Monday, December 18, 2006

Hoteliers question growth assumptions

Hoteliers weren't quite drinking the Kool Aid at the Hotel Council's holiday lunch Friday. Tom Callahan of PKF Consulting unveiled a forecast that room rate will grow $15 per room per night to $182 in 2007, with occupancy nudging up one percentage point to 79 percent.

He fielded some pointed questions from the audience on how that's possible given the 100,000 fewer convention visitors expected next year. Tom said tourists and business travelers will make up -- "backfill" was the term he used in the heat of the moment -- for the lost conventioneers.

Pressed on exactly who these new corporate travelers will be, Tom did not put forth specifics. Biotech? Banking? Digital entertainment? Tech? I guess it remains to be seen.

The Hotel Council lunch, held at the Nikko, also saw the Convention and Visitors Bureau's 6-month-old CEO Joe D'Alessandro really come out swinging for more marketing bucks and solutions to the homeless problems, signalling perhaps that his listening tour of City Hall is wrapping up.

State Sen. Mark Leno weighed in with a plan to bolster statewide tourism spending with a fee on rental cars -- but only after cutting general fund monies, a detail that raised a pointed question from a hotelier in the audience.

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