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NYC Hotel Business Turns Corner

March 15, 2010 By: George Dooley

The hotel business in New York City has begun to turn the corner, Sean Hennessey, CEO of Lodging Advisors, told the Greater New York Chapter of the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI). Hennessey forecasts that New York City hotel RevPAR, revenue per available room, turned positive in February 2010, the first time since September 2008.

Hennessey is forecasting RevPAR to be $132 for the month of February 2010, up from $124.38 for the month of February 2009. "This improvement was due to double-digit occupancy growth, all the more impressive because the market has seen a steady stream of new hotels opening during the past year," said Hennessey. "There remains substantial unmet demand for accommodations in New York City. ADR (average daily rate), which Lodging Advisors forecasted to turn positive in the second half of 2010, are likely to turn positive sooner, given the current pace of improvement."

The forecast comes at a time when revenue management is gaining recognition throughout the hospitality industry and while revenue management is a relatively young discipline, it was the focus of the recent HSMAI Greater New York Chapter seminar.

"Fifteen years ago Revenue Management was not even recognized as a discipline," said George Kurth, director of sales and marketing for the Fitzpatrick Hotel Group.

"It has become more strategic and less tactical over the years, less about managing systems and more business intelligence and executive communication," said Alison Shewell, director of revenue for The Peninsula New York.

"Last year, our Revenue Management department was moved physically from reservations to sales and marketing, one floor up," confides Benjamin Sinclair, director of marketing for the St. Regis.

During the seminar it was noted that the evolution of revenue management inside different organizations seems to have taken different paths at different speeds from collaborative to full blown membership on the executive team. Revenue management leads to review and directing of new income streams in addition to room revenues.

Shewell suggests that spa services, food and beverage outlets and catering are likely candidates. Smith Travel Reports has introduced a spa report which further affirms its place in contributing to the bottom line, she noted.

The other subject of focus at the HSMAI Chapter event was social media, another fast growing discipline for the hotel industry.

"Social media is here to stay and it requires a permanent staff role. Control is gone, transparency is the norm, ignoring it is not an option," states Kurth. "The choice is how to participate in a challenging environment where information moves rapidly and the changing structure leads to confusion. While it is assumed that PR, revenue management, marketing and sales must work together, it is still a discussion of where the rights and responsibility holder for social media is housed."

Sinclair encourages hoteliers to "find the right fit for developing your brand voice. Whether you are setting up the brand for adoption by the next generation of consumers or reinforcing the message directed at the current one, it is critical to construct a coherent message for using the tool of social media from the corporate offices to the hotel property."

HSMAI is an organization of sales and marketing professionals representing all segments of the hospitality industry.


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