Hotel Online  Special Report

Papal transition Impact on Daily Hotel
Performance in Rome


May 25, 2005 - In April the death of John Paul II and the inauguration of the new Pope Benedict XVI focused the world's attention on the Vatican and Rome. This brought an influx of visitors to the city and into its hotels. Using our new service Daily HotelBenchmark by Deloitte, we can see the impact these historical events had on Rome's hotel performance each day in April.

Praying for the Pope

Over the Easter period, the world awaited news of the health of John Paul II. During the days before and after the announcement of his death on the 2 April, Rome saw a huge increase in pilgrims and visitors to the Vatican. Between 4 - 7 April it is estimated that around 2m people visited Rome to pay their respects to the deceased pontiff. Visitors queued for up to 24 hours to say their final goodbyes to John Paul II at St. Peter's Basilica.

On the 8 April, the day of the funeral Rome welcomed over 200 foreign heads of state and religious leaders and over 1m mourners. To ensure a safe course of events, the Italian authorities arranged various restrictions to guarantee security. Ciampino airport was closed to commercial traffic and Fiumicino airport was partially closed during the arrival of international dignitaries. A traffic ban was in place for the entire city. Schools, public offices and museums were also closed.

Ten days later on the 18 April 2005, cardinals met behind closed doors in a centuries old ritual known as a conclave, to elect the new Pope in complete secrecy. After an unexpected short period of time, Pope Benedict XVI was presented to the world the next day. His inauguration on the 24 April 2005 attracted an extra half a million visitors to the Vatican.

Just short of 100% occupancy

These historic events, which last took place 27 years ago, not surprisingly increased demand for hotel accommodation in April. While the Italian authorities set up tent cities outside Rome, hotels in the capital benefited from the influx of pilgrims, press, foreign dignitaries and other visitors.

During the period between John Paul II's death and his funeral, hotels in Rome saw average room rates grow by over 40% compared to the same period the prior year. These reached their highest levels on the 7 and 8 April - the day before and the day of the funeral. On these two days hoteliers achieved average room rates of €240 and €231 respectively. This is a premium of €80 on the rate achieved on the same period last year. During the rest of April 2005 average room rates showed no similar significant movement against 2004.

Daily average room rates in Rome - 
April 2005 v 2004

Note: The graph compares the same day each year (e.g. Friday 1st April 2005 is compared to Friday 2nd April 2004).
Source: HotelBenchmark Survey by Deloitte
During the month occupancy levels peaked at 97% on 23 April, a day before the inauguration of the new pontiff. This is a clear increase from the 74% occupancy achieved on the same day in April 2004. It may come as a surprise that hoteliers in Rome did not report 100% occupancy levels for any day in April. It seems that many people may have made use of the tent city or slept on the streets instead of checking into a hotel.

The increase in attention on Rome over this time only benefited hotel performance for a limited numbers of days. Hotel performance in the city did not improve as strongly as may have been expected.

Another reason to visit Rome

Looking forward, the grave of John Paul II will continue to be a point of interest for visitors to Rome, especially now his beatification (the process for Sainthood) has begun. The city has always been the number one destination in Italy but the additional media coverage will boost Rome's profile and visitor numbers. This will in turn benefit Rome's hoteliers. Good news for the hotel industry, especially when forecasts for the Italian economy have been reduced and given the continuing strength of the Euro against the dollar. During the rest of 2005, Rome's hotel performance is expected to continue to improve against last year.

Note: All analysis in Euros

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Also See: Venice, Rome, Florence and Milan Manage to Achieve Some of the Highest RevPARs in the World; the Italian hotel market / Deloitte / April 2004
After Two Years of Declines, Hoteliers in Florence, Rome, Milan, Bologna and Turin All / Deloitte Experienced RevPAR Growth During the First Eight Months of 2004 / October 2004

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