It's Detroit, however, that TravelClick predicts will emerge the biggest winner during this period, with an expected 22% increase in occupancy.
"We're well ahead of the curve from a national improvement standpoint," says Thomas Conran, principal of Greenwood Hospitality Group, owner of The Henry hotel in Dearborn, Mich., a Detroit suburb.
Reflecting Detroit's economy, the Henry had previously been a luxury Ritz-Carlton hotel where the auto industry frequently met and had functions, but Conran's group repositioned it last year. Out were the dark-wood-covered walls that gave the hotel its clubby atmosphere. In were a lighter color palette, a vibrant restaurant, reduced room rates and marketing by Marriott's "anti-chain" Autograph Collection. On busy mid-week nights, a guest might today pay about $200 a night — less than during the auto industry's heyday.
But what the Henry lost in rate, it's starting to make up with volume. "There's an energy that this hotel has not seen for many, many years," says Conran.
Conran credits Detroit's recent recovery to the state's efforts to lure more leisure travelers via its Michigan.org website, as well as the success of Detroit's resurgent sports teams, which has helped lure weekend visitors.
Finally, Conran says, the Detroit area is seeing "significant" year-over-year gains in business travel thanks to the recovering auto industry.
"We can't underestimate the fact that the health of the auto industry has improved dramatically," Conran says.
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