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Hospitality-Tourism
Business Observer Friday, Nov. 15, 2019 3 weeks ago

Economic forecast 2020: Tourism & Hospitality

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Joe Collier, president of Mainsail Lodging & Development
by: Brian Hartz Tampa Bay Editor

COMPANY: Tampa-based Mainsail Lodging & Development is one busy hospitality firm. Celebrating 20 years in business in 2019, it develops and operates boutique hotel and resort properties, event centers and restaurants throughout Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and the British Virgin Islands. In 2019, it also signed a deal to manage the new Karol Hotel in the bustling Feather Sound business district between St. Petersburg and Clearwater. Its portfolio on the Gulf Coast includes properties in Tampa, Anna Maria Island, Dunedin, Fort Myers, Naples and Wesley Chapel. President Joe Collier — who, in 2018, was named the Gonzmart Family Tourism Ambassador of the Year by Visit Tampa Bay — says 2019 was a “game changer” for the company, citing not only the Karol Hotel deal, but also the expansion of Mainsail’s food-focused Epicurean Hotel brand into Atlanta. “That’s an exciting one for us.”

OPPORTUNITIES: With the economy being robust, Collier sees great potential for more partnerships that would see big companies use boutique hotels like Mainsail’s for corporate travel needs. He’s also pumped up about Mainsail’s participation in Marriott International’s Homes & Villas program, which the hotel giant launched to compete with the likes of Airbnb. “It’s Marriott’s entry into the vacation rental business,” he says. “We were selected as one of just six initial operators, and we’re looking forward to growing that business on the Gulf Coast. If you own a vacation rental home and want to have somebody manage it for you and you want to have access to all those Marriott customers, it's a pretty neat platform and fits within our business model.”

THREATS: Minimal or even flat growth of average hotel rates could pose a challenge in 2020, says Collier. “It’s always market by market,” he says. In Florida, though, “as long as you’re a good operator, you should do OK.” Collier says Florida’s population growth, tourism and other underlying market fundamentals are much stronger than other parts of the country and he doesn’t see that changing anytime soon. Another major threat he sees is in environmental carelessness. “As Floridians, we have to pay a lot of attention to our water and we need to make sure that elected officials are paying attention to it,” Collier says. Fast-rising construction prices, as well, could also slow growth. “Contractors get so much work that they begin to behave in that fashion, and that could cause a pullback,” he says. “I anticipate seeing some deals fall by the wayside just because construction costs are too high.”

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