Hotel prices in most key cities will experience only ‘modest rises’ in 2020 with room rates set to remain ‘stagnant’ as increasing supply and trade tensions hit market

29 July, 2019

Hotel prices in most key cities will experience “only modest rises” in 2020, according to the recently published The Hotel Monitor 2020 from American Express Global Business Travel (GBT). The study predicts that a global boom in hotel construction is increasing the supply of guest rooms just as international trade tensions put a dampener on demand. Together, it says, these factors “will restrict the ability of hotels to raise room rates in many business destinations”.

The report also highlights how technology and new hotel formats will “re-shape hospitality worldwide” as they develop to support the modern business traveller, who wants a more informal, flexible and digitally smart environment to work and rest, according to Joakim Johansson, vice president, global business consulting at GBT.

Like much of the travel industry, digital innovation is driving change across the hotel landscape, creating new opportunities to increase savings and improve the traveller experience. The report identifies five key areas where technology and data insights are impacting corporate lodging, and looks at how organisations are responding – artificial intelligence, OBTs supporting duty of care, cancellation policies, revenue management and guiding traveller decision-making.

The forecasts for North America are set against the background of an expected global economic slowdown in 2019, with growth accelerating again in 2020. In the United States, flat occupancy and a full pipeline of rooms in construction will “drive competition and limit the ability of hotels to raise prices,” according to the report.

Canada is more likely to see rates rise, thanks to a “relatively strong economic performance and slowing capacity growth”. Chicago (+5%), San Francisco (+4%) and Toronto (+4%) will see the biggest increase in room rates. In contrast, guestroom rates for New York are expected to decrease by -3% as 29,000 new guestrooms become available over the coming months.

For Europe, the report forecasts small room rate rises across its main business cities as “low growth, and uncertainties about Brexit and the general global economic outlook” take their toll on demand. On the supply side, hotel development is at “a record high in Europe,” it says with Germany leading the development boom with 379 projects in the pipeline. The UK follows closely behind with 281 hotels in the works. London will see a further 10,000 new rooms open in 2019 and 2020.

In Central and Latin America, the report says concerns about political and economic uncertainty “have negatively impacted business travel” across the region. Nonetheless, it notes, prices are expected to rise as demand outpaces growth in a region that has seen its hotel construction pipeline decrease by 25% year-on-year.

In the Middle East a hotel boom has been largely focused on the United Arab Emirates and the report identifies “supply will outstrip demand” and lead to forecast falls of as much as -10% in Doha and -8% Riyadh. As host to the 2020 Expo, Dubai should see rising visitor demand: however, the report states room rates “are expected to be static”.

Across Asia Pacific, the hospitality industry is growing rapidly with thousands of additional beds in key cities every year. Despite the added capacity, the report says “sustained demand in these growth economies” means rates are likely to increase. It notes that domestic travellers are increasingly filling hotel beds, compensating for any falls in international visitor numbers stemming from a less optimistic global economic outlook.