Loyalty and reward programmes could make the difference between success and failure for hotels in 2013, according to a PwC report out today.

The European hotels study gives a downbeat forecast for the year with the 19 cities featured not expected to report double digit growth.

Paris tops the rankings for fullest, most expensive and highest revenue per available room (RevPAR).

London will see negative growth but will still enjoy high absolute trading and profitability levels.

“The hotel sector faces a more challenging landscape and growth is expected to slow due to the prolonged economic downturn,” the report says.

“Some cities are however expected to show robust RevPAR growth. These include Paris, St Petersburg and Edinburgh and more modest increases should be seen in Frankfurt, Berlin, Moscow and Dublin.

“But no double digit gains are expected in any of the 19 cities analysed in the report.”

PwC hospitality and leisure leader Robert Milburn said: “A return to a steady state of economic growth is not likely in the short term and the hotel industry has to adapt to this ‘new normal’ as well as to new trends and challenges facing the sector.

“Our 2013 forecast depends largely on how the eurozone crisis evolves. Whilst currently we expect steady growth in many cities, if the crisis escalates, we may see even less promising results for the hotel industry.

“2013 may be largely about the economy but it will also be about seizing the opportunities created by past investment, a clear strategy and skillful management.”

The hotel sector in most European cities has proved remarkably resilient and in fact many cities thrived during 2012.

Four cities are expected to have reached double digit RevPAR growth (in euro terms) in 2012: St Petersburg (14.1%), Dublin (13.9%), Prague (13.1%) and Moscow (12.9%), with almost double digit growth in Berlin (9.6%) and Paris (9.0%).

The forecast leaders in terms of euro currency include St Petersburg, with expected 7.3% RevPAR growth over 2013, followed by Moscow (5.2%), Paris (5.0%), Frankfurt (3.5%), Berlin (3.2%) and Dublin (3.1%).

In local currency terms, Paris is the frontrunner with predicted 5.0% RevPAR growth – followed by St Petersburg (4.8%), Edinburgh (4.0%), Frankfurt (3.5%), Berlin (3.2%) and Dublin (3.1%).

PwC head of hospitality and leisure research Liz Hall said: “2013 will see St Petersburg, Moscow, Paris, Frankfurt, Berlin and Dublin clear winners in terms of RevPAR growth (in euros).

“For others we expect little or no RevPAR growth and some, most notably London, will see negative growth. For London coming off an Olympic high, this is perhaps expected and the city will still enjoy very high absolute trading and profitability levels.”

Paris tops the ‘fullest’ ranking with occupancy predicted at 79.1%, ‘the most expensive’ with forecast average daily rate (ADR) of €267 and the city with the ‘highest RevPAR’, at €211.

Hall added: “Hoteliers face a host of issues and challenges this year – not just the economic downturn but advances in how their customers use technology and social media to evaluate and make purchases. Customer engagement will be crucial – with fewer customers to go around in 2013, loyalty and reward programmes could make the difference between success and failure.”