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Checking out: 2012 trends, CEO shifts, more
January 6 2012

In this inaugural blog, which will become a Friday fixture on, I explore key trends to watch in 2012 and two notable CEO changes at major hotel companies.

Last Sunday, on a groggy, sleepy-eyed New Year’s Day morning, I found myself sitting at a breakfast table with two friends at a local Holiday Inn. We had just spent the night attending a New Year’s Eve wedding for a former college roommate, the events of which we were recounting with mixed amusement and horror. There was laughter. There was heckling. There were scrambled eggs. 

And then it came to an abrupt end.

“Ah crap,” my one friend, a road warrior, said jumping up from his seat. “I’ve got to get packed up or I’ll miss my flight.”

His expression, only seconds before lit with heartfelt reminiscences, was now long, his glassy eyes slightly askew.

“Going to miss us that much, eh?” my other pal joked.

“Heck no. I’ve had my fill of you jokers,” he retorted dryly. “I just hate packing up and checking out.”

Checking out
The check-out process means different things to different people. To some, it’s a welcome checkmark on the way to home. For others, it’s the door shutting on a memorable trip or stay.

And every Friday on, checking out will mean something else entirely.

In this weekly blog—appropriately titled “Checking out”—I’ll revisit top headlines, interesting articles, comments, quotes and other highlights from the week that was. I encourage you to follow along and send me updates and leads at

But enough with the formalities. Let’s get started …

2012 trends
I’ll admit it: I’m a sucker for year-in-review lists and features. I love perusing the best and worst movie lists, and the various sports compilations such as
this nifty rundown of the top 10 plays that shaped the college football season. (I feel for you, Dan Goodale, sitting at No. 7.)

But enough looking back. With the first full week of 2012 in the books, let’s take a look ahead. I got the ball rolling this week with a special report on hotel industry resolutions for 2012. But Robert Rauch, president of hospitality management company R.A. Rauch & Associates, created a list of the top 10 hospitality industry trends for 2012 that I found pretty interesting. You can view the full article at your convenience, but here’s an abridged version, with my comments following each entry:

1. Hoteliers will invest in reinvigorating properties to take advantage of the market.
I certainly hope so. After years of
delayed capital expenditures, guests are running out of patience. So are brands, for that matter.

2. There will be little to no new development dollars on the debt or equity side.
More of the same, although things seem to be loosening up slightly. It’s good news for those already in the market.
STR, our parent company, is projecting a 0.9% supply increase during 2012 for the U.S. hotel industry.

3. Online booking will continue to (modestly) grow.
Here’s hoping hotel companies continue to evolve their online booking platforms and distribution strategies.

4. There will be more mobile bookings and research.
No surprise with this one either.
Reminds me of a great quote I heard Vikram Singh, principal and CEO of Evision Worldwide say back at the Hotel Data Conference in August 2011. “People who aren’t investing in mobile this year are going to regret it for a very, very long time.”

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5. Demand and average rate are up in most markets, but not equally distributed.
Ah yes … the ol’ “tale of two hotel markets.” Most of the top 25 U.S. markets are sitting pretty, with many secondary and tertiary still trying to claw their way back.

6. Revenue management will make the art of managing a hotel more of a science.
Hear hear! It’s actually something hoteliers discussed a lot during interviews for my 2012 Hotel Resolutions special report,
including Sharon Paine, senior director of rate and sell management for Choice Hotels International: “I’m very strong on using data for informed decision-making,” she said, adding managers far too often rely on gut feeling.

7. Proliferation of distribution channel management will largely impact pricing.
Robert, you have no idea. (See the special report cited in item No. 3 above.)

8. Brands will put more money into deals to expand market share.
Somebody’s got to throw in equity to get transactions and development churning again.

9. Prepare for growth.
I sure hope so. And the
data companies are at least mildly optimistic

10. Social media will continue to transform connections with travelers.
I think that’s a given. Less certain is whether or not hoteliers will truly be able to leverage these connections into tangible ROI.

Worth a second look
It’s interesting to see management reshuffling in two separate and notable hotel companies this week. Loews Hotels on Tuesday announced hotel vet
Paul Whetsell would take the reins as CEO. On the other side of the world, China Lodging Group’s founder Qi Ji took over the role of CEO to kick start growth of the company’s two smaller brands.

Stat of the week
47.2%—the average occupancy for the U.S. hotel industry on New Year’s Eve, according to STR.

I thought this one would be a bit higher, given all the late-night revelry that takes place on one of the busiest party nights of the year and often at hotels. Last year, when New Year’s Eve fell on a Friday, average occupancy was only 45.4%, so at least we’re seeing mild improvement.

Quote of the week I
“Security is getting harder and harder. We’re spending more and more money on it, and that’s at every level.”
Darrin Pinkham, VP of information technology for Benchmark Hospitality Group, commenting on the top hotel security challenges for 2012 in “
5 pressing hotel security concerns for 2012.”

Darrin, as knowledgeable an IT professional as there is in this business, was right on the money. We, as an industry, don’t talk about this enough. Security—both technological and physical—continues to be a growing concern, and one that all GMs and owners should ensure is a top priority in the year ahead.

Quote of the week II
“His influence has shaped the very way in which the industry operates.”
James T. Merkel, president and CEO of RockBridge Capital, commenting on Bill Marriott ceding his role of CEO of Marriott International in “
Marriott owners react to Bill Marriott’s move.”

Couldn’t have put it better myself.

Comment of the week
“Yes, deferred maintenance can be a menace if not well planned and balanced. Great news for the industry on a comeback and not so great news for those that have deferred maintenance in operations. There's really no need to have completely empty expense reservoirs. There are answers.... by implementing a strategy of capital outlay where there are quick and strategic paybacks through sustainable practices.”
“Anonymous,” commenting on “‘
CapEx Conundrum’ requires balancing act.”

I imagine quite a few hoteliers will be using “deferred maintenance” and “menace” in the same sentence this year.

Closing thought
That wraps it up for this week’s edition of “Checking out.” As I mentioned above, I encourage you to
contact me with thoughts, ideas, feedback, poetry—even hate mail (but not too hate-filled). And please don’t hesitate to leave your comments below. I’d love to hear what you think.



Email Patrick Mayock or find him on Twitter.

The opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the opinions of or its parent company, Smith Travel Research and its affiliated companies. Bloggers published on this site are given the freedom to express views that may be controversial, but our goal is to provoke thought and constructive discussion within our reader community. Please feel free to comment or contact an editor with any questions or concerns.


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