Spending spree

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The latest forecast from PricewaterhouseCoopers confirms what you might have already observed from your own operations: another record year for capital spending in the U.S. lodging industry. According to the financial services and advisory firm, the hotel industry is expected to invest $5.0 billion in â€â„¢06. This follows last yearâ€â„¢s record $4.8 billion investment, which was a staggering 50 percent higher than â€â„¢04 levels.

PwC suggests the increase reflects continued spending on such items as branded furniture, including improved beds and bedding; technology of all types (in-room entertainment such as flat screen TVs account for a large chunk of change); and design enhancements meant to appeal to Gen X-ers and Millenials. This includes gathering settings and places; branded equipment and amenities; and informal, branded, multicultural comfort food, grazing meal options and extended hours for food and beverage operations.

The upshot is American travelers are becoming very much accustomed to fresh, updated accommodations and amenities at all levels of lodging. How does your property rate? Everyone complains about amenity creep (gallop is more like it), but the alternative to keeping up with the Joneses (or Sternlichts ) is becoming dated and stagnant. Thatâ€â„¢s simply not an option for todayâ€â„¢s young design-conscious and lifestyle-driven consumers. Theyâ€â„¢ll take their business elsewhere. And there are plenty of savvy operators whoâ€â„¢ll cater to their every whim.

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