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Kansas City Hotel Occupancy Ends 2007 Flat at 58.9%
 vs 59.0% Previous Year; Supply Grew 2.6%
The Kansas City Star, Mo.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Jan. 31, 2008 - Local hotel occupancy grew stronger as 2007 unfolded, but the Kansas City lodging industry's year ended on a down note.

Occupancy of the metro area's estimated 30,000 hotel rooms slipped to 58.9 percent from 59.0 percent a year ago.

The silver lining in that cloud is strong and growing demand for Kansas City's hotel rooms, said industry consultant Jeffrey K. Marvel, of Kansas City-based Marvel and Associates.

"Supply is growing and the demand side is looking very strong," he said.

The only reason occupancy was nearly flat was that supply grew by 2.6 percent. The good news was demand kept pace at 2.4 percent, said Kansas City Convention and Visitors Association spokesman Alan Carr, citing Smith Travel Research national data.

But the brightest news may be that Kansas City's demand growth in 2007 was double the national average of 1.2 percent.

And Marvel noted that demand increased as the year unfolded.

"Fourth-quarter occupancy improvement continued a steady trend evident throughout 2007," he said. "Kansas City's hotel market experienced the strongest occupancy improvement of the year during the fourth quarter, with demand growth of 4.6 percent, outpacing a 3.3 percent increase in supply, resulting in a 1.3% improvement in metrowide occupancy."

Carr said the opening of Sprint Center and other attractions hyped demand at downtown hotels which achieved record revenues for the year.

"Downtown's occupancy of 57.9 percent was the highest since 2002," said Carr, while a record $91.4 million in revenues shattered the previous high of $83.4 million.

Occupancy rates in other local hotel markets were mostly up, including:

--Sports complex/eastern metro, up 6.8 percent

--Airport/Platte County, up 1.6 percent

--Clay County, up 1.2 percent

--Westport/Plaza, down 3.9 percent

--Kansas, down 3.0 percent

| Rick Alm, ralm@kcstar.com.

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Copyright (c) 2008, The Kansas City Star, Mo.

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