It was good news for the hotel and hospitality industry when the results of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s 2013 Survey of International Air Travelers (SIAT) were released. The positive report showed that overseas visitor volume to states and cities in the U.S. increased over 2012 levels. Based on Department of Homeland Security records, 2013 international travel to the U.S. was up eight percent compared to the previous year.
The annual Survey of International Air Travelers has been conducted since 1983. Analysis of the raw data collected in the survey includes the purpose of the trip, international visitor count, and specific results by state and selected cities. For 2013, the general findings showed that visitation increased to some degree in every port of entry. The volume of overseas travelers also increased in most, but not all, destination cities. Compared to 2012, the average number of states and destinations visited declined while the average length of stay increased. More first-time travelers visited in 2013 and there was no significant change in the size of the travel party. Let’s take a closer look at the findings.
A record 21.4 million people arrived from overseas in 2013 to enjoy a vacation in the United States. That represents a seven percent increase over the number of leisure travelers in 2012. South America, Asia (except Japan), Europe, and Oceania were all regions that had gains in outbound tourists to the United States. Florida, California, and Hawaii all showed double-digit increases (over 2012) in the percentage of overseas visitors. Both Florida and California set state records for the most international tourists in a single year.
Visiting Friends and Relatives
This was the second most popular reason to visit the United States. In 2013, about 9.2 million people came to visit family and friends – a seven percent increase over the number who visited for the same reasons in 2012.
Doing business in America continues to be very important for foreign companies and businessmen. In 2013, roughly 4.9 million (up six percent from 2012) business travelers spent time in the United States. Large gains were experienced in New York, California, Texas, and Illinois, all of whom have aggressive policies to attract international business to their states. India stepped up its U.S. business travel by 28 percent and Japan showed a healthy year-over-year increase of 23 percent.
Up three percent from last year, the number of overseas visitors who attended conventions in 2013 hit the 3 million mark. Millions were attracted by the opportunity to learn about American businesses, technology, and pop culture. They attended the annual auto show in Detroit, the big Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and the wildly popular Comic-Con in San Diego.
Number of States Visited
Data revealed that more people, on average confined their travel to fewer states than was the case in the previous year. While some visitors may fly into Los Angeles and then take a side-trip to Las Vegas, NV or the Grand Canyon in Arizona, more people elected to stay within the state in which they arrived. The percentage of states visited declined from 1.5 percent to 1.4 percent in 2013. In addition, the percentage of travelers visiting only one state increased 1.7 percent to 72.2 percent in 2013.
Another finding from the survey was that the average number of destinations visited on a single trip declined from 2.0 in 2012 to 1.9 in 2013. More overseas visitors to visit just one destination, and while that was good for the most popular cities and destinations, it hurt some of the secondary travel destinations.
Length of Stay
The average number of days a typical overseas traveler stayed on a trip to the United States edged up slightly to 17.5 nights in 2013 – up from 17.0 nights in 2012. Even though the overall average daily stay was up, the average length of stay was down for visitors from the UK, Japan, China, South Korea, and China.
First Trip to the United States
The number of first-time overseas visitors to the U.S. in 2013 increased by roughly 10 percent to 7.6 million. Higher incomes, particularly among the younger generation, made it possible for more people to travel overseas. In addition, the US government made it easier to obtain travel visas and US tourism groups increased their marketing efforts overseas.
Top States Visited in 2013
New York held the honor for the most-visited state with approximately 9.8 million overseas visitors in 2013. That was a 5.0 percent increase over 2012. Florida came in second with 7.2 million (a record number for the state), and California was solidly in third with 6.5 million (up 8 percent from 2012).
Considering all of the overseas visitors, New York had a 30.6 percent market share, Florida achieved a mid-twenties market share, and California did well with a 20.2 percent market share. Other states that showed high growth rates in overseas visitor in 2013 included Louisiana, Texas, and Hawaii.
Top Destination Cities in 2013
• New York City
• Los Angeles
• San Francisco
• Las Vegas
Top 3 California Destination Cities in 2013
• Los Angeles – 3,781,000 (+ 11% from 2012)
• San Francisco – 3,044,000 (+ 9% from 2012)
• San Diego – 833,000 (+8% from 2012)
Encouraging more overseas visitors should be a national goal. Not only do visitors from around the globe inject money into our economy, but they also allow all of us who interact with them to see the habits and cultural differences that make our world so interesting. While the 2013 Survey of International Air Travelers offers some very valuable information about international tourism to the U.S., it does not include the large number of international tourists who arrive from Canada or Mexico. Hotels, major attractions, and restaurants all benefit when more overseas visitors are in town. Without the vibrant travel and tourism industry, our economy would struggle more than you could ever imagine.
January 2014 Totals Beat January 2013 Totals by Six Percent.
The US Department of Commerce recently announced that the number of international visitors in January of 2014 beat the January 2013 international visitor count by six percent. Over 4 million of the total 5.1 million international visitors to the United States came from just 10 countries.
