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2018 ALIS Conference Takeaways: Robots, Deals, and The New Tax Bill

This is the 10th year I’ve attended the Americas Lodging Investment Summit (ALIS) conference.  I always look forward to attending this particular conference because it brings together all the parties that make up the hotel ecosystem – from investors, developers, asset managers, operators, to construction professionals such as architects, interior designers, procurement agents and development managers such as myself.

It’s a great opportunity to reconnect with clients and industry colleagues, catching up and keeping myself informed of new industry and design trends. This year for the first time, technology was prominently featured at the ALIS conference. From AI, big data, robots, chatbots, to mobile technology, nearly every discussion this year touched on how technology was reshaping hospitality.

ALIS conference 2018 MGAC dermot ryan relay robot savioke technology AI

Savioke’s Relay Robot was a big hit at this year’s conference.

But at the end of the day, I along with the thousands of others who attended came to find out who’s selling, buying, building, and swapping – essentially to learn about upcoming deals and to have a better understand where the market is heading. I had some concerns going in about whether the hotel sector would continue on its current track, given that we’re in an extended cycle and uncertainty around the new tax code.

Although there was some apprehension of the dip in tourism last year due to the travel ban, national hotel performance remains at record-level heights. In one session I attended, it was forecast that demand would continue to outpace supply and that occupancy would hold steady for the next two years.

ALIS conference 2018 hotel outlook hospitality industry supply demand occupancy rate adr average daily rate RevPAR dermot ryan MGAC STR CBRE

This confidence is in large part attributed to the new tax bill. The overall consensus of those I spoke with was that the reform is generally good for business and that this will carry over to the hospitality industry.  It remains to be seen how this new law will impact transactions and new developments moving forward. This is something that we’re monitoring and will report on moving forward.

On the deal side, REITs and private equity firms have the capital to invest but they’re not finding deals that meet their investment criteria. Most felt that this was because record-breaking hotel performance and relatively low interest rates have made potential sellers reluctant to lower their asking prices. At the same time, inflation, construction costs, and the labor shortage continue to rise across the nation. Some investors are just sitting on capital while they search for other asset classes that can generate their target returns, while other owners have been working to streamline their development and renovation projects.


Take a look at our analysis of 2017 US hotel transactions for more details.


Overall, I felt positive and hopeful coming out of this year’s ALIS. The next conference I’ll be attending is the 40th Annual NYU International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference in New York City on June 3-5, 2018. If we didn’t get a chance to connect at ALIS and you’re attending this one, send me a message via LinkedIn or through the Contact page!

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