by M&C Staff | October 01, 2008

Demand for U.S. hotel rooms will contract for the next two years, along with a concurrent increase in supply, according to a study released last week by PKF Hospitality Research. Nearly 275,000 new rooms will come into the market in 2008 and 2009 vs. year-end 2007, a 6.2 percent jump. Occupancy rates are projected to decline both this year and next. Considering the 0.3 percent occupancy decline reported by Smith Travel Research in 2007, the result will be three consecutive years of lower occupancy rates for the average U.S. hotel. "Because of the extended slowdown of the U.S. economy, compounded by the negative consequences stemming from airline capacity cutbacks, we are now forecasting a 0.2 percent decline in lodging demand in 2008, followed by another loss of 1.1 percent in 2009," said Mark Woodworth, president of PKF Hospitality Research. This is the first time since 1988 that the U.S. lodging industry will experience two consecutive years of declining demand, he added.
Attendance at the 2008 Motivation Show, held Sept. 23-25 at Chicago's McCormick Place, appeared very light, although official figures were not available as of yesterday afternoon. Last week, a spokesperson for the show told M&C that preregistration was up compared with last year's show, which attracted 7,500 buyers, but many exhibitors felt that the number of buyers at the show had decreased in 2008. Several exhibitors told M&C that business at this year's show was so poor they probably would not return next year, though a handful said they were pleased with the leads they got. This year marked the first time the show added a hosted buyer program for 150 qualified attendees; the program got mixed reviews from exhibitors, who said not all buyers showed up for their scheduled appointments. Hall-Erickson, the show's organizer, did not return calls from M&C.

The Incentive Research Foundation last week released findings of a survey on how the down economy will affect incentive programs. Of 80 incentive professionals surveyed this summer, 81 percent felt the economy is having a negative impact on their ability to plan travel programs, while 48 percent said their ability to plan and implement merchandise programs has been affected. A more comprehensive survey, comparing the impact of the economy on incentive practices in six different industries, will be released by the Incentive Research Foundation in November.
InterContinental Hotels & Resorts is expanding rapidly in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. The brand signed 12 hotels with more than 4,400 rooms during the first six months of 2008. Currently, the company's global development pipeline, at 67 hotels and 21,284 guest rooms, is three times larger than it was in 2006. Earlier this month, InterContinental opened three new hotels in the Americas: the 556-room InterContinental Chicago O'Hare, the 174-room Presidente InterContinental Puebla (Mexico) and the 110-room Real InterContinental Hotel & Club Tower in Costa Rica. The brand also is poised to open its first resort in the U.S., the 292-room InterContinental Montelucia Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, Ariz., this November. Among business hotels in development are the InterContinental New York Times Square and InterContinental Atlanta Midtown.
The San Diego Convention Center Corp. took its first step toward expanding the convention center by up to half a million square feet. Last week, the board voted unanimously to purchase a one-year lease of an 8.5-acre piece of land adjacent to the facility for a price of $1 million, in part to prevent any other developers from leasing the property. The SDCCC, the city and the Port of San Diego, which owns the acreage, plans to determine design, square footage, cost and financing options this year. A new convention hotel and water taxi are among elements being considered for the expansion. SDCCC officials hope construction will be under way by 2012 and finished by 2014.

Meeting Professionals International is launching one-day workshops called Meetings Without Borders for planners who arrange international meetings. Workshops will be held in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 19; Chicago on Nov. 21, and San Francisco on Nov. 24. The cost is $49 for members and $99 for nonmembers. Educators include Paul Griggs, president of Events on the Move, a customs brokerage and shipping firm; Katie Callahan-Giobbi, executive vice president of the MPI Foundation and chief business architect for MPI; Ross Robinson, president of Robinson Consultants, a meetings consulting firm for planners and destinations; Dr. Jane Barratt, CEO of the International Federation on Aging; Kristine Horstman of SmithBucklin; and Brenda Anderson, CEO of the Society of Incentive and Travel Executives. To learn more, visit
The Tulsa Convention Center in Oklahoma broke ground last Thursday on an expansion that will include a new 30,000-square-foot ballroom, 13,000 square feet of prefunction space and seven meeting rooms. The center will remain open throughout the renovation, which will wrap up in early 2010.
The San Jose Convention and Cultural Facilities, managed by Team San Jose Inc., have generated approximately $11.5 million in revenue for the 2007-08 fiscal year, according to the San Jose Convention and Visitors Bureau. The facilities generated a total of 255,412 hotel room nights, exceeding expectations by 6 percent, which netted $5.9 million in transit occupancy taxes, to be used to support San Jose McEnery Convention Center operations and maintenance. Despite a strong fiscal year, the estimated cost of the convention center's planned expansion, which would increase ballroom and meeting space by 30 percent to 880,000 square feet, has increased by $50 million to a total of $300 million.

