Searching For Answers at The Lodging Conference

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It's been two long months since the lodging investment community gathered at the Midwest Lodging Investors Summit. A lot has happened since then on the world and national economic stages to unnerve us all. That uncertainty we feel today will be a key undertone at The Lodging Conference, which starts today at the lush Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix. As one of four major U.S. hotel investment conferences—ALIS, Hunter and NYU are the other three—The Lodging Conference serves as an accurate early fall barometer of hotel executive sentiment.

The points of difference at The Lodging Conference are its venue and laid-back vibe. It's hard not to feel a little Zen when you're walking around the lush grounds of the Biltmore in a short-sleeved shirt with the bright Arizona sun beaming outside. It's difficult to be very worried in that kind of environment. That said, I'm expecting some cautious talk among the speakers and attendees, reflecting the general feeling of ennui we've all had since the potential for a double-dip recession became the topic of many conversations.

As the stock market, and lodging shares in particular, have roller-coastered in the past six weeks, the grip the public REITs have had on hotel acquisitions has loosened significantly. In their place, equity funds and other private money have stepped up to be the primary buyers of hotel assets. I'm sure everyone will be listening carefully to what the leaders of these firms say this week in Phoenix.

Another question on everyone's mind is whether the nascent trend toward additional hotel construction is now dead in the water. As we reported recently, many entrepreneurs spent the early summer laying groundwork for potential development deals. It seems, but no one knows for sure, that momentum may have stalled. Again, it will be another closely followed topic this week.

Naturally, Lodging Hospitality will be covering these stories and other that emerge from The Lodging Conference. I'll be blogging and tweeting (@LHMagazine) breaking news from the event and following up with several in-depth analysis pieces when I return.

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