After suffering the greatest performance declines in the history of the U.S. lodging industry during 2020, the nation’s hotels will benefit from what is expected to be a relatively rapid economic turnaround in 2021 and 2022, according to the June 2020 edition of CBRE’s Hotel Horizons forecast report.
By year-end 2020, the Austin-area hotel market occupancy level is forecast to decline to 40.4 percent, representing a 44.0 decline from 2019 levels. Average daily room rates (ADR) are estimated to fall to $103.13, which is a 28.4 percent decrease from 2019 levels. Resulting revenue per available room (RevPAR) falls from $103.89 in 2019 to $41.66 in 2020, a 59.9 percent decline.
Looking forward, occupancies are expected to increase to the mid-60 percent levels by 2022, but not to the relatively high occupancy level of 72.1 percent experienced in 2019. Average daily rates are projected to have strong annual increases, but not surpassing 2019 levels until 2023. While RevPAR estimates show strong annual increases, RevPAR is not expected to surpass 2019 results until the third quarter of 2023.
“Austin is a resilient market with many strong, diverse sources of room-night demand, but like the rest of the world, the lodging sector has been hit hard by the pandemic,” said Jeff Binford, managing director of CBRE Hotels South Central Division. “Once travel and social gathering restrictions can be safely lifted, Austin should see recovery more quickly than many other markets. Our expectation is the first wave of travel will be leisure travelers originating from reasonable driving distances, followed closely by business travelers. Groups, events and conventions may take a little longer before full recovery. Once travelers feel safe, many of the great Austin events will be back on the calendar.”
Coming off the low levels of 2020, Austin’s hotel room-night demand is expected to increase dramatically over the next few years. Despite the pandemic, the supply of new hotel rooms continues to increase in the market. The Austin lodging supply grew by 6.2 percent during the first quarter of 2020. The available room count in the Austin market is expected to increase by a total of 6.7 percent for the entirety of 2020 and another 6.1 percent in 2021. Hotels which were under construction before the pandemic will likely be completed. Others, in some stage of planning, will be reevaluated.
CBRE foresees demand for U.S. lodging accommodations returning to pre-crisis levels in the third quarter of 2022. However, a lag in ADR growth will stall the recovery in RevPAR until 2023.
“The U.S. lodging sector has been hit by two headwinds in 2020: a contraction in overall economic activity and the need for social distancing,” said Jamie Lane, senior director of CBRE Hotels Research. “Accordingly, our current forecast calls for a 37 percent reduction in the number of room nights occupied in 2020 compared to 2019. There is some comfort knowing that travelers will be back on the road in full force within two years.
“The decline in occupancy only partially explains the weak ADR,” Lane said. “Low occupancy levels and closures within the upper-priced segments will result in a disproportionate percentage of total U.S. demand accommodated at the lower-priced segments in 2020. Conversely, in 2021, most of the new demand will be accommodated at reopened upper-priced properties at higher room rates. This skews the ADR growth rate upward.”