Last year at this time, I wrote 2010 was better than 2009 (duh!) and hopefully we could say the same again this year. I think it's safe to say we can. Although maybe 2011 wasn't as prosperous as we'd hoped, it's hard to complain about another year of improvement (check out the year's top 10 stories here).
Especially if you consider all the challenges the industry has faced, from unemployment and a crisis in consumer confidence, to the ongoing political gridlock that is Washington DC to our own debt-ceiling fiasco here and then the European sovereign debt crisis plaguing the world economy.
I guess the moral of all those story lines is the lodging industry has remained strong, and is perhaps stronger than many thought. Maybe the industry isn't as tied to the economy and GDP growth as we thought and/or maybe Americans really do believe traveling is a birthright that trumps almost everything else. Who knows, but the fact the economy has continued to teeter while the industry continues to improve is what I'll take away from 2011.
Sure, there are still many concerns over what might happen if there's another unforeseen blow to the world economy and about the lack of credit combined with either a trickle or tidal wave of CMBS defaults that loom depending on whom you ask. Those are all pretty large elephants still in the room, but they've been there for more than a year now and the industry hasn't been trampled yet.
My hope for 2012 is we can stop discussing where we're at in the recovery or recession and whether we're rebounding (? or !). Let's retire those terms until we're at the end of this cycle, which is finally here, and let's enjoy the climb back up and a return to normalcy.