Central Florida's Hotel Occupancy up Slightly for March
Dewayne Bevil | Orlando Sentinel | April 21, 2017 2:51pm
April 20--The occupancy rate at Central Florida's hotels had a small bump in March, while revenue per room experienced a modest gain, according to industry figures.
Hotels in Central Florida -- defined as Orange, Seminole and Osceola counties -- recorded an occupancy rate of 87.5 percent in March, an increase of 0.7 percent from the 86.9 percent in March of 2016, according to a monthly report released by industry tracker STR.
It was the second-busiest month of the past five years for Orlando-area hotels, trailing only the March 2015 rate of 88 percent occupancy.
The gain, although small, was seen as a positive because Easter was in March last year and gave the month a boost. Easter weekend fell in April this year.
"It wasn't strong growth but to have any growth when you're comparing a March without Easter against a March that had Easter last year, overall we were pleased," Daryl Cronk, senior director for market research at Visit Orlando.
He said he expects a bump in April numbers because of the holiday, although for comparison purposes, he said he looks at March and April in tandem.
March visitors included basketball fans attending the NCAA tournament games at Amway Center and spring break devotees. Meanwhile, festival season continued at theme parks during the month, including Mardi Gras at Universal Studios, the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival and SeaWorld Orlando's Seven Seas Food Festival, which switched to a daily schedule for two weeks during the month.
Revenue per room for March was $121.73, which was an increase of 3.1 percent from the $118.20 recorded in the same period of 2016. The 2017 level was the highest figure of the past five years.
March, traditionally, is the strongest month for hotel revenue in Central Florida, said Doc Terry, an associate instructor at the University of Central Florida's Rosen College of Hospitality Management.
"While you may get occupancy during Easter, you don't get [high revenues] because a lot of that is family business and spring break business," he said. Pricing for travelers attending conferences and conventions tends to be higher than for leisure travelers.
"That was a good March. I'm sure people are very happy with March," Terry said. "April will be the real test."
Demand was up 1.5 percent, year-to-year, for March, logging in 3.3 million rooms sold. It was the third consecutive month of demand increases.
Nationally, the occupancy rate rose 2.6 percent to 68 percent in March, and the revenue per room was $86.93, an increase of 5.1 percent.
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