/perspectives/sector-views/commercial-real-estate-hotels-covid-recovery

Commercial Real Estate: COVID Recovery by Hotels Remains Slow

While U.S. hospitality industry is moving  toward pre-pandemic levels, full recovery is several years away.

August 02, 2022


This Commercial Real Estate sector report is excerpted from the Third Quarter 2022 Fixed-Income Sector Views.

The COVID-19 pandemic created unprecedented challenges for the U.S. hospitality industry. At the low point in March 2020, occupancy dipped to 19.2 percent nationwide and the average daily room rate (ADR) declined to $76.96 on the same day, eventually hitting a low point of $71.62 in April 2020. The American Hospitality Lodging Association (AHLA) estimates that hotels lost a collective $1.1 billion in room revenues alone during the two-year pandemic period.

As restrictions began to ease in 2021, both occupancy and ADR steadily climbed, led by pent-up demand for domestic leisure travel and consumers with savings to spend after the lockdown, although hotels experienced some setbacks during the 2021 holiday season and first quarter of 2022 as COVID variants surged. Since then, 2022 trends turned positive, with both occupancy and ADR predicted by Oxford Economics to return nearly to 2019 levels.

The hotel industry faces headwinds as it works toward a full recovery from the pandemic. Hotel operators remain challenged by the labor market, with employment at the end of 2022 predicted by AHLA to be down 7 percent from pre-pandemic levels in 2019. According to AHLA, business travel is expected to remain more than 20 percent less than in 2019, and less than 60 percent of meetings and events are expected to return in 2022. Non-room ancillary revenue remains well below historical levels, as the demand (and ability to staff) for meetings, events, and food and beverage services remains lower. Inflation is challenging consumers’ ability to spend for nonessential items such as travel and, when adjusted for inflation, the increased ADR is less impactful for hotel investors. Variants of the virus also remain among us, lending uncertainty to when a full recovery may be achievable.

While Smith Travel Research (STR) data show encouraging trends for the hospitality industry, a full recovery is likely still several years away. The most critical factors to recovery will be a return of business travel and events, the return of international travelers, an improved labor market, the health of the broader economy and, of course, confidence that ongoing variants of the virus will not materially affect travel choices.

Post-COVID U.S. Hotel Occupancy and ADR Recovery Rates Are Rising

Indexed to 2019
Post-COVID U.S. Hotel Occupancy and ADR Recovery Rates Are Rising

Source: Guggenheim Investments, CoStar. Data as of 7.20.2022.

—By Jennifer A. Marler and Farris Hughes

 
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