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5 things to know: 25 January 2012
January 25 2012

• IMF cuts growth forecast for global economy;
• Day 2 of ALIS coverage;
• Choice redefines Comfort brand family;
• Hilton claims fastest growing major hotel company;
• survey: Hotel owners facing PIP challenges.

The International Money Fund sharply cut its world growth forecast for 2012 and 2013 Tuesday, citing dimmed growth prospects and escalated downside risks as reasons.

The IMF now projects the global economy to grow 3.3% in 2012, down from 4% in September. The global economy projection for 2013 is now 3.9%, down 0.6% from the September projection.

The United States stood out as the only country whose 2012 forecast for growth was not cut in the outlook; the U.S. projection remains at 1.8%.

In its World Economic Outlook Update, the institution said the euro area economy now is expected to go into a mild recession in 2012 as a result of the rise in sovereign yields, the effects of bank deleveraging on the real economy and the impact of additional fiscal consolidation. Growth in emerging and developing economies also is expected to slow because of the worsening external environment and a weakening of internal demand. continues its coverage of the Americas Lodging Investment Summit conference. Check out these stories from Day 2 of ALIS:

• Donald Trump shared his tips for real-estate success to ALIS attendees Tuesday—and got in a few jabs at President Obama along the way. Read “Trump talks hotels at ALIS.” 
• Not every hotel executive on stage during a general session at ALIS said Room Key would be a success. One claimed it wouldn’t work at all. Read “
ALIS: Leaders debate success of Room Key.” 

Choice Hotels’ Comfort brand family is embarking on a multifaceted plan to strengthen and revitalize its 2,000 U.S. hotels. The “Comfort: Redefined and Redesigned” plan is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2015 and focuses on three key strategies: removing underperforming properties, refreshing existing hotels and adding new construction prototypical hotels.

"The new guest satisfaction standards are based on the voice of the guest," said Alexandra Jaritz, senior VP of brand strategy and marketing for Choice Hotels. "And if guest feedback indicates that a property is not living up to standards, we have implemented stricter consequences for underperforming properties." This part of the plan is especially impactful for Comfort Inn.  In addition to terminations issued for other reasons, Choice is prepared to remove up to 10% of the Comfort Inn system if those hotels do not rise above the new guest satisfaction thresholds.

Complementing the planned brand programs, nearly 70% of the Comfort system will complete more comprehensive Property Improvement Plans by the end of 2015, ensuring that the Comfort brand family provides a reliable and refreshed guest experience.

The brands’ new Truly Yours prototypes were formally launched Tuesday at the ALIS conference. Executives initially revealed plans for the Truly Yours guest experience program in 2011 at Choice Hotels’ annual convention.

Hilton Worldwide reported Tuesday it has become the fastest growing major hotel company, expanding its portfolio by 29% since June 2007 and surpassing its competitors in total rate of room growth. The company based its findings on data from STR Global, sister company to, and its own Q4 2011 financial reports and figures.

In 2011, Hilton opened a total of 170 hotels and gained supply share in each of its global regions. In the U.S., Hilton has more than 10% of the room supply market share, the largest in the country, as well as more than 18% of the active industry room pipeline in the planning and construction phases.

Hilton reported the following development-related milestones in 2011:

• Opening 170 hotels, with more than 29,400 rooms, and signing management or franchise agreements on more than 320 hotels, with over 62,000 rooms.
• Surpassing 633,000 hotel and timeshare rooms globally, while maintaining its position as the largest hospitality company in the U.S. by number of rooms.
• Achieving the largest global room pipeline in company history, with a current total of nearly 150,000 rooms.

A survey conducted by The Refinishing Touch found that many hotel owners are continuing to face challenges meeting mandated investments and improvements from brand owners following the decreased availability of bank loans in 2009 and 2010.

The survey revealed that cost commitments are by far the greatest worry of hotel owners facing the reality of a 2011 PIPs, with 72% admitting financial worries, and almost a third (32%) citing the fact they face “more pressing concerns” than PIPs.

Key findings of the survey include:
• Just over half (57%) of respondents admitted they had experienced some leniency from corporate franchisors regarding implementation of PIPs.
• Nearly two-thirds (61.5%) of managers believe the traveling public is unforgiving of lapses in renovation during the recent recession, with only 38.5% stating that their guests showed sympathy.
• Fewer than three-quarters of respondents think competitiveness between brands has increased now that more renovation projections have gotten underway.

Compiled by Stephanie Wharton.

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