It seems that everywhere you look, the economic downturn has affected everything: not enough work to go around, low morale, and generally bad vibes everywhere. Call me an optimist, but I think there is a sliver of a silver lining here. This is a time for reflection, a time for vision, a time for planning. When we do rebound, what will have changed for good, and how will we have to react in the new economy?
This is a good time to “re-design” the way we do things—everything from the way we collaborate and design, to the way we manage workflow and production, to the way we give presentations. In that light, we have to ask why we, in the design profession, are not making better use of certain technologies and tools. It has already been well established that Building Information Modeling (BIM) and Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) are vitally important to bringing the building industry into the 21st century. This article will highlight a number of other tools that can help to better position our industry in the new economy, many of which we have started exploring and implementing at my firm, WATG.
Having just returned from the NYU Hotel Industry Investment Conference (1-2 June), I can tell you the sentiment seems to be that this is as bad as it's going to get. Now the question is: When will it get better?
Individuals at this conference seemed less depressed than they were five months earlier at the Americas Lodging Investment Summit (ALIS) in San Diego, when the general sentiment seemed to be, "It sucks all over."
In town for the NYU conference, Arne Sorenson, president and chief operating officer of Marriott International, offered his thoughts to a CNBC audience, suggesting that hotels in the US will start to see improvement in occupancy and RevPAR in the second half of this year (aka as early as next month).
Frits van Paasschen, president and CEO of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, agreed that the panic seen during the past eight months is waning. "We see the beginning of confidence," he said. "There is major pent-up demand; there will be a rebound."
Gilles Pélisson, chairman and CEO for Accor, said he couldn’t be as optimistic as his fellow chief executives. "We don't yet see a very high level of recovery," he said, adding that European countries that have been hit hard, such as Spain, still are in dire straits. He also said France and Germany, which have been two of the strongest economies, now are slowing down.
Steve Rushmore, president of HVS, suggested that there is some good news in our current state of affairs. In his opinion, the relative lack of new hotel supply in this downturn will lead to a "rapid and strong recovery." Hotel real estate values (down as much as 50%) will lag, however, and are not expected to recover until 2011.
When it comes to looking down the road, everyone seems to have limited visibility. Predictions are, at best, educated guesses. All we can say with some certainty is that - no matter what the pace and how tough the journey - things will get better. Even the pessimists reluctantly agree.
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