Luxury segment group bookings for Monday-Thursday U.S. stays fell in January and February by 19.5 percent, according to Smith Travel Research vice president Jan Freitag. Transient bookings dropped 8.8 percent. Average daily rates fell 11.7 percent and group rates fell 2.2 percent, according to a presentation Freitag made this week at the Hunter Hotel Investment Conference in Atlanta.
Blaming part of the recent declines on government and media scrutiny of bailout beneficiaries
, some of lodging's financial leaders took to several investment conferences trying to assure analysts that the industry will bounce back.
Having referred to the Congressional attention "purely grandstanding," Starwood CFO Vasant Prabhu last week said, "I think all that will die down because business has got to be done and it's got to be done in a certain way.” He was speaking at separate conferences run by Deutsche Bank and Raymond James.
"Corporate travelers are traveling in fewer numbers and for corporate transient business, it doesn't matter what you price the rooms--people are not traveling,” said Marriott senior vice president of investor relations Laura Paugh at a Merrill Lynch event. "You can't cut the rates because they are sitting in their office and they don't have a budget for travel."