Hotel Price Index Finds West Coast Rate Growth Outpaces East
By Mimi Kmet
September 27, 2012 6:08 PM
Average nightly room rates for hotels on the West Coast have outpaced those for East Coast hotels in the first six months of 2012, compared with the same period in 2011, according to the Hotels.com Hotel Price Index (HPI). When comparing 10 major cities on each coast, Hotels.com found that West Coast cities saw an average hotel price increase of 8.6 percent, compared with 4.4 percent for hotels on the East Coast.
The HPI tracks real prices paid per room by Hotels.com customers at approximately 140,000 properties within the Hotels.com network in major destinations around the world. This edition of the report shows an upward trend in hotel prices across all global regions, resulting in an average global increase of 4 percent. This is the first time in five years that Hotels.com has seen an increase across the globe.
The average rates in the report reflect the prices that were actually paid, not starting or average rates that are posted online, according to Taylor Cole, Hotels.com’s director public relations and social media. “People are starting to pay more for hotel rooms,” she said, adding that global prices are rising as well. “We’re seeing that travelers are more confident about traveling, and they’re willing to pay a little bit more.” She added that Hotels.com is seeing more leisure bookings and has been seeing a gradual increase in hotel rates since before 2011.
Specifically, Honolulu saw a whopping 17 percent increase in hotel room rates in the first six months of this year, compared with the same period last year. While Hotels.com does not track the number of bookings made, data from other sources confirms that travel is on the increase, running parallel with the rise in hotel rates. For example, the total number of visitors to Hawaii from all markets through the first six months of 2012 was 3.84 million, a 9.6 percent increase over the same period in 2011, when the visitor count was 3.5 million, according to the Hawaii tourism Authority. Domestically, the number of visitors from the U.S. mainland increased 5.2 percent, from 2.54 million in the first six months of 2011 to 2.67 million through June of this year.
In other Western U.S. destinations, Santa Barbara saw a 15 percent increase, and San Francisco saw a 13 percent rise. Other West Coast price increases include 10 percent in Monterey, Calif.; 7 percent in Las Vegas; 6 percent in San Diego; 5 percent in Seattle, Los Angeles and Portland, Ore., and 3 percent in Sacramento.
On the East Coast, hotel room rates rose 9 percent in Orlando; 8 percent in New York City and in Miami; 7 percent in Boston; 4 percent in Jacksonville, Fla.; 3 percent in Providence, R.I., and in Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; and 2 percent in Atlanta. Prices stayed flat in Philadelphia and in Washington, D.C.
Statewide, California saw hotel prices increase 7 percent in the first half of 2012. Seaside destinations such as Monterey and Santa Barbara, which boast attractions including golf courses, wine tours, and a variety of other recreational activities, are seeing leisure travelers return. San Diego, which currently has eight new hotels in its pipeline, is a growing West Coast destination for domestic and international travelers. The city overtook Chicago to become the fourth most popular domestic destination among Americans and the eighth most popular destination among international visitors to the States.
Hawaii, which suffered a decline in visitors due to the recession and the Japanese tsunami in March 2011, is rebounding fast, as the island greets increased Japanese and mainland U.S. leisure visitors. Specifically, room rates on the island of Oahu rose an unprecedented 70 percent. The state’s capital, Honolulu is the seventh most popular U.S. destination for foreign visitors. The neighboring islands of Maui and the Big Island saw price increases of 5 percent and 9 percent, respectively, while Kauai’s Lihue and Koloa areas had price increases of 16 percent and 18 percent, respectively.
As the U.S. eases visa restrictions for Brazilian and Chinese visitors, the West Coast is starting to reap the benefits, according to the HPI. Cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle are seeing an influx of Brazilian and Chinese visitors. With larger expendable incomes, emerging middle classes and rapidly growing economies, these foreign visitors are coming for business and tying in leisure travel during their stays. Brazilians and Chinese visitors are some of the largest spenders when they visit the U.S., especially when shopping. Many find that, due to large import taxes in their home countries, it's more affordable to come to the U.S. to shop, the HPI said.