Good as it Gets? Peaking Lodging Sector Facing Mixed Outlook from Rising Supply, Growing Influence of Airbnb

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In its latest outlook for the U.S. lodging sector, CBRE Hotels’ Americas Research noted that the sector will continue to accrue benefits from achieving the industry’s all-time record occupancy record in 2016 of 65.4%.

However, a range of expected factors, from new hotel supply entering the market to the growing influence of Airbrb, is expected to impact hotel returns in 2017. CBRE forecasts the average daily rate (ADR) will increase 3.3% next year, a strong positive indicator but a lower ADR growth rate than in 2016, and a continuation of a trend since 2014.

According to CBRE, ADR movement will vary by location and chain-scale, with Northern California markets such as Sacramento and Oakland, along with Washington, D.C. and Tampa projected to lead the nation, with ADR gains of more than 6% during 2017.

“Conventional wisdom says that at such high occupancy levels, hoteliers should have the leverage to implement strong price increases,” notes R. Mark Woodworth, senior managing director of CBRE Hotels’ Americas Research. “However, like for much of 2016, you need to throw conventional wisdom out the window.”

In fact, CBRE sees slight declines in occupancy combined with minimal real gains in ADR as the pattern through 2020.

“Lodging is a cyclical business and we continue to see U.S. hotels sit on top of the peak of the cycle after recovering from the Great Recession,” Woodworth said, adding that the positive outlook for lodging demand and resulting high levels of occupancy will continue to keep the sector on a steady but level path.

“While flat performance sounds disappointing, the strong underpinnings supporting continued growth in travel will prevent an outright fall from the peak,” Woodworth added.

For lodging REITs, the current cycle appears to be similar to the 1990s, during which a prolonged economic expansion sustained growth in revenue per available room (RevPAR) or nearly a decade, said Brian H. Dobson, REIT analyst for Nomura.

While lodging is entering the latter stages of its life cycle when RevPAR growth usually plateaus, supply headwinds in urban markets is expected to reduce RevPAR growth by an additional 100 basis points, resulting in 2% growth through 2018, Dobson said.

Chiming in with its hotel outlook, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) said the lodging cycle is expected to moderate after seven years of growth. PwC analysts predicted supply growth will increase at the long-term historical average of 1.9%, but they forecast a decline in demand growth will lead to the first occupancy decline that the U.S. lodging industry has seen in eight years.

“Uncertainty, combined with plateauing growth in corporate profits, is expected to continue to weigh on corporate transient demand,” PwC said in its assessment.

“Additional demand-side concerns, including the strong U.S. dollar, Brexit, and economic weakness in the Eurozone, Zika, and depressed energy sector activity, are all expected to contribute to the continued weakness in lodging sector demand growth.”

By Randyl Drimmer | CoStar News

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