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5 things to know: 6 March 2013
March 6 2013

• Swell of portfolio sales reflects 2007 landscape
• Survey: US hoteliers most optimistic about profitability
• US states consider hotel renovation incentives
• Winter storm impacting air travel
• Dow Jones has record close Tuesday

The once dormant deals landscape saw a swell of activity last week that has hotel investors recalling the frothy days of 2007, writes’s Patrick Mayock.

Within the span of nine days, nearly 1,400 properties were dealt or saw at least some change of ownership.
Hoteliers and investors polled during the International Hotel Investment Forum said the transactions were a good sign for the hotel industry.

“It’s a reflection of the health of the industry that hotels and hotel properties have suddenly become very attractive investment positions again,” Gerald Lawless, president and CEO of the Jumeirah Group, told

“The appetite of buyers is very strong,” added Christopher J. Day, managing director with Christie + Co., during a panel titled “Around the world in 40 minutes: A look at trends, investment and emerging markets.”

Forty-two percent of U.S. travelers are planning to increase travel spending this year and 79% of U.S. hoteliers are optimistic about increased profit this year, leading the world average of 68%, according to TripBarometer by TripAdvisor, a biannual survey of more than 35,000 travelers and accommodations.

Perhaps fueled by this optimism, 56% of U.S. accommodations plan to increase their room rates in the next three months, making them the most bullish about rate hikes of all countries polled, the survey stated.

Legislators in at least two states, Mississippi and Pennsylvania, are considering bills that would provide economic incentives to hotel owners who renovate their properties, writes’s Ed Watkins.

Lawmakers in Hawaii last year defeated legislation that would have revived a similar program in effect in that state from 1997 to 2005.

The Mississippi bill sailed through the House of Representatives by a 115-3 margin earlier this year and is now under consideration by the Senate finance committee. The bill, which only targets hotels, would set aside some sales tax revenues collected by hotels to create a pool of funds from which hoteliers could use to pay for up to 20% of renovations on their hotels. Some caveats: each renovation project must cost at least $500,000, and the owners must complete their projects within 10 years to collect the incentive funds.

A winter storm moving east is already having a significant impact on air travel, according to data from FlightStats. At North American airports, there were 1,322 flights canceled for Wednesday as of 3 a.m. EST.

The storm was responsible for 1,902 cancellations and 5,980 delayed flights Tuesday.

Airports with the most combined arrival and departure cancellations are:
581—Washington Dulles International Airport in Sterling, Virginia
507—Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C.
95—O'Hare International Airport in Chicago
95—Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport in Baltimore, Maryland
68—LaGuardia Airport in New York
60—Logan International Airport  in Chicago

The Dow Jones Industrial Average surged to its highest closing level ever, finally overcoming the losses tied to the financial crisis on the back of a tenacious stock rally that began in March 2009, according to the Wall Street Journal.

"It really does represent an achievement that we have climbed out of this crater," said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Chicago's BMO Private Bank, which manages about $66 billion.

The Dow advanced 0.9% to 14,253.77 Tuesday to top its previous high of 14,164.53, set in October 2007. Stocks plunged in the wake of the financial crisis, with the benchmark bottoming at 6,547.05 on 9 March 2009.

Compiled by Jason Q. Freed.

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