|By Kathy Bergen, Chicago
TribuneMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Jan. 23, 2013--Visitors filled downtown hotel rooms in 2012 at a rate not seen since before the recession.
Hotel occupancy rose to 75.2 percent, up from 72.2 percent in 2011, according to an announcement by Choose Chicago, the city's tourism and convention agency, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The 2012 level matched a previous record set in 2007.
Hotel operators also saw increases in two other key measures, though those remain slightly below their peaks. The average daily room rate rose to $187.27, from $177.33 in 2011. And the revenue per available room, a key indicator of profitability, increased by 10 percent to $140.76.
The data comes from STR Global, with analysis by Choose Chicago.
Among the factors affecting performance, officials said, was a more aggressive marketing strategy. They cited Choose Chicago's regional advertising campaigns. An eight-week winter and 12-week summer campaign, at a combined cost of $2 million, targeted Cincinnati, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Indianapolis, Milwaukee and St. Louis.
The improved performance, along with a hike in the city's hotel tax rate, brought the city's hotel tax revenue to more than $100 million for the first time. This was an increase of $25 million, or 33 percent, from 2011.
The city share of the hotel tax increased by 1 percentage point last year, bringing the total Chicago hotel tax rate to 16.39 percent. The city's share of that is 4.5 percentage points.
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