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by Michael J. Shapiro | September 01, 2012

Optimism among hoteliers, evident in early 2012, has been stymied by global economic woes, according to Horwath Hotel, Tourism and Leisure. The consulting firm's Global Hotel Market Sentiment Survey, released in August, found that average hotelier sentiment across the globe is neutral, vs. the slight optimism expressed in February. Hoteliers in Europe and the Oceania region (Australia, New Zealand and the nations to the east and north) expressed negative outlooks on Horwath's scale, which effectively brought down the global average.

The study's index was based on responses to four questions, which gauged hotelier perception of first-half market performance, the effect of global economic uncertainties on hotel demand, and second-half expectations, both for the market and for the respondent's specific hotel. The study focused on the outlook for occupancy, average room rates and total revenue.

Interestingly, while hotelier sentiment tipped toward disappointment for the first-half performance, responses ran the gamut. In terms of occupancy, 39 percent replied that first-half numbers were worse or much worse than expected, while 37 percent said occupancy was better or much better than they had anticipated. Similarly, 36 percent said average daily rate performance was worse or much worse than expected, while 35 percent said ADR had exceeded their expectations.  

"Hoteliers really don't know what to expect," noted James Chappell, Horwath's global marketing director. "Previous cycles would have indicated that we should be on the upward curve by now, but the protracted nature of the global crisis, pushing Europe into recession for the second time in three years, as well as poor job numbers and growth in the U.S., means that to some extent we are in uncharted territory."

Continued global economic uncertainties appear to be taking their toll. About 38 percent of respondents said the impact of such factors was in line with their expectations, while 35 percent said the effect on hotel demand was worse or much worse than they had expected.

For the second half of 2012, hoteliers in the Americas and the Middle East/Africa are modestly optimistic about occupancy, ADR and revenue improvement year-over-year. Those in Asia are much less so, while hoteliers in Oceania and Europe expect decreases.