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Hotels get no love on Valentine's Day
February 23 2012

Although the Valentine’s Day weekday effect has been noted in the past by industry experts, it was still surprising to see U.S. hotel performance flat on 14 February.

I’m not into Valentine’s Day. It’s not because I’m a cynic or anything. It’s just that once I got past the “choo-choo-choose me” cards and chalk-like sweetheart treats in school, my enthusiasm for the holiday waned. I won’t lie—it still fascinates me to give and receive cards and small treats, but it bewilders me that for this specific day of “love” people are enticed to go above and beyond to buy expensive jewelry and book romantic getaways.

Well, fortunately for thousands of businesses, there are millions of people in the U.S. that do not share my sentiments about this holiday. Consumer spending on gifts this year was projected to reach $17.6 billion, according to a survey conducted by the National Retail Federation 

To my surprise, not much of that amount was spent on Valentine’s Day packages at hotels.

It’s been noted in the past that demand on Valentine’s Day can either have a positive effect on the industry or none at all depending on the day of the week on which it falls. Even so, I still expected to see some boost in the performance metrics released this week.  

Occupancy on Valentine’s Day this year stood at 59.1% on 14 February, a 1.7% decrease from the same Tuesday last year on 15 February 2011, according to data from STR, the parent company of HotelNewsNow.com. Average daily rate was reported at $103.78, an increase of 1.3% from last year. Revenue per available room saw a 0.4% decrease to $60.71.

“People take weekend trips,” Chad Church, director of special services for STR, said of changes in the data. “People are going to go out and do dinner (on weekdays), but they’re also going to go home and go to work the next day.”

It stands that this Valentine’s Day was just an ordinary Tuesday in February for the hotel industry, but it made me wonder if consumers made up for it the following weekend.

The number of people booking hotels on the weekend following a weekday Valentine’s Day tends to be an insignificant number, Church said.

The data shows occupancy shot up to 75% on Saturday, 18 February, a 4.2% increase from the same day last year, but my guess is the number could be attributed to incremental demand.

So much for romance! I’d advise hoteliers to save those marketing dollars next year. We won’t be seeing another Valentine’s Day fall on a weekend night until Friday, 14 February 2014.

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