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Breakfast Series report: Be our guest – Idaho’s dramatic hotel construction boom

Breakfast Series panelists respond to moderator Nick Miller at the June 4 event at The Grove Hotel. From left, Troy Tiddens, Kathy Pidgeon, Wes Jost and Ray Gadd. Photo by Kim Burgess

Idaho record population growth is also bringing more travelers to the state, fueling a dramatic boom in the tourism industry.

Travel and tourism is Idaho’s third largest industry behind agriculture and food products manufacturing and computer and electronics manufacturing, according to STR, a research company that works with the Idaho Department of Commerce.

The gross domestic product of the Idaho travel industry was over $1.6 billion in 2017 and it produced 45,000 jobs across the state.

On the hotel side, the number of rooms available grew by 3.4 percent statewide and 5.8 percent in Boise from 2017 to 2018. According to the U.S. Travel Association, Idaho’s growth in traveler spending and employment are No. 2 in the nation.

On June 4, four expert panelists discussed the impacts of this unprecedented boom. Topics ranged from finance and design to daily operations and hopes for the future.

The Panel

Moderator – Nicholas Miller, managing partner, Hawley Troxell

Ray Gadd, content marketing manager, Visit Sun Valley

Wes Jost, senior vice president and regional director, Zions Bank’s Idaho Real Estate Banking Group

Kathy Pidgeon, general manager, Riverside Hotel

Troy Tiddens, modular specialist, neUdesign Architecture

Building on the theme of the dramatic growth in hotel construction, describe how does this phenomenon of growth affect your niche and your contribution to the industry?

Troy Tiddens

Troy Tiddens: For us, our company started in design architecture in 2008. What we’re seeing is the need for intentional design whether it be industrial, commercial, multifamily or residential. Thoughtful, intentional design and making sure the forethought is put into the planning purposes of what we’re trying to accomplish. The exciting thing we’ve been able to do recently is, we’ve actually developed a specific modular design studio. Folks have commercial multifamily modular design. My goal today is to help educate and really come across and be able to educate people on viability and the various applications and pros and cons of modular construction to be considered in future construction projects.

Kathy Pidgeon: I’ve been in the hotel business for a long time. Just like any business, with a hotel business, there’s cycles. We go up, we go down. It’s not my first rodeo; I’ve seen it before. But there is 5.8% growth in the hotel industry in the area. That’s a lot for the economy to absorb, but I still feel like it’s a great time to be in the hotel business in this valley. The economy is really good, and I know there’s some of you out here that market Boise, and I work with some of you.

It used to be maybe 15 or 20 years ago, you’d call, especially to the East Coast, and you’d say, ‘Do you want to bring your meeting to Boise?’ They were like, ‘Where?’ ‘Boise, Idaho.’ They’d say, ‘Iowa, Ohio, Idaho?’ You’d talk to them, and they were kind of like, ‘Why would we?’ Then the convention visitors group does a great job of getting people out here. Once they come out here, they loved Boise. But, there’s always still a problem because they’d go back to their board and say, ‘We think we should bring our national association to Boise, Idaho.’ The board would be like, ‘What, where?’ It was really a hard sell. But now, it seems like every week you look and Boise is on some top 10 list and making the news in a very positive way. I feel like even with the growth, it’s still a good time to be in the hotel business. The supply and demand are kind of evening out with the great economy. We’ve been able to still do well in the industry.

photo of modular construction

Modular construction is increasingly being used to help reduce labor costs.

Wes Jost: From a creditor’s perspective, we’ve certainly seen a lot of positive results. If you look at the supply incentive, the marketplace, even though occupancy has dipped a little bit.

