The first set of post-Hurricane Laura data from STR shows noticeable lifts in hotel demand for markets in Louisiana and Texas due to widescale evacuations and displacements.
BROOMFIELD, Colorado, and HENDERSONVILLE, Tennessee—Hurricane Laura was one of the strongest storms to make landfall in the history of the U.S. In its path from Cuba to Louisiana, Laura left behind loss of life, significant property damage, and financial losses for several parts of the Caribbean and Gulf Coast regions.
Different from past natural disasters, which led to significant evacuations, Hurricane Laura of course occurred during a time when hotel performance levels are at challenging lows due to the COVID-19 pandemic. STR, the parent company of Hotel News Now, would typically monitor for geographic shifts in demand due to evacuations. This storm, however, created a simpler trend of increased hotel demand for markets in Texas and Louisiana as opposed to losses in demand for other markets.
With a focus primarily on occupancy, STR compared performance for the week of 23-29 August against performance from the week of 16-22 August. Normally, we would look at year-over-year performance as well, but those comparisons were already influenced by the pandemic impact.
Each of the three STR-defined markets in the state reported a jump in occupancy from the week prior: Louisiana South (+45.0% to 66.1%), Louisiana North (+34.4% to 70%) and New Orleans (+24.7% to 38.5%).
Gains in average daily rate were more pronounced than in Texas. For example, Louisiana South ADR was up 16.6% to $84.44.
Texas hotel occupancy improved 17% from the previous week to a level of 54.4%. Six markets reported double-digit percentage increases, led by San Antonio (+38.1% to 59.1%), Austin (+34.5% to 57.2%) and Houston (+31.2% to 51%). Of the STR-defined markets in the state, Texas East posted the highest absolute occupancy level among markets that reported occupancy increases (+17.4% to 61%).
Gains in ADR were less dramatic, with the largest coming in Houston (+11.6% to $79.48) and Austin (+7% to $93.31).
Only three markets showed performance declines, the worst of which was in the Texas North market, where occupancy declined 9.1%—not attributable to Hurricane Laura.
The breadth of a natural disaster impact on hotel performance is typically dictated by the amount of property closings and resident displacements. In the case of Hurricane Laura, the amount of each does not look to be at a level that will extend the impact beyond the short-term. STR will continue to monitor the weekly metrics and provide updates as appropriate.
Claudia Alvarado is Analytics Manager with STR’s Consulting & Analytics team, based in Broomfield, Colorado. Kwabena (Kobe) Akuffo Owoo is a research analyst in STR’s Research and Development division.
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.