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Industry Voices: Challenges for the Hotel Industry: Industry Council Kicks Off

How Santa Monica hotels will respond to decreased demand for luxury hotel rooms coupled with an increased regional supply, local restrictions on signage to welcome conventioning groups, and the planning of events at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium were among the topics addressed by the local hotel industry at the inaugural Industry Council meeting on Friday, October 9.

Chamber President and CEO Laurel Rosen told the dozen hoteliers gathered for breakfast at the Fairmont Miramar that this meeting was intended to identify and discuss common challenges and solutions in the industry.

Ellis O’Connor of the Fairmont Mir­a­mar reported that a recent lodging conference in Arizona disclosed that de­mand for luxury ho­tel accommodations was down 4.9 percent while supply had increased 8.9 percent. This is especially felt in the Southern California area, he said, where new supply has impacted Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, downtown Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Laguna Beach, and San Diego.

The prospect of Beverly Hills hotels fighting for Santa Monica hotels’ guests was not seen in better economies, he noted.

Gregory Day of Shutters On The Beach noted that city signage restrictions were a hindrance to attracting business, as other cities were more tolerant of banners welcoming groups of travelers. Klaus Mennekes of ETC Hotels inquired about future plans for events at the Civic Auditorium, and the Chamber’s Director of Government Affairs Brian Chase reported that Nederlander, the Civic’s new management company, wants to attract new entertainment and events.

The business group discussed a variey of issues impacting the hotel industry – from parking problems and bed tax revenues to homelessness and traffic congestion. But a common thread that emerged was the hotels’ desire to be an active community partner and to maintain open communications with the City and with Santa Monica residents.

Chamber President Rosen urged the hoteliers to take an active part in LUCE scoping/development focus groups and other civic meetings, inasmuch as residents typically outnumber businesses at such forums. James Barela of Casa Del Mar added that it was time for the business community to engage Santa Monica residents to work together in this time of economic crisis.

After the meeting, Rosen said that she hopes the Industry Council meetings will “help to resolve the challenges [facing various industries] and find solutions for success” because such success will help the industry, which will help the local economy, which will help the whole city.

Comments on the subjects discussed at Industry Council meetings are welcomed by the Chamber of Commerce, and would be of benefit to the entire community as well as the industry involved. Letters to the Editor at the Mirror as well as online comments posted to the article on the newspaper’s Web edition will be forwarded to the Chamber (as well as published, as such letters and comments are generally).

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