President, B.F. Saul Company Hospitality Group + AHLA Chair of the Board
Mark Carrier, CHA, president of the B.F. Saul Company Hospitality Group, is the 2017 chair of the AH&LA board of directors. AHLA announced Mark’s appointment to the Chair position on November 14, 2016.
Mark’s leadership responsibilities at B.F. Saul Company Hospitality Group include strategic direction, overall operational leadership, acquisition and development of properties, long-term financial, and capital planning, along with the development and implementation of corporate policies, procedures, and management systems. Carrier joined the B. F. Saul Company following graduation in 1980 from the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration. He progressed to his current senior position following a career of growing responsibility with the organization which included on-site management, regional responsibilities, as well as development and acquisition of hotels.
Mark is immediate past chair of the Tysons Partnership, the group focused on making the area America’s next great city. Mark is a member of the Cornell Hotel Society, as well as the Cornell Real Estate Council. He is a past chairman of the IHG Owners Association, the global franchise owners association of Intercontinental Hotels Group. He serves on Marriott’s Distribution Advisory Committee, Emerging Technology Advisory Group, as well as the SpringHill Suites Marketing Council. Mark also serves on Hilton’s owner advisory council on distribution. In 2013, Mark was the recipient of the Kemmons Wilson Service Award and the Spirit to Preserve Award by Marriott.
What led you to a career in hospitality?
I started working at age 13 in a historic restaurant in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The owner/chef was very progressive, and I moved forward to learn culinary skills and perform a wide variety of jobs while I was in High School. I matriculated to the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University and clearly learned that I had found my professional calling.
As you sit here now, what is the most exciting aspect of the hotel industry?
Our business is all about people, our guests, team members and then many stakeholders in our businesses and the industry. The dynamics of serving and inspiring others is both exciting and rewarding. We are an industry that is growing and evolving, and that change challenge is stimulating.
What hotel or hospitality dilemma keeps you up at night?
We reflect economic trends and health of our nation, so I am always concerned about that trajectory. I am concerned that the rise of digital intermediaries has fundamentally altered our cost structure and relationships with our guests, brands and distribution organizations. This also concerns the rise of illegal hotels. We need a level playing field, a focused on public policy issues and economic terms that reflect a fair balance.
“I am concerned that the rise of digital intermediaries has fundamentally altered our cost structure and relationships with our guests, brands and distribution organizations.”
What are your top goals as the Chair of the AH&LA Board?
The broad objectives I have as Chair of the AHLA include three primary focus points:
Support of the strategic advocacy agenda of the Association and industry.
Continuing the growth and broadening of the financial resources of the Association.
Deepening engagement with the AHLA throughout all levels of the industry.
Technology is ever changing and seemingly impossible to keep up with. As a Member of Marriott’s Emerging Technology Advisory Group, what is one technology area you see rapidly changing in 2017 and where should hoteliers be focused?
It is critical that we ensure our marketing technology (aps) keep pace with the needs and desires of guests. The way they access our services and hotel reservations is crucial.
Airbnb continues to be a large debate not only in Virginia but nationally. How do you see Virginia working with legislators during the 2017 Virginia General Assembly Session to get common sense legislation passed this year? And, how do you think Virginia’s 2017 outcome will impact other states?
It is important that Virginia takes a leadership role to provide a level and legal playing field for hoteliers and these digital services. There is a wide range of public policy issues that include safety, zoning, taxes, affordable housing, etc. that must be understood and addressed. It is critical to understand that a marketplace created through digital means should not enable illegal behavior.
The Virginia Restaurant, Lodging and Travel Association is the only unified voice for the restaurant, lodging, travel and hospitality suppliers associations. VRLTA creates value for members by promoting the legislative interests of the industry, networking, educational opportunities, and protecting free enterprise.