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NYU International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference 2017 Recap

The NYU International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference was held this week in NYC, an annual event where the major hotel companies make big announcements, evaluate industry trends and look at market mid-year market stability.

And of course, it’s a time for plenty of networking and schmoozing as hotel industry royalty all convene in New York City for this financially focused event.

Here’s the big news coming out of the event.


More Brands, and Even More Brands

There were numerous brand announcements during the conference, as well as a couple that were supposed to be announced (we’re looking at you IHG and Hilton), but were held back to avoid being drowned out. Wyndham Hotel Group announced a new soft brand Trademark designed for three and four-star hotels.  Red Lion Hotels Corp, reintroduced the Signature brand, which will take on a retro feel and is designed for aging exterior corridor hotels. Extended Stay America made it official, the company is now franchising hotels! The company will even sell some of its portfolio to would-be franchisees.  Also, Trump Hotels announced a new brand, American Idea. The product is geared toward a budget-minded audience and will hype up patriotic flair.


Travel ‘Ban’ Chatter

With President Trump once again pushing what he describes as a “travel ban” from specific countries, executives discussed whether its influencing general inbound travel. So far, it depends on who you ask. On the leisure side of the business, Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of Expedia, told reporters the company is not seeing a “clear impact overall, but at some point, issues will occur, such as Mexicans coming to the U.S.”  Jonathan M. Tisch, co-chairman of the board of Loews Corporation and chairman and CEO of its Loews Hotels brand, said he is seeing some fallout when it comes to group business. Especially regarding travelers that believe there may have issues with smooth entry into the United States. “We have seen groups cancel because an attendee was from travel ban country and didn’t want to risk travel interruption,” said Tisch. “There is certainly anecdotal evidence it has having a negative impact.”


Alternative Lodging

Airbnb is continuing to become a more prominent issue for the mainstream hotel business. But as far as public commentary from hotel executives, they’re sticking to the line of “we just want an even playing field.” The industry is looking at regulations that ensure professional Airbnb hosts, for example, pay local and occupancy taxes, and follow the same public health and safety laws. As of now they are not compelled to do so by local jurisdictions in the vast majority of cases.


Overall Slowdown

While you may be reading hospitality headlines crowing good times are here to say, when we talked to individual hoteliers and ownership groups during the conference they weren’t nearly as bullish. Remember, when the analysts tote numbers they’re looking at a national average, not what your specific location is looking like. Markets such as New York are getting quickly overbuilt and pricing power is fading.


What to do Now

With rising competition and an industry profit slowdown, smart hotel owners are thinking about lowering operating expenses. They’re increasingly turning to a well thought out furniture asset management program to reduce expenses by reviving existing pieces, rather than buying new.

Older furniture can be reinvented and repurposed at the fraction of the cost of buying new, saving as much as 80%. The Refinishing Touch specializes in reimagining furniture in ways that reinvent pieces to make them more functional, durable and unique. Styles change, technology presses forward, and sometimes the need for a specific piece of furniture becomes outmoded. So, refinish or repurpose, don’t replace. The Refinishing Touch creates factory fresh looking pieces by changing color, adding stone, laminate or glass elements, and changing the hardware. Plus, it’ll help protect you against any loss in pricing power for your hotel.


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HotelPoint 2017 Recap| Rethinking Capex Expenditures

Hotel Point 2017When the hotel industry is in record breaking mode, a funny thing typically happens. Expense creep typically kicks into overdrive. Salaries go up, brands demand more upgrades, and customer expectations soar.

We saw this happen to a great degree the last time the hotel market peaked in 2007. When the bottom dropped out of the hotel market during the Great Recession starting in 2008, those expenses conspired against hoteliers, driving losses to levels so great it cost people their businesses.

So, the industry is getting smarter. They’re looking for ways to reduce top line expenses now to prepare for the inevitable; the loss of pricing power in coming years. We’re already seeing occupancy level out, and demand slow. That makes now the right time to rein in those expenses.

Fortunately, top industry decision makers are seeing what we see, a smart way to reduce a massive cost without affecting customer experience. When we attended HotelPoint earlier this month, held May 1-3 at the Broadmoor in CO, we interacted with many industry leaders representing the major leading hotel companies actively seeking innovative ways to keep those expenses in check.

HotelPoint aims to connect hotel industry executives with innovative architecture, construction, design and engineering suppliers in a variety of settings designed to “improve their business and to expand their business partnerships.”

They were successful in their goal. Both the pool of buyers and suppliers were exceptional. But, what we enjoyed most, was the opportunity for a mix of boardroom style presentations, which were then complemented by a host of one on one meetings. The exciting format gave us the chance to share our story to 8-10 executives at once, and then drill down to specifics with individuals.

