The Lodging Executives Sentiment Index (LESI) edged up ever so slightly this month to 79.3 from 79.2 last period and 89.5 during the same year-to-date period last year. The LESI continues to point to economic expansion in the lodging sector, and hotel executives continue to indicate that this may be the best of times for the industry. This period's Present Situation Index reading of 89.1 compares to 87.5 last period and 92.1 last year.

Although still in expansion mode, the Future Expectations Index decreased very slightly to 69.6 from 70.8 last month and 86.8 last year. An index reading greater than 50 indicates that the industry is generally expanding and below 50, the sector is declining, with the distance from 50 indicating the strength of the expansion or decline.

One eastern seaboard hotel executive noted the loss of revenue during the Labor Day weekend from news reports about Hurricane Ernesto. Yet, nearly 80 percent of respondents say current business conditions are good — up from 75 percent last period — with 21.7 percent indicating current conditions are normal. About half of those surveyed (47.8 percent) believe business conditions will be better over the next 12 months, while 43.5 percent feel conditions will be the same. The remainder (8.7 percent) think conditions will be worse 12 months from now.

Lodging executives expect an increase in rooms reservations as the Reservations Expectations Index stands at 71.7, compared to last period's reading of 77.1 and 86.8 a year ago to date. An equal share of respondents (47.8 percent) believe renovations will increase in the next 12 months as those who think res volume will stay the same.

The Lodging Employment Index reads somewhat lower at 69.6 versus last period's reading of 76.1 and 76.3 a year ago. About half of the group expect to add non-management employees over the next 12 months, while 43.5 percent say they plan to keep the number of employees the same. Only 8.7 percent plan to lay off any employees.

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