August 11, 2022

Hotel Revenue Managers Optimistic for Fall Travel Season

ORLANDO, Florida — Bolstered by strong summer performance in the U.S., hotel revenue managers are…

Hotel Revenue Managers Optimistic for Fall Travel Season

ORLANDO, Florida — Bolstered by strong summer performance in the U.S., hotel revenue managers are forecasting that the positive trends will continue into the fall.

In a roundtable discussion at HSMAI’s 2022 Revenue Optimization Conference Americas, Nolan Wrentmore, vice president of revenue management and e-marketing at Aimbridge Hospitality, said potential headwinds such as gas prices and travel disruptions haven’t been a factor so far and are not expected to be going forward.

“All these economic things point to something slowing down. … But from a data perspective and what we actually have on the books, it’s still saying it’s going to be strong and that we’re going to keep rolling,” he said. “It’s going to be really interesting if any of these things actually catch up to our industry, but nothing is saying it’s going to yet.”

Cassie Bond, vice president of revenue strategy at Remington Hotels, said she expects solid performance for the fall. Remington layered its group business through the season, she said, and there’s potential for more growth via weekday business transient demand coming back in urban markets.

The return of workforce travel and strength of small meeting groups is something that will hopefully continue in the coming months, said Jennifer Driscoll, vice president of revenue management at McNeill Hotel Company. Another positive for hotel demand moving into the fall is its current resistance to upticks in COVID-19 cases after the omicron variant caused disruptions in the first quarter of this year, she said.

Despite the positives in the industry, the threat of a slide looms. Chris Cheney, vice president of hotel performance and analytics at Stonebridge Companies, said the next downturn also will be more difficult to detect amid the typical seasonal declines in hotel demand.

“It’s going to be really hard to see it coming until we realize we’re in it, that the trough is getting deeper and shallower than we really thought it was going to get,” he said.

Even with the potential of a downturn, Cheney said the hospitality industry is in a good position since there are still major components in the business mix that are in the early stages of recovery.

“They’re not going to fall if you hit a slight recessionary period. They might plateau. Or they might continue slightly on an upward trend, and that’s going to help backfill parts of our mix that are slightly declining,” he said. “We’ve got some reserves on the bench that are still waiting to get in the game.”

The loosening of COVID-19 restrictions on international travelers has already resulted in an uptick in hotel demand among major U.S. cities, said Lori Kiel, chief revenue and marketing officer at Kessler Collection.

Vickie Callahan, senior vice president of revenue generation at Peachtree Hospitality Management, said if anything, she expects a slowdown rather than a full-on recession for the hotel industry.

“I think the travelers are still hungry to be out,” she said. “We had a lot of overage last summer, and it’s continued into this summer and eventually it’ll be normal demand.”

The difference between the most recent recession caused by COVID-19 and other past recessions is the socialization aspect, said Priya Chandnani, vice president of revenue management at Pyramid Benchmark. The lack of human interaction over the past few years will continue to lead to strong demand for travel and hospitality, she said.

“I don’t think we’re going to stop traveling because of [the lack of human interaction]. Now, more than ever, you will not take it for granted. That’s what’s different this time around,” she said.

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