Now comes the hard part for hotel operators

Hotel owners have entered 2012 with decent momentum when it comes to demand — both from groups and leisure travelers — and pricing power. The hospitality team at PricewaterhouseCoopers now expects U.S. revenue per available room to rise 6.5 percent this year, helping the industry to get within a whisker of its pre-recession highs. But that decent growth number comes with some caveats: Occupancy will rise only 1.3 percent this year, says PwC, and "the outsized gains experienced during this resumption of travel activity have largely run their course." (See the chart below.)

Translation: If you want your hotel to be able to hike prices and get on the right side of that 6.5 percent RevPAR number, you'll have to step up your game in 2012.