Lakeshore, Michigan hotel occupancy numbers similar to 2016
Austin Metz | Holland Sentinel, Mich. | March 8, 2018 3:30pm
March 07--Lakeshore occupancy numbers show a decrease in hotel occupancy following a record-setting 2016 campaign.
After 2016 showed a 66.7 percent average yearly occupancy rate, local hotels reported an average yearly occupancy rate of 62.6 percent for 2017.
The second-highest yearly occupancy rate was seen in 2015, when the average annual occupancy was 65.6 percent.
Sally Laukitis, executive director of the Holland Visitors Bureau, said the decrease can be deceiving, as this is the first full year that includes the 142 additional rooms that were added in March 2016 with the opening of the Courtyard by Marriott in downtown Holland. Including those additional rooms, the total number of available rooms within the surveyed area reached close to 1,650 rooms.
The assessment district for these statistics include the city of Holland, Holland Township, Park Township and Hudsonville Township.
"Revenue-wise, we were up, which is always a good thing," Laukitis said. "Occupancy-wise, we had more hotel rooms in 2017 than we had in 2016, so while our occupancy fell just a little bit, that is with more supply. If we didn't have that supply, we would have leveled off right where we were in 2016. We are holding strong."
Similar to previous years, May through September were the busiest months of the year with May at 71 percent, June at 73 percent, July at 87 percent, August at 79 percent and September at 73 percent.
The only year-to-year increase was seen in March, when occupancy numbers increased from 57 percent in 2016 to 59 percent in 2017.
The largest year-to-year decreases were seen in April, where rates decreased from 67 percent in 2016 to 54 percent in 2017. February saw another decrease, dropping from 58 percent in 2016 to 50 percent in 2017.
For the third consecutive year, the December rate has decreased and came in the lowest all year at 40 percent in 2017. The highest December numbers were in 2014 when it was at 48 percent.
The overall highest occupancy numbers for a single month from the past 10 years came in July 2015 when the occupancy rate was 90 percent.
Jane Clark, president of the Michigan West Coast Chamber of Commerce, said that the lakeshore community continues to serve as a vacation destination. Those tourists drive the hotel occupancy numbers and they mean additional money going to the area's business community.
"They are shopping at our stores, dining at our restaurants, filling up their cars and boats at our pumps, and staying in our hotels," Clark said by email. "The addition of new hotels to the Holland area not only serves the flow of tourists, but it also serves the numerous corporations that bring customers, vendors and clients to our area, and adds jobs to our community."
Clark said that as the area preps for spring, Tulip Time and the summer vacation season, the ability to provide visitors accommodations "keeps area businesses, both large and small, busy with customers."
While tourism is a large contributor to the area's hotel occupancy rates during the summer, from October through March, the "shoulder months," events like Women's Weekend and local sporting events help increase numbers.
Laukitis said places like the aquatic center have been beneficial because of the high volume of visitors they bring with events that are held there along with hockey tournaments and other events at local venues. Another factor is the number of people local businesses like Gentex, Herman Miller and Trendway bring in on a yearly basis.
"Those companies are bringing in visitors and in our leaner months, say January and February, corporate business is huge for us," Laukitis said. "Those people come in and they are here for three, four, five days up to a week and some of the people are here for months."
One factor to keep in mind with local occupancy numbers is the impact of visitors and business employees who are staying for more than 29 nights. At that point, those people are considered residential rather than transient. That means that the Visitors Bureau does not collect the 5 percent tax they normally would and that is usually reflected in the occupancy numbers as well.
Hotel occupancy numbers have become a topic of conversation in the area following the announcement that at least three more hotels will be constructed along U.S. 31. So far, there have been three official announcements, including a 109-suite Home2Suites by Hilton, a 100-room Staybridge Suites by InterContinental Hotels Group and a 100-room Candlewood Suites by InterContinental Hotels Group.
When totaling up potential new hotels, the Lakeshore area could soon have over 2,000 rooms available, up from 750 rooms when Laukitis started at her position in 1994.
Of those three, only the Home2Suites by Hilton is expected to be completed in 2018, with the other two are set to open in 2019.
"It will be interesting, if the Home2Suites opens in October, to really see what that does," Laukitis said. "I don't foresee any of the other hotels opening up in 2018."
-- Follow this reporter on Twitter @SentinelAustin or @BizHolland.