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5 things to know: 4 April 2013
April 4 2013

• STR reports US, Canada weekly performance
• Hoteliers balance ratings, reviews
• GBTA forecasts improved business travel for Europe
• Survey: Most New Zealanders have travel plans
• Initial US unemployment claims increase

STR, the parent company of, has reported weekly hotel performance for the United States and Canada for the week of 24-30 March.

U.S.: In year-over-year comparisons, occupancy was down 3.9% to 62%, average daily rate rose 3.2% to $109.63 and revenue per available room decreased 0.8% to $67.93.

“The Easter holiday’s calendar shift from 8 April last year to 31 March this year eroded last week’s demand for hotel rooms,” STR COO Brad Garner said in a news release. “The continuation of rate leverage and integrity in the majority of the chain-scale segments was unexpected given the calendar comparability. Of particular interest were increases in rates paid by both affluent and value-conscious consumers in the luxury and economy segments, 9.1% and 3%, respectively. 

Canada: Meanwhile, the Canadian hotel industry reported decreases in all three of the key operating statistics. 

In year-over-year comparisons, occupancy fell 9.7% to 54.9%, ADR was down 1.5% to $121.95 Canadian dollars ($120.13) and RevPAR decreased 11% to CA$66.89 ($65.89).

Star ratings and guest reviews are equally important for a hotel, according to a report from’s Patrick Mayock.

“When people are online and looking at things and they see we are one of the top hotels on TripAdvisor, and then they learn we’re a (Forbes Travel Guide) 5-star hotel, those really support each other,” said Jonathan Crellin, GM of the Boston Harbor Hotel. “… Both of them are good, validating efforts, and we appreciate our reputation with both and others.”
With increasing transparency brought on by social media and the ability to post instantaneous reviews, more formal programs such as Forbes’s star or AAA’s diamond ratings serve to validate the opinions displayed in user-generated reviews on the likes of TripAdvisor—and vice versa.

The Global Business Travel Association forecasts that business travel spending will increase overall for Europe during 2013, though the continent’s southern economies will face challenges.

Germany is expected to see the highest level of growth, with business travel spending forecast to expand by 5%. Meanwhile, Spain and Italy are expected to see declines of 6.2% and 2.9%, respectively.

Western European nations should see a return to stabilization for business travel during 2014, driven by an increased amount of global outbound travel as trade levels recover.

“In the context of the struggling European economy our expectations for business travel spending in Western Europe are relatively positive for 2013,” Catherine McGavock, regional director for Europe for GBTA, said in a news release. “There are signs of recovery in Germany and the U.K., with both expected to experience growth in business travel spending this year. We believe that this is the beginning of a wider trend in the region and expect growth in business travel spending to accelerate in 2014 to the levels we saw before the Eurozone crisis.”

New Zealanders hold travel in high regard, according to a survey.

More than 78% of respondents said they take one or more short vacations per year (fewer than five nights) and 62% said take one long vacation (more than five nights) annually, according to the survey. Of the longer trips, just more than 50% of respondents said they plan to travel outside New Zealand.

Meantime, 28% of the travelers surveyed said they plan their trips less than three months in advance.

The number of people in the U.S. filing initial unemployment claims during the week ending 30 March increased by 28,000 to 385,000, according to the Department of Labor. The four-week moving average also increased by 11,250 to 354,250.

Meantime, private sector employment increased by 158,000 jobs from February to March, according to the March ADP National Employment Report.

Compiled by Shawn A. Turner.

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