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Among the major cuts proposed in the Trump administration’s 2018 budget was the elimination of funding for Brand USA, the public-private partnership created by Congress to promote the United States as a tourist destination. Major travel and tourism entities—including the American Hotel & Lodging Association—have been speaking out, saying that cutting funding for Brand USA will do irreparable harm to the U.S. economy. International visitation is the United States’ second-largest export, supporting 115 million jobs. And, according to a study by Oxford Economics, the $160.7 million that Brand USA spent on marketing in 2015 generated $3 billion in incremental visitor spending for the United States. Read more here.

The Harris Poll’s 29th annual EquiTrend Study of brand health found that nine of the top 10 travel brands are hotel brands. Based on input from more than 100,000 consumers assessing more than 100 travel brands, the study showed that J.W. Marriott had the highest brand equity rating among all travel brands, followed closely by Marriott and Hilton.

Across all travel categories, premium and luxury hotels lead in brand equity, which is measured in the Harris Poll based on factors of familiarity, quality, and purchase consideration. Luxury hotels have a slight lead in quality scores, but consumers on business or leisure budgets are more familiar with and quicker to consider premium hotels. Economy hotels lag across all three brand equity factors.

The Harris Poll’s 2017 healthiest brands for the following categories are: economy brands—Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham; extended stay brands—Homewood Suites by Hilton; luxury brands—J.W. Marriott; Midscale—Hampton Inn & Suites; premium brands—Hilton Hotels & Resorts/Marriott Hotels (tied); and upscale brands—Courtyard Marriott.

For the first time, Marriott analyzed its two million web searches and bookings to compile a Summer Travel Trend Report for 2017. The data revealed top domestic travel destinations and insight into the travel trends of millennials, who were likely to return to the same destinations every summer. Read more of the results here.

For the remainder of 2017, analysts at Lodging Econometrics (LE) forecast another 868 projects/97,386 rooms to open for a total of 1,080 hotels/121,508 rooms this year alone, a 22 percent increase over the total number of openings last year. In 2018, LE forecasts an additional 1,283 hotels/143,038 rooms will open in the U.S.

In the first quarter this year, there were 513 projects with a total of 57,127 rooms newly announced into the hotel construction pipeline according to LE.

In the U.S., 212 hotels/24,122 rooms opened in the first quarter. The majority of these opens (93 hotels/10,018 rooms) were in suburban locations. Almost half of the opens (100 hotels/12,856 rooms) were hotel properties with between 100 and 200 rooms. Nearly 40 percent of these hotels (79 hotels/10,544 rooms) were in a top 25 market.

Google has announced its intention to roll out a new user interface and feature set around hotel reviews. Earlier in May, the search engine started testing new review features for hotels, including displaying third-party reviews in a carousel format and separating reviews by type of traveler. Read more and see screenshots here.

Analysts at Lodging Econometrics (LE) report that upper-midscale hotel projects are currently the most popular in the construction pipeline. With 2,067 projects/205,662 rooms, the category has the largest project count of any chain scale in the total pipeline. The second largest category is upscale, which currently has 1,246 projects/161,229 rooms. Together, these upper-scale categories comprise 66 percent of all projects in the pipeline.

The brands with the most projects in the upper-midscale pipeline are IHG’s Holiday Inn Express (412 projects/38,160 rooms), Hilton’s Home2 Suites (344 projects/36,074 rooms), and Marriott’s Fairfield Inn (285 projects/27,220 rooms). The top upscale brands are Marriott’s Residence Inn (188 projects/23,725 rooms), Marriott’s SpringHill Suites (147 projects/17,293 rooms), and Hilton Garden Inn (135 projects/17,914 rooms).

As would be expected, these two chain scales are forecasted to have the highest guest room growth rates over the next 2 years. Upper-midscale is forecasted to grow its guest room Census by 5.3 percent and upscale by 5.7 percent in 2017, and by 6.3 percent and 5.8 percent in 2018, respectively.

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