|By Sara K. Clarke, Orlando
SentinelMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Feb. 22, 2013--Starting 2013 on a promising note, Orlando's hospitality industry in January posted its best growth in more than a year.
The nation's second-largest hotel market reported both filling more rooms and charging more for them on average than they had a year earlier. It was good news for Orlando tourism during a month typically defined by convention-and-business travel.
According to Smith Travel Research, which surveys the industry each month, Orlando-area hotels filled 69.3 percent of their rooms in January, up from 65.7 percent in January 2012. The average daily room rate, meanwhile, was up 4.9 percent to $104.31.
As a result, the hotels' "revenue per available room" -- a key industry measure that melds occupancy and price -- jumped 10.6 percent last month compared with a year earlier. That's the biggest year-over-year improvement in revenue per available room since November 2011, when it was up 10.7 percent.
Johnny Solano Jr., director of sales for the Ramada Gateway Orlando hotel in Kissimmee, said he was able to charge higher room rates in January than he had a year ago. Commercial development is picking up in his particular submarket -- West Kissimmee -- with restaurants like Joe's Crab Shack, Panera Bread and Bonefish Grill moving into the neighborhood. Solano hopes that and momentum overall allows hotels to regain the upper hand in setting prices.
"It's up to the hoteliers to put our foot down and start making money," he said Thursday after attending an industry seminar organized by the Central Florida Hotel & Lodging Association.
Leading Metro Orlando's percentage growth in January: hotels toward the middle and low end of the price scale -- midprice, economy and budget properties. Luxury and upscale hotels also reported year-over-year improvement, Smith Travel said, but at slower rates.
The Lake Buena Vista submarket, typically a top performer in terms of occupancy rate, took that title again in January, filling 77.7 percent of its rooms on an average night. (Disney hotels are not included in the Smith Travel surveys.)
The submarket with the highest average room rate in January was the convention-heavy International Drive area; the average price for the month there was $115.84 a night.
firstname.lastname@example.org or 407-420-5664
(c)2013 The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.)
Visit The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.) at www.OrlandoSentinel.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services