The last four weeks (ending Saturday, 12 June) continued to show a solid return to normalcy as we compare 2021 state-level weekly room demand against the comparable levels from 2019. As a reminder, STR currently benchmarks recent performance against 2019 performance levels rather than a pandemic impacted 2020. Twenty-six (26) states showed demand totals within a 10% margin of the corresponding period of 2019. Collectively, eight of those states actually sold more rooms for the 4-week period than they did 2019.
U.S. hotel industry occupancy soared to its highest level since November 2019, reaching 66.0% for the week ending 12 June 2021. Room demand surpassed 25 million in the week, up 1.6 million week on week, and was 91% of the level recorded in the comparable week from 2019. This is significant given the fact that business travel and group demand remain curtailed. Occupancy on Saturday reached 81%, a level like the Saturday of this year’s Memorial Day weekend, while the full weekend came in at 78.8%, the highest since fall 2019 and higher than the comparable weekend of 2019.
Knowing you might not have time to watch our full webinars, we are pleased to continue our series of COVID-19 webinar summaries. In this latest edition, we talk performance and signs of in Europe. While Europe prepares for the summer months, hotel performance levels remain low. The U.K. is the outlier most recently, however, with a 59.5% occupancy level on a rolling 7-day average ending with 6 June. That performance came as pent-up demand during reopening met additional demand for the half-term school holiday.
While occupancy across Brazil is taking time to recover, resorts have seen considerable upward movement with leisure demand growing robustly in the country and travelers seeking not just a getaway, but a full-blown experience. Before jumping into the metrics for resorts, let’s note a few occupancy milestones for context. Brazil reported its lowest pandemic occupancy level in April 2020 at 10.7% . Ten months later during January 2021, Brazil saw its highest pandemic occupancy level at 36.0%, driven by domestic demand at beach destinations around the New Year’s holiday.
During the earliest days of COVID-19, hotel average daily rate (ADR) in South America was as low as 47.8% below pre-pandemic levels. One year later, rates in the region have improved slightly—April’s 15.7% increase was the first year-over-year positive in the metric since the middle of 2019—but still remain far from recovery. More specifically, South America’s April 2021 ADR level of US$56.99 was more than US$30 less than the pre-pandemic benchmark from April 2019 (US$89.55).
As anticipated, the Memorial Day weekend ushered in the highest occupancy the U.S. industry has seen since the start of the pandemic. For the week ending 29 May 2021, weekly occupancy reached 61.8%, the highest level since the final week of February 2020. On a total-room-inventory basis (TRI), which accounts for temporarily closed hotels, occupancy was 59.2%, which was also the highest since the pandemic’s start.
China’s Labor Day holiday (1-5 May) stimulated travel demand and provided a noticeable boost to hotel performance. Thanks to an additional day during the holiday period, the rise in performance pushed levels beyond another recent holiday and even some 2019 comparables. The impact, however, was not even across all markets and hotel classes. The highest hotel occupancy point during the Labor Day period was day two, which reached 91.3%.
U.S. room demand continues to push toward the comparable levels of 2019. As a reminder, 2019 is being used as the recovery benchmark due to the heavy pandemic impact in 2020. For the 4-week period ending 15 May, 29 states experienced room demand totals within a 15% margin of the comparable period in 2019. Recalling that overall U.S. room demand dropped by greater than 80% during the worst weeks of this recession.
The occupancy doldrums remained in place with U.S. occupancy falling to an eight-week low (56.7%) during 2-8 May 2021. Using STR’s total-room-inventory (TRI) methodology, which considers hotels that are temporarily closed, occupancy dropped to 54.2%. Demand, however, increased slightly and remained above 21 million as it has since mid-March. The decrease in occupancy was a result of increased hotel openings.
As vaccine programs continue across the world and we see warming attitudes toward travel alongside increased accommodation bookings, it is important to take stock and assess how the pandemic, and it’s resultant impact on consumer behavior, may leave an indelible mark on hospitality.
How have booking windows shifted during the pandemic? Are the shifts momentary blips or the new norm? In this article, we use case studies and market-specific snapshots to answer those questions and discuss considerations for hotels competing for short-lead business.
