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PricewaterhouseCoopers' Lodging Industry Forecast Anticipates Pricing Power to Return

PricewaterhouseCoopers' updated US lodging forecast expects continued recovery of demand, with the ability to increase room rates returning in 2011, after two consecutive years of decline. The initial months of 2010 suggest that a sustainable recovery of lodging demand has begun. As businesses and consumers gain further confidence in the strength of economic recovery, discretionary spending is expected to continue to increase, contributing to progressive increases in lodging demand through the remainder of 2010, though the pace of recovery is expected to moderate. With lodging supply growth expected to lag demand growth for the first time since 2006, PricewaterhouseCoopers expects hotel occupancy levels in 2010 to increase. Average daily rates (ADR) are not expected to increase until early next year, resulting in a moderate occupancy-driven increase in revenue per available room (RevPAR) in 2010, with a more substantial, rate-driven recovery in RevPAR expected in 2011.

PricewaterhouseCoopers' quarterly lodging forecast is based on an updated macroeconomic forecast from Macroeconomic Advisers, LLC that expects real gross domestic product (GDP) growth to be above its long term average, but below the typical growth expected after a deep recession. Macroeconomic Advisers expects GDP to increase 3.5 percent in 2010, followed by a 3.9 percent increase in 2011.

The current slowdown in hotel construction activity is a key element in the foundation for recovery in operating performance of existing hotels. The pace of new construction starts fell from 134,000 rooms in 2008, to 47,000 in 2009, and most recently to a pace equivalent to approximately 29,000 rooms (annualized) through the first quarter of 2010. This sets the context for progressively slower supply growth of 1.9 percent and 0.4 percent in 2010 and 2011, respectively. This constrained supply growth, combined with gradual recovery in lodging demand, is expected to result in increases in occupancy levels to 56.6 percent and 58.2 percent in 2010 and 2011, respectively. The industry has experienced a more pronounced rebound in transient demand. However, until group bookings pick up, realizing significant increases in room rates in many hotels and markets will be challenging. As a result, PricewaterhouseCoopers forecasts ADR levels to decrease a further 1.7 percent in 2010, before growth resumes with a 3.5 percent increase in 2011.

"Though this remains a challenging year, the hotel sector's recent increases in lodging demand are brisk, and with improving economic conditions, some operators are ready to re-focus on increasing room rates," says Scott D. Berman, principal and US Industry Leader, Hospitality & Leisure, for PricewaterhouseCoopers.

A full copy of PricewaterhouseCoopers' US Lodging Forecast can be accessed by visiting: Hospitality directions US Q1: May 2010.

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