Hotels in path of total eclipse see unprecedented boon
Hotels in path of total eclipse see unprecedented boon
01 SEPTEMBER 2017 8:32 AM

This data analysis and infographic looks at hotel performance in U.S. markets in the path of the recent total eclipse. 

BROOMFIELD, Colorado—The biggest problem in forecasting what the hotel impact of the Great American Eclipse is there was simply no modern precedent for it.

This wasn’t a Super Bowl, or an Olympics. This was a two-minute event that affected a coast-to-coast corridor of hotels, with millions of travelers making the journey to be a part of it. Just one example of the travel volume on Monday, 21 August—the day of the eclipse—is that the state of Wyoming doubled in population on that day.

Now we have the hotel performance data and can see to what extent hotels capitalized on the event. To begin with, a total of 139,000 hotel rooms sit within the band of totality, a 70-mile-wide path stretching from Oregon to South Carolina. This represents approximately 2.7% of the total U.S. hotel population, and 89% of these rooms are located in non-urban areas.

There are 324 cities within the band, of which 222 have at least one hotel. Only four cities have enough hotel supply to represent at least 5% of the band’s total: Nashville, Tennessee—which is by far the largest of all—followed by St. Louis; Kansas City, Missouri; and Columbia, South Carolina.

Our analysis focuses on two time periods: Sunday, 20 August—the day before the event—and the three-day period leading up the event (18-20 August), with comparisons based on the same days of the week during that period in 2016. Our analysis only uses actual hotel daily hotel performance reported to us, so non-reporting or monthly-reporting hotels are not included in these figures.

Before the eclipse
First, we’ll look at the impact specifically for the Sunday prior to the eclipse, as this was the day of absolute highest impact for hotels.

(Click on the infographic to download a PDF version.)

The total revenue-per-available-room increase for all hotels in the path of totality on Sunday, 20 August, was an impressive 244%, with hotels in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, blowing away all other cities, achieving a staggering 1,644% RevPAR gain. These are Super-Bowl-and-beyond numbers. However, keep in mind many of these cities have very limited hotel supply, making it easier to collectively push performance. To that end, Nashville had one of the lowest overall RevPAR increases, which makes sense considering it had the greatest amount of supply to fill of any eclipse city.

Looking at the top 15 largest eclipse cities, with a few exceptions, occupancy gains for Sunday night were greater than rate gains. Hotels in Columbia, Missouri, increased occupancy the most over last year, while Idaho Falls, Idaho, hotels pushed average daily rate the most, achieving a 276% increase for the day.

Three-day impact
Much like how we view the impact of a Super Bowl, we looked at the three-day period leading up to the eclipse.

Logically, the three-day RevPAR increases were lower than just those for Sunday night, though all hotels in the path still recorded an impressive 87% gain. To put this into context, the three-day RevPAR gain recorded by Houston’s hotels during Super Bowl 51 was 356%. However, there are nearly twice the hotels in the eclipse path as in the Houston market. And again, Hopkinsville, Kentucky, hotels led all other cities with a 522% RevPAR increase for the three-day period.

Again, three-day totals were lower than the Sunday performance, with occupancy gains generally outpacing rate. A notable exception was Casper, Wyoming, where hotels pushed rate 163% for the total weekend.

Performance by class
In hotel class performance, midscale hotels achieved the largest RevPAR gains during the eclipse, followed by upper midscale and economy. Luxury hotels reported the smallest RevPAR increase on Sunday night—though still a 181.9% gain—but upper upscale (+72.7%) reported the smallest RevPAR increase for the weekend.

Lift to all of US
The impact of hotel performance within the path of totality was significant enough to lift the aggregate performance data for all U.S. hotels. Total U.S. RevPAR for 20 August increased by 17%, compared with Sunday, 21 August 2016; while total U.S. RevPAR excluding markets within the eclipse’s path of totality grew by 9%.

That 9% lift for non-eclipse hotels is still significant, suggesting perhaps that hotels within a few-hours-drive outside the eclipse also benefited.

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.

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