Hotel industry performance is often predictable yet somehow still catches us by surprise. Like any other economy, the sector relies on a balance of supply and demand - do not let the flat panel TVs and fantastic beds fool you. Hotel performance is significantly tied to the overall economy as well as the industry's own cyclical trends. Recovery is a vague concept but one that is easy to evaluate. Here is the PhoCusWright Financial Edition's outlook for the hotel industry.

DEMAND
It won't be a surprise to anyone that demand is down sharply. In fact, demand is down more than was seen in the 1990-91 and post-9/11 recessions. Demand declined 5.5-6% in 2010 and that compares to declines of 2% in 2002 and 1% in 1991. For 2010, demand is projected to be up 1-1.5%., with growth in 2011 of 5% and 3-4% growth in the next couple of years. However pleasant those demand growth numbers sound, they still do not add up to an increase in demand over 2007 levels through at least 2011.

SUPPLY
Demand is down, and to make matters worse, new hotel supply is still opening up. The number of new rooms being added rivals historical supply peaks. This happens because hotels take a long time to build and open and because the industry tends to overbuild in good times. Supply growth came in at 3% in 2009. However, as funding dried up over the last year, so too has development activity. The net result will be decelerating supply growth, likely falling to less than 1% from 2011-2013.

OCCUPANCY
Occupancy has fallen from above 63% in 2006 to around 55% in 2009. As demand eventually improves with GDP, and supply growth slows, occupancy will recover. Unfortunately this will take several years to play out. Occupancy should not get back to 60% until 2012