2017 Fall Tourist Season Lodging Industry Performance

by Taylor Damonte, Ph.D., director of the Clay Brittain Jr. Center for Resort Tourism, and Gary Loftus, director of the Grant Center for Real Estate and Economic Development, E. Craig Wall Sr. College of Business Administration, Coastal Carolina University

The Brittan Center now offers its preliminary estimate of lodging industry performance along the Grand Strand for the fall tourist season of 2017. For analysis purposes, the Center defines the fall tourist season as the 13-week period that includes Labor Day and the Thanksgiving holiday. The table below shows the averages reflected in the Center’s most recent samples for the fall season of 2017 and for the equivalent 13 weeks of the four previous years.

Based on the Center’s voluntary sample of nightly-rented hotels, condo-hotels and campsites (HC-HCs), average percent occupancy (APO) this fall was up 3.4 occupancy points or 7.3 percent compared with the fall of 2016 level. At the same time, the average daily rate increased by 3.4 percent, leading to a 10.7 percent increase in revenue per available unit. During the first half of the study period (see Grand Strander, November 2017), the area was impacted by Hurricane Irma. During the prior two years Tropical Storm Joaquin and Hurricane Matthew had impacted the area. Readers may want to note that of the five years evaluated, only in years 2013 and 2014 did named storms not impact the lodging industry in the coastal Carolinas.

As has been mentioned in previous issues of the Grand Strander, Center researchers believe that vacation (7-day) rental properties (VRPs) may represent between 20-25 percent of the total transient lodging bedrooms available along the Grand Strand. Researchers observe a scientific random sample of VRPs each week on the internet, recording unit availability and prices advertised. Based on the Center’s research, APO for the VRP segment of the lodging industry was down 7.1 occupancy points or 11.5 percent during fall 2017, compared with fall 2016. During this time advertised average daily rate per bedroom declined by 3.5 percent, which would leave revenue per available bedroom down 15.1 percent. However, APO and ADR for the VRP segment were still up 8.3 and 2.6 percent, respectively, compared with the equivalent period of 2013.

If you represent a lodging property located along the Grand Strand and your property does not currently participate in the Brittain Center’s Tourism Economy Study, the researchers would like to talk with you about the additional analysis that might be available to you as a research participant. For example, research participants receive six-week advance forecasts and moving 52-week average segment level performance estimates each week. Inquiries welcomed at tdamonte@coastal.edu or gloftus@coastal.edu or 843-349-2698.