Southeast destinations in four states managed a strong rally during the month of April following a sluggish performance last month for summer bookings. According to the most recent data released by Vermont-based Inntopia in their monthly DestiMetrics Market Briefing, as of April 30, aggregated occupancy among participating destinations for the full summer season from March through August is up 3.3 percent with revenues edging up five percent compared to the same time last year. However, occupancy for the month of April finished down 5.9 percent and revenues dropped 7.4 percent as a result of lackluster bookings made in March for April arrivals. But properties reacted quickly and adjusted their Average Daily Rates (ADR) to attract additional visitors for the upcoming summer months.
“Lodging properties in the region responded quickly to the March booking weakness which was down 19 percent year-over-year last month, by adjusting rates enough to reverse that trend and make April a positive growth month for summer bookings which were up 0.5 percent compared to last April,” explained Tom Foley, vice president of Business Intelligence for Inntopia. “Overall, the region is on track for a good season if the accelerated booking pace of the past 30 days continues and there are no significant economic or weather disruptions in the coming months,” he continued.
With the uptick in the booking pace during April, occupancy for the months of May through August are all up with increases ranging from 0.4 percent in August to a whopping 20.3 percent increase in occupancy for June. September bookings continue to struggle as occupancy is down 22.7 percent for that month compared to this same time last year.
Just as catastrophic weather can impact a season, economic indicators can also play a role in travel spending. The instability on Wall Street that began in February, persisted through April with dramatic swings in key financial market indexes. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) finished essentially flat in April with an 0.25 percent increase from March. Although tiny, it is the first gain since January, and the Index remains 15.4 percent higher than it was last April. The Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) edged up a modest 1.3 percent to reach its second-highest level since December 2000. Job creation fell well below expectations with 164,000 new jobs in April—or 28,000 less than projected. It did lead to a drop in the Unemployment Rate to 3.9 percent and its lowest level in 18 years, but was partially due to 410,000 workers dropping out of the job market during the month. Wages continue to lag behind inflation.
“Concerns about trade wars and trade agreements are continuing to rumble around, but so far, markets are remaining strong and a weakening dollar abroad and strong global economy will hopefully combine to boost destination travel from international visitors in the coming months,” observed Foley. “However, Southeast destination visitors appear to be more rate sensitive than other regions and lodging properties will have to monitor their reservations closely and be prepared to react quickly to changing circumstances. They did it very successfully last month and saw a dramatic rebound in summer bookings after a very shaky start in March,” he concluded.
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