Washington, D.C.-based Destination Marketing Association International announced last week that it has joined the Joint Meetings Industry Council, headquartered in Brussels, Belgium, as the organization's eighth member. DMAI will represent destination marketing organizations as an integral link to the international meetings industry and will work with the JMIC to promote meetings, conventions, exhibitions, trade shows and corporate and incentive travel on a global scale.


Global travel firm Kuoni Travel Holdings announced Tuesday that it has acquired Melbourne-based Australian Tours Management, a destination management company, effective Nov. 1. Founded in 1983, Australian Tours Management is a specialist in leisure and incentive travel within Australia and Asia. "With the addition of Australian Tours Management, the Kuoni Group is now present with its own companies on all continents," said Max E. Katz, Kuoni's CFO, in a press release.
In a study released last Friday, Smith Travel Research revealed that RevPAR, a standard measure of a hotel's financial health, for Caribbean hotels has declined by 5.6 percent during the first seven months of this year, compared with the same period last year. Even though hotel demand has climbed slightly this year, by 0.4 percent, increased room supply (1.3 percent) and decreases in room rates (-4.7 percent) has resulted in the RevPAR decline. "With a presumptive American recession under way and the foreshadowing of economic uncertainty in Europe, many hotels and resorts in the region are feeling the negative effects, " said STR vice president Duane Vinson in a statement.

Wyndham Hotel Group announced it has 35 hotels, representing 5,668 rooms, currently under construction worldwide. An additional 122 Wyndham-branded hotels, representing nearly 17,000 rooms, are in the development stages. Of five properties coming to Manhattan, three limited-service Wyndham Garden hotels will open by year's end. Also slated for New York City: A full-service, 280-room Wyndham is scheduled to debut next year on 26th Street, and a 108-room hotel comes to the Bowery in 2010. Among other major projects, the 400-room luxury Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Hotel and Spa at Bonnet Creek Resort, adjacent to Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., should be finished by early 2010.

Hilton Hotels Corp. announced plans on Tuesday to quadruple its Latin American & Caribbean portfolio by adding 150 new properties over the next five years. The company currently has 51 hotels in the region, with 42 more already in the development pipeline. Over the next five years Hilton intends to add 17 properties in the Caribbean, 60 in Mexico, 23 in Central America and 50 in South America. A team of six dedicated executives will lead the development initiative.
The Accor Group has announced plans to open 25 Pullman Hotels and Resorts annually for the next several years to reach a total of 300 hotels by 2015. The brand, which launched late last year, caters to business travelers. By the end of this year, Pullman's portfolio will include 33 hotels in countries such as Australia, China, France, Germany, Korea and Spain. By the end of 2009, Accor plans to have to 59 Pullman properties in 23 countries.

The 210-room Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa at the base of Beaver Creek Mountain in Colorado opened Friday. The property, a quick drive from Vail, offers a 23,000-square-foot spa and fitness facility and 4,000 square feet of meeting space. The accommodations range from studios to three-bedroom condos.

Last week the 1,695-room Sheraton Waikiki Hotel on the island of Oahu in Hawaii unveiled a $5 million renovation of its convention center. The improvements to the 45,000-square-foot facility, which include a complete redesign of the 26,000-square-foot Hawaii Ballroom, the foyer area and 14 meeting rooms, are part of $200 million effort to modernize the hotel.

The Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, which runs the Mohegan Sun casino in southeastern Connecticut, has shelved expansion plans due to economic uncertainty and will reassess the project next fall, according to a statement issued last week. The planned $925 million expansion called for a new 920-room hotel tower with a theater, a spa and retail and restaurant space, a response to a major expansion which opened this spring at rival Foxwoods Resort Casino. Mohegan Sun, which currently has 1,200 hotel rooms and 100,000 square feet of meeting space, opened a new casino in August.

Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando will be rebranded as ESPN Wide World of Sports. "Our goal is to be recognized as the preeminent multisports venue for amateur and professional sports and create events that benefit guests, the community and business," said Ken Potrock, senior vice president of Disney Sports Enterprises, in a press release. Along with the new name, changes include incorporating new "sports programming, sports events, breaking news, on-air talent and sports celebrities" into the complex's offerings.