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January 7, 2008 By: Travel Agent Central Contributor Travel Agent

Credit Crunch May Impact Leisure Travel Patterns

PKF HOSPITALITY RESEARCH (PKF-HR) is reaffirming its forecast for a modest slowdown in U.S. lodging industry performance in 2008. For the year, PKF-HR is projecting occupancy levels to experience a slight decline (-0.7 percent), while average daily room rates (ADR) should grow 5.3 percent. The net result is a 4.5 percent gain in revenue per available room (RevPAR), the slowest pace of RevPAR growth since recovering from the 2001 to 2003 industry recession.

On the consumer side, PKF-HR does not foresee an imminent catastrophic economic recession that would have a negative impact on lodging demand. "We are concerned that the residential credit-crunch might have a negative impact on leisure travel patterns in the summer of 2008. Fortunately, corporate profits continue to support commercial lodging demand and should mitigate any fall-off in leisure demand," said Mark Woodworth, president of PKF Hospitality Research.

Use of Personal Travel Agents Set To Grow in U.K.

According to a survey by private investment bank Barclays Wealth, about two-thirds of people with liquid assets of at least £1.5m employ personal travel consultants. 'The True Value of Wealth' also found that the same proportion employ personal shoppers and property agents, while nearly 80% have a private chef or a butler.

A combination of rising earnings, bonuses and profits from property is expected to result in a big increase in the number of individuals having assets of £1.5m or more in addition to their homes over the next 10 years.

34 New Hotel Brands to Sell

ACCORDING TO PRICEWATERHOUSECOOPERS, there were a total of 34 new hotel brand launches in the U.S. in the 34 months between 2005 and October 2007—the largest number of brand introductions in a three-year period since 1989. The launches included non-U.S. brands affiliating with hotels in the U.S., new concepts targeted at Gen-Xers and Millennials, independent brands, and brands affiliated with established lodging companies. The brand introduction trend was led by the luxury hotels segment, which had approximately 18 new brand introductions, which is the largest number of luxury brand introductions in a three-year period since 1982.

Dollar to Rise in Value

Meanwhile, in its annual U.S. Lodging Industry Briefing, PWC noted that the U.S. dollar is forecast to progressively appreciate against the Euro through 2009. Specifically, dollar-to-Euro exchange rates are currently forecast to appreciate by an average of 5.8 percent in 2008 over 2007.

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