Consumer Nation

Hesitant Travelers Book Close to Stay: Loews CEO

Hotel room keycard on table
Altrendo Travel | Getty Images

Despite slightly better occupancies, the hotel industry is still feeling the effects of timid consumer confidence as travelers are booking much closer to the date of their stay, Jonathan Tisch, chairman and CEO of Loews, told CNBC on Thursday.

"People are making decisions much later," Tisch said. "We don't have the luxury as the hotel operators to get a sense of where things are going to be until a much shorter time period."

Loews receives a large portion of its revenue from business travelers, and has seen more companies sending their employees back out on the road.

But the industry needs to see a bounce-back in leisure travel as well before hotels can raise room rates, said Tisch.

He expects that will occur between 2011 and 2012.

The travel sector is still facing a nation with hesitant consumers and a 10 percent unemployment rate — not an environment where families freely book trips.

In the mean time, Tisch says hotels can mitigate the uncertainty by providing value. Whether it is based on bargain prices or brand loyalty, Internet-savvy travelers today are seeking value and can still find some "really good deals."

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