HotelPoint 2017 Monday DinnerWe shared our story during the boardroom presentations, where TRT was matched with a group of executives expressing interest in learning about our company and its services. These leading executives heard all about how we save properties up to 80 percent when compared to buying new. But we were also able to share how we can help reinvent and reposition a hotel too. This is particularly relevant as hotels are sold and switch brands as part of taking on a new identity.

Whether a piece needs to be reconfigured or reinvented, The Refinishing Touch has myriad solutions. We’re able to create factory fresh looking pieces by changing color, adding stone, laminate or glass elements. We also reengineer furniture for new uses such as house custom minibars or refrigerators that make a hotel more money. Other ideas include swapping out hardware for a contemporary look. And reupholstering seating is also a great way to create the like new look without buying new.

The buyers were also impressed this method helps hotels achieve sustainability goals, which appeals to today’s ethical traveler. Plus, they like the notion that all that work is done by American craftspeople too, which supports our country’s workforce.

The only drawback was we didn’t have enough time to see everyone we wanted to, but that’s why we’ll be attending next year too.

For more information on TRT and how we help reimagine spaces while saving hoteliers money, contact us at: (800) 523-9448 or via email at info@therefinishingtouch.com.


HD Expo 2017 Rewind

Last week, we made our annual pilgrimage to Las Vegas to attend HD Expo. This year, thousands of attendees descended on Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino to meet more than 800 hospitality FF&E and OS&E suppliers during three days on and off the show floor

During the event, we met with lots of people to discuss the latest trends in hospitality, and to assess how the design community is feeling about the state of the hotel industry. Here’s what we learned:

We’re too Busy!

One major problems owners are facing is the lack of available design professionals to do their projects. With a massive number of hotels either being renovated or built, designers are over worked, over stressed, and just plain over it. Not that they’d prefer to go back to sad and scary days of 2008 anytime soon. However, this problem is causing owners and operators numerous headaches as they’re forced to pay more for projects, or suffer long delays to completion time, or both.

Steve Wynn is Still the Man

Nearly 30 years after reinventing the Las Vegas casino concept with The Mirage, he’s still searching to create the perfect casino project, which he hopes to achieve with the under construction Wynn Boston Harbor project. During a keynote discussion during HD Expo, Steve Wynn and his design partner of 37 years, Roger Thomas, revealed the secret to consistently creating memorable designs. “We first ask what is the statement we want to make when the visitor is out front, then we design to emotion and not materials. We don’t care if it’s onyx or marble because we do not design to budget. We design to how it feels” said Wynn.


We learned a new term; Biophilia. It’s not a dirty one, though we think it should be. Biophilia refers to humankind’s innate desire to connect with the natural environment. It’s an understanding changing the way hotels, and other structures, are designed.

“It’s the idea of what happens when we connect people with nature as an economic driver,” said Joshua Radoff, Co-Founder & Principal, LEED AP BD+C, YR&G, a sustainability focused consultancy.

The concept is informing design with new environmental standards, such as the ones adopted by the LEED certification program, as well as through the inclusion of nature first elements such as water features and green walls. These elements lead to higher customer satisfaction and increased profitability.

Sustainability is Always in Style

More and more, we’re seeing hotel companies take a conscientious approach to sustainability. FF&E purchasing pros regularly look at the entire manufacturing process now when determining the viability of a product. And more frequently, they’re eschewing buying new in favor of refinishing or reengineering existing furniture pieces. The move keeps tons of material from taking up valuable room in landfills, while also saving hoteliers up to 80% when compared to buying new. It’s the smart way to save without being stingy on guest experience.

For more information on TRT and how we help designers reimagine spaces by reinventing their furnishings, contact us at: (800) 523-9448 or via email at sales@therefinishingtouch.com.


NEWH Leadership Conference 2017: Key Highlights

Incredible Insight at NEWH Leadership Conference

The hotel industry design community came together last week to attend the bi-annual NEWH Leadership Conference. The event, which was held in Denver, CO, was a chance for industry suppliers and the design community to learn, swap ideas, network, and pay it forward through the awarding of scholarships to the next generation of hospitality design professionals. In all, about 600 people attended the event.

The NEWH was originally started to advance the role of women in our industry and now a major networking resource for the hospitality industry providing scholarships, education, leadership development, recognition of excellence, and business development opportunities. In fact, last year the organization provided about $500,000 in scholarships.

What we like about the event is the supportive and collaborative nature of the community attending the event. With a clubbier feel than other events, it’s one of those conferences that truly make you feel like an insider. Today, we want to make you feel like you’re an insider, so here’s a rundown of the most interesting elements of the event.

