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News Southeast Lodging Properties Really Pick Up the Pace During January

photo of the author Stacey Mullen

 Feb 19, 2020

BRADENTON, Fla., Feb. 19, 2020—After struggling virtually the entire winter to recover from a very sluggish start to the winter season, aggregated data for lodging properties in three southeastern states reveals that the region has finally moved into positive territory for the first time this winter. DestiMetrics,* in their monthly Market Briefing released last week by Inntopia, reported that a strong booking pace during January helped boost figures for the full winter season while also setting up a strong foundation for the upcoming summer. Results are aggregated from participating properties and include data collected through Jan. 31.

In a year-over-year comparison to January 2019, actual occupancy for January was up 4.8 percent while the Average Daily Rate (ADR) was up a strong 8.4 percent. The result is a formidable 13.7 percent increase in aggregated revenues for the month.

Bookings made during the month of January for arrivals in January through June were up a robust 16.6 percent compared to bookings made last January for the same period. All six months showed increases with the most impressive gains being posted for May and June—up 29.6 and 28.1 percent respectively. January bookings for arrivals in February were up a healthy 8.8 percent.

With one month remaining in the six-month winter season measured from September through February, overall occupancy as of Jan. 31 is down 1.6 percent compared to last winter at this same time. Although down, this reflects an appreciable rebound from the start of the winter season when occupancy was down 10.2 percent in September with October and November also posting declines. In contrast, the second half of the winter has been much livelier with appreciable monthly gains in occupancy for December, January, and February.

ADR for the full winter is up 1.9 percent with gains in all six months with January showing the greatest increase, up 8.4 percent compared to January 2019. Rising rates helped offset the lower occupancy and for the first time since Sept. 30, the overall winter is posting a year-over-year increase in revenue compared to last year—albeit only a fractional one, up 0.3 percent.

“Strong economic factors have contributed to the region’s late season strength, as has the high volume of bookings for arrivals in January and February,” commented Tom Foley, senior vice president for Business Operations and Analytics for Inntopia. “Combined with January’s strong booking pace, the Southeast region has finally been able to offset the strong negative figures in September and October that have been dragging down aggregated results for most of the winter.”

Economic strength continues to support the travel industry and rising rates. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) continued its meteoric rise by posting the third consecutive all-time record high close on Jan. 31 and building on the significant gains made in both November and December. Also of significance, the closely-watched Dow is up a striking 14.6 percent from the same time last year. The Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) moved up 2.7 percent during January, bringing the CCI above 130 points for the first time since last August. The national Unemployment Rate ticked up 0.1 percent in January to 3.6 percent as job seekers entered the market. Employers easily exceeded expectations during the month by adding 225,000 new jobs—well ahead of the 160,000 expected.

“Markets are responding positively to indications of a trade deal with China as well as the positive post-holiday consumer confidence and employment data,” continued Foley. “At this point, economic impacts resulting from the coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic have not yet materialized but there is certainly some uncertainty about whether it will impact global markets if supply chains weaken,” he cautioned.

“Despite starting the winter with strongly negative occupancy figures, properties in the Southeast region have been carefully managing ADR to keep revenues as stable as possible and striking that balance between occupancy and rate,” Foley acknowledged. “For the most part, ADR has been steady throughout the season and has outperformed every winter month in a year-over-year comparison. When coupled with the strong rebound in bookings made during January for the remaining two months of winter, the region was able to turn the overall winter season around and nudge revenues ahead of last year,” he concluded.

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*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 five resort destinations in three states including South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.

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