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HB ON THE SCENE: Lodging Conference Focuses on Pricing Power

Thursday October 4th, 2012 - 2:41PM

Nancy Johnson (left) and Liam Brown

PHOENIX—While speakers on the second day of the 18th Annual Lodging Conference here acknowledged that the lodging industry continues to rebound from the recession, the consensus was that more progress needs to be made in restoring pricing power.

Owners and managers need to be more confident when it comes to pricing rooms, Liam Brown, Marriott International's chief officer for owners and franchise services and COO for select-service and extended-stay lodging in The Americas, told the 1,400 people gathered at the conference. Owners and managers seem to be feeling ambivalent about asking for a higher ADR, when the airlines have managed to raise their rates in recent years, often aggressively, noted Brown.

Nationwide, the industry is experiencing diminished room supply growth and demand growth in many markets has been strong, including demand generated by high levels of international travelers, Brown said. All signs suggest it's a perfect environment to go after higher rates.

As brand managers, it's our job to be aggressive on our revenue strategy, agreed Nancy Johnson, EVP for development for for the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group. Hotel operators' expenses continue to rise, Johnson pointed out, citing health care costs, taxes and the cost of complying with new Americans with Disabilities Act requirements as a few examples. As leaders, it's our responsibility to step up, Johnson concluded.

Both Brown and Johnson spoke on the second day's View from the Top session, one of the Lodging Conference's signature events each year.