While it’s impossible to say what effect the Women’s March had on demand, it's clear that more hotel rooms were sold in Washington, D.C., on President Donald Trump’s Inauguration Day than on any other since 2001, according to STR data.
HENDERSONVILLE, Tennessee—Analysis of downtown Washington, D.C., hotel performance by STR, parent company of Hotel News Now, shows that more hotel rooms were booked on Inauguration Day 2017 than on any previous Inauguration Day on record. However, a few factors make it difficult to do a fair comparison among inaugurations, including:
- It’s impossible to determine the effect that the Women’s March on 21 January, the day after the inauguration, had on demand; it’s likely some inauguration attendees stayed an extra day while some marchers arrived a day early.
- The number of alternative accommodations in the city has expanded substantially since the last inauguration.
- Because the inauguration always falls on 20 January, the day of the week may help or hurt attendance.
STR started collecting daily hotel data on 1 January 2001, so this analysis focuses on inaugurations from 2001 to 2017.
In terms of absolute demand, the 2017 inauguration date surpassed the 2009 inauguration date by almost 3,700 roomnights.
For the 2017 inauguration of President Donald Trump—on a Friday, which likely drew more people—29,081 rooms were sold. A total of 25,392 rooms were sold on 20 January 2009, the day President Barack Obama was inaugurated for his first term. In 2009, Inauguration Day was on a Tuesday, but it was also the day after Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which might have helped attendance. For President George W. Bush’s first inauguration, which was held on a Saturday in 2001, 22,725 rooms were sold.
Many hotels require a three-day-minimum stay during the inauguration, which drives occupancy in the days surrounding the inauguration. Depending on the day of week that the inauguration falls on, those extended high occupancy days may occur before or after the inauguration. Because Trump’s inauguration fell on a Friday, the preceding Thursday and following Saturday also saw a bump in occupancy. The Women’s March also likely had a positive impact on hotel occupancy on Saturday.
Obama’s first inauguration had the highest absolute occupancy at 96.8%, slightly outpacing absolute occupancy of Trump’s inauguration (96.3%). When you consider hotel supply growth and alternative accommodations, the occupancy rate during the 2017 inauguration is notable. Hotel supply growth is 5.1% today compared to 1.5% in 2009, and there are currently almost 4,000 more hotel rooms in downtown Washington, D.C., than in 2009.
Additionally, Airbnb reports that 5,270 Airbnb listings were booked on inauguration night, which was its biggest night ever in D.C. (Figures from other alternative accommodation providers were not available at the time of writing.)
More hotels were sold out this year in downtown D.C. than during any other inauguration. During the 2017 inauguration, 110 hotels had occupancy at or above 95%, compared to 81 for Obama’s first inauguration and 32 for Bush’s first inauguration.
On Saturday, occupancy dropped from 96% to 81%. Despite this, the occupancy growth rate was still considerable at 42% over the same day in the previous year. Also noteworthy is the fact that 32 hotels were sold out on Saturday.
Average daily rate during the week ending 21 January increased 4.6% for the total U.S. and rose 115.7% for the Washington, D.C., market. When you exclude D.C. from the total U.S. tally, the rate growth for the U.S. shrinks to 1.4%.
Hotels in downtown Washington, D.C., were able to charge significantly more on the day of Trump’s inauguration ($728.52) than any other Inauguration Day. The hotel room rate during the 2017 inauguration was 20% higher than the ADR for Obama’s first-term inauguration in 2009 ($607.45), which was the highest ADR prior to Trump’s inauguration.
Excluding the time around the inauguration, downtown D.C.’s hotel ADR for January was $157—according to preliminary results—less than a quarter of the rate achieved on inauguration night ($728). This was the highest ADR that hotels in downtown D.C. have ever achieved.
The rate on the following Saturday was quite a bit lower at $509; however, this was still one of the top 10 highest rate nights ever attained in D.C. The nights of 17-21 January 2017 account for half of the top 10 highest ADR nights in D.C.’s history.
Notably, luxury hotels charged $356 more in 2017 than in 2009. Conversely, upscale hotels only charged $14 more than they did during Obama’s first inauguration in 2009.
Hotels outside the downtown submarket also fared well. Occupancy was slightly higher in Arlington, Virginia (97.1%), than in the downtown area (96.3%). However, the downtown D.C. submarket charged about $400 more than Arlington.
Additionally, all submarkets, with the exception of the downtown area and Suburban Virginia area, achieved their highest absolute occupancy during the 2017 inauguration. While eight of the 10 submarkets in D.C. saw record occupancy rates during the 2017 inauguration, only four of the submarkets (Downtown, Alexandria, Arlington and the Suburban Virginia area) achieved record absolute ADR as well.
While it is impossible to separate the impact of the inauguration and Women’s March, what’s clear is that hotels benefited substantially from these events.
This article represents an interpretation of data collected by STR, parent company of HNN. Please feel free to comment or contact an editor with any questions or concerns.