From a creditor’s perspective, we want to make sure we don’t have too much of any one product. Hotel is one that we monitor not only by product type but by geography. Looking at this marketplace, it’s really impressive to see all of that growth. One of the things that we want to make sure that we keep our capital available and that we are able to lend on this product, which we can and we have been even going back 15 years. Post-recession, pre-recession, we’ve still been in the space. That’s one of the things that we’re really impressed by is how the metrics have continued to perform. We’re also optimists and realists, so we’re watching those numbers closely, making sure. But, I think if you look at the economic drivers here that are bringing all this product, I think you’ll see that that trend is going to continue.

Ray Gadd: One of the most exciting things for us being up in Sun Valley is the resurgence of new properties coming into the area that’s increased the diversity of hotel opportunities. For 20 years, we didn’t have any new builds or remodels going on. Now all of a sudden we have three new/remodel properties right in downtown Ketchum, that have really forced everyone else to step their game up. People are looking for more experiential lodging opportunities. Folks like the Limelight and Hotel Ketchum have really woven that into their structure. Instead of just going to a place and finding a pillow to rest your head on, it’s more of an opportunity to bring the community in. A place to hang out, to host events, and also get a good night’s rest. It’s exciting to see the change in how hotel properties operate instead of just this sort of singular service based industry.

Can you give us a little more drill down on the financing component?

Wes Jost

Wes Jost: One of the things about credit is you need to make sure you’re working with folks that are in the product that know the space. Hotel lending is a very particular type of lending, very much like market multifamily or senior living. One of the things that we really enjoy about these metrics in this Treasure Valley is the trends have really persisted. I’ll share a story back when we were looking at the Inn at 500. We were looking at what that supply would bring and what that would do to occupancy. I can tell you that by looking at the statistics that we have outperformed what we thought and what the developer thought. That’s a positive for all that are in the space.

For those of you that are in the industry but not in the financing side, do you want to comment on how access to capital has affected the growth climate?

Ray Gadd: I would just make one quick comment. Up in the Wood River Valley, it’s a challenge. We want to make sure we’re not stealing market share from one another. To finance some of these properties, they really have to look at multi-use opportunities. Looking at residential components, looking at commercial spaces, to build it beyond just a hotel, especially in the downtown force. That’s been an interesting model to see come into play. It also has enriched the community with the offerings that they hold. It’s not just a single-use structure.

The Limelight Hotel in Ketchum was built by the Aspen Skiing Co. Photo courtesy of Aspen.

Are there just a few lenders who do this? Are they getting to a level of concentration that they’re going to charge more or not going to be able to commit to deals?

Wes Jost: I don’t know of any creditors that are full on that. I think like any creditor, they’re being selective about which folks to work with. A follow-up to a comment you had asked about, of all these deals, I don’t know of any one that got done with cash. There’s leverage on every deal that gets done here. That’s an important component. How much leverage you get is obviously another important question to ask. I think the capacity to carry hotel product is important from a creditor’s perspective. For those that are working with creditors, those are good questions to ask them because they should be tracking so if you’re doing two or three projects a year, you want to know that they can help you or if they can only do one.

Turning to the construction element, elaborate for us a little more on this modular construction and how that’s a vital element for both enhancing growth, but also in times that are less robust.

Troy Tiddens: Everyone probably has their misconceptions about what modular construction is and what it isn’t. What I’m referring to is commercial modular construction. It’s built to the same codes and standards that any traditional site development is built to.

From a design perspective, there’s different design elements and different means that go into it, but there’s not different standards. We’re not falling under some alternate code because it’s built off site. The reassurance is that you’re getting the same design, same code, same application. The real value, especially in a hospitality market, is that when they come out of the factory, they’re 100% finished on the inside, meaning you walk into the suite, it’s got the carpet, the vanity, the bed, the headboard, the nightstands. Everything is loaded into that module and it leaves the factory. It’s really added value. The value is contained in the box. Once it’s set on site, they come back and put on the traditional finishes, and most people when you drive by would never know it was built off site.

