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by Michael J. Shapiro | March 16, 2011

 PKF Hospitality Research issued an improved forecast for the U.S. lodging industry yesterday, predicting a 7.1 percent increase in revenue per available room for 2011. The company's previous forecast, released in December 2010, called for a 5.6 percent RevPAR hike. That improvement was fueled by January economic forecasts from Moody's Analytics, which estimate year-over-year increases in both U.S. employment (1.7 percent) and real-personal income (4 percent) for the year. PKF's latest forecast also calls for a 3.8 percent increase in average daily rate. But while hikes are expected across the board, the recovery will be more pronounced at the higher-service hotels: luxury RevPAR is expected to climb by 9.6 percent, and by 7.1 percent at upper-upscale properties. RevPAR increases of a more modest 6.4 percent are expected at economy properties and just 5.3 percent at midscale locations. "In general, the upper-tier hotels cater to guests that are benefiting the most from the improved economy," explained PKF-HR president R. Mark Woodworth in a statement. "Therefore, these properties are seeing increases in occupancy that yields greater pricing power. As a result, these managers will have a greater ability to raise their room rates this year."