Michael Medzigian, chairman and managing partner of Watermark Capital Partners, opened the already somber-sounding seminar with even more sobering news: PKF Hospitality Research?s latest forecast released that morning projected a 7.8 percent RevPAR decline in 2009.

Worse yet, PKF predicted U.S. lodging wouldn?t experience a year-over-year quarterly increase in RevPAR until the second quarter of 2010, after seven straight declining quarters, the longest such stretch since Smith Travel Research began tracking performance in the late 1980s. The 7.8 percent drop next year would be the fifth steepest since 1930.

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