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5 things to know: 7 February 2012
February 7 2012

• London hoteliers not deterred by Olympic room returns
• Green Street: Commercial property prices unchanged in January
• New England hotels post respectable 2011 results
• Kayak drops BlackBerry support
• Airlines January on-time performance strong

Do more rooms equal more problems? Not in London, where an influx of travelers leading up to the Olympic Games should provide ample opportunities for hoteliers to sell off the more than 120,000 roomnights returned by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, reports correspondent Lisa Francesca Nand.

The terms of the deal with LOCOG, made when the bid was won in 2005, would have hotels provide approximately 40,000 rooms, representing more than 600,000 roomnights, to accommodate the Olympic entourage, which includes the Olympic Committee, media, International Sport Federations, Games sponsors and workers.

“We always promised that we would not hold on to hotel rooms we didn’t need but return them to the individual hotels at the beginning of 2012,” LOCOG CEO Paul Deighton said in a news release. “We are now doing this, and I hope that this enables the hotels to continue with their planning for this summer as we all work together to stage a spectacular Games.”

Reps from InterContinental Hotels Group and Travelodge seem unfazed by this and are eager to introduce even more rooms in the market before the Olympic flame is brought to London. IHG will open two new hotels before the Games, while Travelodge will open 11.

The Green Street Advisors Commercial Property Price Index was unchanged during January.  After a two-year rally that saw pricing rebound to within 10% of its all-time highs, commercial property values stalled during the past several months. A low-return environment, the primary catalyst for earlier gains, is still here, but an uncertain economic outlook held back gains.

By property type, apartment values have been the strongest, surpassing their prior highs, while values of office and hotel properties are furthest from their 2007 peak. Office buildings in Manhattan, the country’s largest office market, are approximately 20% below their prior highs.

After dramatically outperforming the country as a whole during 2010, the New England region posted a respectable performance in 2011, according to Pinnacle Advisory Group, citing STR data. STR is the parent company of

Revenue per available room for the region grew by 8.6% compared to a national average of 8.2%. Demand in the region was slightly above the national average. This, coupled with no growth in supply, helped increase occupancy by 5.2% compared to a national average of 4.4%. Average rates for the region grew by 3.2%, compared to 3.7% for the country as a whole.

The Greater Boston market's performance in 2011 was relatively strong given it was an off-year for conventions. This suggests a very strong convention year for Boston during 2012 should help that market area and the region as a whole to outperform the national average. Pinnacle is projecting RevPAR growth of 9.5% for the Boston/Cambridge market and growth of 9.2% for the Suburban Boston Market.

Online travel metasearch engine Kayak is dropping active support and maintenance for BlackBerry users, according to a statement on its website.

It’s a practical decision bred from the once-pioneering smartphone platform’s declining market share, Kayak said.

“When we started KAYAK in 2004, we issued BlackBerries (sic) to the entire engineering team so we could communicate instantly 24/7. Today we've all switched, and it seems our users are doing the same. Our audience of BlackBerry users has been declining precipitously, and we can't justify the cost any longer,” the statement reads.

The news highlights a broader trend that might give hotel marketers and information technology professionals pause: BlackBerry’s market share is down from 24% during the third quarter of 2010 to just 9% during the third quarter 2011, according to the most recent analysis from Canalys, a mobile data provider.

North America’s mild winter weather saw airline’s strong on-time performance continue during January. Operated flights arrived within 15 minutes of schedule nearly 80% of the time during the 31-day period, slightly up from December’s 78.9%, according to FlightStats.

When winter weather did affect flights, it was in places not usually subject to harsh weather. For example, record snow, ice and power outages slammed Seattle during January causing shutdowns at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and negatively impacting Seattle-based Alaska Airlines.

North America's top 10 performing airlines and their on-time arrival percentages in January were:

1. Hawaiian Airlines - 92.4%
2. Mesaba Airlines - 89.3%
3. Taca International - 88.7%
4. Copa Airlines - 88.6%
5. Compass Airlines - 87.9%
6. AirTran Airways - 87.9%
7. Horizon Air - 86.7%
8. Delta Air Lines - 85.8%
9. US Airways – 85%
10. Pinnacle Airlines - 85%

Compiled by Patrick Mayock.

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