Editorial Board   

Mr. LaTour

Tom LaTour

Principal, LaTour Signature Group

Tom LaTour is one of the founding partners of LaTour Signature Group, a joint-venture business with ResortCom Elite that provides superior management services to small, luxury fractional ownership properties throughout North America. As the former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Kimpton Hotel and Restaurant Group, he is applying his more than 40 years of experience in the travel and hospitality industry to this booming new vacation real estate market. A graduate of Michigan State University, Mr. LaTour started his illustrious career working for American Airlines as general manager for the Sky Chef division. He joined Amfac Hotels in 1973, and for 10 years helped operate the diversified hotel and restaurant chain's 17 nationwide properties. In 1983, Mr. LaTour joined founder Bill Kimpton in the ambitious endeavor of pioneering the then new hospitality niche of boutique hotels. Throughout his nearly quarter century with the company, he saw the exclusive Kimpton brand expand to include 40 boutique hotels and restaurants throughout 17 cities in the United States and Canada. The Kimpton brand stood out for its commitment to helping guests maintain and enrich their lifestyles on the road. Each property reflected the energy, personality and pulse of its distinct location, history and architectural style. Kimpton, under Mr. LaTour 's direction, provided highly personalized guest services and welcomed travelers with an atmosphere that embraced its signature elements of care, comfort, style, flavor and fun. Mr. LaTour retired in 2006 after a 23-year career at Kimpton, during which his dedication and visionary leadership established it as the leader in the boutique/lifestyle hotel segment as well as creating strategic alliances with global issues and eco-friendly efforts such as AIDs research and Trust for Public Land. In early 2007, Mr. LaTour joined long-time friend and business associate John E. Small, along with ResortCom International's President Jeff Healy, to form San Diego-based LaTour Signature Group. According to Small, "Tom LaTour has the incredible vision and extraordinary business acumen necessary to lead the explosive growth in this niche market by providing the ultimate luxury brand for smaller fractional properties." In addition to heading this new business venture, Mr. LaTour remains on the board of directors for Kimpton Hotel and Restaurant Group and also serves on the boards of many nonprofit organizations, including the Hoffman Institute and the REDF "Investing in Employment Hope." He is a trustee of the San Francisco Maritime Park Association and serves on the San Francisco Planning and Urban Development Association advisory Board. In addition, he is founding board member of the Union Square Business Improvement District, past chair of the San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau, and is on the advisory board for California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. Along with his wife, Barbara, he owns and operates the 25-acre LaTour Vineyards in Napa Valley where they produce barrel-fermented Chardonnay, Pinot and Syrah wines.

Mr. LaTour can be contacted at 415-568-2210 or tlatour@latoursignaturegroup.com

Coming up in September 2019...

Hotel Group Meetings: Uncommon Destinations

The last few years have been good to the Hotel Group Meetings industry and that trend is expected to continue into 2019. Planners are brimming with confidence due to an expanding economy and increased job creation, which typically results in a boost in corporate meetings. Given this promising outlook, planners are trying to outdo themselves to satisfy the high expectations of their clients. One notable trend is to integrate unusual settings into the meeting experience, hosting groups at local zoos, aquariums, museums, event centers, or other outdoor facilities. The goal is to embrace uncommon destinations, rather than a typical hotel conference room, so that meetings can be memorable, unique and stimulating. This is also part of another trend which is to support all things local - from hosting events at landmark city venues; to catering through local restaurants, food trucks and microbreweries; to hosting off-site excursions like agri-tours, athletic events or scenic 5k routes. However, though the setting might be spectacular, there are still some bedrock components that must be provided to ensure a successful meeting. Free, high-speed Wi-Fi is still one of the most requested services. Planners have to make sure that a comprehensive communication infrastructure is in place so clients can easily connect - and stay connected - to the network throughout the entire meeting experience. Also, technology tools can be used to streamline the booking, registration, and check-in process, and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) materials can be utilized to ensure seamless access to conference events. There are also numerous software tools that encourage audience participation, as well as integrating polls, Q&A, surveys and games into speakers' presentations. The September Hotel Business Review will examine issues relevant to group meetings and will report on what some hotels are doing to promote this sector of their operations.