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5 things to know: 8 March 2012
March 8 2012

• HPT will put $165m into renovating Staybridge, Candlewood Suites
• IHIF: Asian real-estate investors’ wake-up call to western brands
• TravelClick: Group demand driving occupancy, transient driving ADR
• STR releases Canada, US weekly performance results
• BWI: Business travelers feel guilt when traveling for work

InterContinental Hotels Group announced Thursday that 77 Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites hotels owned by Hospitality Properties Trust and managed by IHG are undergoing renovations, with HPT investing approximately $165 million in the improvements.

The first phase of renovations is complete, with 26 Candlewood Suites in markets including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas and Phoenix boasting new kitchen and bath designs, among other changes, according to a news release from IHG. All renovations across both brands are expected to be complete by September; 58 Candlewood Suites and 19 Staybridge Suites will be making the changes.

“These renovations will have a positive effect on our brand portfolios as a whole,” said Robert Radomski, VP of global brand management for IHG’s extended-stay brands. “We expect that these changes will increase guest satisfaction and should result in an uplift in ADR at renovated hotels, which will in turn drive higher overall brand ADR and RevPAR. We also think we’ll see higher owner satisfaction and the potential for more development opportunities.” 

Representatives from two of Asia’s largest real-estate developers provided a wake-up call to some of the West’s biggest hotel brand companies Wednesday morning during a general session at the International Hotel Investment Forum, reports’s Patrick Mayock

The era of Asian investors importing outside brands into the region is drawing to an end, they said, as is the ubiquitous asset-light operating model.

On the first point, Ong Chih Ching, CEO of KOP Group, said Asian markets including Singapore and Hong Kong are growing in sophistication and are becoming less reliant on established hotel brands to spur development. The concept of brands is still important, she said, but the market is shifting its focus to more homegrown entities.

Many Asian investors also question the motivation behind some U.S. and U.K.-based chains’ push in the region, added Ricco DeBlank, CEO of SHKP Hotels, a division of Sun Hung Kai Properties Limited. Much expansion exists solely to meet the expectations of Wall Street, he said, and the major chains risk diluting brand equity and hotel performance in the process. 

Group business is driving occupancy growth while transient is driving an increase in ADR according to data from TravelClick's February 2012 North American Hospitality Review. The February NAHR is based on group sales and individual reservations for hotel stays from February 2012 to January 2013.

Group committed occupancy on the books for February through the end of 2012 is up 5.9% compared to this time last year and new group business added over the last month increased 5.1%. However, ADR in the group segment is down marginally from a year ago by -1.1%.

The transient segment is showing a 3.7% increase in occupancy and a 5.2% increase in ADR compared to last year. Within this segment, business demand is up 2.8% with an ADR increase of 5.3%, while leisure demand is up 3.4% with an ADR increase of 4.8% compared to last year. These metrics indicate that the leisure travel is currently growing faster than business travel—the key driver of growth in the hotel sector in 2011. 

STR, the parent company of, released weekly performance results for the United States and Canada.

U.S.: The U.S. hotel industry’s occupancy was up 2.3% to 59.9%, ADR increased 3.5% to $102.77 and RevPAR was up 5.8% to $61.56.

Among the top 25 markets, Denver reported the only double-digit occupancy increase, up 10% to 65% and San Francisco/San Mateo achieved the largest ADR (14.5% to $166.70) and RevPAR (18.3% to $126.21) increases.

Canada: In year-over-year measurements, the Canadian hotel industry’s occupancy ended the week with a 4.1% increase to 57.6%, its average daily rate rose 2.6% to 126.07 Canadian dollars and its revenue per available room was up 6.8% to CA$72.67.

Frequent business travel can arouse feelings of guilt in even the most enthusiastic traveler, and many are assuaging those feelings by cashing in loyalty points on leisure travel with loved ones, according to a recent survey conducted by Best Western International and Wakefield Research.

Sixty-two percent of surveyed business travelers indicated they feel guilty while traveling for business and more than two out of three guilty business travelers said they experience remorse about being away from loved ones.

Sixty-seven percent of business travelers collecting loyalty points have cashed in travel points in the past year. Of those travelers, 24% splurged on a romantic getaway, while nearly half of those travelers (47%) who are parents, treated the family to a vacation using loyalty points.

Additional highlights from Best Western's recent business travel survey include:
• The biggest issue for 42% of those who indicated they experience guilt is missing special events at home, from birthdays to anniversaries.
• Thirty-five percent of business travelers feel guilty about eating unhealthy or not getting enough exercise while traveling for work.
• Nine percent of travelers believe experiencing new food and restaurants is the most enjoyable or rewarding part of a business trip.
• High-speed Internet is the most important hotel amenity with 71% of travelers saying it is most important, followed by breakfast (51%).
• Almost 40% of those surveyed belong to three or more travel loyalty programs.

Compiled by Stephanie Wharton.

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