If you travel as much as we do then you’re already starting to notice that hotel rates are going up. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. After the Great Recession in 2008 hotel occupancy rates and their corresponding revenues plummeted. To lure customers back, hotels began reducing their average room rates and increasing the benefits of their loyalty programs. But this trend is definitely reversing and that means more expensive days ahead for those of us obsessed with traveling.
The Glory Days
From about 2008 to 2013 was a golden era for hotel stays. Those of us who are frequent travelers were able to take advantage of great rates, lots of extra amenities and really generous points offers across most hotel chain’s loyalty programs. We saw free nights deals, generous points accumulation offers and really great rates across most properties.
But alas all good things must come to an end and over the last 18 or so months we’ve definitely noticed a difference as the economy rebounded and more people went back on the road. Simply put, more business means that hotels can afford to raise rates and lower benefits. In this way, the hotels are just following the lead of the airline industry. In fact in many ways, hotel groups often emulate their airline counterparts.
It Started with the Airlines
As business and leisure travel began to firm up across the US we saw airlines begin to reduce their loyalty benefits and increase their fares. From 2012 to 2014 there’s been a constant devaluation in most airline frequent flyer programs with a corresponding increase in airfares. And now hotels have begun to also follow suit. We’ve seen new categories of properties added to hotel loyalty programs, increases in the numbers of points required for a free night, and lots of new fees. Excuse me, what’s a Resort Fee? And where the hell do you get off charging me $25.00 or more a day to use a pool which should be included in my room rate?
OK Take a Deep Breath
There are about 53,000 hotels with a total of nearly 5 million rooms in the United States and according to the American Hotel & Lodging Association hotels they generated about $163 billion in revenue last year. This is a really large industry and a serious contributor to our economy. The net result is they do well when the country does well and maybe vice versa. For us travelers this means a strengthening economy leads to high room rates and there’s not really anything that anyone can do.
Except? Look for sales, collect points obsessively and always shop around for better deals. Oh and also try to maintain some form of elite status as those perks are still very worthwhile.