Cornell Roundtable Participants Say Hospitality Expertise Is Needed for Senior Living Communities

Cornell University’s The Center For Hospitality Research recently held a roundtable discussion with John Rijos, co-president and COO of Brookdale Senior Living, and Dan Madsen, president and CEO of Leisure Care and John Cobb, president and CEO of Senior Lifestyle Corporation this October.  During the roundtable, the participants discussed that the key to success in operating senior living communities is creating a relationship with residents and that creating a culture of more than service.  While senior living communities require considerable medical expertise, the panelists said that hospitality-focused employees are best suited to serve most of residents’ needs. Although the properties are not hotels, many facilities look and function like hotel properties and residents expect hotel-like services.  The panel stated that the future of the senior living industry is bright and that U.S. demographics to work in their favor.

Cobb, Madsen, and Rijos point out that key differences between hotels and senior living communities include sales procedures and real estate ownership. Unlike hotels, it often takes eighteen months or more for a person or couple to decide to move into a senior living property. Also unlike hotels, senior living companies usually own and operate their facilities—and so they do not involve flipping or trophy real estate.  Rijos stated that he sees more properties in urban settings, which will allow residents to take advantage of cities’ cultural features but proximity to family is the overriding criterion for choice of a residence.  For more information on on Cornell’s roundtable, visit Cornell University’s The Center For Hospitality Research.