Based on the response to our last article, the visualization of data trends seems to have struck a nerve. Using geographic information systems (GIS) software to understand the nature of fundamental shifts in our industry is becoming more important to all participants.
Last month we presented a fairly simple map detailing year-over-year RevPAR change, by STR tract, for one point in time. This time we've expanded that concept, and we've created a time-lapsed series from January 2007 through May 2010. In the video below, we have color-coded the 12-month moving average change for RevPAR by STR tract. Since it's a moving average, there aren't huge swings on a month-to-month basis, and most shifts occur in the -2.0 percent to 2.0 percent range. Anything shaded orange or red represents a decline (with red being the larger decline), and anything shaded green or purple represents increases (purple being the larger increase). Once again, we apologize to Alaska and Hawaii for not showing their performance due to space constraints.
In 2007, much of the country was awash in green and purple, but this begins to shift in late-2007. By the end of 2008, most of the country is orange, with only a few pockets of green and virtually no purple except some areas around the Gulf. By mid-2009, despite some areas showing slight recovery, most of the country had worsened, with many areas shifting from orange to red. It isn't until February 2010 that you can see positive (green) growth for a large portion of the country, with each month after that showing improvement.
Using GIS software to show shifts in performance is only one potential application. By marrying STR's incomparable census and performance database to any number of geographic or demographic indicators (population, land use, land cost, etc.), mapping can assist in answering questions that have, until now, remained either unanswered or unasked.