Strong hotel occupancy rates hint at recovery


Hotel occupancies were up in the month of July despite higher hotel prices, making a clear indication that this ailing sector of the economy is starting to see the first meaningful signs of recovery.

More than 105 million room nights were paid for during the month of July, according to Smith Travel Research, the nation’s most authoritative source on hotel industry trends. In fact, more people spent more total nights in hotels in July than in any month in American history since records were kept!

I find this significant because hotel occupancies are like a temperature test of where corporate America is on business travel and where we are in our own lives as leisure travelers.

As I mentioned, this is happening at a time when hotel rates are going up. As somebody who loves getting accommodations on the cheap, that’s not necessarily a good thing for your and my wallet, but it is a positive sign for our economy that people are staying in hotels and paying higher rates than they have paid in a number of years.

Interestingly, the area of the industry that’s doing best is the luxury end of the hotel market. That indicates to me that higher level corporate travelers are back traveling again and those expense account restrictions have been loosened some.

Even as occupancies rise, 30% of hotel rooms at all price points still sit empty on the average night in the United States. That means there’s still plenty of room for you to follow my bargain steps to get those deals!

Editor’s note: This segment originally aired in Sept. 2011.

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