The U.S. hotel industry’s recovery is far from complete as an optimistic prime holiday season gives way to a potentially disappointing fall and holiday season.
According to a forecast by the Wall Street Journal’s data and analytics firm STR, around 1 billion hotel rooms will be booked in the country this year. The number marks a sizeable jump from 829 million in 2020, but a large gap from the 1.3 billion hotel rooms booked in 2019.
A drop in business-related travel revenue is proving to be a big blow to the industry. The American Hotel & Lodge Association previously forecast a $ 59 billion decline in business travel revenue as of 2019. The Journal noted that this is a larger decrease than last year, which was just a $ 49 billion decrease.
There are some promising signs in the industry. Group demand, a metric that spans both business and leisure travel, rose 5.7 percent in the last two weeks of September, according to the STR forecast. Average daily rates for groups rose by $ 16 during that time to a pandemic high of $ 214.
Hotel owners also hope that rising vaccination rates and the holiday season will attract tourists again in the colder months to come. International travelers who are fully vaccinated will be able to travel to the US starting next month.
Amid hopes of recovery – and the added pressure of a bill requiring some hotels to pay severance pay for service staff – two prominent New York hotels have embarked on a reopening process. The New York Hilton Midtown reopened on Monday and the Grand Hyatt in Midtown is slated to reopen in early November.
The city’s ailing industries seem to reflect the tough battle that hotels across the country are facing. When lockdown measures were lifted this spring amid wide vaccine distribution, the industry saw some promising gains in customers but still pale in comparison to pre-pandemic rates, with revenue per available room up 62 percent in May from the same Period decreased in 2019.
An April report by CBRE predicted that hotel occupancy in New York City will not recover to pre-pandemic levels until 2025.
[WSJ] – Holden Walter-Warner
Contact Walter Warner Holden