Designers are crazy busy

This is really good news, but it comes with a shade of negativity. Right now, the hotel industry is seeing massive new hotel development and it’s sucking up the resources of the hotel design community. Most of the folks we spoke with are thankful for the flood of business, but are simultaneously stressed regarding the ability to meet constant deadlines.

The pressure is also mounting as there is increased emphasis on custom products, which lengthens the design period and makes every project more complex. Though it’s great for creating potentially memorable room and public space designs, it does make it harder to get as many projects done at the same time. Plus, design firms are sometimes reluctant to hire on new staff as they worry the good times will end and they’ll have to lay people off.

Manufacturing Issues

Another side effect we’re seeing lately is significant stress placed on manufacturing facilities. As product demand rises, the factories in which products are built are not always expanding their production ability in direct correlation to demand. This has the potential to create delivery delays for new and existing hotels. New hotels must order FF&E products further in advance than typical to ensure the property can service guests on opening day.

Existing hotels have a shortcut option. Executives at these hotels can refinish their existing furniture to make it like-new without any meaningful delay. Plus, it saves up to 80% compared to buying new. In fact, hotels that refinish their furniture through The Refinishing Touch, for example, have rooms back in service the very same day their furniture was refurbished.

Furniture getting technology

Another massive trend discussed on stage and in the hallways during the NEWH Leadership Conference is the electrification of furnishings. Not only has LED become a great way to set mood through lighting, it’s also being used to heighten the guestroom experience. Headboards, for example, are seeing increased usage of lighting as well as pieces utilized within the bathroom. But the biggest change is the inclusion of traditional outlets and USBs in many other pieces within the room. From the desk to end tables, and in most public spaces, furniture is now being designed to meet the needs of power hungry guests that need to charge multiple devices.

The Refinishing Touch can reengineer furniture to include the latest technology, rescuing older pieces that were purchased before the mobile technology revolution. Plus, pieces can be redesigned to better meet today’s design aesthetic.


In all, the event was a wonderful experience for all who attended. People laughed and learned and celebrated a very healthy hotel industry. The NEWH will hold its next Leadership Conf in Miami during the winter of 2019. We’ll see you there!

Event roundup: BITAC Symposium

We always love the chance to travel, network, learn and explore that our industry tradeshows present. Last month’s BITAC Symposium was held at the Fairmont Banff Spring in Banff, Canada – a property we know well because we’ve completed furniture asset management projects there.

BITAC events are rated number one in the hospitality industry and there’s a number of reasons why they are held in such high esteem.  First, the quality of the content with keynote speakers including John Havens and Josh Linkner, and the quality of the time we spent with our customers, prospective customers and peers.

This year’s event was a bit different from others because we also got to enjoy Canada’s natural beauty. Our marketing director, Ryan, spent time networking whilst hiking through the Johnston Canyon Falls and then on a trip down the Bow River. Meanwhile our president and founder, Mario Insenga, enjoyed discussing furniture asset management, budget-saving strategies and sustainability facts on the fairway.

Take a look through the image gallery below for a view of the beautiful Fairmont property and Canadian wilderness.

If we missed you at BITAC, get in touch today at sales@therefinishingtouch.com


Tradeshow round-up: The Refinishing Touch’s recent travels

If you’re a subscriber of our quarterly InTouch newsletterout today – then you’ll have read a roundup of some events we’ve attended or will be attending. In the interest of looking  back at Q2, we’d like to take some time to reflect on various tradeshows our crew has showcased at in recent months.

The Refinishing Touch tradeshow eventsThe events we attend reflect the industries we lead in – higher education, hospitality and government. To continue conversations and to demonstrate the consistent impact of furniture asset management the events we’ve attended include The Hampton Inn Owners Vendor Fair Orientation, the 2014 Homewood Suites Leadership Meeting & Tradeshow and ACUHO-I.

The Hampton Inn Owners Vendor Fair Orientation at Tennessee’s Memphis Botanic Gardens provided our team with an intimate setting to network with new owners of Hampton Inn and Hilton Garden Inn brands, for which  we are approved vendors.

Next, we traveled over to New Orleans for the 2014 Homewood Suites Leadership Meeting & Tradeshow – a great opportunity for The Refinishing Touch to discuss strategic initiatives in the hospitality industry for the coming year.

Then we made our way up to  Washington D.C for the ACUHO-I conference. This is a premier event for the higher education industry and you can read more about our time at this conference in today’s newsletter.

If we missed you at any of these events, get in touch with us today to learn how furniture asset management can save your time, money and environmental impact.