ORLANDO – The leading hospitality association in Central Florida is hosting a luncheon meeting next week, when they’ll unveil the results of a new study on occupancy rates in this region, as well as the outlook for tourism and visits here in the rest of 2012.
The Central Florida Hotel & Lodging Association is hosting a general membership luncheon and seminar on Thursday, Feb. 16 starting at noon at the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort.
The seminar will include a presentation by Smith Travel Research, which studies hotel occupancy rates. The firm will also make projections on where those rates are heading in the future.
The keynote speaker will be Brittany Baldwin, director of business development and destinations for Smith Travel Research. Baldwin will provide the CFHLA’s members with an Orlando overview presentation and a look into Orlando hotel occupancy and room rates. This program will also include a Smith Travel Research PowerPoint presentation.
The luncheon runs from noon until 1:45 p.m., and the seminar goes from 2-3 p.m.
The Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek is at 14100 Bonnet Creek Resort Lane in Orlando.
The Central Florida Hotel and Lodging Association is the leading voice for this region’s hospitality industry, and its membership includes hotels and motels, timeshares, resorts, vacation homes and anywhere else that vacationers and business travelers stay at during a visit to this part of Florida.
The Central Florida tourism industry took a big hit in 2008 and 2009, as the housing market crash, the subsequent banking credit crunch, and the national recession all had a painful impact on discretionary spending – including spending on vacations.
But when the CFHLA held its luncheon meeting on Feb. 26, 2011, the mood was far more optimistic.
Jeff Chase is a member of the association’s board, as well as a member of the Central Florida Vacation Rental Managers Association, which represents the managers of vacation homes in this region. Chase manages Magical Memories, a vacation home management firm in Kissimmee.
Chase predicted the Smith Travel research will almost certainly show that Central Florida’s tourism and hospitality industry had a very strong year in 2011.
“The industry had a very good 2011,” he said. “It was exceptional. It wasn’t as good as 2005 and 2006, but overall it was growing at a nice pace.”
When the CFHLA met a year ago, Lana Yoshii, a researcher with Smith Travel, presented the firm’s findings as part of her “Lodging Industry Performance Overview.” Yoshii noted that “The good news is that (nationally) everything was up except for room rates,” with occupancy rising 5.6 percent for the industry. She estimated that average daily rates in the Orlando hospitality industry were projected to rise by 3.3 percent in 2011, a solid improvement following several years of declines.
“Consumers will be willing to pay a higher price,” Yoshii said. “We’re very, very optimistic about the Orlando market – which I can’t say for every other market.”
Chase said that prediction turned out to be true in 2011, and he said Americans demonstrated a pent up demand for a vacation after three years of a sharp cutback in discretionary spending in the face of the recession.
“I think that vacationing is an American right as people would see it,” Chase said. “And they can only stay home for so long before something has to give, and they have to have a release somewhere.”
It helps, he said, that the Orlando area remains an affordable option for families.
“Central Florida is an economically appealing family destination as an alternative to Las Vegas and Hawaii — much more expensive locations,” he said. “I think that’s a big part of it.”
Next Thursday, Smith Travel will follow up on its 2011 research and reveal whether its predictions for last year turned out to be accurate. Likewise, the research firm will offer its projections for the rest of the travel season in Central Florida in 2012.
For more information about Smith Travel Research, log on to www.strglobal.com. To find out more about CFHLA and the luncheon meeting, log on to www.cfhla.org.
The Central Florida Hotel & Lodging Association, located at 6675 Westwood Boulevard, Suite 210, in Orlando, is the world’s largest regional hotel association, representing about 80 percent of the hotels in Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties.
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And if they stopped all the studies (which go to all their conies), taxpayers would have far more money to take those vacations.