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Lodging rates rose 4 percent in 2011, and will again in 2012

The average cost of a hotel room in 2011 rose by a modest 4 percent worldwide over the previous year, according to an annual study by Hotels.com – but the changes in price varied considerably form one destination to another. Meanwhile, a leading hotel consulting firm says travelers should expect to see U.S. room rates keep rising by about that same amount over the next few years.

In its annual Hotel Price Index, Hotels.com noted that the 4 percent global average increase for 2011 was slightly exceeded in North America, where rates rose by an average of 5 percent over 2010. By contrast, average rates paid in Asia fell by 2 percent last year. Overall, hotel prices in 2011 were “continuing the process of steady recovery from the lows of 2008,” the company said. “Entering the third consecutive year of moderate price rises for guests, the global average price is still lower than it was in 2005, such was the depth of the financial crash-inspired trough.”

Overseas, some of the biggest rate hikes were seen in Europe, Hotels.com said, where average 2011 room prices rose by 15 percent in Lisbon, to $195; 14 percent in Brussels, to $196; and 13 percent in both Budapest and Warsaw, to $191 and $130, respectively.

The prices cited in the Hotels.com study are based on rates actually paid by users of the website, not on published rates.

In the U.S., New York City remains the most expensive destination for hotel guests, with an average daily rate in 2011 of $204, an annual increase that matched the North American average at 5 percent. Ranking second in cost was Honolulu, up 10 percent to $175, followed by Boston, up 6 percent to $165; Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, up 10 percent to $153; Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-San Luis, Calif., up 3 percent to $147; New Orleans, up 11 percent to $145; and San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, up 13 percent to $143.

Prices in Chicago last year rose just 3 percent to $139, while the average percentage increase and daily rate in other cities were: Washington D.C., up 1 percent to $142; Los Angeles, up 7 percent to $125; Seattle, up 5 percent to $129; Pittsburgh, up 9 percent to $126; Denver, up 4 percent $124.

For some unexplained reason, average hotel rates in Charleston, S.C. during 2011 jumped 46 percent over 2010 levels, to $130, Hotels.com said.

Meanwhile, the consulting firm PKF Hospitality Research said that continuing increases in demand along with limited amounts of new hotel rooms in the marketplace will mean further increases in room rates for the immediate future.

The company predicts that during 2012, hotel occupancy in the U.S. will grow by 1.6 percent and average daily room rates will rise by 4.1 percent, giving hotel operators an average increase of 5.8 percent in their revenue per available room.

By 2013, the percentage of rooms filled in the U.S. is expected to surpass the industry’s long-term average of 61.9 percent, the company said. As a result, “we expect to see average daily room rates increase in excess of 4 percent per year through 2014,” said PKF president R. Mark Woodworth.

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