In this week’s roundup of news from the Americas region: Hurricane Harvey aftermath; hoteliers learn from eclipse; revised cancellation policies; and more.
Hotel News Now each week features a news roundup from a different region of the world. Today’s review covers the Americas.
Hotel predictions after Hurricane Harvey
While it’s too early to put a hard, concrete analysis on the loss of inventory or revenue for hotels in the path of Hurricane Harvey, Jan Freitag, STR’s SVP for lodging insights, said Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy could offer some clues as to how the U.S. hotel industry will be affected. (STR is the parent company of Hotel News Now.)
Freitag said he expects Texas’ room supply will drop for at least a year, as Louisiana’s room supply declined by about 25% during September 2005 and August 2006 after Katrina. He also predicts that there will be strong demand if hotels can re-open quickly or don’t endure significant damage. That demand will likely be generated by displaced residents, federal personnel, contractors and insurance adjusters, he said.
Several hotel companies with properties in the path of the storm have released statements about what effect it has had. Stephanie Summerall, sales and marketing director at the Hotel Derek in Houston, said the hotel had lowered rates and food-and-beverage costs.
“Our hotel is at an elevation that’s safe,” she said. “So our objective now and what we’re talking about is what we’re going to do in the coming weeks to help our community. There are a lot of hotels in our area that have flooded and will need to rebuild. There will be displaced families, plus work crews, insurance companies, lots of people. We’re just hoping we can be a home base for people coming.”
Hotels in total eclipse belt see unprecedented boost
There were 324 cities within the direct line of the 21 August total solar eclipse, and 222 of those cities have at least one hotel. STR analyzed performance data in 11 U.S. cities within the band, collecting data from the night before the event, a time when impact for hotels was at its peak.
All hotels in the line of totality experienced a total-revenue-per-available-room increase of an “impressive 244%,” writes Carter Wilson, VP of consulting and analytics for STR. And in hotel class performance, midscale hotels saw the largest gains in RevPAR, followed by upper midscale and economy. Of the 11 U.S. cities, Salem, Oregon, saw the biggest occupancy increase of 99.7%.
After the eclipse, hoteliers shared their lessons learned, in terms of what went well and how to plan for the next big event.
Revised cancellation policies please owners
Over the past few months, several major hotel brands, such as Marriott International, InterContinental Hotels Group, Hyatt Hotels Corporation and Hilton, have rolled out revised cancellation polices, either formalizing a 24-hour policy or imposing a stricter 48-hour window, writes Hotel News Now’s Dana Miller.
Thomas Baltimore, president and CEO of Park Hotels, said the policy changes are long overdue.
“I’m really pleased to see Hilton and Marriott. … If you look at New York as an example, cancellations have been averaging 30% to 40% (particularly in mid-July). That has impacted rate. It’s impacted certainly corresponding profitability,” he said during the Park’s second-quarter earnings call.
Uneven Americas show varied performance
Speakers during the recent 2017 Hotel Data Conference took a closer look at performance in the Americas regions outside of the United States during a session titled “Winds of change in the Americas,” writes HNN’s Stephanie Ricca.
Canada is seeing growth throughout all key performance indicators. Occupancy grew 2.2% to 62%, average daily rate rose 4.7% to 148.89 Canadian dollars ($118.71) and revenue per available room increased 7% to CA$92.53 ($73.77).
“We need to remember that, apart from the exchange rate, Canada continues to be perceived as a safe destination, a stable environment, both politically and economically,” said Ingrid Jensen, manager of strategic market feasibility for IHG. “That helps promote travel to Canada.”
Latin America, on the other hand, is seeing occupancy declines, driven by instability in oil prices and the political landscape. And demand isn’t picking up at the same pace as its growth in tourism is, said Patricia Boo, area director for Central and South America for STR.
Deals and developments
- Hilton unveiled renovations of two properties in Latin America: The Hilton Buenos Aires, which has a new lobby, F&B outlets and community space; and Hilton Sao Paulo Morumbi, which features 242 upgraded guestrooms.
- Hilton is also expanding its portfolio in Central America with the signing of nine hotel projects spanning five countries.
- The 185-room Radisson RED Campinas is set to open in Brazil on 12 September.
- Hyatt Hotels Corporation plans to open the 254-room Hyatt Centric San Isidro Lima in Peru in January 2018, and the 166-room Hyatt Centric Las Condes Santiago in Chile in February 2018.
- A 300-acre private island resort, Jumby Bay Island is set to open near Antigua on 9 October.
- The 263-room Hyatt Regency Westlake in California will join Dimension Development’s portfolio.
- The Siegel Group Nevada has expanded in Texas with its purchase of a former Budget Lodge Extended Stay Hotel in San Antonio for $3.3 million.
Compiled by Dana Miller.