When we start talking about the benefits of modular construction, there’s many benefits. One is the quality. It’s built in a QA controlled factory environment under a quality assurance program. We talk about the speed of the market, and that’s really where the value is. You’ve got the site work and the foundation is being built. At the same time, at the factory, they’re doing a working construction element of it. It’s not a linear process. You have a parallel process that really shortens the construction duration. Once the models arrive on site and go through that final finish, you’re typically saving months off your construction cycle on that. When you’re talking about hotel and return on investment, that can be huge savings on that perspective.

The reduced risk side of it, you’re building indoors — 60% to 70% of this building is being built in a factory, so you don’t have your typical weather delays and associated risks you would see on a site build project. Each module is built independently, so each has their own walls and own floors, which would be done on assemblies. What that results is very quiet construction for the occupants once it’s on site. The final value or benefit there is from a lean green perspective. You’re reducing traffic and construction impact. You’re keeping it isolated off site to a factory. You don’t have multiple trucks and materials and deliveries coming to the site. From a lean green, it’s very efficient from that perspective as well.

Many hotels in Boise are essentially infill. To fill a hotel with traditional construction, you need a lay down yard and a big lot or two around it. Is that an issue with modulars too? 

Troy Tiddens: Definitely. Your footprint on site, say a typical hotel, is going to be between 50 and 80 modules. There is a need for storage. But, that storage can be off site. Your lot, from a logistics standpoint, for some of the urban infill, your yard is more flexible with the space to build.

Have the providers looked at modular? 

Kathy Pidgeon

Kathy Pidgeon: Like Troy said, we probably all have misconceptions about it. I’ve had some people complain to me because we’ve got storage pods in our parking lot. I always tell the owners, “We need more rooms, so we’ll just put some rooms inside those pods.” I think that might be the misconceptions that we have of what modular building is like.

Ray Gadd: Troy and I chatted before the panel started about the types of properties that he works with. That’s really exciting to hear — it’s not just a super budget-friendly product that you’re turning out. You guys can do a higher-level product for everybody. That opens our door, especially in our market, to the opportunities for modular.

With modular, you essentially outsourced several hundred jobs to a factory. Is that an issue? 

Troy Tiddens: I think what we’ve been seeing with the growth is also labor shortage. Most projects that we’re designing and working on aren’t 100% modular. There’s a hybrid approach. There’s certain portions of a building that make sense still to be site built. There is still quite a bit of work that’s being done on site with local trades. As far as we’re seeing, with factories that we’ve worked with, they’ll have their standard operating that we’re able to spec in so that there is custom specifications or local sourcing of materials, that we need to spec into that. Those factories are pretty willing to accommodate.

For hotel operators, we’ve talked about the number of properties coming onto market. How are you differentiating yourself from other properties as more properties come along?

Ray Gadd: We have been perceived as being an expensive town. I grew up here in Boise and had that same notion. It’s been encouraging to have some of these properties come online to fill the different levels of price point and the different expectations for experiences. We have the general sort of flagship brands that come in and just offer you a bed.

Like I had mentioned previously, there’s this exciting opportunity for hotels to offer a different experience. The Limelight as an example, built this huge great room that’s super family friendly. They really encouraged the locals to come in and play with that. It’s been really well received. You start to build this experience where the locals want to hang out at the spot, and in turn the guests have a better experience because they want to hang out where the locals are. We’re seeing a lot of the new properties, and properties that are remodeling, inviting that component into it. They really have to be unique. It’s a tough community to get acceptance for. If you can win over those locals and provide a really unique experience, the overall guest experience is elevated.

With more properties, how do you deal with the seasonalities and shoulder seasons?

Sun Valley draws tourists for winter and summer seasons. Photo by Ray Gadd courtesy of Visit Sun Valley.

Ray Gadd: Just to back track and give a little insight, we are extremely busy in the summer. There’s this huge compression between the Fourth of July through about Labor Day. We’re reverse from a lot of ski destination resorts in that we’re quieter in the winter. We have about 60% of our business in the summer, 40% in the winter. That 40 is really concentrated right around the Christmas holiday.

