With leisure stays dominating hotel demand due to the pandemic, some hotels, especially those in the U.S. top 25 markets, have seen a trend in stronger Thursday demand.
REPORT FROM THE U.S.—With group business disappearing throughout the pandemic, some business-driven markets have seen more leisure demand shift to Thursdays.
Hannah Smith, senior consultant at STR, HNN’s parent company, said the trend of shifting demand to Thursday has been seen for the total U.S. and is stronger in the top 25 markets.
“Typically, your strongest days of the week are Tuesday (and) Wednesday for your weekdays because that’s when you have a lot of the business demand, some of that group convention demand, and then Friday (and) Saturday are stronger for leisure demand,” she said.
But for the past six months or so, Thursday has been stronger than Tuesday and Wednesday, which is unusual for weekdays, Smith said.
Trailing twelve-month (TTM) October 2019 data from STR for hotels in top 25 markets shows Thursdays ranked at No. 5 in terms of days with higher occupancy. October 2020 data shows Thursdays ranked at No. 3 with an occupancy of 41.2%. For that time period, Monday occupancy was 37.6% and Tuesday was 38.3%.
Though STR doesn’t have specific data on leisure demand, only the transient breakdown, “it’s pretty safe to say based on the types of demand we know are out there that that is leisure demand that is leading into Thursday,” she said.
Business-driven market shift
Thursday has always been a stronger day for leisure-driven markets where Friday and Saturday are the strongest days because of travelers “lumping into a three-day weekend of leisure demand,” she said.
But the shift that was seen in 2020 is in more business-driven markets where Tuesday and Wednesday are usually the strongest days of the week.
“That’s now shifting to the weekend because we just don’t have any of that business or group demand,” she said.
Those business-driven markets such as Denver, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., have seen very clear shifts from strong Tuesday and Wednesday to stronger Fridays and Saturdays, Smith said.
“Essentially, what we’re seeing is some of those business-driven markets (are) almost performing like leisure markets in terms of what day of the week is strongest,” she said.
Denver saw Thursdays shift from No. 4 to No. 3 when comparing TTM data from October 2019 to October 2020 data. Thursday occupancy for October 2020 was 46.3%, while Monday was 41.6% and Tuesday was 41.8%.
Theresa Hajko, regional director of revenue management at Spire Hospitality, said she’s noticed a shift in leisure demand to Thursdays and Sundays.
She said this shift doesn’t necessarily have to do with the lack of group demand, but there are a few other factors contributing to it.
“There’s more people who are taking mini vacations right now, kind of long weekends, mostly by car, as opposed to taking those long one-, two-week vacations that are further away,” she said.
Hajko said Spire is also seeing more demand from staycations, where people who live in a city are going to hotels for the weekend to get out of the house.
She said mini vacation and staycation demand has likely been driven by those working from home and who have children learning from home. Those two groups now have more flexibility in their schedules.
Hotels that offer amenities like indoor and outdoor pools, restaurants and coffee shops are capturing that staycation business and longer weekend trip demand.
Real Hospitality Group
Real Hospitality Group has a portfolio that’s well-divided between corporate markets and leisure beach drive-in markets, said Roy Madhok, VP of revenue management.
But for Real’s portfolio, Thursday demand hasn’t changed for leisure or business-driven properties, he said.
If a small uptick has been seen at all on Thursdays, it’s because of the lack of corporate demand, he said.
He added that Thursdays have been roughly 1% better in resort markets.
Madhok said Sunday has been the surprise beneficiary of more leisure demand.
“What we’ve really seen is just a pronounced affect of what we’ve seen in years past,” he said. “Your Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays have come down, (and) so have your Fridays and Saturdays, but by a lesser amount. But they’re still contributing roughly the same amount on an occupied room basis, which is just a fancy way of saying there hasn’t been a material shift outside of Friday and Saturday,” he said.