UNH launches predictive index

The University of New Hampshire on Friday announced a new quarterly economic index that it said would help the U.S. lodging industry conduct short- and long-range economic planning.

Managed by the UNH Department of Hospitality Management at the Whittemore School of Business and Economics, the Lodging Executive Sentiment Index (LESI) is based on a monthly survey of 20 lodging executives representing companies with more than 2.5 million hotel rooms across lodging segments and geographic regions of the United States – more than 55% of all U.S. rooms.

Executives are asked about the present and future conditions of the market. Executives also are asked to report their outlook during the next 12 months about room reservations and employment practices, such as an increase or decrease of their non-managerial work force.

“The importance of LESI is that it will provide lodging executives and managers, as well as executives in other industries, an early glimpse at the direction of the overall lodging industry beyond their own properties and markets, specifically retail sales, employment, interest rates, and stock prices, thereby helping them in operational and planning decisions,” said Nelson Barber, associate professor of hospitality management.

Barber will oversee the index and conduct quarterly analyses, which will be available to the public. The analysis of the third quarter of 2012 will be published later this year.

UNH has been surveying executives since 2000 as it has developed and refined the index, which was created by Raymond Goodman Jr., professor emeritus of hospitality management. UNH researchers have found that lodging executives’ sentiment can be regarded as a leading indicator for the aggregate economy. The lodging industry is known to be closely linked to the general economy with lodging executives and managers in a unique position regarding current and future economic events.