Thought leaders from all sides of the region’s hospitality industry talk shop on what makes secondary markets hotbeds for hotel development.
By Matthew Hall
AC Hotel Cincinnati at The Banks. Rendering: Sheri Glazier-Bessler/Winegardner & Hammons Hotel Group
CR director Kelly Gaddes said it’s important for design firms to engage local branding companies to help them utilize authentic references that drill down well beneath the typical tourist touchpoints. In a similar vein, Architects Plus partner Matt Erdman noted that the design of hotels is “becoming micro-local, telling the story of the specific block they’re on.”
For all their potential, the participants agreed there are drawbacks to working in such markets, most notably a shallow labor pool. “A city the size of Cincinnati may have three good plumbers who specialize in hotel development, and they’re always booked,” said Bimal Patel, president of Rolling Hills Hospitality. In addition, FRCH Design Worldwide senior vice president and principal Jim Stapleton noted that as secondary cities get a denser hotel base, developers may no longer be able to rely as readily on tax credits and other assistance from local governments to make a proposed project financially viable.
NO HARD STOP TO THE CURRENT GROWTH: The previously mentioned tighter labor market is a concern in virtually all markets, the participants said. Other worries include the growing presence of so-called living-wage requirements, rising interest rates and a supply/demand imbalance in some cities. Despite all that, the consensus was that the current boom is unlikely to come to what Patel described as a “hard stop.” Instead, a gradual slowdown is more likely “notwithstanding some unforeseen major event,” said Fay. Participants also agreed that when the cycle does slow, that’s likely to translate into more soft-goods renovations that reflect tightening budgets.
Participants in the State of the Industry session were (left to right): Bimal Patel, Rolling Hills Hospitality; Tedd Swormstedt, Boutique Design parent company ST Media Group Intl.; David Arends, CR architecture + design; Jeff Eagle, Winegardner & Hammons Hotel Group; Jim Stapleton, FRCH Design Worldwide; Kelly Gaddes, CR architecture + design; Michelle Finn, ST Media Group/Hospitality Media Group LLC; Matt Erdman, Architects Plus; Michelle Wildenhaus, Studio Twist; Matthew Hall and Mary Scoviak, Boutique Design; Daniel Fay, Commonwealth Hotels LLC; Oriana Lerner, Boutique Design; Jayne Menke, Artonomy Inc./Miller Gallery; Scott Rickles and Melani Beattie, Boutique Design; Declan McCormack, CR architecture + design; and Christina Green, Boutique Design. Photo: Inkling Creative Group
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