The 6th annual Hotel Data Conference, hosted by STR and Hotel News Now and presented by Loews Vanderbilt Hotel, opened Wednesday with a presentation focusing on the state of the industry featuring Vail Brown, VP of global business development and marketing; Adam Sacks, president of Tourism Economics; Jill Denning, per diem program manager at the U.S. General Services Administration; and Guy Langford, vice chairman of U.S. travel, hospitality and leisure leader at Deloitte, LLP.
The sold-out crowd of 405 attendees in Nashville ‘heard Sacks set the stage with an economic overview, referring to this as an “extraordinary time.” He noted that, historically, gross domestic product and room demand traditionally follow a similar trend. This year GDP has been on a yo-yo, while room demand has increased 4 percent, above anyone’s expectations, which is reflected in the price per share of hotel stocks.
“In 2013, at the end, our industry hit five all-time highs of the six key performance indicators,” Vail Brown said. “The good news did not stop as we moved into 2014. In May, (revenue-per-available-room) growth was 10 percent, the highest May of any on record.”
Langford examined loyalty programs, noting that during the next 10 years, millennials will comprise more than 50 percent of the workforce, and this group likes instant gratification. “It’s key to customize the guest experience,” Langford said.
Denning closed the session by giving attendees a snapshot of federal travel and per diems. She told the audience in the 2013 fiscal year federal travel spending came in at US$11 billion, and the GSA is projecting that it will come in at US$12 billion at the end of this year. She also noted that per diem rates are up US$6.00, with the majority of rates increasing between US$1.00 to US$5.00.
After the opening panel closed, Randy Smith, co-founder and chairman of STR, took the stage to present seasonally adjusted data. He commented that July is typically the best month, while December is typically the slowest. This is the typical pattern across lots of industries. Smith noted that looking at seasonally adjusted data helps to compare each month to the 12-month moving average, as opposed to the same month the previous year.
When examining the Chain Scale segments, Smith pointed out as we move up through the Chain Scales, peak demand and peak pricing are at different times. He said, “The economy segment does an outstanding job, when demand goes up, rates go up; when demand goes down, rates go down.”
After lunch, Arthur B. Laffer, founder and chairman of Laffer Associates, gave attendees a closer look at the economy, offering his thoughts on income taxes and government sanctions, among other topics. Laffer stated, “The only way you will have a strong country is by having a strong economy.”
The Hotel Data Conference offered 22 breakout sessions, five general sessions, 86 different speakers and more than 31 hours of data. The conference will wrap up Thursday, August 14 with a look at industry forecasts and the impact of outside influences on the hotel industry.
About the Hotel Data Conference
The Hotel Data Conference is a gathering of industry executives with a specific interest in crunching data to improve the performance of their hotels and/or hotel companies. The conference content is designed to appeal to brand executives, hotel owners, developers, operators, revenue management specialists and pricing analysts. The Hotel Data Conference is held annually in Nashville, Tennessee. For more information, please visit www.HotelDataConference.com.
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