On the Ground: Insights From Mark Lomanno at The Lodging Conference

Mark Lomanno

At The Lodging Conference 2022, industry leaders and professionals gathered to discuss industry trends, share new ideas, and network with colleagues and peers. LODGING spoke with Partner & Senior Advisor of Kalibri Labs Mark Lomanno following the “Speed Stats Part II” general session panel in which he was a participant.

The overall message from the general sessions was the return of the lodging industry this year. Could you elaborate on that claim?

The industry is back from the perspective of room rates and leisure business being strong. But, if a hotelier is dependent on corporate travel in large groups, it’s not back. Big hotels in Chicago, San Francisco, or New York—for example—are still struggling. And if you rely on business travel, like a midsized hotel in a suburban area, you’re probably still struggling. So, as a whole, the industry is good, although not all the way back.

To what degree has leisure travel rebounded this year?

While actual demand was about the same as in 2019, the industry has been charging more. So, from a revenue standpoint, leisure travel seems like it’s way ahead of 2019. But it’s been driven by pricing more than demand, which is about the same or slightly stronger than in 2019. A key factor is guests are paying 20 percent more than they did in 2019. That’s extremely positive for the industry.

How has leisure travel changed following the COVID-19 pandemic?

Leisure travelers are staying much longer than they used to. The average person before the pandemic would stay about 1.9 nights. Now, the average is about 2.1 nights, which doesn’t seem like a lot, but it is when you’re talking about three million rooms sold every day.

What’s behind the trend toward longer stays?

Bleisure travel. People can work from anywhere. Also, it used to be that Sundays and Thursdays—the shoulder days—would behave like Monday through Wednesday. Now they behave much more like Fridays and Saturdays. People like blending business and pleasure and are staying longer. That’s a new trend, and I think it’s going to stay that way.

Apart from rising construction costs, what other challenges are developers facing?

In many locations, it’s harder to get something built. The permitting is harder because residents are much more willing to be vocal. They’re home more often now [due to the remote work trend], so they can go to planning meetings and say, “I don’t want that built there.”

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George Seli is the editor of LODGING.