by Michael J. Shapiro | March 08, 2012

Group demand is surging at North American hotels, according to data just published in TravelClick's February 2012 North American Hospitality Review. Committed group occupancy at North American hotels from February through the end of the year is up by 5.9 percent compared with the same time frame in 2011, and group business booked in February is up by 5.1 percent, according to the report. Despite the increased demand, average daily rate for 2012 bookings in the group segment is down by 1.1 percent vs. last year. When transient leisure and business travel are factored in, however, the average daily rate is showing a 2.6 percent increase and occupancy is up by 5.4 percent over last year. Transient average rates actually are up by 5.2 percent, driven in large part by business travelers, who are paying an average of 5.3 percent more per room night. Based on reservations on the books through the end of the year, revenue per available room is tracking at a 5 percent increase. Taking into account only bookings for the first quarter of 2012, transient rates are up by 3.7 percent over last year, and group rates have inched up by 1.4 percent. Projected first-quarter revPAR is up by 3.1 percent.