New York University sets stage for major hotel show

What perfect timing for a get-together of 1,800 top lodging industry executives. The hotel business is experiencing its most lucrative period in a decade, but there is increasing apprehension as the high-flying industry faces a more uncertain future. Record-breaking profit growth is slowing. Occupancies are losing some ground.

And public lodging corporations have yet to fully recover from their recent, abrupt fall from favor on Wall Street.

These issues, and just about every other pertinent topic affecting today's hotel business, will be addressed June 6-8, at the 21st Annual Hospitality Investment Conference at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York.

The popularity of the event, and perhaps the nature of the audience, motivated conference planners to move from last year's site at the Waldorf+Astoria. "We are especially excited about our move to the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Times Square," says Dorothy Jennings, executive vice president of HVS International and conference coordinator for NYU. "I think the attendees will see some differences due to our change of venue. The flow will be better with a lot more room."

Aside from the new conference venue, the real draw will be the collection of speakers and panel members, in addition to the subjects of the three-day flood of workshops, question and answer sessions, and debates. The workshops offered reflect the uncertainty that exists in the market today. They include:

* Trends in Public Hotel Structures: REIT or Wrong?

* The Economy: Dr. Jekyl or Mr. Hyde?

* To Develop or Not to Develop?

* A Buyers Market or a Sellers Market?

* Who's on First, What's on Second, and I Don't know is on Third?

In addition, based on attendee feedback, Jennings notes that technology and global markets are topics that are bound to draw more focus this year. "We listened to the attendees and put together technology workshops for all parts of the industry," says Jennings. "We are very pleased with the line up - Richard Gray, Jim Poage, John Davis III and James Hornthal. They are all key players in the industry."

The International Spotlight series will feature market dynamics in Europe, Africa, Asia, the Pacific Rim, Latin America and the Caribbean. There will also be a solid foundation of workshops concerned with sources of capital, the state of the various lodging segments and operating themes.

The NYU show floor will also be traveled by celebrities and industry honchos, including Tom Brokaw of "NBC Nightly News"; Neil Cavuto, vice president and managing director of business news from Fox News Channel; and Robert Pittman, president and chief operating officer, America Online Inc. There will also be lodging industry veterans present, including J. W. Marriott Jr., chairman and CEO of Marriott International Inc., and NYU conference chair for the fifth year, Jonathan Tisch, president and CEO of Loews Hotels. J.W. Marriott Jr. will receive the C. Everett Johnson Award for his achievement and innovation in the industry.

Lalia Rach, dean of the Center for Hospitality and Tourism, explains that the conference will also help cultivate lodging stars of the future. "As a result of the conference, we are able to raise scholarship funds for students in the NYU programs," she says. "We will give away two or three scholarships at the conference and we will continue to place additional scholarships to students throughout the year."

Chase Burritt, national director of E&Y Kenneth Leventhal Hospitality Group and member of the conference executive planning committee, emphasizes the event's impact on the industry. "For the person investing in hotels, it's the main event," he says. "You have to be there."

More information can be found on the conference Website at or by calling (212) 998-9140.

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