Economy Watch: Recent Hurricanes Impact Hospitality Industry

Most major hotel markets in Florida saw dramatic performance declines in the days leading up to Hurricane Irma, according to STR's preliminary analysis. Hurricane Harvey's impact on Houston's hotel markets is a little less clear.
Image via NASA Worldview
Hurricane Irma, Image via NASA Worldview

Most major hotel markets in Florida saw dramatic performance declines during the days ahead of Hurricane Irma’s landfall, which is to be expected, according to a preliminary analysis by travel data specialist STR. At the same time, evacuation destinations like Orlando, Atlanta, Birmingham and Chattanooga experienced significant performance growth, the company reported.

“More than a quarter of Florida’s population was under an evacuation order, so the dramatic shifts in hotel performance are not surprising,” said Chad Church, STR’s vice president of client services. The company does not, however, expect a major loss of hotel inventory like occurred after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

For the purpose of its analysis, STR examined its most recently processed daily data, which ran through Sept. 9. Data submission was interrupted across dozens of hotels over the days of Sept. 3 to Sept. 9, and data from the Florida Keys was removed from the sample due to a lack of data reporting from that market later in the week.

As the early stages of Hurricane Harvey recovery unfold in Houston, the impact on hotel demand will likely span months, as rooms are booked for relief workers, volunteers, government employees, contractors, insurance adjusters, media members and displaced residents, noted Church.