We’re looking as a marketing organization for the area to encourage people to look at the shoulder seasons because you don’t run into that compression; you don’t run into that overcrowding. In fall, it’s such an amazing time up in the Wood River Valley if you haven’t been there. The local hotel properties are looking to Idaho as being the audience they really want to talk to, especially in the shoulder season periods. We have some restrictions on flights that are coming in, so it’s a great opportunity for that dry market. A lot of these properties are offering locals discounts. If you haven’t been up in awhile, definitely call up and see what the locals discounts offer. That’s for the greater good of the entire economy. We don’t operate so well if we only need employees for six weeks out of the year. Everybody as a whole, not just the hotel properties, have a vested interest in kind of smoothing that average out to reduce those discrepancies in the occupancy.

I’ve noticed here in Boise, it seems to be really driven by group sales, meetings and conventions. There’s a huge demand growing for that in Sun Valley, but we’re still heavily based on weekend travelers.

Kathy, you’re going to have seasonality. How do you feel the hoteliers are differentiating themselves in private offerings or programs?

Kathy Pidgeon: I think there is a real variety of different hotels in Boise. I know for Riverside, from our point of view, a lot of what Ray said is what the Riverside tries to do as well. We really try to market to the locals and it’s locally owned. We have a lot of events that locals can come and enjoy whether they’re staying at the hotel or not. Our bar is right in our lobby. We call it Bar 365 because we have live music at the hotel literally 365 days a year. Often, we have multiple choices for the music. I don’t know if all of you’ve been out there, but we’ve got a great restaurant by the river called The Sandbar. There’s live local music every night if it doesn’t rain. In the winter, we have the Sapphire Room where the locals can come and enjoy concerts and events inside of the hotel. Again, we have live music every night in our bar. We have good deals on staycations. We’ve got a great pool and a great courtyard out there right by the Greenbelt. We love our locals. We have a lot of signature events that we just cater to the locals for — Mother’s Day, Easter, we have great brunches. Every Sunday we have a jazz brunch, so if you haven’t come to see that, come and see our jazz brunch. We kind of have our own little niche out by the river. We love the locals. We do have a lot of convention business as well, but we have a lot of local business. The locals are great word of mouth for us.

Like Ray was saying, employees are so important all the time, especially now with the way the economy is. We kind of developed the Sapphire Room to keep the employees on in the winter is how it originally started. We were so busy during the summer because the Sandbar was open and occupancy was up. Then during the winter, the occupancy went down, the Sandbar closed, but we had these great employees and didn’t want to lose them. That’s why we originally opened the Sapphire Room, and now it’s been way more successful than we ever thought it would be.

Are you unique in this market? I don’t see as much of the hoteliers doing as much in the local space.

Kathy Pidgeon: I don’t know that we’re unique in the market. I just think that if you’re a downtown hotel, there’s a lot of places to go that you can walk to right outside the door. People love that, and our downtown Boise is great. I love our downtown Boise. It’s got so much to offer. For a long time, before I was general manager, I was in sales for the hotel, and one thing that I would hear from people is, ‘Well your hotel is nice, but there’s nothing to do out there.’ So we decided that we would create our own things to do in the hotel. We’ve been trying to build our own venues and give our guests and the locals a lot to do right within the hotel.

Where do millennials fit in right now when you profile the demographics of your room nights?

Ray Gadd

Ray Gadd: We’ve definitely seen the demographics shift for the better. We’ve been synonymous for attracting an older audience. The average guest that’s come to the Sun Valley Resort lodge has been there 10 times over their lifetime, which is pretty phenomenal for those people that don’t live in Idaho. Seeing millennials come on to the market is really exciting. They are a totally different traveler. They’re not the person that needs all of the amenities right there in front of them. They’re willing to work a little bit for it, but they also really value that experience. They want to find off-the-beaten-path routes. They want to find that cool coffee shop. The hotels have found it very valuable to be able to disseminate that information to their guests.

