SOURCE: Questex Hospitality + Travel

Questex Hospitality + Travel

December 06, 2012 10:30 ET

NATHIC Attendees Take Home a Dose of 'Reality' and Continued Optimism

NEWTON, MA--(Marketwire - Dec 6, 2012) - Attendees at the fourth annual North America Hotel and Tourism Investment Conference (NATHIC) last week in Washington, D.C., rubbed shoulders with a reality TV show star and were encouraged by optimistic outlooks for the hotel industry.

Anthony Melchiorri, host and star of Travel Channel's "Hotel Impossible," answered audience questions in a session moderated by Mike Cahill, chief executive officer of Hospitality Real Estate Counselors.

"I'm there to turn around hotels, not to make a TV show," Melchiorri said. "I'm not there to play with (hoteliers') emotions because it's good TV. I want to help." He announced that the second season of "Hotel Impossible" would premiere this week.

Melchiorri was followed on stage by J.P. Ford, senior vice president of Lodging Econometrics, who delivered an update to the audience on the current hotel pipeline. Ford said that new construction announcements totaled 1,218 projects consisting of 151,545 rooms.

"Underlying fundamentals are improving, and there is a return of financing," Ford said. New projects are concentrated in the upper-upscale and upscale segments. He ranked New York, Washington, San Diego, Houston and Los Angeles as the top cities for room growth.

Jan Freitag, senior vice president of Smith Travel Research, presented his organization's latest industry performance data. Year to date through October 2012, room demand in the United States was up 3 percent, occupancy was up 2.6 percent, average daily rate was up 4.2 percent and revenue per available room was up 6.9 percent, he reported.

Smith Travel Research is forecasting gains across the board for 2013, he said, with demand expected to gain 1.2 percent, occupancy 0.3 percent, ADR 4.6 percent and RevPAR 4.9 percent. The luxury and upscale segments are expected to benefit the most, with occupancy gains of 1.9 and 2.2 percent respectively, ADR gains of 6.3 and 5.5 percent and RevPAR of 8.3 and 7.9 percent.

Freitag's presentation complemented a panel discussion on the conference's first day that addressed the overall state of the industry. Panelists included Scott Andrews of GE Capital Franchise Finance, Bruce Lowrey of RockBridge, Jalil Mekouar of Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels and Keith Thompson of Hotel Assets Group.

"The overall sentiment is positive and performance is on the rise," Mekouar said. "Debt is coming back and the basket of lenders is widening, which drives competition and increases loan-to-value ratios."

Lowrey said that as customer credit shrinks, guests will look for hotels with high value propositions, notably select-service properties. In regard to transactions, Andrews said private equity is looking at secondary and tertiary markets. 

Summing up the conference value proposition, attendee Andrew Pace, vice president of development for Atlanta-based Hotel Equities Group, described NATHIC panelists as "very focused, efficient and candid about hotel development and investments," which he said is critical in the "very dynamic political and economic current environment."

NATHIC, part of the International Hotel Investment Forum (IHIF) summit series, focused on a wide range of critical topics identified by the NATHIC Advisory Board, composed of a wide spectrum of prominent hotel owners, operators, franchisors, management companies, marketers and analysts who have a pulse on the North American hospitality and tourism scene.

Other conference highlights included:

  • Open discussion by the Lodging Industry Investment Council (LIIC), a prestigious think tank of hotel owners, brokers, financiers and lawyers
  • Briefings by lobbyists regarding their latest government relations and policy agenda efforts
  • An overview of current and future construction costs from planning, design and project management to the financial perspective and bottom line
  • A discussion of how hotel operators can benefit by partnering with convention and visitors bureaus
  • Innovative views on maximizing the value of a hotel owner's capital investment
  • A discussion about consumer trends and how hoteliers can fulfill those expectations

The conference concluded with an executive-level "Power Hour," featuring some of the hotel industry's most dynamic leaders including David Pepper, senior vice president, global development for Choice Hotels International; Bill Fortier, senior vice president-development Americas, Hilton; and Mark Williams, vice president of North American development for Best Western International.

Marilyn McHugh, who oversees the NATHIC show as vice president of global events for Questex Hospitality + Travel, said this year's event offered more formalized networking opportunities in an intimate setting and topics of immediate relevance to attendees. "We put the content in the hands of industry leaders and give them the power to determine what they want to accomplish and learn," she said. 

The NATHIC board represents the Trump, Starwood, Hilton, La Quinta, Marriott, Wyndham and Choice hotel companies as well as senior leaders from Cornell University, Lodging Econometrics, Embassy Bank, Interstate Hotels & Resorts, Hospitality Real Estate Counselors, hotelAVE, Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau and Daly Gray Public Relations.
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Questex Hospitality + Travel, the largest multimedia organization in the world dedicated to hospitality and travel, drives revenue, productivity and value creation for these related industries through strategic investment and deal-making forums, powerful lead-generation tools, interactive online business solutions, world-class events and industry-leading publications.

The Questex Hospitality Group, a division of Questex Hospitality + Travel, operates throughout the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Africa and Asia-Pacific region through a variety of market-leading properties and services including the International Hotel Investment Forum (IHIF) Berlin, North America Hotel & Tourism Investment Conference, Asia Pacific Tourism Destination Investment Conference, North Asia Hotel Investment Conference, Russia & CIS Hotel Investment Conference, Central Asia & Turkey Hotel Investment Conference, HOTEC Design North America and HOTEC Operations & Technology North America; lead generation portal; and industry news delivery services in print, online and mobile worldwide via IHIF: Hotel Investment News along with Hotel Management and HA+D magazines. For more information, visit