by Michael J. Shapiro | October 19, 2018
The U.S. hotel industry experienced a slight dip in revenue per available room last month, breaking a 102-month streak of year-over-year RevPAR growth, according to lodging-data provider STR. September's RevPAR of $89.10 was 0.3 percent lower than the figure from September 2017, registering the first monthly decline since March 2010. That run was the longest on record for the industry.
But it isn't exactly time for hoteliers to panic, according to Jan Freitag, STR's senior vice president of lodging. "Very important to state, this is not the beginning of a downturn," he said. "The industry smashed the monthly demand record last September because of the rush of post-hurricane business in Houston and parts of Florida. That created a level of demand that the industry fell just short [-0.1 percent] of matching this September. In fact, that slight dip in demand was the first year-over-year decline in the metric since August 2015."
 
These declines have to be seen in context, Freitag underscored. "When you look past the monthly year-over-year comparison, you will see that each of the key metrics were well above the long-term average for September and just barely ahead of the 2018 year-to-date average. The industry remains on solid footing even as RevPAR growth slows. We'll release our final forecast revision of the year in the coming weeks, with continued growth projected through 2019."
 
Occupancy fell by 2.1 percent in September, but was relatively strong at 68 percent. Average daily rate was up slightly, by 1.9 percent, to $131.
 
Thirteen of the top 25 markets reported RevPAR growth for the month. The San Francisco/San Mateo market led them all with a 13.3 percent gain to $239.64. That was driven by the only double-digit hike in ADR among the nation's top markets, where rates soared by 13.6 percent, to $274.69.
 
Phoenix posted the second-highest increases in each performance category, as its occupancy rose by 5.1 percent, to 63.7 percent; the city's ADR grew by 6.6 percent, to $110.37; and RevPAR went up by 12.1 percent, to $70.26. The Miami/Hialeah market saw the highest occupancy growth, up by 8.7 percent, to 64.2 percent for the month.
 
Houston experienced the steepest declines, as the figures were being compared to last year's post-hurricane surge. Occupancy was down by 30.8 percent, to 59.1 percent; ADR dropped by 7.7 percent, to $105.75; and RevPAR plummeted by 36.2 percent, to $62.48.