Following the recession of the early 1990s and the Gulf War of 1991, the US economy enjoyed significant growth for much of the decade. Americans made well over one billion trips and stayed more than four billion nights away from home each year. In addition to travel by US residents, US hotels benefited annually from well over 40 million international visitors. However, their profile changed substantially: while the number of overseas travellers to the US continued to grow, for a number of years travel from Canada and Mexico declined or stagnated..
There was major growth in hotel employment in the 1980s, when the industry created more than half a million jobs against an indifferent productivity performance. Employment in the early 1990s remained in the region of 1.6 million jobs, before it resumed modest growth, and there appears to have been a Substantial improvement in hotel productivity.
Increasing occupancies and room rates combined with improved efficiency resulted in the industry recording in the 1990s the highest profits in its history. The dramatic increase in profitability brought about an inflow of investment capital into acquisitions, new development and modernization. However, new development was primarily concentrated in the limited service and extended stay sectors throughout the United States, whilst new full service hotels were mainly concentrated in such locations as Orlando and Las Vegas.
Hotel chains represent the most visible part of the US hotel industry, each with hundreds of units and thousands of rooms. But, as in most countries, the bulk of US hotel firms are small businesses, which tend to escape published statistics; yet they represent much of the strength of the American hotel industry.
As we go to print, the hotel industry in America, as in the UK, faces the future with cautious optimism.