Arne Sorenson is cheerful, and for good reason. Marriott International's finance director has just been promoted to president and chief operating officer. And at a conference in Berlin last week, he was predicting a bright future for the big players in the stricken hotel industry.

"Within 10 years, one of us will have more than 1m rooms in our system," Mr Sorenson said, sitting alongside the chief executives of Marriott's biggest rivals: Hilton, Intercontinental Hotels Group, Starwood and Accor. They did not demur.

The immediate outlook is nothing like as rosy. Revenues are plummeting; hotel occupancy is spiralling downwards. Research by Smith Travel, the hotels consultancy, shows occupancy levels on the slide in Asia, like-for-like average daily rates more than 20 per cent down in January in Europe, and revenues per available room for that month dropping 16 per cent in the Americas and 30 per cent in Europe.

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