As I predicted in a pre-ALIS, the mood at this year's Americas Lodging Investment Summit is decidedly upbeat. Attendance at the event, which is happening this week at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront, tops 2,200, a significant jump over last year. Increased attendance at hotel investment conferences is usually, but not always, a sign of an industry on the upturn.
A better sign is the kind of chatter you hear in the hallways, lounges and coffee stations, and this year, I've heard a lot of talk of dealmaking, financing and even new hotel. Fueling the positive conversation are the statistical analysis and anecdotal evidence of better times presented by the general session and panel discussion speakers. No matter who's talking, the message is the same: 2011 is a year of recovery for the hotel industry.
Perhaps most important is what I'm not hearing and that's unbridled enthusiasm for the current and future state of the industry. Most attendees realize that while operating performance has improved and dealmaking is on the increase, the industry environment remains fragile and dependent on forces beyond its control: the state of the economy, i.e., recovery in the jobs and housing sectors; geopolitics and the constant threat of terrorism or other earthshaking events; and the ability of Congress and the White House to get the country back on track.
To be sure, ALIS attendees are exuberant, but wisely it's a rational exuberance.