Last week 60 senior living executives representing 28 leading providers gathered for the 16th Annual Ziegler Greystone Executive Symposium (ZGES). This year’s Symposium was held at the Hyatt Regency Resort and Spa in Scottsdale, Arizona, March 6-8, 2019.

Over two days of education sessions, speakers and attendees addressed topics foremost on the minds of senior living executives and board members including discussions focused on:

  • key trends influencing the future of senior living
  • preparing for the self-directed consumer
  • accessing capital in 2019
  • an economist’s perspective on the outlook of the economy
  • planning and preparing to thrive in the event of an economic slowdown
  • marketing strategies to shorten the sales cycle
  • strategic and innovative technology investments
  • and much more

The Symposium’s opening session provided a look at the constantly changing variables that affect the senior living industry and how providers are strategically charting their success despite the potential threats.

“I always enjoy the first presentation which is sort of the big overview of where senior living is going. I definitely get a lot out of that. It highlights where the industry is growing, where it’s not, how communities and organizations are consolidating and where the new startups are happening.” James Petty, Sr. Vice President, Business Development – Acts Retirement-Life Communities, said.

Another session outlined how providers are re-positioning existing assets, expanding and modifying their contract offerings which was of particular interest to Dianne Mercier, Board Vice Chair – The RiverWoods Group. “I’m trying to understand how to maximize what we have. The contracts that we have are the same contracts that have been in place since the beginning of time, and so to hear about how you’re innovating those contracts was fascinating,” she said.

When asked what presentation topic was most beneficial, Justin Munzel, CFO – St. Camillus Health System, Inc. sited “The different entrance fee models – things that communities are doing in terms of tweaking monthly fees and entrance fees, because that’s something that we’ve started to look at, but need some more ideas on.”

A second-day session focused on the economic outlook from an economist’s perspective, that conveyed an overall, positive forecast on the next several years.

“I liked the report on the economy – it gave me some confidence that we can continue to do what we’re doing right now and feel relatively confident that the economy is going to remain strong. I thought that it removed a little fear and trepidation for us going down the road.” John Dattilo, President & CEO – BHI Senior Living, Inc., said.

One of the highlights of the Symposium each year is a survey taken of providers in attendance. The results of this survey suggest a snapshot of what providers are thinking right now, how they view their markets and the senior living landscape, as well as their short- and long-term plans. Some of the survey findings include:

  • 20%of attendees are “more optimistic” and 80% are “unchanged” in regard to the current economic outlook.
  • 81%of attendees consider the real estate market “strong.”
  • Compared to 2015-2018, fewer providers are increasing sales and marketing incentives to reach desired occupancy levels. Instead 50% reports their incentives have stayed the same and 5% have slightly scaled back on their incentives over the past year.
  • 63%of respondents have “expansion of existing campus” in their 3-year plans, while 44% have “redevelopment of existing campus” and 44% have “new campus development.”
  • Nearly 70%of respondents suggested that construction costs are the biggest development risk factors they currently face.
  • 75%of respondents have seen for-profit investment in their markets increase over the past year.
  • 56%of respondents have an executive secession plan in place.

Click here to see a presentation summarizing the full 2019 ZGES Survey Results.

In addition to the general sessions, attendees participated in an afternoon golf outing, allowing attendees to socialize in a relaxed environment. Each evening the attendees gathered for networking over cocktails and dinner in beautiful locations on the grounds of the resort.

Kevin Schwab, CEO – St. Camillus Health System, Inc. stated that the Symposium as a whole, provided a chance “to learn about current trends of what is happening (in the industry) and to get an overview of what others are doing.” Brooke McLean, CEO – Air Force Enlisted Village, added “I came to ZGES because it is an educational opportunity to learn a lot about different segments of the industry. It helps to hear other people’s challenges and learn from the way they have approached them.”

If you’re interested in attending future Ziegler Greystone Executive Symposiums, please let us know by sending a message via our contact page.

See photos of the 2019 ZGES in the gallery below.