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Sluggish Construction

The lack of available financing and continued economic uncertainty remained major obstacles to construction pipeline growth through the third quarter of 2011.

Project migration up the pipeline toward construction was sluggish in the quarter, resulting in extended timelines as developers waited for a more certain economic, lending, and operating environment.

Amid a renewed emphasis by franchise companies to refresh their branded properties, many owners and investors who have accumulated funds from improving operations are now focusing on renovating existing hotels after a long period of postponement.

Projects under construction saw a slight increase over Q2 2011, but remained at cyclical lows, with 408 projects/51,599 rooms underway. Scheduled starts in the next 12 months decreased again, falling below the 100,000 rooms level for the first time in memory to a low of 834 projects/94,755 rooms. Due to the current complex economic environment, scheduled starts are expected to trend further downward, as developers, seeking the ideal time frame to open, continuously reassess the feasibility of getting their projects underway. In several cases, they have moved projects out of the 12 months to start window back into early planning while they await more favorable conditions.

At 1,609 projects/201,576 rooms, 56 percent of total pipeline projects and 58 percent of rooms are now disproportionately stockpiled in early planning. The back end of the pipeline has built up due to the backward migration of projects from scheduled starts, and also because many new project announcements are entering the pipeline at this stage and not being fast-tracked. Until the overall economy recovers more substantially and financing becomes more readily available, many developers continue to plan new projects, but anticipate that it will be 12 to 24 months before those projects move forward in the pipeline.

Because timelines for projects exiting the pipeline continue to be extended, Lodging Econometrics (LE) has again revised its forecast for new hotel openings slightly downward for the next three years. LE now projects a total 339 hotels/38,287 rooms in 2012. In 2013, 370 hotels/38,248 rooms are anticipated to enter current supply. Additional downward adjustments to LE’s forecast may be ahead if there is not a near-term resurgence in the general economy.

The information presented is courtesy of Lodging Econometrics. It reflects data through Q3 2011. LE’s Construction Pipeline Trend Report encapsulates all U.S. lodging development activity, with hotel project and room counts for the Pipeline by stage (Under Construction, Starts in the Next 12 Months, Early Planning), as well as LE’s proprietary Three-Year Forecast for New Hotel Openings with projected supply growth rates. E-mail info@lodgingeconometrics.com for more information.

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