This trade article tells me that the days of recession-driven cheaper room rates are coming to an end, but not quickly. As the writer points out, this hospitality sector tends to lag other price sensitive areas, as it is demand driven and cannot forecast continuing demand cycles at this point.
For road warriors this means, I think, there is still some negotiating wiggle room for at least the first half of 2010. I could be wrong but hope that I am not.
Greetings Stepping Stones:
IMO, the author, Lomanno is telling the industry what they want to hear. He's optimistic and overlooking the fact that 2010 budgets were cut to the bone. In the best case scenario, raising rates as quickly as they were lowered is a futile exercise.
As a barometer, Marriott's participation in www.travelcoupons.com and www.RoomSaver.com is telling. In the Northeast for example, Marriott properties show a dramatic shift in favor of RoomSaver.com for December/January 2010. Instead of a $20, $30, or $40 gap in rates between Marriott and it's limited service brand competitors (Hampton, EconoLodge, Days and Holiday) the playing field is leveling out. Marriott is aligning with the competition and lowering rates.
The other aspect Lomanno ignores is product quality. For example, Marriott's that have not upgraded to flat panel TVs are the exception, now. Retaining business and capturing new business will depend upon Marriott's capabilities to stay ahead of the curve.
For Marriott's full service brands this does mean investment in infrastructure to offer complimentary broadband/wifi to Elite while keeping rates flat and offering rate discounts to stimulate leisure travel.
Just my 2 cents.