A growing local and national economy is spurring increased bookings in the hotel industry, and that includes in the Greater Lehigh Valley.
As more business travelers visit the region, hotels and meeting and conference centers need to be ready to accommodate and provide exceptional customer service.
Melissa Cooper, general manager of Holiday Inn Express & Suites Bethlehem in Bethlehem, said that the region has been seeing an uptick in corporate bookings because of the revitalization that’s taking place throughout the Greater Lehigh Valley.
She also attributed the growth to the region’s many attractions that drive leisure and business bookings.
Cooper said that the “unemployment rate for the U.S. is at its lowest since the 2008 recession, and, since then, the global travel industry is breaking records in sector growth year-by-year.”
In an interview with Lehigh Valley Business, Cooper also talked about booking on discount websites and the problem with turnover in the hotel industry.
<How is the local economy?
Melissa Cooper: The local economy is great.
Bethlehem has many attractions and year-round festivals, and with the addition of new local businesses and corporations, this drives many leisure and corporate bookings to our hotel.
<How closely is the national economy tied to leisure bookings for hotels?
Cooper: I would say that the ties between bookings and the U.S. economy are very close.
Looking back on the recession of 2008 compared to now, the unemployment rate for the U.S. is at its lowest since then, and the global travel industry is breaking records in sector growth year by year.
<Do you see an uptick in bookings for business travel? Why or why not?
Cooper: We definitely do. Recently due to construction and an increase in warehousing, in this area we have seen a direct correlation in our corporate bookings.
<What are a couple of things that the general public doesn’t know about the hotel industry?
Cooper: When you book on a discount site, you are getting a discount experience. People think they can get the best value on third-party websites.
However, by booking directly you’ll ensure that you will receive amenities such as reward points and room upgrades that would not be offered with these discounted sites.
Also, if you would have any problems with your stay, the hotel will be able to fix them more efficiently since you booked directly with them.
<If you could change one thing about the hotel industry, what would it be and why?
Cooper: Employee turnover is a huge problem in the hospitality industry. Turnover can cost you in many ways, such as job postings, selection, onboarding, training and loss of productivity.
If you adopt better practices and hire right from the start, you can improve your company culture and keep your best people around for years to come.
<What’s the best piece of career advice that you have ever received?
Cooper: Always work toward and put your best effort into something you are passionate about.
If you do what you love and love what you do, then it won’t feel like work at all.