Canada and Mexico, countries that both share a common border with the United States, held the top two spots. China was a very distant third on the list. The list below shows the top 10 countries, the number of visitors to the US in January 2014, and the percentage change from January 2013.
Canada ………………….. 1,580,761 0%
Mexico …………………… 1,228,663 +8%
Japan ……………………… 270,598 -3%
People’s Republic of China ….. 221,705 +33%
Brazil ……………………. 208,646 +2%
United Kingdom …………….. 186,438 +3%
South Korea ………………… 138,917 +10%
Germany ……………………. 89,069 +4%
Australia ………………….. 81,167 +3%
Argentina …………………… 71,538 +11%
Notable among the US Department of Commerce figures is the big year-over-year increase for China in the month of January and Japan’s slight drop in total visitors from the prior year. South Korea, with a 10% increase, further illustrates the growing number of Asians interested in visiting the United States.
You must remember that these numbers only represent one month of an entire year. According to the National Travel and Tourism Office’s 2014 Spring Travel Forecast, there were annual international visitor count to the US in 2013 was 69.7 million, an increase of 3 million over calendar year 2012. The forecast for all of 2014 calls for 72.2 million international visitors.
Canada and Mexico accounted for almost 55% of all international visitors in January 2014. Overseas visitors made up the remaining 45% of the total 5.1 million January, 2014 international visitors to the United States. Miami, New York, and Los Angeles ports once again accounted for 41% of all overseas arrivals.
More visitors mean more money for the tourism and hospitality industry. California, for instance, is the most popular US destination for Chinese travelers. Hotels are doing their best to cater to the Chinese traveler, in part because they stay longer and spend more than travelers from almost any other country.
A combination of factors may explain the steady rise of international travel and tourism to the United States. Recognizing the importance of international tourism to the economy, President Obama issued an executive order that encouraged and made it easier for more international citizens to visit the United States. America has devoted a substantial amount of resources in many countries to help market and promote travel to the US. The standard of living is going up in places like South Korea and China, making it possible for more people to travel abroad.
While hoteliers in the United States are not throwing big parties or setting off fire works to celebrate the positive January 2014 international visitation numbers, they are smiling a little more. The hotel industry welcomes every guest from all corners of the world.
Hampton Inn & Suites Choose Hotel Managers Group
Hoteliers throughout the Southwest recognize Hotel Managers Group as a superb management team that takes pride in maintaining the finest quality standards in the hospitality industry. The group currently manages a number of hotels from California to Colorado including Hampton Inn & Suites in San Francisco (77 rooms), Las Vegas (129 rooms), Littleton, Colorado (118 rooms) and Highland, California (110 rooms). They have managed each of these four properties for more than five years.
Hampton Hotels is an international brand, which includes Hampton Inn & Suites, that Entrepreneur Magazine named the top-ranked U.S. franchise for three years in a row. Stability, growth and the financial strength of the franchisor are some of the factors considered in the ranking. The success of the Hampton Hotels brand is largely due to its excellent relationship with fiercely loyal franchisees. The company honors its commitments to these partners while constantly striving to improve communication and support. In return, the franchisees generate high profit margins from satisfied repeat guests.
The Hotel Managers Group has the expertise to assist prospective owners in the construction of a new Hampton Inn & Suites property or with the rebranding of an existing hotel. Services include the following:
• Concept development.
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• Functional layout of the property.
The Hotel Managers Group is also well equipped to come in and manage current Hampton Inn & Suites for those owners who are considering a change. The transition process begins with these initial steps:
• Property analysis.
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For new properties or ones with a changeover in management, the Hotel Managers Group can assume responsibility for ongoing operations such as:
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With more than 30 years of experience in hotel management and consulting, the Hotel Managers Group has helped many investors in Hampton Inn & Suites franchises realize strong returns. HMG Hotels has done the same for owners of many brands including the most recognizable names in hospitality including Marriott, Hilton Doubletree, Crowne Plaza, Starwood, Best Western, Comfort Inn, and many more.
Call today for more information on new construction, rebranding or franchise management services.
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STR and Tourism Economics Predict Slower RevPAR Growth in 2014/2015
A forecast predicting that revenue per available room (RevPAR) will continue to grow at a decreasing rate in 2014 and 2015 is no reason to panic. Although the US hotel industry will face challenges if STR and Tourism Economics analysis of industry trends is correct, there will still be growth.
According to the forecast model, RevPAR growth for 2014 is expected to come in at 5.3 percent in 2014 and 4.7 percent in 2015. In 2013, STR/Tourism Economics was overly optimistic when it predicted 5.8 percent growth and the actual number came in at 5.5 percent. Actual demand growth for 2013 was 2.3 percent, which was better than expectations for a 2.1 percent growth in demand. For 2014, the forecast for the growth in demand for hotel rooms is predicted to be 2.2 percent.
Why Do the Numbers Matter so Much?
Hotel owners, executives, managers, and investors all pay close attention to RevPAR, ADR (average daily room rates), and occupancy rates to measure hotel performance. For those closely involved with daily operations, keeping track of monthly data can help them recognize early trends and perhaps take steps to avoid problems in the future. For investors, the numbers are an indication of the health of individual brands as well as the lodging industry as a whole.
