Positive Outlook Evident at First 2010 ASFONA Board Meeting

  • Starwood Hotels
  • 01.26.10
Despite acknowledging that 2009 was one of the worst years in recent history for the worldwide hospitality industry, a positive outlook was readily apparent at this year’s first ASFONA (Association of Starwood Franchisees & Owners – North America) Board of Directors meeting.

The January ASFONA Board of Directors meeting, held in Atlanta, was attended by an influential group of Starwood representatives, Starwood-branded hotel owners and franchisees and select associate members. The collective sigh of relief that 2009 was finally over was almost audible in the meeting room, as attendees discussed the current trading conditions, and shared views on the economic recovery and its potential short and long-term impacts on the hotel and travel industry.

“There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that it was a very tough year for the hotel industry as a whole, and particularly for the full service and luxury market,” said John Shingler, ASFONA president. “However, many of our Starwood owners and franchisees have weathered the storm better than most, due in part to the strength of our brands and the support of one of the world’s strongest hotel organizations.

“Our sense is that the hotel industry recovery in North America will not happen overnight,” added Shingler. “It will likely be a slow ‘U’ as opposed to a sharp ‘V’, but the good news is that all the industry information that we have been provided with indicates that the hotel business in North America is headed in a more positive direction, starting sooner than later in 2010.”

ASFONA’s primary role is to interact with Starwood in the development of brand policies, standards, technologies and other business areas that impact its members businesses. Therefore, another important item on the agenda at the January ASFONA board meeting included the recently announced organizational management responsibility changes for full-service and specialty select-service brands within Starwood Hotels & Resorts in North America.  A presentation outlining the key points of the changes was given by Lynne Dougherty, senior vice president – owner and franchise services for Starwood.

“We are looking to drive the maximum value for our franchise partners and Starwood shareholders, and it was evident that we needed to evolve our franchise organization and deliverables into two distinct organizations. We have not downsized, but rather implemented shared resources and increased internal efficiencies to make Starwood an even stronger and more proactive organization,” said Dougherty.

Starwood’s new sustainability initiatives were also presented, including an overview of the new aloft™ brand. The four areas of focus for 2010 across the Starwood brands include (1) energy and water conservation, (2) waste minimization, (3) enhanced indoor air quality, and (4) sustainable meetings.

Presentations by ASFONA’s honorary board members for the associate member/vendor community highlighted an array of new and exciting initiatives, including a number of sustainable options, such as organic linens, biodegradable plastics and Energy Star®-rated electronics.

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