In the hospitality industry, not all quarters are created equal. For example, most holidays stay put, but Easter shifts around a bit. Sometimes you get an extra day in a quarter, and depending on when those days fall, it can make a huge difference.
Some years, you get BMW Championships; other years, events shift into a new quarter and create a hole in the calendar. It’s normal for the industry, and it’s not always easy to track.
Some years, you still do well despite challenges! For Hamilton County, this is such a year.
In the first quarter of 2017, Hamilton County had one less day to sell (Leap Year was in 2016) but Easter moved to the second quarter. We had almost 40,000 more hotel rooms to sell – translating to 13.8 percent more rooms to be exact. Two new hotels opened in the county since the first quarter of 2016.
Amazingly, Hamilton County sold 88 percent of those additional 40,000 hotel rooms, or 12.1 percent more rooms year-over-year. Given it was our slowest season – winter – and a lot of rooms to absorb, we could not be more pleased. All of this from Brenda Myers, President and CEO of Hamilton County Tourism, Inc.
Room revenue actually exceeded room sales growth at 16.6 percent, as the average daily rate grew 4.1 percent. Occupancy, of course, dropped 1.6 percent because we had so many more rooms to sell.
Weekday corporate and business transient stays were strong with 8.2 percent greater demand.
But what was truly amazing was weekend growth, with stunning quarterly increased sales of 22.6 percent. And this was not at all growth in group/sports business.
Hamilton County hotel room demand outpaced the state by double-digits and was the highest in its competitive set by far.
It’s never bad to start a year with that kind of demand growth, although we’ve already seen the shift to Easter slow down April. Looking at the future calendar, we are confident Hamilton County will continue to absorb much of this new inventory and help us close with another strong year.