2011 may not have been the hotel industry’s best year, but it sure could have been a hell of a lot worse. As we discuss in this month’s industry forecast story (starting on pg. 22), lodging demand, rate and RevPAR all improved in 2011, and this should be another year of gains. But what else is ahead for 2012 and beyond for the industry? Managing Editor Eric Stoessel and I present our thoughts on what will be the big news stories and trends in the coming 12 months:

The biggest event in the U.S. this year will be the presidential election and while the campaigns will certainly be a boon to business for a few hotels, many owners and operators are more anxiously awaiting the outcome to see in which direction the nation and economy will be heading in the next four years. Many business owners and executives say uncertainty is keeping them from expanding their businesses and hiring more employees. Eleven months from now that curtain of uncertainty should be lifted, and perhaps the economy can kick back into high gear. If so, the lodging industry will be a prime beneficiary of an improved business climate.

The industry rumor mill has been buzzing in the past year or so on the possibilities of hotel company mergers, acquisitions or public company filings. This should be the year something will happen: Hilton or La Quinta going public, or Choice pulling the trigger on the acquisition of an upscale brand, or Motel 6 getting sold or Red Roof buying or selling.

Continue reading at LHonline.com.