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5Q PropTech Interview – Krissy Gathright COO (Ret.)/ Board Member Apple Hospitality REIT, Venture Investor

December 1, 2020

1. Krissy Gathright, can you please tell us about your background and what your experience was like running one of the largest hotel REIT’s in the U.S.?

My first role post-college was as an auditor for EY where I had the opportunity to work on several real estate engagements, developing a fondness for that space and a desire to learn more.

The next steps in my learning journey took me to roles in accounting, asset management, and investor relations at two of my EY clients, UDR and Cornerstone Realty Income Trust, both large publicly-traded multifamily REITs.

In 1999, I capitalized on the opportunity to help form and operate a new hospitality REIT.  Over the course of 20+ years, I was a key part of the executive leadership team that created eight hospitality REITs, executing several mergers, sales, and a public listing.

I recently retired from my COO role, but remain on the board of Apple Hospitality REIT (NYSE:APLE), the largest publicly-traded select service and extended stay lodging REIT.

I am passionate about the hospitality industry.  To put it simply, I love people and I love numbers and leveraging the insights from both to create value.

As an influential industry leader, I have served in a leadership capacity on many brands and industry councils, coalescing diverse perspectives from owners, brands, operators, and vendors into beneficial industry solutions.

2. As a governing board member of the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s Consumer Innovation Forum, how do you think technology will continue to improve consumer experiences within the hotel industry and what role does data play in achieving this?

Technology and leveraging data through technology is critical to improving consumer experiences.

Owners, operators, and brands will seek solutions that enable them to collect and analyze data in an actionable manner.

Strategic technology investments are necessary to address evolving consumer preferences whether it be the desire for more “touchless” options, more personalized offerings as well as increased convenience, comfort, safety, and security throughout the guest journey.

As the travel industry works to recover from the continuing impact of a global pandemic, it is imperative that the hospitality industry reimagine the travel experience and seek innovative solutions to elevate traveler confidence and stimulate demand.

3.  In your view, what impact is the emergence of new analytics, distribution, and management technologies having on the traditional role large hotel brand managers/franchisors once served within the hotel industry?  

New analytics, distribution, and management technologies introduce more options to consumers. For large brands, it is critical that they continue to build brand loyalty by capitalizing on their scope and scale, improving the guest experience, and offering the best value to their loyalty members. Technology plays a critical role in this.

4. Do you think hotel owners and operators in different regions have different needs when it comes to hotel technology or finding the right tech partner?

Maximizing revenue opportunities, improving operational efficiencies and increasing guest satisfaction are universal goals of owners and operators.

Although customers in different regions can have different preferences and priorities and owners and operators should strategically use data to meet consumer needs.

5. What key advice would you give to entrepreneurs developing new technology companies aimed at solving problems for the hospitality industry?

New technology companies should be able to clearly articulate the problem they are trying to solve and demonstrate how their solution has a competitive advantage in solving that problem.

In making your ROI case, show how your solution will increase revenues or reduce expenses, highlighting other benefits like environmental sustainability, building long term loyalty, improved risk management, etc.

Owners, operators, and brands will seek solutions that enable them to collect and analyse data in an actionable.

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