The U.S. lodging industry is poised to invest $5.5 billion in capital improvements this year, breaking last year’s record spending of $5 billion, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers.

“Although the maintenance and general condition of U.S. hotels is the best it has ever been, the industry continues to make improvements and offer further enhancements,” says Bjorn Hanson, principal of PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Hospitality & Leisure practice.

To form its hospitality industry projections, PricewaterhouseCoopers monitors construction reports and company announcements for news of hotel renovations, and calculates the capital improvements hoteliers must make to meet changing standards by their respective brands, Hanson says.

Additionally, the company surveys a representative sampling of its clients, and compares notes with some of the largest hotel operators as a sounding board as it forms conclusions on industry activity.

The 2007 increase reflects continued spending on a variety of items, including:

• in-room MP3 compatible sound and television systems;
• continued installation of flat screen televisions, high-speed wireless internet, self check-in and check-out kiosks and computers and printers in business centers;
• continued upgrades of complimentary breakfasts and evening receptions, which serve hot food and more diverse menu offerings;
• continued installation of lodging-branded bedding and other proprietary furniture, fixtures and equipment; and
• design enhancements appealing to Generation Xers and Millennials, including informal gathering areas, extended hours for food and beverage operations and wireless Internet.

In addition to these new additions to the hospitality lineup, spending will continue for more routine upgrades, including new appliances, exercise equipment and window treatments. New equipment can also expand a hotel’s service offerings of complimentary meals, entertainment and self-serve check-in.