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by Michael J. Shapiro | November 03, 2010

Third-quarter U.S. hotel occupancy rose 6.7 percent over last year, according to recently released data from Smith Travel Research -- the highest quarterly occupancy growth ever recorded by the company. Average daily rate increased 1.6 percent over 2009, the first quarterly growth since the third quarter of 2008. Revenue per available room, meanwhile, shot up by 8.4 percent -- the highest increase since the second quarter of 2006. STR senior vice president Bobby Bowers noted in a statement, "We anticipate continued but somewhat slower occupancy growth in the final quarter, while ADR should continue its positive momentum." The numbers indicate that the industry is "solidly into the recovery phase of the business cycle," said Mark Woodworth, president of Colliers PKF Hospitality Research, in a statement. The gains in both RevPAR and ADR exceeded PKF's September forecast, added Woodworth, and 21 of the 50 markets covered by PKF's "Hotel Horizons" report posted occupancy increases greater than 10 percent for two consecutive quarters. "An increase of this magnitude and breadth has never occurred since STR began collecting data in the 1980s," noted Woodworth.