by Loren G. Edelstein | September 22, 2011

Despite persistent levels of unemployment and an uncertain economic outlook, PKF Hospitality Research has upped its U.S. hotel revenue forecast for the year. In PKF’s September edition of Hotel Horizons, the company forecasts growth in revenue per available room of 7.2 percent for the year, up from the 6.9 percent the company predicted in June. “After reading and hearing recent news reports, many clients have been questioning why we are raising our estimates of revenue growth for the year,” said PKF Hospitality Research president R. Mark Woodworth in a statement. “However, after a thorough analysis of the latest lodging performance and economic data, it is tough not to be optimistic regarding the future of U.S. hotels.” PKF’s forecast is based on historical performance data from Smith Travel Research and economic projections from Moody’s Analytics. The fact that most of the traveling public have jobs, combined with wage increases and increasing corporate profits, should continue to drive lodging demand, according to the forecast, despite the pessimistic headlines of the past couple of months. “By year-end 2012, all but one of the 50 markets in our Hotel Horizons universe are forecast to exceed their previous peak levels of demand,” said Woodworth. The company predicts lodging demand to rise 4.5 percent overall this year, and another 3.1 percent in 2012. Rate growth actually exceeded PKF’s forecast for the second quarter of this year, leading to a revised forecast of 3.2 percent average daily rate growth for 2011. But based on long-term pricing trends, the 2012 outlook for ADR decreased slightly from previous projections, to 4.8 percent growth. Negotiated corporate rates are beginning to rise, noted PKF’s report, but meeting planners still are using their leverage to mitigate increases on the group side.