Hendersonville, Tennessee-based, Smith Travel Research (STR) is a leading provider of data and market analysis for the hotel industry. Just about every large hotel chain and many smaller hotel operators anxiously await the newest monthly reports. Positive numbers for all three key performance metrics for the hotel industry– RevPAR, Occupancy, and ADR – were reported for March, 2014 by Smith Travel Research.
March 2014 RevPAR
In March of 2014, US hotels saw a 7.2 percent increase in revenue per available room as compared to the same period in the prior year. In dollar figures, RevPAR was up $4.92 from $70.39 in March, 2013 to $75.31 in March, 2014. The surprising gain was attributed, at least in part, to the luck of the calendar.
In 2013, both Easter and Passover began near the end of March. Recognizing that many employees would be inconvenienced if they had to travel and attend business meetings and conferences, meeting planners pushed those meetings into early April. While the influx of business travelers drove RevPAR up in April, 2013, it hurt business in March of 2013. In 2014, just the opposite situation took place. Both Passover and Easter started in April of 2014. Business planners loaded-up on March business meetings and travel and that skewed the March, 2014 RevPAR number higher.
March’s excellent figures can be attributed to both a surge in business and the pricing power of the hotel industry. Hotel managers were able to raise their average daily rates while also enjoying some growth in occupancy rates. While April, 2014 RevPAR figures were not yet available at the time this article was written, it is expected that, when published, they will be more subdued.
Looking at the Top 25 Markets, RevPAR increased year-over-year by at least 15 percent in the following cities.
• Denver was up 37 percent to $82.56
• Nashville was up 23.9 percent to $92.17
• Atlanta was up 20.4 percent to $66.32
• Dallas was up 17.9 percent to $69.85
• St. Louis was up by 15.7 percent to $60.93
• Houston was up by 15.3 percent to $84.48
While many other Top 25 Markets saw positive growth rates, one city stood out because it had a negative growth rate of 8.3 percent, down to $180.21. Can you guess? New York took first prize for the biggest decline in RevPAR for the month of March, 2014.
March 2014 Occupancy Rates
In 2014, occupancy rates grew by 2.9 percent in year-over-year comparisons for the month of March. The rate increased from 63.7 percent in 2013 to 65.3 percent in 2014. Denver showed the most improvement with an 18.4 percent increase to 75.7 percent and Atlanta followed with an 11 percent increase to 72.4 percent. Miami and New York City tied for the dubious distinction of having the lowest (negative) occupancy growth rates of -3.5 percent. Nonetheless, both Miami, with an occupancy rate of 85.8 percent, and New York, with an occupancy rate of 81.2 percent, far exceeded the national occupancy rate of 65.3 percent.
Occupancy rates can be affected by many factors including the supply of new rooms and the popularity of a particular destination. With more than 50 million annual visitors, New York will have a higher than average occupancy rate even with temporary dips in the occupancy growth rates. Bad weather can explain a weak occupancy growth rate and the economy might also influence travel habits. Averages are fine for establishing a baseline number, but to know how your hotel is doing, you have to compare your historical numbers to the current numbers and then compare your hotel’s occupancy rate to that of the other competitors in your local market.
March 2014 ADR
The average daily rate for March, 2014 grew by 4.1 percent when measured against the March, 2013 average daily rate. ADR for March of 2013 was $110.57 and it rose to $115.28 for March of 2014. ADR growth rates for March of 2014 were greater than 10 percent in five of the Top 25 Markets that were analyzed by STR.
• Denver was up 15.7 percent to $109.00
• New Orleans was up 14.8 percent to $169.04
• Nashville was up 14.7 percent to $117.15
• San Francisco/San Mateo was up 11.0 percent to $185. 59
• Houston was up 10.4 percent to $108.29
New York City fared the worst with a 5.0 percent decline in ADR, dropping to $222.02
April 2014 STR Pipeline Report
US hotel development is moving forward at a steady report as evidenced by the positive April, 2014 pipeline report. The pipeline report includes projects under construction, and in the planning stage, but does not include projects in the unconfirmed stage. For the month, 3,174 projects, representing 383,348 new rooms, were either under construction or in the planning phase. Compared to April, 2013, there were 16 percent more rooms under contract and a 42.6 percent jump in rooms under construction.
Upscale and Upper Midscale properties dominated the increase in hotel development projects, representing 68 percent of all rooms under construction and 60 percent of rooms in the final planning stage. Compared to April of 2013, the number of rooms under construction in April, 2014 was up by more than 50 percent.
One segment that did not fare well in year-over-year comparisons was Economy hotels. There were only 899 rooms under construction in April of 2014, representing a 22 percent decrease in new rooms under construction in April of 2013.
Looking ahead for the rest of 2014 and 2015, growth in the hotel industry is slowly coming down from previously higher levels. RevPAR is still expected to grow by about 5 percent over the next 18 months. Some cities, like Denver and Nashville, should do much better than the average, while New York may struggle to meet the 5 percent national growth rate.