As a marketing organization, we seek out on a weekly basis all of the things that are happening to try and pass that along to all of the concierge folks in the community so that they have the tools that they need to make sure that the millennials have a positive experience. They’re looking for the best places to take an Instagram photo. That’s one of the top travel trends right now. No longer is it, “Can I get an affordable rate because I’m going to be adventuring all day and just need a place to crash?” It’s, “I’m looking at this property because they’re knowledgeable, they have great events going on.”

The Riverside Hotel serves as an informal defining point between Garden City and Boise. Photo by Sophie Allen.

Kathy Pidgeon: I think Ray summed it up pretty well. Again, we have some of the same issues that you have in Sun Valley. The Riverside has been in Boise for 50 years, and we do tend to attract a little bit of an older crowd. We love the millennials; we’d love to have more younger people enjoy our hotel. I think the fact that we are right on the river is great and the whitewater park is just a five minute walk away, Esther Simplot park is right down the Greenbelt from us. We’ve got Quinn’s Pond. I think that there’s going to be more and more for the millennials to enjoy at the Riverside. That is something that we need to concentrate on because we do attract a little bit of an older crowd traditionally. I think a lot of the younger people, I talk to my children, and they say all their friends are talking about the Sandbar, so that’s good.

Troy and Wes, if you saw a property trying to excessively market itself to millennials, would you offer them a different design and would you be worried about their financials going forward?

Troy Tiddens: I think first of all is understanding if they have a specific demographic. We have developer out of Texas, and he wanted to offer a hotel that was more like an Airbnb. Basically there’s no host, you check in online. It’s a fully functional hotel, but it lacks that formal check-in office and going through all of that. It really lends itself to more of the trends. Obviously convenience is key, whether it be the check in to get in your room or the technology within your suite. We definitely have seen a change in the trend to kind of match some of the other competitors that are outside your traditional hospitality network.

Wes Jost: We’ve seen it in some of the more national flags, Hilton’s Tru, a few others that Marriot has that we’ve seen that try to adapt to a millennial market. From a financing perspective, we treat it just like any other product. It’s really a matter of what are they trying to do to attract the occupancy? If they’re bringing out a different flag for that particular demographic, then we just need to understand the drivers behind that. We haven’t see any, nor do we offer any type of package or profile compared to say a full-service Marriott or limited-service Best Western.

What metrics do you actually track when you’re looking at a hotel?

Wes Jost: It depends on the property type, so limited service for instance. We don’t really track the restaurant side of things because it’s very limited. We look at the average stay and the rate; we will look at the occupancy, trends, trailing, numbers. We will see where the seasonality is and then ask specific questions of the operator. What are they seeing and what’s driving it? Rev per is revenue per available room, so essentially how much revenue are they generating for rooms that are available for rent? It’s a combination of the average daily rate, the rate that you charge for a room, and then the occupancy on that given day or given month.

How do you coordinate with a convention facility? What impacts are conventions having on overall travel?

Ray Gadd: Convention and group business is a huge component of the overall makeup for hoteliers. I’m not one myself, but just talking with a lot of the association groups, it can make up as much as 60% of the overall room nights being sold. If you’re looking at those soft periods for us during midweek, that’s where those groups come in to fill. They’re also a huge component in the shoulder seasons we look at, that being from April through June, then from October through November. This is where the lower rates can be very enticing for groups to come in. It’s a great time of year for people to be inside of the convention center.

I would also say that there are some new properties coming online. We just had the Argyros Performing Arts Center built up there. It’s a multi-use, not just for visual or performing arts, but also great meeting space. Now the hotels aren’t dedicated to having their own space; they can tap into entities such as the Argyros.