Research late last year indicated that travelers’ accommodation preferences had been drastically impacted by the pandemic. However, there is now greater optimism for the eagerly awaited exit from the pandemic as vaccinations continue to expand and more parts of the world “reopen.” With more reason for optimism in the travel and tourism industry, we set out to examine if sentiment toward accommodation type had once again shifted.
Occupancy has long been one of the key hotel performance metrics measured by STR. Reported on both a monthly and weekly basis, occupancy is easily calculated by dividing rooms sold (demand) by rooms available (supply), providing a straightforward representation of the percentage of rooms occupied during a given time period.
As we move further into the spring, much of the U.S. continues to make solid progress toward reaching comparable demand levels from 2019. As a reminder, 2019 is being used as the recovery benchmark due to the heavy pandemic impact in 2020.
Hotel performance growth appears to be on hold when compared with the solid gains seen during the spring break period. In a week-over-week comparison, U.S. hotel occupancy was flat during 18-24 April at 57.3%. On a total-room-inventory (TRI) basis, which includes temporarily closed hotels, occupancy was 54.4%. Weekly room demand increased slightly and remained above 21 million for a sixth consecutive week.
Spring Break 2021 didn’t just dive in, it made a cannonball-sized splash for Florida hotels and other U.S. destinations. When looking at STR’s School Break Report, 39% of college students and just 7% of K-12 students were on break beginning 6 March. Despite this slightly low percentage, all signs pointed to a strong spring break period right out of the gate. The STR-defined Florida Keys market, at that point, was the only U.S. market to reach an 80% occupancy level—at 85.9% for the opening week of March. Other markets, such as Sarasota (75.4%), Fort Lauderdale (72.5%) and McAllen/Brownsville, TX (70.5%), were lower but all above the 70% mark.
With international and business travel caught in the everchanging crossfire of quarantine rules and other COVID-19 restrictions, staycations became a significant driver of the occupancy gains that have emerged since the beginning of the pandemic. STR’s Tourism Consumer Insights team continues to keep a close eye on traveler and tourism trends as the industry moves through the most optimistic point of the pandemic. The twists and turns of the pandemic have contributed to seismic changes in tourism. In this latest installment of our Tourism After Lockdown blog series, we evaluate post-pandemic recovery scenarios for domestic and international leisure travel.
After an auspicious start to its performance recovery, Mumbai’s hotel industry appeared ready to continue setting the trend for urban markets in 2021. However, a second wave of COVID-19 cases has called a temporary halt to the market’s success. Fortunately, strong domestic demand and corporate confidence, the drivers behind the market’s earlier recovery in 2020, remain poised to push performance again once cases are under control. More recently, Mumbai welcomed back corporate travelers, which helped lift demand in the first quarter of 2021. An institutional quarantine requirement helped drive demand as well, as travelers arriving from or transiting through several major world regions were required to undergo a 10-day institutional quarantine.
A strong return of leisure travel has created much cause for celebration during the early months of 2021. In the U.S., hotel room demand in March was the country’s highest level recorded since the start of the pandemic. To fully recover, however, the industry needs both leisure and the various segments of business travel to return. To track evolving trends in the tourism and hospitality industry, and examine everchanging attitudes to travel, STR conducted a quantitative survey in February 2021 among 1,333 respondents from its Traveler Panel. In this latest installment of Tourism After Lockdown, we look at the potential recovery path of business travel. In this research, travelers primarily represented the United Kingdom, other countries in Europe, and North America. Sentiment about business travel was captured among those who had previously traveled for business pre-pandemic.
The week of 4-10 April was all about demand. The number of U.S. room nights sold surged to 22 million, which was the most since the start of the pandemic. As a result, occupancy reached 59.7%, also the highest level of the past year. On a total-room-inventory (TRI) basis, which includes temporarily closed hotels because of the pandemic, U.S. occupancy reached 56.6%—yes, that was another pandemic-era high. On average, the industry sold 3.2 million rooms per day during the week. A year ago, daily demand was a third of that.