, one thing remains the same, the need for human connection. Although the way we do business, where we work, and how we travel might change, there will always be a demand for face-to-face interactions in our professional and personal lives. The hospitality industry is the medium that supports this, and will only continue to progress forward as we push towards the return to normalcy again.

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