Every year, the Hotel Business Green Book Directory & Market Guide offers insights from experts on a variety of industry subjects. This year, we are offering even more insight with Green Book Extra.
Larry Trabulsi, CHAM, president, 2021 HAMA board of directors 2021, and managing director/EVP, CHMWarnick; Jon Peck, president, Peck Hotel Consulting; and William Robinson, SVP, hotel operations, Claremont, offer their thoughts on how 2021 was for asset management and what the future holds.
Has 2021 lived up to your expectations? What’s your outlook for the year ahead?
Trabulsi: For many of our hotels, 2021 operating results have fallen short of budget expectations that were set +/- 1 year ago. The main reason for the shortfall was a lack of recovery to expectations in Q2 (Q1 essentially mirrored Q4 2020) and setbacks in August/September due to the Delta variant. Big group hotels, many of which were closed for a portion of 2021 reopened mid-year, to mixed recovery levels. Depending on the market, many of these hotels pivoted from being group-focused to leisure-focused.
Peck: On balance 2021 has exceeded budgeted expectations in most hotels where I am involved. The first half of the year mostly exceeded budget significantly and the back half of the year is at or slightly under budget as more hope was put in Q3 and Q4. 2022 projections vary from market to market but generally continued improvement with commercial travel reloading at a faster pace. Core urban markets will improve but not recover fully. Large group/convention business is the biggest puzzle piece we are missing for a full recovery.
Robinson: All our hotels are in the Northeast and most in business (non-resort) markets. 2021 has lived up to our expectations but it was a long time coming. Our markets were dead until roughly May, and have continued to pick up ever since, with October being strongest. The last several months we have beaten budget handily. However, we are warily looking into the upcoming winter months with some concern. However, if businesses return to some semblance of working from offices, we are hopeful for better shoulder month trends next spring. Budgeting and forecasting is as difficult as ever, however as a general target and based on current recovery, we are targeting most of our hotels to be about 75% of the way back to 2019 levels in 2022—we have one hotel that is already there.