Hotel occupancy rises as essential workers, homeless fill rooms

The 26% nationwide rate is attributed in part to coronavirus-related response measures cities have taken, according to STR report

TRD NATIONAL /
Apr.April 30, 2020 01:00 PM
An essential worker staying at USC Hotel in Los Angeles (Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
An essential worker staying at USC Hotel in Los Angeles (Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

The hotel market is improving across the country but that comes with a caveat. The uptick is likely a result of coronavirus-related response measures cities have undertaken throughout the U.S.

Nationally, hotel occupancy inched up to 26 percent for the week ending April 25, from about 23 percent the week before, according to data from hospitality research firm STR.

New York City occupancy rate climbed to 41 percent, according to STR. While that is still down nearly 53 percent from last year, it’s up from about 33 percent occupancy the prior week.

With much of the country still under stay-at-home orders and just a few states beginning to open up their economies, it’s likely those aren’t business travelers and tourists checking in.

The New Yorker Hotel in New York, the Clevelander Hotel in Miami and Hotel One Sixty-Six in Chicago (Credit: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for From Fashion With Love; Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images; Google Maps)
The New Yorker Hotel in New York, the Clevelander Hotel in Miami and Hotel One Sixty-Six in Chicago (Credit: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for From Fashion With Love; Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images; Google Maps)

“Five states — California, Texas, New York, Florida and Georgia — represent 40 percent of that demand gain from the last two weeks,” said Jan Freitag, STR’s senior vice president of lodging insights. “The list of hotel demand generators is long, but in general, it is not unreasonable to assume that part of the increased business is coming from essential workers, homeless housing initiatives and government-contracted guests.”

The hotel occupancy rates of Los Angeles/Long Beach, Miami/Hialeah and Chicago also rose on a weekly basis. Of those cities, Los Angeles posted the highest rate, of just under 30 percent. L.A. and California have made an aggressive push to house its homeless in hotels, along with coronavirus patients and those who have been exposed to the virus.

Earlier this month, nearly four out of five hotel rooms sat empty across the U.S. because of government-mandated lockdowns to control the pandemic. It appeared the sector began to rebound soon after, as hoteliers filled rooms with healthcare workers and those impacted by the virus.

Still, many hotels are closed for business entirely. STR does not incorporate hotel rooms that are shuttered as part of its analysis. About 15 percent of the U.S. supply of rooms (a total of 794,515 rooms) in STR’s database were offline as of April 29, the firm said.

And not all hotel metrics rose this week. The average daily room rate for U.S. hotels came in at $73.61, down from $74.53 the prior week. That figure also is down nearly 43 percent year-over-year.

Write to Mary Diduch at [email protected]


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