You have been STR’s president since 2011. What have been several of your proudest moments and greatest challenges?
“This is a question that I could answer 50 different ways depending on the week you ask me. That is one of the exciting parts of my job and our business—there are constantly challenges and opportunities for wins. The point of pride that I always come back to is the unification of our global brands. Anyone newer to the industry probably doesn’t realize that as recent as early 2016, we were still operating completely different brands for our U.S. business, our international entity and our consulting & analytics department. That creation of one STR significantly changed the way in which we collaborate internally and ultimately deliver solutions to our clients. As a global benchmarking provider, we constantly challenge ourselves to be flexible and find the proper balance between providing customized solutions by region and remaining a global platform that delivers insights for multinational clients.”
STR is an invaluable resource for many of the chains and brands. While their presence in the Caribbean is growing, about half of the hotels in the Caribbean are independently owned, many in the boutique and luxury category. Why is it important for these independent properties to participate in the STAR program and how can they utilize the information to their benefit?
“As part of building the most extensive and actionable hotel performance database in the world, we work with hotels of all types—branded and independent, large and small, economy and all the way up to luxury.
“For those independent properties, the STAR Report is vital because of a lack of access to the same level of resources for branded hotels, such as marketing, revenue management and cost analysis. Information is the key to success, and independent hotels should use the STAR Report as a tool to develop better revenue management and marketing strategies—and to monitor these strategies to maximize their effectiveness.”
The percentage of all-inclusive hotels in the Caribbean far outpaces those in most parts of the world. How is STR engaging all-inclusive resorts in its reporting?
“STR is developing a report designed specifically for all-inclusive properties that will deliver the KPIs needed in that segment. For example, most all-inclusive properties want to know their TRevPAR or package rate per available room—over even their package rate by guest. At the same time, we want to make sure that these properties are reporting their room revenue correctly—not including F&B or other revenues—so that their ADR allows for an apples-to-apples comparison to that of ala carte hotels. Under this new platform, STR will have added tools to ensure the quality and accuracy of this data.
“We have been engaging with most of the major all-inclusive players in the region and have seen a lot of interest that will allow us to include more properties in our data and build pure comp sets for these all-inclusive reports.”
STR is the global leader in gauging hotel performance, primarily looking at occupancy rate, ADR and RevPAR. As you look to the future, what are some of the other areas where you see STR venturing to continue to provide added value to the industry?
“Like anyone in the sector, we realize that our services have to continue to evolve alongside a constantly evolving hospitality industry. For us, that means the further digitization of our solutions and the addition of even more granular data that is accessible on demand in an intuitive platform. Our key areas of focus in the short term will be centered on monthly P&L data, forward-looking data through our Forward STAR solution and data in those segments of global hospitality outside of hotels.”
How can hotels use the market intelligence which STR provides to improve their performance?
“It’s all about context. No matter the hotel type, no matter if we’re talking property-level, brands or parent companies, you can’t truly measure your performance without an understanding of the marketplace and the competition. The insights we deliver eliminate the guesswork as you build your various business strategies. What’s great is that the diversity of our solutions empower so many different disciplines within the industry and cater to any different level of expertise among our end users.”
The STR Pipeline report is a great resource for destination planning, as it provides an indication of planned developments and types of developments. How can CHTA and local associations in the Caribbean better utilize this information and support STR in its information gathering?
“Pipeline data is a great gauge of future supply and how significant an influence it can have on both occupancy and room rates. These reports are a must for associations, hotels and anyone investing in or developing properties in the region to know what kind of projects are on the horizon, which areas are in need of more hotels, and what niche markets need to be filled.
“We do a great job of discovering and tracking new projects, but obviously there is no substitute for being there in the market. For that reason, we love to get all the feedback we can from the stakeholders in the destination that have their finger on the local pulse.”
STR was recently acquired by CoStar Group for $450 million in an all-cash deal. Describe the effect this will have on the company and any additional benefits for hotels moving forward.
“The investment from CoStar will allow us to accelerate our growth as a company, most notably in the further digitization of our products as well as in the areas of focus I mentioned previously. Clients’ needs are changing, and the expectation for STR to provide innovative solutions is not far behind. The integration of STR’s data, industry expertise and relationships with CoStar’s platform and people will revolutionize the data and insights available to industry stakeholders. Combining our data sets will also offer a complete solutions for clients in the advisory, investor and DMO spaces.”
We understand that you will be attending Caribbean Travel Marketplace this January at Baha Mar in The Bahamas, meeting with hoteliers and industry leaders. What might you want to share with them about the long-term outlook for tourism and how the Caribbean can continue to grow and develop as one of the world’s most desirable vacation areas?
“I won’t have to remind anyone why the Caribbean has long been one of the most popular destinations in the world. The region’s accessible locations, geographic offerings and hospitable reputation are pillars of the success that will extend as far into the future as we can see. Marketing those offerings continue to be important with competition for market share and the opportunities that exist with international travelers. Beyond that, it’s key for stakeholders to trust the data and insights that show areas for growth, then work together in expanding connectivity and infrastructure.”
Amanda W. Hite, STR’s president since 2011, oversees all company operations and business activities to ensure desired results are achieved and are consistent with STR’s overall strategy and mission.
Mrs. Hite is a member of the Board of Directors of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, the U.S. Travel Association, the Executive Council of the Women in Lodging, and the Board of Directors of Forward Sumner Economic Partnership. She also serves as a member of the Travel and Tourism Advisory Council for the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta and serves on the Industry Advisory Board of the Hotel and Restaurant Management Program at Auburn University.
Prior to joining STR in 2006, Mrs. Hite was the Director of Research for the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce. She is a graduate of Birmingham-Southern College with a B.S. in Business Administration. She resides in Hendersonville, TN, with her husband and two children.
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STR provides premium data benchmarking, analytics and marketplace insights for global hospitality sectors. Founded in 1985, STR maintains a presence in 15 countries with a corporate North American headquarters in Hendersonville, Tennessee, an international headquarters in London, and an Asia Pacific headquarters in Singapore. STR was acquired in October 2019 by CoStar Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: CSGP), the leading provider of commercial real estate information, analytics and online marketplaces. For more information, please visit str.com and costargroup.com.