I have been in the hospitality industry for over 30 years and my take on this current crisis is as follows:
The overall economy appears to be in fairly decent shape some parts of the county are in worse shape then others but this was a financial bubble and not a down turn in the overall economy and that bodes well for our industry. There is no doubt everyone’s 401K is down and anyone that is in the stock market is losing money on paper. This tells be that this crisis is somewhat selective and Conventions and trade shows will still happen but there may be some softness in attendance.
As more destinations lower their hotel rooms and offer other incentives I for one see people taking these opportunity to travel …we all love a bargain.
We are receiving bookings for the spring and summer of 2009 in both New Orleans and Las Vegas and much of that is coming from Europe so far so good.
Up market restaurants may suffers just as blackjack minimums on the high side will as well but during this time most people will seek out good deals and bargains but as a country we will travel.
Corporate America may slow down a bit but essential business trips will take place and with gasoline at the pump moving down on a daily basis the automobile will again be the preferred way to travel.
The industry will take some hits in 2009 but how deep and how bad will depend on how creative both the buyer and seller become.
Carling Dinkler is the president of Custom Conventions (New Orleans and Las Vegas.