I was 7 years old the first time I bet on the Kentucky Derby. I wasn’t the only first grader who had the gambling itch. As one of 20 odd students in Ms. Beelik’s class at St. Paschal Baylon elementary school, I picked my favorite steed for a chance to win an edible white chocolate cross.
Looking back, there were so many things wrong with that scenario—gambling … at a catholic school … at a catholic elementary school … vying for a mildly sacrilegious prize.
The very worst part, however, was that I lost.
The chocolate cross went to a girl named Leslie, who had the audacity to unwrap and eat the delicious treat during class in front of her jealous peers.
There will likely be a bevy of losers after “the fastest two minutes in sports” ticks down late Saturday afternoon. The Kentucky Derby, held annually in Louisville, Kentucky, is the biggest event in the horse racing world. As such, it generates a significant amount of attention from novices and aficionados alike, many of whom place wagers and lose oodles of cash amid mint-julip-fueled drunken hysterias.
The Louisville hotel market is no exception. Average daily rates for this weekend are tracking 10% ahead of where they were last year, according to advance booking data from TravelClick.
Occupancy, on the other hand, is down slightly—which isn’t a bad thing, according to Tim Hart, executive VP of enterprise services at TravelClick. The rooms will fill; they always do. It’s just this year hoteliers are holding strong and booking at prices that match the incredibly high level of demand.
The Louisville hotel market during the upcoming weekend is something of a harbinger for the rest of the U.S. hotel industry, which is slowly clawing its way toward steady rate growth. TravelClick’s 12-month outlook shows a 7.5% gain in ADR for business on the books.
“We continually look for whether this moderate growth environment that we’ve been experiencing for quite some time now is showing any cracks, and so far it has not,” Hart said.
It helps that every segment of the hotel business—business, leisure and group—is showing growth.
“That’s what really helps, when you don’t have any weak spots in the picture,” Hart said.
News from the road
I attended—rather, I am attending—the annual conference of the Asian American Hotel Owners Association this week, and what I’ve heard so far has been more of the same. That is, the group, which comprises nearly 11,000 members representing approximately 40% of the U.S. hotel supply, is struggling to come to terms with its size and power.
Amid raucous networking events and good-hearted catching up among attendees, I heard countless gripes and complaints from various members who said the association, in general, has lost focus and isn’t doing enough to support its members.
I don’t share necessarily the same view—but then I’m an outside party who is much further removed. From where I sit, AAHOA stands as one of the most powerful ownership groups in the country that has recently gone to bat for its members against what the association alleged were unfair franchise practices on the part of Choice Hotels International. The results led to Choice changing its impact policy, among other changes.
Certainly AAHOA faces some challenges in the years ahead. The political nature of the organization is one particular area of concern. But the association has helped usher in prosperity for thousands of hotel owners, and that’s something that can’t be ignored.
Travel note of the week
I’m staying at the Omni Hotel at CNN Center for the conference, and I’ll be darned if my room wasn’t one of the cleanest I’ve ever stayed in—the bathroom especially. It looked so clean upon first glance that I actually started inspecting every crack and cranny. (A journalist’s inquisitive nature knows no bounds.) Just goes to show what an impact the basics can have on a guest experience.
Stat of the week
40%: The approximate number of hotels in the U.S. that are owned by AAHOA members. The group will cross the 11,000-member threshold this year, which is simply astounding.
Quote of the week
“You are indeed a powerhouse. You have shown to the world that you can come 10,000 miles away from a little farm in (India), work very hard, and create wealth and opportunity not only for yourself, your family but for your community. You are the ultimate example of what is possible.”
—Sam Pitroda, founder and chairman of telecommunications firm C-SAM and adviser to the prime minister of India, addressing the thousands of attendees at AAHOA’s annual conference.
Comment of the week
“People spout nonsense at these conferences. What's more, projections about 2016 aren't worth the paper they are printed on. A million things good or bad could happen before then.”
—Commentor “Mason” criticizing hotel performance projections from industry pundits, as reported in “Hotel demand could weaken in the long term.”
Email Patrick Mayock or find him on Twitter.
The opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the opinions of HotelNewsNow.com 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.