Hotel industry stakeholders have a positive outlook for occupancy and rates, according to a survey from the NYU School of Professional Studies Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality and Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

The resulting white paper, titled “Hotel Borrowing Costs are Rising – But So Are Occupancy Rates,” projects positive outcomes based upon rising demand that will bolster key industry metrics, such as occupancy rates, average daily room rates (ADRs), and revenue per available room (RevPAR), while new construction is down to 2015 levels.

Sean Hennessey, associate professor at the NYU SPS Tisch Center of Hospitality and contributor to the white paper, said that while inflation increases operating costs, it can also help accelerate room rate growth. Further, he said, interest rates rise in an inflationary environment, which affects the feasibility of new construction. On balance, the profitability outlook is attractive, Tom McCaleb, managing director and partner at BCG, said that uncertainty, inflationary fears, and elevated interest rates will likely be with us for a while, and all can have a chilling effect on hospitality investment. Despite these concerns, he said, “our latest work with the Tisch Center shows that strong room demand will keep the hospitality industry an attractive investment for the foreseeable future.”

Among the survey results were:
More than 70% of survey respondents anticipate demand will at least somewhat increase by the end of 2023, and 42% expect significant increases in 2024.

Hoteliers are looking for nominal revenue increases of 4.6% to 5.1% in 2023. Those expecting a significant increase in demand anticipate revenues to rise by about 12%.

Real growth rates seem likely to exceed the rate of inflation. The revenue increases will be driven by both volume and price.

Hoteliers expect room rates to rise by 8.3% to 8.8% over the next 18 months, expanding gross margins by about six percentage points.

More than 60% of respondents reported that they are somewhat or severely short-staffed, which NYU SPS/BCG estimate costs hoteliers about seven percentage points of revenue and two points of operating margin.

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More than 75% of respondents experienced modest or better labor productivity gains in the last three years and are optimistic about improving employment going forward. More than 60% expect continued improvements in 2023, and 100% expect significant improvements in 2024.

Two challenges still need to be solved in this area: the number of job openings and decreases in real earning potential for industry workers.