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Thursday, January 21, 2021

Q&A: Julie Faver-Dylla Executive director, Hotel Association of Tarrant County

Betty Dillard bdillard@bizpress.net

New hotels, museum expansions, airport renovations and leisure attractions across Tarrant County are providing continuing support to prospective visitors domestically and abroad. Fort Worth, named the best downtown in America by Livability.com, took center stage April 4-7 when coverage from the new Sundance Square Plaza, and the city will be the host for another major sports event – the U.S. Sports Congress – in December 2015.

The inaugural Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival in March and the upcoming Main Street Arts Festival, along with NASCAR races and the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, are not only impacting the local economy but are driving the demand for jobs in the booming travel and tourism industry. Local expansion of jobs in the travel and tourism industry – among the largest and fastest-growing industries worldwide, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council – continues to pick up steam. The Dallas-Fort Worth area’s leisure and hospitality supersector gained 21,500 jobs from January 2013 to January 2014, an increase of 7.3 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. Fort Worth-Arlington added jobs at a 9.2 percent pace, while Dallas-Plano-Irving experienced an increase of 6.4 percent. Julie Faver-Dylla, executive director of the Hotel Association of Tarrant County (HATC) since 2010, says the demand for hotel rooms is increasing locally, which, in turn increases the need for additional hospitality jobs.

“You will be seeing more hotels being built in the area over the next four years,” she said. Faver-Dylla represents another important trend in the hospitality field. Women make up 57.5 percent of the hotel industry’s total workforce, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Faver-Dylla said HATC works hard to ensure its female members have a voice in the direction of the industry. The Hotel Association of Tarrant County has been a dignitary of the hospitality industry for more than 25 years, keeping pace with trends, industry changes, opportunities in employment and legislation.

Drawn to the fast-paced energy of the hotel business, Faver-Dylla brought more than 15 years of hotel sales experience when she took the reins of HATC. As the senior sales manager for the DFW Airport Marriott South for more than 10 years, she built relationships both for the hotel and within the industry. She is an active member of the community and is on the board for the Texas Hotel & Lodging Association, The Fort Worth Convention and Visitors Bureau, Texas Women in Lodging, The Arts Council of Fort Worth & Tarrant County, the North Texas Tourism Alliance and the DFW Area Tourism Council.

What is the mission of HATC? The purpose of the Hotel Association of Tarrant County is to advocate for our members through idea exchange, community involvement, government interaction and resource development, and we give our members the platform to get their voices heard, no matter how big or how small. Over 200 hotels and companies who provide services to hoteliers are members of HATC.

How are social media and technology changing the way hotels cater to guests? Many hotels now offer services where you can check in online or order amenities in advance. With all of the advanced technology there is today it is easier to anticipate your guest’s needs prior to check in.

What about sustainability? Are hotels becoming greener? Most hotels have found a way to be more sustainable and use this as a marketing advantage in the process. Our executive chefs are buying their produce from local farmers and suppliers that are within a 50-mile radius of their hotel. The food they serve is organic and regional, and many tourists love to experience these kinds of things when they come to town. Hotels are able to promote our hotel restaurants offering regional cuisine and our guests enjoy the local experience and we are keeping our dollars local. Sustainability is one of the top trends in the industry. You will now even see colleges and universities requiring sustainability classes as part of the hotel/restaurant management degree.

A recent survey by the American Hotel & Lodging Association shows that only 45 percent of franchised hotels and motels and 32 percent of independent hotels have direct 911 dialing. What is HATC’s response to hotel safety, including 911 direct dialing and thefts? We encourage all hotels to have direct dial for 911 from guest rooms and house phones. We have sent out emails and have held meetings with our hoteliers to encourage this best practice in our industry. We work with the local police departments closely through our Hotel Watch Program to make each other aware of crimes in hotels in the area and we coordinate meetings between our hotels and their NPO to review crime trends on a quarterly basis through the Hotel Watch Program.

What is HATC’s stand on immigration reform? Our immigration system must be reformed now so employers have access to a legal workforce when no Americans are available for unfilled jobs. It is difficult to find workers for many hotel jobs now. The lodging industry is projected to create 141,000 new jobs by 2020 – access to workers is a critical issue. This situation cannot simply resolve itself and solving our immigration crisis now requires Congress to act now.

By the Numbers: • Fort Worth welcomed 6.5 million visitors who contributed $1.6 billion to the local economy, according to the Fort Worth Convention & Visitors Bureau. • The tourism industry pays $124 billion in federal, state and local taxes. • Tourism directly supports more than 7.5 million travel and tourism jobs – for every 35 visitors to the U.S. one American job is created. • International visitors accounted for 21 percent of all lodging sales (Bureau of Economic Analysis). • Resident and international travelers in the U.S. spend an average of $2.2 billion a day, $92.8 million an hour, $1.5 million a minute, and $25,700 a second. • Average length of stay for overseas hotel visitors was 8.8 nights; the average party size was 1.7 travelers. Source: Hotel Association of Tarrant County, Fort Worth Convention & Visitors Bureau  

Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

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