BRADENTON, Fla., Dec. 26, 2018— Aggregated data for lodging properties in nine Southeast destinations in five southeastern states are posting gains in occupancy and revenue for five of the six winter months—but the data is somewhat of an anomaly this year as the impact of Hurricane Michael along the Florida Panhandle has significantly shifted usage of units in the region.
In the most recent report released last week by Inntopia in their DestiMetrics* Monthly Market Briefing, booking data compiled through Nov. 30 revealed that the winter season (September 2018 through February 2019) is up 11.9 percent compared to the same time last year. Occupancy is gaining in all six winter months while the Average Daily Rate (ADR) moved up 2.8 percent with rate increases in five of the six winter months. December is the lone month posting a rate decline this winter compared to last year at this time and is down 8.4 percent compared to last December. For the season as a whole, the combination of increased occupancy and revenue is resulting in a strong 15.1 percent gain in revenue for the winter.
November showed impressive year-over-year strength with a 26.2 percent gain in actual occupancy for the month. Along with a slight 0.4 percent gain in ADR, aggregated actual revenues jumped 26.6 percent compared to November 2017.
“We are halfway through the Southeast destination’s winter season and we’re seeing strong performances across a vast majority of reporting destinations and properties,” reported Tom Foley, senior vice president for Business Intelligence of Inntopia. “However, the regionalized impact of Hurricane Michael is definitely changing the aggregated overall numbers for the region. This is primarily because many of the units in the zone that suffered the greatest hurricane impact, have been temporarily occupied by a greater number of recovery workers and displaced families than the usual number of overnight visitors at this time of year,” continued Foley.
Bookings also surged in November and were up 33.7 percent for the six winter months compared to 2017-18. Bookings made in November for arrival in that month were up 48.8 percent while December arrivals were up a whopping 75.1 percent compared to the same time last year, boosted significantly by the nearly eight percent decrease in rate.
“There were many variables in play this month on actual occupancy including the impact of recovery workers and families in many units for longer periods than individual destination visitors,” explained Foley. “We’re also seeing the forces of supply and demand and in full play in affected areas where units being used for long-term rental are reducing inventory for the leisure traveler and creating significant rate increases.”
The Briefing also provides a synopsis of key economic indicators. The economy, while remaining strong in most categories, continued to experience some instability during November. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) had two dramatic cycles in November when it rocketed up and down more than 5,100 points over those cycles, but ultimately finished the month up 1.2 percent ahead of October. Although the Briefing generally limits analysis to data from the previous month, the dramatic plunge of the DJIA on Dec. 20 and 21 of more than 2,800 points to its lowest level since October 2017 was included in this month’s report as a caution to their subscribers.
Consumer confidence dipped 2.2 percent during the month and marks the first decline since June of 2018. And, while the Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) remains near historically high levels, the recent dip suggests a softening in confidence as consumers’ expectations were less optimistic than they have been. The Unemployment Rate remained unchanged at 3.7 percent for the third consecutive month although the 155,000 new jobs fell significantly short of the 190,000 new jobs expected. For workers, wages rose six cents to an aggregated $27.35 per hour and elevated the 12-month increase in hourly pay to 3.1 percent and the biggest uptick since 2009.
“October and November were anything but normal months in the Carolinas and the Florida Panhandle due to post-hurricane circumstances so this month’s data has to be taken with a rather large grain of salt,” cautioned Foley. “However, despite these anomalies, the Southeast region as a whole is performing very well year-over-year compared to the winter of 2017-18 as of Nov. 30. Our greater concern right now is the mounting economic pressures that may have significant regional impact if the markets continue to crumble,” he concluded.
*DestiMetrics, part of the Business Intelligence platform for Stowe-based Inntopia, tracks resort performance in selected mountain and southeast U.S. destinations. They compile forward-looking reservation data each month and provide individualized and aggregated results to subscribers at participating resorts. Data from the Southeast is derived from nine resort destinations in five states including South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Florida, and Alabama.
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