Executive Sentiment Slows

The current Lodging Executives Sentiment Index reading is 69.0, a shade below last period's 69.8 (corrected from last month's article due to surveys received late) and far below that of 79.0 during the same period last year. Nevertheless, the LESI indicates continued economic expansion in lodging, with the Future Expectations Index going back to 58.0 with this period's reading compared to last period at 62.1. A year ago to date, that index read 72.0.

The Present Situation Index's rate of change gained over last period's reading of 77.6 to 80.0. This Present Situation reading held the LESI from dipping further, given the lower index reading of the Future Expectations Index. The Reservations Expectations Index reading of 64.0 dropped from 67.2 last period — and from 78.0 a year ago to date. A reading below 50 indicates that lodging is generally in decline, while one greater than 50 indicates the sector is generally expanding. The distance from 50 indicates the strength of the expansion or decline.

Over the last 12 months, the LESI has remained relatively constant, spanning a high of 83.3 last December and a low of 69.0 registered for this period and last March. Disregarding the high and low readings, the range narrows to a 10-point trading range between 69.6 and 79.0.

Sixty percent of respondents indicated that current business conditions were good, with 40 percent indicating conditions were normal last period. None of the executives responding to the survey indicated current business conditions were bad. Thirty-two percent thought business will improve in the next 12 months, 52 percent felt conditions would be the same and 16 percent indicated conditions would be worse.

The Reservations Expectation Index asks lodging executives to project rooms reservations over the next 12 months as compared to the last 12 months.

Forty percent of the lodging executives expect reservations to increase in the next 12 months, 48 percent feel rooms reservations will stay the same and 12 percent believe they will decrease. These percentages compare unfavorably to last period's (corrected) respective percentages of 48.3, 37.9 and 13.8.

The Lodging Employment Index queries lodging industry executives whether, over the next 12 months, they expect to add the total number of non-management employees, maintain current levels or reduce that number. This index reads at 64.6 this period as against 69.6 last period. Last year's reading was 77.1; 33.3 percent of the lodging executives indicated they were going to increase the total number of non-management employees versus 42.8 percent last period, while 62.5 percent, versus 53.6 percent last period, expected to maintain current levels. Only 3.6 percent reported they will lay off non-management employees.

The LESI is a leading economic indicator in the lodging sector and is based on opinions of lodging executives reporting on a monthly basis and follows the Institute of Supply Management's Index (ISM) method of tracking leading indicators. The LESI was developed and is maintained by the University of New Hampshire's Hospitality Management Department.

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