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Optimism Reigns in New York City

Nancy J. Friedman

At this year’s NYU International Hospitality Conference in New York City, more than 2,000 individuals, including many high-powered CEOs, came to represent all aspects of the hospitality industry. I found myself sandwiched between Saudi Prince Alwaleed’s U.S. representative for the Plaza Hotel and the head of Margaritaville Hotels and Resorts.

Despite concerns about White House travel policies, signs of oversaturation in several travel markets and threats posed by Airbnb, optimism for the future emerged. For example, the hospitality industry is honing a new focus in addition to its traditional commitment to services and standards: community. Now, industry leaders are promoting locally focused designs and programming to make each of their hotel locations feel singular and unique. Originally, boutique hotels and homestay programs like Airbnb pioneered this trend; now, the hospitality industry is finding its own independent spirit.

Over the course of the three-day conference, I was able to attend several interesting events, including ABC News’ Rebecca Jarvis's interview with Marriott chairman Arne Sorenson. Jon Tisch, chairman of Loews Hotels, interviewed Nicolle Wallace of NBC News about her career covering politics inside the Bush White House, and CNN’s Vanessa Yurkevich spoke with Arianna Huffington about her Thrive Global initiative. One particularly special highlight for me was to see my former boss, Ian Schrager, win the Industry Real Estate Financing Advisory Council (IREFAC) C. Everett Johnson Award for his business acumen in the hospitality industry.

As in past years, I left the NYU International Hospitality Conference with new insights, ideas and knowledge that we will apply to the work we do for each of our clients at NJF, an MMGY Global company.

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