US hotels show further support for expected record Thanksgiving travel levels with strong performance the week ahead of the annual holiday

Last week The Blue Swan Daily reported that US Thanksgiving travel was set to hit new highs with the US airline industry expected to break its daily travel record. While it will be a little time before formal figures can confirm that forecast, latest accommodation data for the week ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday show a favourable performance with significant gains in all the important indicators.

Data from benchmarking specialist STR show for the week of 17-Nov to 23-Nov highlights that US hotel occupancy grew +17.7% year-on-year to 61.2% and average daily rate (ADR) increased +10.8% to USD124.71. meanwhile, revenue per available room (RevPAR) increased almost a third, by +30.4% to USD76.32.

On a market by market basis, San Francisco/San Mateo, California posted the largest gains in all the three key metrics. Its occupancy grew +57.9% to 84.2%, ADR increased +143.3% to USD376 and RevPAR grew a massive +284% to USD317. One key driver of the performance was the Dreamforce conference, which welcomed roughly 170,000 attendees, said STR. The performance was also attributable to a shift in the Thanksgiving holiday to later in the month.

The Washington, DC metro area recorded the second highest increase occupancy of +55.8% to 70.9%, and ADR, which grew by +48% to USD157.32. That drove the second largest increase in RevPAR of +130.7% to USD111.49. Denver, Colorado, saw the third-largest increase in RevPAR, up +97.1% to USD95.21.

STR noted none of the top 25 US markets recorded a dip in occupancy, but New Orleans reported the only decline in RevPAR of -2.6% to USD88.86 and the second largest decline in ADR of -5.3% to USD136.29. Miami/Hialeah, Florida posted the largest drop in ADR of -6.7% to USD166.87.

Data from the US trade association Airlines for America had projected that a record 31.6 million passengers were expected to travel on US operators during the 12-day Thanksgiving travel period, which is a +3.7% jump year-on-year.

Roughly 3.1 million passengers were forecast to travel on the Sunday after Thanksgiving (01-Dec-2019), which could now be ranked the busiest travel day ever for the US airline industry. Breaking down the numbers, the association calculated that US airlines would transport an average of 2.63 million passengers per day from 22-Nov-2019 to 03-Dec-2019.

This holiday uplift in demand, based on preliminary data, follows a month where the US hotel industry reported negative results across all three key performance metrics, according to data from STR. Its year-on-year comparison for Oct-2019 versus Oct-2018 shows occupancy down -0.8% to 69.3%, ADR down -0.5% to USD133.34 and RevPAR down -1.2% to USD92.35.

This, according to STR data, represents the first time the industry has reported consecutive months of RevPAR decreases since Dec-2009 and Jan-2010,and provides “more evidence for a pronounced slowdown on the horizon,” says Carter Wilson, STR’s senior VP of consulting and analytics.