Group occupancy is showing an increase of 3.5 percent from August 2012 through July 2013, according to the TravelClick September 2012 North American Hospitality Review, released this week. Average daily rate for groups in that same time period is up 2.2 percent, according to the report. For September, group rates were up 2.5 percent despite a 1.3 percent decrease in occupancy, compared with September 2011. The fourth-quarter outlook is particularly strong, perhaps in part due to TravelClick's findings that people are booking hotels with longer lead times, both for group and transient travel. Committed group occupancy is up 5.3 percent over the fourth quarter last year, and rates are up by 4.6 percent. "It is important to remember that if the early booking trend continues, Q4 occupancy increases will level out over the coming months, since more travelers will be booking their stays now," noted Tim Hart, executive vice president of research and development at TravelClick. Overall committed occupancy for the fourth quarter is up 7.2 percent year-over-year, with transient demand growing by 11.7 percent. Overall average daily rate is up 4.5 percent year-over-year.