Trend Watch: August 30, 2010

Hotel Rates Drop, but Moscow Remains Highest

The international hotel industry has shown signs of recovery in the first half of 2010, according to the biannual hotel survey conducted by Hogg Robinson Group (HRG). Moscow yet again retains its place as the city with the highest average room rate for the sixth straight year, despite a fall of 12 percent when measured in local currency.

Geneva and Hong Kong were the second and third most expensive cities, respectively. Rome, Copenhagen and Dubai dropped out of the top 10, falling to 14th, 16th and 19th positions, respectively. Those cities were usurped by Zurich, Stockholm and Oslo in the top 10.

Rates in the U.S. were flat or marginally lower compared to 2009 figures, with the exception of SanFrancisco , where average rates fell by 11 percent.

Tourism Picks Up in New Orleans

In the five years since Hurricane Katrina—during which New Orleans also endured a national recession, restrictions in corporate travel and the BP oil spill—the city’s Convention and Visitors Bureau has seen incremental recovery in annual visitors, growth in tourism and expansion of events. Prior to the hurricane August 29, 2005, 8.5 to 9 million visitors frequented the city annually. In 2006, only 3.7 million visitors were reported. By 2009 the number was up to 7.5 million tourists.

From January to May this year, the city recorded the highest REVPAR (revenue per available room) in the U.S. Upcoming developments for the Big Easy include Royal Caribbean’s return in November 2011 and Super Bowl XLVII in 2013.

Facebook, Twitter Not A Threat

Here’s some news that may calm travel agents who fear the interloping of social networking sites on their turf. Only one in 20 leisure travelers who maintain a profile on any social networking site (46 percent) has made a travel decision based primarily on research or feedback received from the likes of Facebook, MySpace, YouTube or Twitter.

In other highlights from the Ypartnership/Harrison Group 2010 Portrait of American Travelers:

• In all, 44 percent of U.S. leisure travelers took at least one “family vacation” last year, with the incidence of family travel significantly higher than the incidence of households with children (roughly one-third).
• Approximately three in 10 U.S. leisure travelers took a “last-minute” vacation last year, which on average were planned approximately six days in advance of departure.
• Nearly two in 10 leisure travelers have downloaded a travel-related app to their smart phone.

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