SXSW hotel bookings mark latest return of leisure travel
South by Southwest hotel bookings saw a near-return to normalcy in March, the latest sign of a rebound in leisure travel, according to a new report from CBRE.
Why it matters: The hospitality sector is a significant driving force behind the local economy, and while the industry hasn't entirely resumed, the figures are a promising sign for the summer travel season.
By the numbers: Revenue per available room, the hotel industry standard to measure a property's performance, improved significantly during this year's SXSW compared to one year prior, CBRE found.
- This year's event still fell short of pre-pandemic levels, however, when revenue per room reached $145.86. Revenue per available room this year hit $131.39, down 10% from 2019.
- Meanwhile, total hotel room revenue, which is a helpful gauge for groups interested in tax revenue generated by the city's hospitality sector, is up 5% from 2019, CBRE found.
Yes, but: The spike in total revenue is likely due to an increase in the number of hotel rooms since 2019, according to Kevin Donahue, who leads CBRE's Texas hotel valuations practice.
- There were 40,396 rooms in March 2019. That grew to 46,877 in March 2022, driven by hotel construction growth.
Flashback: Business travel was hit hard by the pandemic, but leisure travel has been on the upswing.
- Vrbo reported almost a 50% increase in demand for vacation rentals in the Austin area during SXSW compared to 2019.
- Despite higher costs due to inflation, AAA reports that 2022 travel bookings are off to a much stronger start compared with this time last year, while the CEO of Expedia Group predicts this summer will be "the busiest travel season ever.”
What to watch: SXSW officials have not yet released their economic impact report, but 2019's impact on the local economy totaled $355.9 million.
- CBRE predicts a rebound by 2025.
Of note: Austin City Limits' 2021 economic impact report will be released today in a 10am press conference.
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