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South Florida Hotels Receive their 2011 Report Card
and the Grades Look Solid

By Douglas Hanks, The Miami HeraldMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Jan. 19, 2012--South Florida hotels received their 2011 report card Thursday, and the grades look solid.

Smith Travel Research released its December survey of room rates and occupancy levels, and both measures showed strong gains for Broward and Miami-Dade. Rates are up 2 percent in Broward and 6 percent in Miami-Dade over 2010 results, and occupancy grew between 5 and 7 percent in both counties.

And while the numbers prove the hotel industry's strong rebound continues, it's worth noting that the good ol' days still haven't returned entirely for South Florida tourism.

The chart above shows Miami-Dade hotels' average revenue-per-room -- a closely watched measure that captures both occupancy and the average rate hotels charge guests -- after the two tourism crises of the last decade.

The first was the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the second was the September 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers, which sparked a global financial meltdown. Both events tanked room rates and prompted vacationers and business travelers to stay home for an extended period of time.

As you can see, Miami-Dade hotels recovered quicker post-Lehman, but still haven't regained highs set in 2008. (The chart uses a 12-month rolling average to wash out seasonality.) In February 2008, the typical Miami-Dade hotel earned $176 on a room. Last February, the figure was down 14 percent to $151.

Broward saw a similar disparity: hotels earned $134 a room in February 2008 but $114 in February 2011, a 15 percent drop. And that's despite strong years in 2010 and 2011, which has revenue-per-room up 13 percent in Broward and 26 percent in Miami-Dade compared to lows hit in 2009.

For sure, the trends show major progress by hotels. While rates from the busy winter season lag 2008 levels, room revenue from the slow or "shoulder" season in the fall is up almost 20 percent.

One factor hurting the revenue-per-room number: there are more hotels operating than in 2008, which makes it harder to charge as much per room. That helps explain why taxes generated by Miami-Dade's hotel industry hit record levels in 2011.

Still, the rev-par chart shows the Great Recession blew a crater in the travel industry that remains pretty deep.

The Miami Herald's Economic Time Machine tracks South Florida's recovery from the Great Recession by comparing current conditions to where they were before the downturn. For analysis of the latest economic data, visit ETM headquarter at


(c)2012 The Miami Herald

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