Friday, July 18, 2008


Thursday's program at NABHOOD also included a lunchtime talk by Steven Rudnitsky, president/CEO of the Wyndham Hotel Group. Rudnitsky said that it's not all gloom and doom. "We're riding the down curve. ... While occupancy is actually down 2+ percentage points year over year, average daily rates are up nearby 5%, which yields a national average RevPAR gain of 2.5%."

He also recalled how after 2001, everyone panicked and discounted their prices. "It took years for the industry to recover from those discounts, because customers came to equate low rates with the value of products."

Rudnitsky stressed that hoteliers need to take a longer view of what is happening in the market.

Attendees were also encouraged to take a look at franchising; Rudnitsky said he was surprised by the low rate of African-American participation in the lodging industry. He applauded NABHOOD for its efforts, as well as the AH&LA's multicultural and diversity council. He also gave three reasons why these efforts are critical to all involved.

"First, African-Americans represent a significant percentage of the population, and therefore, a market of lodging services, without question. Second, we're looking for new ideas ... a diversity of thought. And insights into the needs of African-American guests and those of other, underserved communities is absolutely vital, in order for all lodging entrepreneurs to be successful. And third, African-Americans should broaden their piece of the economic pie by investing in the lodging industry," he said.

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