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5 things to know: 23 January 2012
January 23 2012

• STR’s Randy Smith wraps up 2011, looks ahead to 2012;
• Starwood reports record growth in 2011;
• Google Hotel Finder adds new function;
• Abu Dhabi reports 17% growth in hotel guests in 2011; and
• Expedia launches last-minute deals program.

It will be a challenge for the U.S. hotel industry in 2012 to match the somewhat unexpected high performance growth of last year, but there is reason for optimism, said Randy Smith, chairman of STR, in a column.

For the year, room supply grew by only 0.6%, falling back to the growth levels of 2006, which was the end of the last construction cycle. That construction cycle lasted only about five years, while the previous cycle lasted over a decade. As we enter 2012, room supply barely is keeping pace with room closures, and it could be the beginning of 2013 before we start seeing significant growth in room supply.

There are a number of issues that will confront the industry—and the overall economy—during 2012 and given how well the industry did during 2011, it will be difficult for the industry to show significant growth over last year, Smith said. The current forecast for room demand in 2012 is an increase of approximately 1.3%.

In addition, STR and STR Global today released year-end data for the U.S. and four global regions:

U.S.:  Overall in 2011, the U.S. hotel industry’s occupancy rose 4.4% to 60.1%, its average daily rate was up 3.7% to US$101.64 and its revenue per available room increased 8.2% to US$61.06.

Americas: In 2011, the Americas region reported a 4.2% increase in occupancy to 60.2%, a 3.8% gain in ADR to US$104.26 and an 8.2% jump in RevPAR to US$62.79.

Asia/Pacific: The Asia/Pacific region’s occupancy ended the year virtually flat with a 0.2% increase to 66.8%, its average daily rate increased 9.5% to US$140.44 and its RevPAR was up 9.8% to US$93.84.

Middle East/Africa: In 2011, the Middle East/Africa region reported a 6.8% decrease in occupancy to 57.1%, a 5.3% increase in average daily rate to US$162.81 and a 1.8% decrease in RevPAR to US$92.99. 

Europe: The European hotel industry posted positive results in year-over-year metrics when reported in U.S. dollars, euros and British pounds for 2011. Occupancy was up 3.1% to 66.3%; ADR was up 9.4% to US$140.5 and RevPAR was up 12.7% to US$92.80.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts announced today from the Americas Lodging Investment Summit in Los Angeles that 2011 was a year of record growth for the company. The company reported opening 21,000 new rooms globally and signing 112 new hotel deals—the highest number of new deals since the global economic crisis.

Turning to 2012, Starwood plans to open 80 new hotels. More than 60% of the new hotels will be in the luxury and upper-upscale segment including the 30th St. Regis hotel, the 80th Luxury Collection hotel and the 45th W Hotel.
The company is setting its sights on expanding its mid-market brands in secondary and tertiary markets around the globe where there is a long runway to grow reliable and affordable hospitality. Nearly 60% of its new hotels in 2012 will open in the Asia/Pacific market. The addition of nearly 50 new Starwood hotels will increase the company’s portfolio in the region to 250 hotels by year’s end.

A new feature in Google’s Hotel Finder product enables travelers to refine their hotel searches by walking or public-transit distance, according to Google’s official blog.

For example, if a traveler needs to be near Wall Street in New York for business but would rather stay a little farther away, they can search by hotels that are within a 15-minute subway commute.

Travelers also can search by walking distance. In locations where Google Maps doesn't yet have public-transit data, the travel-time feature will provide walking insight only.

A list of the regions where Google Maps includes public-transit data can be found within

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, is reporting its most successful year ever in terms of hotel guest arrivals with 2.11 million staying in hotels and hotel apartments—a 17% increase from 2010, according to Emirates News Agency WAM.

Annual growth was recorded across a number of key metrics, including: guest nights, which were up 22% to 6.3 million; occupancy levels, which rose 7% to 69%; revenue, which rose 3% to AED4.375 billion (US$1.2 billion) and length of stay, which expanded 5% to 2.97 nights. Room revenue increased by 2% to AED2.3 billion (US$631 million), though the average room rate slipped by 14% to AED490 (US$133); food-and-beverage revenue increased by 6% to AED1.605 billion (US$434.72 million). introduced “Last-Minute Deals” to its site last week. The flash-sale program relies on user-generated deals and user-informed travel trends to showcase near-term travel deals, according to a news release on MarketWatch.

The site either auto-detects the customer's location or the user is prompted to enter the home city. The site then searches for the best deals found by other Expedia users in the area.

"In a sense, the millions of people who come to Expedia are now serving as your own personal travel agent, helping you find the best and most popular deals from your home city," said Joe Megibow, VP and GM of

Compiled by Stephanie Wharton and Jason Q. Freed.

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