This month, as the lazy days of summer give way to the cool autumn breeze, there’s more than a change of temperature, there’s also an air of anticipation. As kids grudgingly return to school, September signals a time for everyone to look ahead to new projects, resolutions and fresh beginnings. So, in many respects, while January may signal a new calendar year, it’s really September that ushers in a back-to-business reality.

As this year’s Hospitality Market Report (HMR) clearly illustrates, the past year has been solid albeit not stellar. In terms of stats, PKF forecasts the industry will close the year with an average occupancy rate of 62 per cent, while ADR will inch up to $132 and RevPAR will come in at $82.

Still, while the industry goes on about its business, hoteliers are plagued by a stark reality: hotel room rates are not keeping up with reality. As Michael Haywood, author of this month’s HMR, states, “If ADR were reported as net ADR in inflation-adjusted dollars, hoteliers would quickly realize their ADRs may actually be in decline.” Still, there’s a deep-rooted reluctance on the part of most hoteliers to bring rates to where they should be. But, who can blame them? A lacklustre economy has impacted consumer confidence significantly in recent years. Global discord within the European Union hasn’t helped travel and tourism, while a high Canadian dollar, and a reinvigorated marketing campaign called Brand USA, have kept Americans exploring their own backyard.

Certainly, the proliferation of OTAs and the clout they carry, as well as the pervasive growth of social media, hasn’t helped hoteliers either, making it more challenging for them to be firm when it comes to selling rooms at realistic rates. As Jean Francois Mourier stated recently in a blog called “Seven Days of Revenue-Management Success,” “You’d be surprised how many hotels offer their customers a lower rate through the OTAs (than through their direct channel).”

Not surprisingly, revenue management is becoming a key point of discussion at myriad conference seminars, on a growing number of Internet blogs as well as in the day-to-day dialogue in industry circles. This month, we join the discussion by featuring a guest column by revenue-management specialist Bonnie Buckhiester, who reinforces the numerous changes in this field and the importance of rate integrity. It appears the subject will continue to impact hotels, and generate discussion in the months ahead, regardless of the segment or location. Still, one can’t help wonder when the talk will turn into action.


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