bill carlson: vice president, research choice hotels international

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"In our long-range planning process, we have typically not utilized the Consumer Expenditure Survey (CEX) as a key data source. We can focus more directly on travel and hotel expenditures from other proprietary and industry sources. Recent spending information for the hotel industry shows revenue growing by more than 7 percent over the last 12 months, with our forecasts showing solid (though somewhat moderating) growth over the next few years, as lodging demand is highly correlated with GDP growth.

"Our internal forecasts predict spending for the lodging category will grow much faster over the next several years than the "entertainment" category suggests, as defined in the CEX. We do agree that there is a shift occurring in the relative share of lodging dollars that are spent by consumers in different age cohorts. In particular, the mature market continues to increase its share of all hotel expenditures. We believe there is a clear need to understand how the attitudes and purchase behaviors of the newly mature boomers differ from the World War II generation, and market to each group accordingly.

"We do not anticipate a decrease in hotel spending for the 25-to-44 age group, though their relative share of spending should go down as their numbers decrease. Assuming the U.S. economy continues to grow at a modest pace, we expect that this age cohort will see an increase in travel incidence and frequency that will help offset their decline in overall numbers."

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