New Expotel chief development officer to focus on partnerships and growth

Hospitality is a passport to the world, according to Ed Robison, Expotel Hospitality’s newly appointed chief development officer. As an industry veteran with more than 35 years under his belt, he knows that hospitality gives access to places and people across the globe, but also opens you up to never-ending experiences.

“No two days are the same in hospitality, and it is a rewarding industry that provides routes for long-term advancement,” Robison said. “The hospitality skill set is highly sought after, and the skills, attitudes and approaches gained through hospitality transfer well into other service industry sectors. Good customer service is more than a part of the hospitality industry; it’s a core skill we will always value and strive to teach.”

Ed Robison, Expotel Hospitality

As CDO of the full-service, third-party management company, Robison will play a key role in the development of proactive business partnerships and in its growth, driving the expansion of Expotel’s hospitality experience into new markets, according to the company.

Previously, he was SVP, owner relations and development with HP Hotels. Prior to that, he was with Hilton for 14 years as senior director, owner support for Hilton’s focused-service and all-suites brands. He also has experience working for Marriott, IHG, Choice and Wyndham Hotels, but Robison said he’s excited for the new venture, as Expotel checks all the boxes for him.

“Expotel provides innovative services and strategies that bring the best out of each of their hotel partners,” he said. “The strength and support of Expotel’s leadership team and their strategic vision, experienced hotel support teams and effective ‘behind the scenes’ structure, as well as the asset type they manage and their culture, all contribute to my excitement when stepping into this new role.”

In addition to his focus on development and growth opportunities, Robison will provide general support and education to owners and support Expotel’s mission to create powerful moments and spearhead its expansion through strategic sales of hotel management agreements.

“We are working to increase our portfolio’s footprint by building relationships with our existing owner base and finding new opportunities,” he noted. “As demand continues to rise and supply remains relatively limited due to high costs and supply-chain challenges, we believe investors are presented with an excellent opportunity to own hotels.”

Robison said both himself and the team are most enthusiastic about growth opportunities and are currently in talks with several owners and investors who have expressed interest in growing portfolios through Expotel’s third-party management opportunities.

“We’ll have more to announce on this front soon and are excited about our prospects throughout the year,” he said. “We’re also excited about the development of a Tru by Hilton at the New Orleans Airport, which will come on board in mid-2025, as well as a few other development opportunities that will enhance and grow Expotel’s portfolio.”

Expotel has also started a $1.2-million renovation of the 119-room Hilton Garden Inn Pascagoula in Pascagoula, MI. The six-month project will update the guestrooms, lobby and restaurant areas, fitness room, patio area, grand ballroom and hallways.

According to Robison, the next few years for Expotel will be centered around focused, intelligent and sustained organic growth.

“We have no intention of being the biggest management company,” he said. “We simply want to be the best. We will achieve this by building owner and investor confidence, and trust remains the foundation of all successful business relationships.”

Although it’s been a difficult few years for the industry—Robison noted labor challenges, wage inflation, higher operating costs, increased renovation costs and high interest rates—some of these challenges, he said, have been easier to manage than others.

“We are improving education and training to reduce turnover and are finding more ways to remain flexible and agile operationally,” he said. “We’re also looking at more ways to become more sustainable and offset rising energy costs.”

Robison also highlighted some positive trends, specifically from the Hospitality Global Market Report: The global occupancy rate was 10% higher in 2023 compared to 2022 and global RevPAR increased by 17%. Occupancy is also expected to rise 2.5% globally throughout 2024.

“The hospitality industry is fueled by change and opportunity,” he said. “Hotels are never operating under ‘business as usual.’ Our industry rewards flexibility, agility and adaptability to emerging trends. We see now as an opportune time to seize on several emerging trends, such as guest-generated content for hotel marketing, while remaining true to the core fundamentals of service and high-quality experiences.”

While Robison is keeping up with industry trends and changes, he touts himself as an “old-school hotelier” who believes in the power of connections and networking.

“I want to initiate as many face-to-face conversations as possible with business owners this year,” he said. “I firmly believe a personal connection is necessary to make an impact in business. It’s the most effective means of escaping our local echo chambers, and it’s how we learn our most impactful messages.”

Expotel’s culture fosters this type of work ethic, noted Robison, who believes that company culture is critical to success in 2024.

“As the newest face at Expotel, the internal culture present at the company was a determining factor in my decision to sign on,” he said. “Culture sets the bar for the working environment for all hotel staff and plays a major role in worker satisfaction and retention. Expotel’s approach to internal culture gives them an advantage, as they ensure new hires will be an excellent addition to their organization, not just at the property level.”

Robison said his goal is to maintain and build on the culture by encouraging personal and professional development among staff while actively seeking feedback.

On the business front, he said the company’s primary goal is to continue bringing value to its owners and team members by growing its family of upscale select-service and full-service hotels.

“We’re focusing on providing superior customer service, clean and well-maintained products and being good brand citizens for our major brand partners,” he said. “Our long-term goal is to add more upscale full-service and lifestyle hotels to our portfolio, with a focus on major urban and suburban markets experiencing growth trends. Expotel will continue to be an industry leader driving innovation through our proprietary custom accounting, reporting and training platforms, alongside our custom sales and revenue management systems.”

To see content in magazine format, click here.