Last year, Miami-Dade County’s hotel industry did battle with a host of adversaries — and lost.
In 2016, a surge in the number of new hotel rooms, the threat of Zika, the growth of home-sharing rentals and a stronger dollar were too much for the industry, experts say.
Among the top 25 markets in the country, Miami-Dade was one of two (the other was Houston, Texas) to report decreases across three key hotel metrics, according to a report from data and analytics firm STR, which tracks hotel performance.
Among the top 25 markets in the country, Miami-Dade was one of two to report decreases across three key hotel metrics, according to STR.
“The hotel business has always been cyclical,” said Miami-based hotel consultant Scott Brush. “We had nationally 70-some odd months of increases and that does not go on forever.”
Supply, or the number of new hotel rooms, is the lead perpetrator of Miami-Dade’s declining numbers, Brush said. The region welcomed a 4.2 percent increase in hotel rooms in 2016, a giant leap in a local hotel business that already has more than 50,000 hotel rooms. (Nationally, cities welcomed 1.6 percent new hotel rooms on average.)
But demand for those rooms has not kept pace. Room nights sold grew by 1.4 percent on average in 2016, causing other metrics to decline.
Overall, 75.9 percent of hotel rooms were full in 2016, a drop of 2.7 percent over 2015. That brought a decrease in the rate hoteliers were able to charge — about 2.9 percent less than in 2015. The average daily rate in 2016 was $189.77, compared to 2015’s average rate of $195.45. As a result, revenue per available room also plunged by 5.5 percent compared to 2015.
Other factors, chiefly Zika and Airbnb, hacked away at Miami-Dade’s performance, too.
Zika impact probably hurt conventions and meetings more than it hurt the individual tourist because if you’re a meeting coordinator you don’t want to be the guy known as setting up a meeting in a Zika-infested whatever.
Scott Brush, Miami-based hotel consultant
Over the summer, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an unprecedented travel warning to the region. Hotels across Miami-Dade experienced a drop in bookings; one reported experiencing its three worst weeks in 15 years.
That impact may have dripped into the fall months, Brush said. Hotel room occupancy, the average daily rate and revenue per available room went negative during the last five months of the year. Room nights sold were down between October to December.
“Zika impact probably hurt conventions and meetings more than it hurt the individual tourist because if you’re a meeting coordinator you don’t want to be the guy known as setting up a meeting in a Zika-infested whatever,” Brush said.
Meanwhile, the popularity of Airbnb and other short-term rental platforms has been on the rise. According to a separate STR report released last week, Airbnb has impacted hotels, though the extent is not yet quantifiable. In Miami-Dade, Airbnb was responsible for 3.6 percent of total room nights sold in the overall hotel industry from July 2015 and July 2016.
Scott Berman, Miami-based industry leader for hospitality and leisure at PwC, said local hotel managers are worried about home sharing platforms.
As far as we are concerned, our economy is in a lot better shape than these places. That’s reflected in dollar. It makes the U.S. that much more expensive for other travelers.
Scott Brush, Miami-based hotel consultant
Another point of concern is the international markets that typically feed Miami. Many countries in Latin American and Europe faced economic challenges in 2016. At the same time, the U.S. dollar strengthened, making Miami more expensive for foreigners. Four of the top five markets fueling Miami are outside the U.S., according to the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau.)
Travel to Miami International Airport painted the picture: Traffic from No.1 international market Brazil declined by 30 percent. The number of Canadian visitors, the No. 2 international market according to the tourism bureau, declined by 10 percent.Passenger traffic began to drop in August and continued on a decline through November, plunging as much as 7 percent in October. (The airport has not yet released figure for December.) Although scraping through for a tiny overall passenger increase of 0.53 percent over 2015, the airport experienced its weakest growth rate since 2009.
“As far as we are concerned, our economy is in a lot better shape than these places. That’s reflected in dollar,” Brush said. “It makes the U.S. that much more expensive for other travelers.”
Broward County also saw some declines, but they were less dramatic than in Miami-Dade.
Broward hotels were able to charge more on average, with an average daily rate of $139.47, up from 2015’s average rate of $135.70. The revenue per available room increased by 0.9 percent. The county welcomed 1.5 percent more new hotel rooms than in 2015, an increase more on par with the national average.
2.8 percent Increase in average daily rate at Broward County hotels in 2016 compared to 2015
But room nights sold dropped 0.4 percent. About 77 percent of Broward hotel rooms were booked on average in 2016, which represents a 1.8 percent decrease from 2015.
Figures are not yet available for January, when Broward County became the scene of a mass shooting at Fort-Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport. Stacy Ritter, president and CEO of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, said the county has not yet seen in impact on tourism from the attack.