For the Sun Valley Resort, sometimes they run out of occupancy, so they need to spread their audiences around. They have a big convention in July called Allen and Company. They like to keep everybody contained up there, but there’s just not the capacity. All of the hotels work together to help leverage the assets in town; again, that rising tide lifts all boats. That’s why their mentality has been really great to work with versus one person trying to own that space.

Riverside has great convention space. Comment on how much you market that space.

Kathy Pidgeon: Our convention space is a very important part of our overall plan for the hotel, particularly in the wintertime. I think the hotel is a great place for leisure to come in the summer. We’ve got great amenities for summertime, but in the winter, that big outdoor pool just doesn’t look quite as appealing in January as it does in July. We rely on conventions to fill our space in the winter a lot, not nearly as much in the summer. We’re not as eager to offer discount rates in the summer to conventions as we are in the winter. If you want a good rate in January, give me a call. We’re definitely looking for groups in the wintertime.

I think the convention center is a great facility for downtown, and the downtown hotels certainly rely on it a lot. We’re just far enough away that maybe we don’t attract as much of the big convention business that go to that convention center. But we’re a great spot for medium and small local and state conventions. We’ve got 15 banquet rooms, so we rely on that a lot.

Do modulars provide convention meeting space to go with a hotel? 

Troy Tiddens: That would be included in the overall design process. Whether it’s built in the factory or built on site, that’s part of the feasibility study that we go through with every project. Traditionally, the conference space is the open span portions and occupancies would be site built in a traditional manner with modules stacked on top.

Wes, if you were looking at an opportunity where a hotel was adding significant convention meeting space, how would that change your evaluation of the property?

Diners gather at the community table at the newly opened Trillium restaurant at The Grove in Boise. Photo by Steve Sinovic.

Wes Jost: It comes down to revenue mix. We’re looking at, there’s a restaurant component, there’s a conference component, and there’s a room component. What are the drivers? If someone wants that convention space, what’s the demand and supply of that conference space today and in the future? That’s a huge component of what we look at. We would weigh in with the rest of the drivers. If we felt very comfortable that the metrics could be there, then we’re supportive and we’ll offer credit for that. It really just depends on what the market drivers are. Said another way, we’re vetting what the owner, operator, and developer are bringing us, because I haven’t seen a deal that came to me that didn’t pencil, from their eyes.

I understand that every deal is different, but what’s your assessment with a mix of the deals that you’ve seen? How many are pure hotel versus some additional?

Wes Jost: I’d say a majority, so probably over three quarters, are just hotel. Marriott flags, Hilton flags. We do see some private boutique as well, but the convention space is really a minor component of that.

Is there a potential for a technology disruption that would upset the hotel industry?

Wes Jost: The capitalism of occupancy from Airbnb has probably been very small from what we’ve seen. I think if we’re hearing from our operators, if we’re hearing from our developers that are doing new product, that they’re addressing that, then we would probably dig into that. But right now, we haven’t really seen that as a deterrent. I think part of that too, I don’t know where this is in the process, but if there’s sales tax that is then implemented on Airbnb, I think that’s going to have a positive impact on the hotel industry.

Ray Gadd: I would say that artificial intelligence is an opportunity from the conversion booking side of things. We’re in a society that wants answers right away. We’re seeing a lot more rise in the use of chat bots or intelligent sort of computers that can answer basic questions for you. The computer can give you the answer right then and there. That really streamlines peoples’ decision-making processes. There’s a great component for that if the properties are up to speed and offer that service.

I don’t think the personal side of things will ever go away. There is that desire to have the personalized effect and the touch that a concierge can give. When you’re in that quick, I just need to book, I’ll figure everything else out later, it’s a nice complement to the overall experience.

This Ketchum treehouse rents for $75/night on the Airbnb site. Photo courtesy Airbnb.

