A data day

A data day

I love to read fast facts with interesting data. I guess it is the objective journalist in me that likes definitive statements, research-driven reports and just juicy little bites of numbers found in stories.

Don?t get me wrong, as soon as I read these numbers I also start to question them. All too often, data is either outdated due to today?s more violent swings in the marketplace; data is skewed because the sponsor has an agenda; and data is simply questionable because either the sample size is too small or too targered, or because my gut tells me otherwise.

That being said, today allow me to present some chewable bites of data. I might comment on some; others I will leave to you to take from it what you will.

?         Sheraton introduced its new Shine spa concept this week. In the release, it reports that 54% of males only visit spas when traveling. I assume that presents an opportunity to market to men, yet in my anecdotal research, I see very few men frequenting the spa these days, especially when staying in mid-market hotels.

?         As long as I am talking about Starwood, I found out today that new Generation III guestroom FF&E costs for Westin and Sheraton brands range from US$5,900 to US$6,800. The Westin concept ?represents a 60% growth in sustainability, with only a 10% increase in initial costs to owners. That cost of going green is almost neutral and only tells me it will become the industry norm to design green hotels inside five years. (Watch for a feature in the October issue of HOTELS)

?         Homewood Suites will have the first hotel-sponsored float in Macy?s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. That just plain surprised me as I still watch the parade with my kids.

?         International visitor arrivals for Asia Pacific grew by 11% in the first half year of 2010, according to PATA. There can be no doubt that Asia Pacific is THE market for growth and development for the foreseeable future.

?         A study of 1,500 Americans by Westin found more than half of workers fail to take all their vacation days.  More than half (58%) feel they are in more need of vacation than last year and 64% have canceled vacation due to work worries. Admirable but sad.

?         An American Express survey of travel managers and business travelers indicated willingness to adopt new ways of communicating to reduce some travel, and also to enhance productivity and efficiency while on the road. Further, 90% of respondents believe North America and Western Europe are leading the way with adoption of webcasts, telepresence, and video-conferencing. The good news, however, is that 48% of travelers say ROI from face-to-face is significantly higher than conducting a meeting via alternative methods. I think we are already seeing the positive impact on the pent-up demand for conferences and meetings, which will bode well for the industry throughout 2011. Of course, all bets are off if we double dip.

?         Under the heading, ?Hot Market,? year-to-July 2010 in Lebanon, occupancy stood at 67.4% with RevPAR growth of 24.2% to US$158.

?         Under the heading, ?Cold Market,? the hotels in PKF?s Caribbean Trends survey sample reported an 11.9% decline in total revenue from 2008 to 2009. Leading the dollar decline in revenue was the 13.6% fall off in rooms revenue, the result of a 3.7% drop in occupancy and a 10.1% decline in ADR.

?         A source tells me the Hyatt Regency Danang project in Vietnam has sold US$72 million in branded residence within the last 16 months. I am glad residential real estate is selling in some markets because it is certainly not the case here in Chicago and the United States, in general.

?         And to cap things off with some good news, according to Hogg Robinson Group, for the first half of 2010, many European cities saw average rate growth, such as Stockholm (13%), Zurich (7%) and Geneva (5%), and five of the top ten most expensive cities worldwide were in Europe: Geneva, Paris, Zurich, Stockholm and Oslo.

This last slice of data I prefer to believe based on my faith in travel and tourism.