Smith Travel Research (STR) dramatically shifts U.S. forecasts
“One of the things we noticed with forecasting is that people in the forecasting business, STR included, tend to revise their forecasts when they see a reason to do that,” Lomanno said. “What we would like to do going forward is to put ourselves on a schedule to forecast on a month-by-month schedule.”
STR's revised forecast
|Measurement||Summer 2009||Year-end 2009||Year-end 2010|
- View STR's forecast slide presentation.
- View Mark Lomanno break down the revised forecast in a video interview.
Lomanno said the company each month will use information from data partner e-forecasting.com, review new economic variables that are released, look at the latest month’s lodging industry performance and supply pipeline, talk to its contacts about what the economic climate is looking like to them, examine future bookings, and discuss the results before releasing its revised forecasts.
“We can say ‘here’s our summer forecast,’ ‘here’s our convention season forecast,’ ‘here’s our first-quarter forecast,’” he said. “You can kind of make it more finite and at the same time potentially make it more accurate by not building up to the year-end numbers as if that’s where you start. You want to get to that by aggregating month by month.”
Economic variables used in the monthly forecasting model will include employment figures, consumers’ disposable income data, the consumer price index, gross domestic product, and the usual lodging data that goes into a forecast, according to Lomanno.
“We look at how well it’s performed historically versus what’s actually happened, and we’ll discuss it,” he said. “If you will, we add an artistic touch to a scientific process.”
Year-end 2009 forecast
STR projects that at the end of 2009, supply will be up 3.0 percent, demand will be down 5.5 percent, occupancy will decline 8.4 percent, average daily rate will drop 9.7 percent, and revenue per available room will be down 17.1 percent.
The RevPAR figure is what likely will surprise many industry observers because STR’s previous revised forecast in April suggested the industry’s RevPAR for 2009 would be down 9.8 percent.
Mark V. Lomanno
“The reaction’s going to be that STR finally got realistic about the forecast because it is a dramatic change,” Lomanno said. “We don’t like that dramatic of a change, which is one of the reasons we’d like to go about it in a monthly progression.”
While a number of factors contributed to the company’s change of heart, Lomanno said the steep discounting that has taken place in the industry is at the top of the list.
“It is disappointing, surprising and a little bit sad,” Lomanno said. “One of the things we felt like was that the industry would hold pricing more than it’s been able to. If you’re looking at the last downturns, a lot of the commentary that we heard from the brands and the revenue managers is that they learned their lessons in 2001-2002 and they would be able to react better the next time around. For whatever reason, maybe because this downturn is so severe and so dramatic and so different than they were expecting what they learned they weren’t able to apply.