Kathy Pidgeon: I agree. I think that things are definitely changing. I know when I first started here, Expedia and all the online travel agents, I hated them because they charge a very large commission. But now I’m friends with them. We get along well. They’re still the people that we love to hate or hate to love or something like that. I know that they definitely have a place in the market. We do a lot of business with them, our travel agents. It’s in their favor to market our property as well. They’re not so bad these days.

As far as things like Airbnb and that, it really hasn’t taken a great effect in Boise. I think that’s just the American way — they should be able to have their Airbnb. I do like the fact that they’re starting to be charged taxes more and more. I think that’s fair. From a hotelier’s point of view, it’s fine for Airbnb, but I just want to level the playing field.

I would like to see the Airbnbs regulated a little bit more. I’m not always in favor of government regulation, but as a hotelier, we have inspections by the health department, OSHA comes out whenever we’re doing a project. They make sure our guests are safe. It seems like every week you read about someone having a problem with an Airbnb — carbon monoxide poisoning, a fire, whatever it is. Certainly that can happen in a hotel as well, but there are regulations in place to make sure it’s not as likely to happen. We just want to have a level playing field with people like that.

Troy Tiddens: We view and promote the modular solution as a technology. It’s an advanced delivery method that implements a lot of efficiencies and technology throughout the process. We view this delivery method in itself as a technology solution to the construction industry. There’s a lot more factories coming online that are actually implementing a lot of automation. You talked about the younger tenants and the millennials that are staying there, but we’re also dealing with a changing workforce and a technology-driven workforce, in trying to create environments that really support them and drive on that. We’re the individuals coming up with the technical mindset that might not necessarily want to have a hammer in their hand but know how to operate a machine and can thrive and be successful.

The other side of that is going through with design perspective. We’ve implemented VR so you can do virtual walkthroughs of your project before we go into the construction phase, really trying to do as much of the design coordination and conflict resolution pre-construction as possible. We’ve been pretty successful with that approach.

What didn’t I ask you, or what did you not get to say that you wanted to say?

Troy Tiddens: I think the first question is why haven’t we seen more modular projects in the Treasure Valley? I think the first challenge of modular construction is, it’s not cheaper than traditional site construction as many would assume. Boise and the Treasure Valley has been insulated in this unique pocket that hasn’t experienced the high construction cost and labor shortages that other metropolitan or resort areas have. We are seeing the tipping point. We’re seeing more people ask that question. Really our job is not to force a project to go modular. Being a full design service, we’re going to look at the feasibility, and we want to help you make an educated decision. We can review the pros and cons and what delivery method makes the most sense for your project. We’re excited. There’s definitely a trend happening and we’re excited to be part of it.

Kathy Pidgeon: With having to talk about the hotel business and the hospitality industry, I have been in it for a long time. I love it. I love my job. I love my hotel. I love my employees. I love all the people. I just have the best job in the world.

Wes Jost: We’re still very bullish on the industry. We still think there’s quite a bit of capacity on that, but it’s got to be smartly developed or smartly located, or it’s got to be the right product type in the right place and making sure that the economic drivers are there. I think we’ll continue to look at that. We also have an eye on the horizon because we know a recession is coming, and we know that we’re going to have some slowdown. We’re keeping an eye on that, and we’re also keeping an eye on clients and people that want to bring in a new product. Can they substantiate the next down cycle? It’s very much about experienced operators that have been around long enough that have been running before the last Great Recession.

Ray Gadd: Idaho’s such an amazing place to visit. Boise has so much to offer here. You’re two and a half hours away from so many things. From Boise, up in the Ketchum and Stanley area we have the international dark sky reserve, which is the only one in the United States. We have sand dunes an hour away; we have the Sawtooth Mountains; we have incredible rivers.

Outside of those natural assets, the towns are also producing amazing arts and culture components. Food is growing to be noteworthy in this little landlocked state. It’s shifting mentality to think about how can we tell that story to not only the potential guests that are coming in, but also making sure that people in the community are informed with all that we have to offer here.

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