More than a quarter of hoteliers polled by Choice Hotels Europe believe that the hotel sector will not show any signs of recovery in 2012.

Yet the survey of almost 100 owners, operators and general managers from across six countries including the UK found that 59% believe that the hotel sector will see a sustained upturn next year.

Forty per cent of respondents believe room rates will return to pre-financial crisis levels.

Eighty two per cent said their most important business priority over the next six months is to step up marketing activities to attract new customers. They also ranked sales and marketing flair to be the most important skill or qualification needed to be a successful hotelier in today’s environment.

When asked about their plans to market their hotels through social networking sites, almost half (47%) confirmed that they have created a hotel profile on social networking sites and a third have posted news and information on these sites.

Seventy one per cent regularly monitor what people are saying about their properties online. But 6% do not intend to implement any social network strategies at all.

Hoteliers gave a mixed reaction to the role social networking sites play in the hospitality sector.

Twenty eight per cent see social networking sites as being a useful tool in building relationships with customers and driving loyalty.

Twenty seven per cent believe that 5%–10% of their bookings will come from such sites in the next three years, while another 39% believe that while social networking sites raise the profile and awareness of a hotel property they will never become a respected booking channel.

Room condition and features, location and convenience of the property, staff service, and price and value were perceived to be the most important features to ensure repeat hotel business.

The European Hotelier Pulse-Check survey was conducted in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and the Czech Republic.

Choice Hotels Europe spokesman Duncan Berry, commented: “Choice’s Pan-European Hotelier Pulse-Check reveals the importance hoteliers and general managers are putting on sales and marketing strategies to ensure they can successfully compete in the current economic environment.”