DALLAS, Texas – The latest edition of Hotel Price Index indicates that North America saw the second fastest rise in average hotel prices in the first half of 2012, with a growth of 5 percent, putting the Index at 109. The good news for travelers is that prices stayed 10 Index points behind their peak in 2007 and were still cheaper than in 2006.
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, which compares the first six months of 2012 with the same period in 2011, 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.
“A new leaf for the hotel sector is on the horizon, as illustrated by the fact that 26 out of 30 cities on Americans’ most preferred domestic destinations list had an average daily rate increase in the first half of 2012,” said Victor Owens, vice president and general manager, Hotels.com North America. “Nevertheless, there are still great values to be had for consumers as properties develop deals and add-ons to help them stand out among their competition. Additionally, hoteliers and destinations continue to expand offerings to attract new visitors, including the addition of elements that appeal to the passions of the American wanderlust traveler, whether it’s cuisine, art, music, shopping, wellness or adventure.”
The West Coast has accounted for a majority of consistent, and in some cases significant, U.S. hotel price increases for the first half of the year, with many popular cities raising prices between 5 percent and 13 percent. San Francisco elevated prices by nearly $20, from $135 in 2011 to $153 in 2012. Monterey, Calif. also showed a notable increase of 10 percent to $147 in the first half of this year.
San Diego, which displayed a modest average daily rate increase of 6 percent, has steadily been making its way up the list of favorite domestic cities among Americans. This year, it has overtaken Chicago ($158) as the fourth favorite city among U.S. travelers, making it the first California city to break into the top four, joining reigning favorites Las Vegas ($101), New York City ($205) and Orlando ($110), respectively.
Budget Brawl – Luxury vs. Value
With prices on the rise across the nation, Americans are stepping up to the plate in 2012, spending roughly $125 a night on domestic hotel stays, a 5 percent year-over-year increase. This boost in domestic economic spending is not only evidenced by a bump up in dollar amount, but also by the increased number of U.S. bookings seen over the past six months.
In order to stand out in this increasingly competitive sector, hoteliers are revamping and upgrading their properties, or expanding into the luxury segment, which may account for some of the price increases.
Luxury travel trends such as spa tourism and shopping continue to drive bookings in destinations like New York City and Miami, yet Americans remain consistently vigilant about getting the best value for their dollar. All-inclusives, package deals, and add-ons, such as free breakfast, free Wi-Fi, ground transport or show tickets are all key offerings Americans are on the look-out for to make their dollar go further.
Too Much of a Good Thing?
Americans looking to snag a great deal in some of the world’s top international destinations have no better chance than now. Prices in some all-time favorite Southern European cities such as Athens, Greece (down 11 percent), Toledo, Spain (down 9 percent) and Pisa, Italy (down 8 percent) are all on the down-swing according to prices paid by North American’s in the first half of this year – a likely result of significant drops in local currency.
Surprisingly, the UEFA Euro Cup and the ramp-up to the Summer Games did not create a significant price increase for the region, as Europe and the Middle East as a whole displayed the least amount of growth from a global perspective in the first half of 2012, only increasing by a worldwide average of 1 percent. Warsaw, Poland (up 9 percent) was able to reap some benefits of its Euro Cup tourism, while business and group travel in London (up 1 percent) was affected due to limited inventory and the expected influx of leisure tourism as a result of added attractions for the Summer Games.