So, 11 is my favorite number. And I love dogs. In fact, I recently adopted an adorable rescue and named him Charlie (see left). Based on this information, you might think I chose to make it “Eleven to Watch” and went with Kristin Intress on the cover of this issue because of her pup. But, really, it was other factors that influenced this decision. Well, OK, perhaps, I (and Publisher Allen Rolleri, whose pet is Buddy, also left) are slightly biased when it comes to the dog…
You see, the team at Hotel Business had just selected our group of 10 to Watch for the issue, and were all set with our selection, when a late addition came across our desks, and we had to include him. The editors here are always excited to produce this annual edition because it gives us a chance to step back to look forward. We reflect on the current year, and on all of the industry leaders who have made headlines, and project who we think will continue to top the news in 2020—and even beyond.
It’s always difficult to limit ourselves to just 10, but when compiling lists, 10 seems like it’s always the way to go, as you know. In this case, however, in the 11th hour, so to speak, we got the long-awaited news of another: Cecil P. Staton, AAHOA’s new president/CEO. Seeing as AAHOA is the nation’s largest hotel owners association, we knew he needed to be on our list. That being said, we had already determined that the original 10 were worthy of recognition. Hence, we broke with tradition, and there you have it: this year’s “11 to Watch.”
Cecil is joined by other industry executives, and they are: Oyo Hotels & Homes’ Ritesh Agarwal; Roger Bloss, Alternative Hospitality; Eric Breon, Vacasa; Terry Dammeyer, White Lodging; WhyHotel’s Jason Fudin; Chris Green, Chesapeake Hospitality; WorldHotels’ Kristin Intress; Shannon Knapp, The Leading Hotels of the World; Accor’s Heather McCrory; and Alastair Thomann, Generator. We hope you find them all as interesting as we do—from disruptors to alternative lodging to big names in hotel ownership and management—as we keep a watch on these names and their respective companies so that we can report on their moves and progress throughout the new year.
Now, about the unusual choice for a cover image: Kristin Intress certainly piqued our interest, as this is not her first stint at her current role of CEO, WorldHotels, which was acquired by Best Western Hotels & Resorts (BWHR) earlier this year. She previously served in the role from 2014 to 2016. In what she terms “the boomerang effect,” she’s back to lead a collection of roughly 300 independent hotels and resorts worldwide, in tandem with BWHR’s President/CEO David Kong. Now, we always hear that the hospitality industry is an industry of people, not just employees and executives, which is why, here at Hotel Business, while reporting on the news and happenings, we strive to bring you the stories. The stories behind the “suit,” so to speak. It’s one of the reasons we launched the “Off the Cuff” video series and why it’s been successful. We all know the latest deal and the newest opening, but you don’t know that Pokémon Go is David Kong’s favorite app—unless you ask him. And we did. Similarly, it’s Kristin, pictured with her four-legged friend, not one of the most recent hotels in the collection, that reminds us it is, in fact, the people industry we all talk about.
On that note, enjoy the rest of 2019. On behalf of Hotel Business, here’s wishing you all a happy and joyous holiday season and a healthy and successful new year.