Outlook is Optimistic at Americas Lodging Investment Summit

Last week, Coyle Hospitality Group attended the Americas Lodging Investment Summit (ALIS) in San Diego. Here, we give a taste of the tenor of the conference.  In upcoming blogs, you can follow our coverage of the main conference discussions among hotel leaders, brand experts and hospitality sconsultants, including a futurist’s look at America in 2050.

  • The outlook overall was cautiously optimistic, with hospitality consultants and industry experts predicting improvement in the coming year both in RevPAR and occupancy.  During the opening panel on the outlook of the industry, Mark Woodworth, president of Colliers PKF Hospitality Research, said severe discounting in 2010 drove huge declines in RevPar, but these declines also led to a growth in demand. This, plus a limited increase in supply over the past year and year to come, should allow the lodging industry to show increased improvement in 2011-2012, although he said there wouldn’t be a meaningful increase in the supply of hotels until 2013-2014.
  • While increasing average daily rates (ADR) is good news for hotels, leisure travelers may be bearing the brunt of the increases, said Gary Fritz, president, Partner Services Group, Expedia, who added that we’ll see leisure travelers taking shorter trips due to fixed budgets and higher rates in 2011. Meanwhile, ever shorter booking windows are creating revenue management issues for hotels, and leisure travelers are increasingly willing to stay further from city centers.
  • There’s a broad recovery underway, according to Arne M. Sorenson, president & COO, Marriott International, who also predicts increased RevPAR growth in 2011. Sorenson, who spoke at the “Hotel Leaders Outlook” session, mentioned the potential influence of the fast-growing China travel market, from which the industry could conceivably increase room nights by 40 million.
  • Technology is a large piece of the puzzle when it comes to growth said hotel industry experts. David Kong, president & CEO, Best Western International, said three out of every four reservations are made electronically.  And Frits van Paasschen, president & CEO of Starwood Hotels & Resorts said mobile reservations are up ten-fold. Van Paasschen said hotels must engage with customers and constantly assess how they’re doing to elevate the guest experience.
  • Where will America be in 2050? Futurist and author, Joel Kotkin answered the question in his presentation, with a range of statistics and insights. In 2050, about 20% of the population will be over 65, 42% will be in the active labor force, the population with “decluster” and head to smaller cities or outlying suburbs, and immigration will drive demographics, with millenials being the most diverse generation in history.
  • Representatives from Disney, Google and USA Today offered tips to hoteliers during a panel discussion on building and maintaining strong brands. Lisa Becket, vice president, of destination marketing strategy for Disney Destinations advised hoteliers to stay relevant to guests while also remaining consistent to core values. Part of remaining relevant is reaching them where they are. And since your customers are online, you must follow them online, said  panelist Gopi Kallayil, Google’s director of product marketing for the Americas. Consumers want personalized, localized experiences, and hoteliers have the unique opportunity to deliver that to anyone who walks in their doors, commented Jeffrey Wilks, senior vice president of brand marketing for USA Today.
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