Published on : Saturday, August 16, 2014
The 6th annual Hotel Data Conference, hosted by STR and Hotel News Now and presented by the Loews Vanderbilt Hotel, closed Thursday with a look at the most recent industry forecasts and insights into outside influences affecting the hotel industry.
The 405 attendees in the sold-out crowd started the morning by listening to industry leaders answer the question, “Are we there yet?” Amanda Hite, STR’s president and COO; Robert Mandelbaum, director of research information service at PKF Hospitality Research; Katie Moro, director of business intelligence product at TravelClick; and Dan Hansen, president and CEO of Summit Hotel Properties, offered their insights into where they see the industry going.
Key takeaways from the session:
* Hite said that this was the third year in a row she’s been able to say that “we’re doing really well” as an industry; the opportunity for hotels is rate.
* Mandelbaum commented that demand increases have been surprising this year. PKF upgraded its revenue-per-available-room forecast for 2014 based on the demand increases during the first half of the year.
* Moro focused much of her commentary on group business, commenting that group business being positive is always a good sign. She also mentioned that group business is “very telling” of what will come.
* Hansen offered attendees the hotelier’s perspective, saying, “We need to go out with swagger and ask for rate.”
The conference closed with a panel focusing on how other industries affect the hotel industry. The panelists included: Richard Garlick, travel practice leader at J.D. Power and Associates; Jordan Kayloe, senior VP at DIIO; David Huether, senior VP research at the U.S. Travel Association; Marcello Gasdia, senior analyst, consumer behavior at PhoCusWright; and Carter Wilson, director at STR Analytics.
Key takeaways from the closing panel:
* According to Huether, the travel industry generates US$2.1 trillion in sales in the U.S., and is the No. 1 export industry in the country. The travel industry is growing faster than any other industry in the U.S. He said the recovery still has a long way to go, the uptick has been sluggish, and there’s still a lot of pent-up demand.
* Garlick focused on customer satisfaction, stating that hotel guest satisfaction is the highest since 2006. Guest satisfaction in the airline and rental car industries also has reached all-time highs.
* Performance measurements are improving in the airline industry, Kayloe commented. Profitability in the industry has brought customer satisfaction.
* Wilson examined union hotels and how they compare to non-union hotels. Based on data examining payroll per occupied room, union hotels are spending 28 percent more than non-union hotels on salaries and wages, and 66 percent more on taxes and benefits. When asked if it is more expensive to run a union hotel compared with a non-union hotel he offered the simple reply, “The answer seems to be yes.”
* Gasdia wrapped up the session, discussing a hot topic for the industry: private accommodations. Data presented showed private rentals are growing in the U.S., but he stated, “We are light years away from remotely catching up to hotel bookings.”
The Hotel Data Conference offered 22 breakout sessions, five general sessions, 86 different speakers and more than 31 hours of data.