Hotel Data Conference Day Two: Experts Point to Changing Demographics’ Impact on Hotel Industry

Travel and hospitality experts presented on micro trends and the democratization of travel on the final day of the sold-out 2017 Hotel Data Conference.

Co-hosted by STR and Hotel News Now at the Omni Nashville Hotel, the Hotel Data Conference sold out for the fourth consecutive year with 626 attendees. 

During the morning general session, Elizabeth Winkle, STR’s chief strategy officer, and Adam Sacks, president of Tourism Economics, discussed the demographics surrounding the travel industry. 

Sacks noted that there are two separate trajectories of travel propensity: business and leisure. Business trips per employee have been declining, while leisure trips per employee have been increasing.

Several key data points about the travel industry were cited:

  • Within household age groups, there has been a remarkable shift in spending on lodging: ages 25 to 34 (+20%), ages 65 to 74 (+23%) and ages 75+ (+24%). 
  • Seniors represented a greater share of households (42%) and lodging spending (45%) in 2015.
  • Travel continues to take a larger share in consumer spending. Growth from 2011 to January 2017: lodging (+41.8%), F&B (+31.2%) and air (+21.5%). 
  • International tourist arrivals to the U.S. are growing between 3% and 4% year over year with 1.24 billion global tourist arrivals in 2016. 
  • International exposure ranks differently across top U.S. markets: Miami (46%), San Francisco (45%), New York (44%) and Los Angeles (39%). 

This year’s keynote speaker, Frits van Paasschen, focused his talk on themes of disruption and innovation. 

“Disruption is when you wake up and you realize you’re in trouble and you either didn’t see the change coming or you saw the change coming and didn’t do enough about it,” van Paasschen said. 

Panelists from different areas of expertise closed out the conference with data surrounding the industry. Speakers included Lucas Cobb, vice president, integrated planning of MMGY Global; Peter Coles, head economist of Airbnb; and Susan Spinney Corlett, senior director, market management of Expedia, Inc. 

Data points cited included:

  • During the next 12 months, 13.9 million more vacations will be taken domestically, where 32% of people plan to take more business trips and 12% of people plan to take fewer in the next 12 months –Lucas Cobb
  • In 2017, 8% of all US trips were taken by families, and families represented 14% of all Airbnb guests (Airbnb uses the term “guest arrivals.”)  Places most visited by families included Kissimmee, Florida; Los Angeles, California; and San Diego, California –Peter Coles
  • Roughly 50% of travellers used an OTA for planning their last trip. 45% of Expedia’s traffic came via mobile –Susan 

Overall, the 2017 Hotel Data Conference comprised more than 100 speakers in four general sessions, 16 breakout sessions, 18 breakout “data dash” sessions and ten advanced-level “data dive” discussions. All told, the conference featured approximately 970 minutes of hotel industry data.