When I stepped out of my door at 6:00 a.m. yesterday morning, I did something that I haven’t done in months.
I grabbed a jacket.
Brisk temperatures have been flirting with the Midwestern U.S. for the past week or so, and I, for one, couldn’t be happier. I’ve always loved the pleasant, refreshing weather of autumn—and everything else the season entails: football, apple cider, the crackling of colorful leaves under your sneakers.
That’s not to say I abhor the stifling summer heat—dislike is perhaps a better word.
Normally, I endure in silent discontent. A few weeks ago, however, when I was researching for the HNN mid-year report, I discovered that I wasn’t the only one grumbling. Many hoteliers expressed their disappointment for what is traditionally the high point of the leisure travel calendar.
“We believed that the summer leisure guest would probably turn out in big numbers and fill in the blanks, and it’s disappointing that that hasn’t happened,” said Robert Habeeb, president of First Hospitality Group.
“Most of our hotels are experiencing reduced demand in their markets,” said Paul Kirwin, president of Carlson Hotels Worldwide – The Americas.
“Decreases [in ADR] in the actual month of June are higher [than the rest of the year],” said Kirby Payne, president of HVS/American Hospitality Management Company.
While those comments were made about June, recent data from Smith Travel Research suggests they might as well be chained to July as well. According to the group’s monthly lodging report, occupancy was down 2.1 percent, while slight gains in ADR and RevPAR still fell below the annual inflation rate at 2.5 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively.
It’s still too early to label the summer a bust. We’ll have to wait for the August numbers for that. We can, however, say that the season has been disappointing thus far—and it doesn’t look to be getting any better in the short term. Motorist group AAA recently forecasted a drop in Labor Day travel this year and tough corporate negotiations loom ahead.
But despite all the gloom and doom that’s been floating around of late, the changing of the seasons may just bring a changing of fortune for the industry. For every analyst’s prognostication about a continued downturn, there’s another who reminds us with absolute certainty that business is cyclical.
As we await an upturn, there’s nothing to do but sit tight and continue to provide the best service and value to customers.
Before we know it, the stifling conditions of the current market will be pushed out by the pleasant, refreshing climate that invariably lies ahead.