Analysts expect 2019 to be a healthy year for hotels

Executives from STR, CBRE Hotels, Kalibri Labs and JLL shared their forecasts at ALIS and talked about rate, supply and other trends hoteliers should keep an eye on.

Industry analysts shared insight into U.S. hotel industry performance and what to watch in 2019. From left: Kalibri Labs’ Cindy Estis Green, STR’s Vail Ross, CBRE Hotels’ Mark Woodworth and JLL’s Mark Wynne Smith.

Industry analysts shared insight into U.S. hotel industry performance and what to watch in 2019. From left: Kalibri Labs’ Cindy Estis Green, STR’s Vail Ross, CBRE Hotels’ Mark Woodworth and JLL’s Mark Wynne Smith.

By  Stephanie Ricca

LOS ANGELES—Numbers lend credibility to conversations about where the hotel industry is in a cycle and whether the future looks like a peak or a valley.

At the Americas Lodging Investment Summit, executives from several data analysis companies put 2018 performance and activity into context, shared how the next few years are shaping up, and what hoteliers should be aware of when it comes to the data.

Vail Ross, SVP of global business development and marketing at STR, said 2018 “was a good year, not a great year.” (STR is the parent company of Hotel News Now.)

“We’ve had better years, but we’re still seeing some positive growth,” she said.

Compared with 2017, U.S. hotels ended 2018 with a 0.5% increase in occupancy to 66.2% and 2.4% growth in average daily rate to $129.83, leading to revenue per available room of $85.96, up 2.9%.

For 2019, STR and Tourism Economics downgraded their forecast slightly, projecting that flat occupancy and 2.3% ADR growth will lead to 2.3% RevPAR growth in 2019.

CBRE Hotels Senior Managing Director Mark Woodworth put 2019 hotel performance in “the blip category,” saying the industry won’t see a dip but more of a softer blip.

He pointed to strong consumer and government spending, which continue to drive GDP growth, as a solid underpinning of travel and hotel performance.

“Overall, the picture remains very healthy,” he said. “There’s still some decent growth in some of these markets.”

Kalibri Labs, which tracks guest-paid revenue, net revenue and revenue capture, sees “healthy growth” in the guest-paid revenue category in 2019, CEO and founder Cindy Estis Green said.

“Guests are paying, we expect, 4.4% more in the next year compared to 2018, and this is good and encouraging news,” she said.

However, net revenue growth is expected to slow in 2019, as hotels retain less of what guests pay. “We’re not able to flow-through more of that revenue,” she said.

Kalibri Labs forecasts RevPAR growth of approximately 1.9% in 2019, driven by ADR growth and flat occupancy, but Estis Green said she worries about headwinds from channel-related distribution costs.

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