Industry leaders and global impact experts were center stage with a general theme of guarded optimism for the U.S. hotel industry on the final day of the sold-out2016 Hotel Data Conference.
Co-hosted by STR and Hotel News Now at the Omni Nashville Hotel, the Hotel Data Conference sold out for the third consecutive year with 525 attendees.
David Berg, CEO of Carlson Hospitality Group; Michael Murphy, head of lodging and leisure capital for First Fidelity Companies; Neil Shah, president and COO of Hersha Hospitality Trust; and Randy Smith, chairman and co-founder of STR, spoke during the morning general session, citing several issues facing the industry, including new supply, brand proliferation, Wall Street investors’ view of the industry and lender temperament.
“Our (Hersha Hospitality Trust’s) biggest concern is probably new supply,” Shah said. “We may be a little early, but in New York City, in Miami, or even when you travel, like here in Nashville … as much as I’ve seen live music venues, I think I’ve seen just as many select-service hotel brands—they’re all over.”
Despite the issues facing the industry, the leaders echoed a mostly positive outlook for the next year.
“Unless there is a black swan event, something that comes out of left field and hits the industry, we’re fairly optimistic,” Smith said. STR’s and Tourism Economics’ revised forecast revealed yesterday morning showed revenue-per-available-room growth of 3.2% for 2016 and 2.8% for 2017.
Global issues, local impact
Panelists from different areas of expertise closed out the conference with issues surrounding the industry. Speakers included Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association; Greg Hartman, managing director of JLL; Adam Sacks, president of Tourism Economics; and Rick Garlick, global practice lead for J.D. Power.
Data points cited included:
- The U.S. travel industry generates US$2.1 trillion and accounts for 8.1 million jobs compared with 7.0 million jobs in other industries. – Roger Dow
- Hotel guest satisfaction has reached a record-high of 806, a 2-point increase from 2015. – Rick Garlick
- The number of arrivals from China will increase 30% from 2015 to 2017, while the number of visitors from the United Kingdom and Brazil will drop by 5% and 10%, respectively. – Adam Sacks
- China is the top international investment country in U.S. hotels at 32.4%. – Greg Hartman
Overall, the 2016 Hotel Data Conference comprised more than 100 speakers in four general sessions, 18 breakout sessions, 23 breakout “data dash” sessions and six advanced-level “data dive” discussions. All told, the conference featured approximately 820 minutes of hotel industry data.