by Michael J. Shapiro | August 06, 2015
The Hotel Data Conference, hosted by lodging-data provider STR and its online magazine, Hotel News Now, kicked off in Nashville on Wednesday amidst a period of record-setting performances by the U.S. lodging industry. The number of occupied room nights across the country is up by 3.3 percent year-to-date, putting the occupancy rate at 14.3 percent above the previous peak performance of 2007. Forty-nine of STR's markets currently are experiencing record occupancy levels, and 95 percent of U.S. markets have enjoyed average daily rate increases this year. The past five years have been "a veritable party for this industry," noted Adam Sacks, president of Tourism Economics, according to STR.

Current industry successes were further bolstered by optimistic outlooks. In one panel, STR chairman and co-founder Randy Smith said he expects the lodging industry to continue setting records through 2016. "Our best times are still in front of us," he said, a sentiment that was echoed by fellow panelists from Interstate Hotels & Resorts and FelCor Lodging Trust.

The sold-out conference will offer 18 panel discussions and two dozen presentations over the course of two days.