DAYTONA BEACH – As Coronavirus Worryingly, Volusia County’s tourism officials and hoteliers report that the subsequent surge in visitors has resulted in a welcome surge in daily hotel room prices.
This trend is reflected in a whopping 52% increase in tourism bed tax collections in May from the same month before the May 2019 pandemic.
“The prices have risen; The demand is there and we’ve done a fantastic job selling our coastline, beach and clean air, ”said Bob Davis, President and CEO of the Lodging & Hospitality Association of Volusia County. “People are ready to come.”
The Volusia trend coincides with the fact that leisure travel to national destinations – including the world’s most famous beach – continues to boom as vaccinations roll out and COVID-related restrictions eased.
In May, hotels, vacation rentals, and campsites across the county generated $ 2,820,717 in bed taxes, 51.7% more than $ 1,858,427 in the same month two years ago, before the coronavirus pandemic hit global tourism in 2020 dealt a devastating blow.
That figure, reported by the Volusia County Revenue Division, also apparently surpassed the $ 1,278,413 raised for pandemic crippled May 2020. The newly released May collection number surpassed the same month a year ago by 120.6%.
The county levies a 6 percent tourism tax on hotels and lodges, with half of the proceeds going to fund the county-operated Ocean Center convention complex in Daytona Beach. The other half goes to the county’s three tourism authorities to market their respective areas – the Daytona Beach / Halifax region, Southeast Volusia, and West Volusia – as tourist and special event destinations.
For the first eight months of the fiscal year, which began October 1, statewide collections of $ 16,505,440 are 5.8% up on $ 15,599,279 for the same pre-pandemic period 2019 were collected. That number also represents a 32.8% increase over the $ 12,419,942 raised for the first eight months of 2020.
“Yes, the (room) prices are higher,” says Evelyn Fine, President of Mid-Florida Marketing & Research.
Mid-Florida hasn’t calculated its monthly report for May based on average daily room rates, revenue per available room, and occupancy, but the trend has been upward since the unofficial start of the summer season on Memorial Day weekend, Fine said.
In its most recent report for April, Mid-Florida data reflected an average daily room rate at its 40+ reporting hotels of $ 146.15, an 11.7% increase from the average rate of $ 130.75. Dollar in April 2019.
Also in April, revenue per available room, calculated by multiplying the average daily rate of a hotel by its occupancy, was USD 106.73, an increase of 9.3% over the same month in 2019.
Meanwhile, demand for rooms has exploded, Fine said.
According to Mid-Florida, the average hotel occupancy over the Easter weekend was 94%, which translates into an average daily rate of $ 181.94 and revenue per available room of $ 170.18. Occupancy during Jeep Beach was 70%, with a daily rate of $ 204.94 and revenue of $ 144.42 per room.
“I think hotels are definitely sophisticated and get more for the rooms,” said Fine. “It’s been a trend since people came back, since Memorial Day. We watched the prices go up, even earlier in the year with Jeep Beach and the Easter break. “
In May, the big hikes in the bed tax weren’t driven by a special event, Fine said.
“It was absolutely market driven what the market will carry,” said Fine. “It’s incredible.”
A review of rates for hotels in Daytona Beach this weekend on travel website Expedia.com showed room rates of $ 158 per night at the Hilton Daytona Beach Oceanfront Resort; $ 350 per night at the newly opened Daytona Grande Hotel; $ 309 per night at the Plaza Resort & Spa; $ 353 per night at the Hard Rock Hotel; and $ 349 per night at The Shores Resort & Spa in Daytona Beach Shores.
At the 212-room Shores Resort & Spa, room rates have exceeded expectations in recent months, said Rob Burnetti, general manager.
“We are achieving average rates that we have not achieved in a long time,” said Burnetti. “Our prices are higher than ever before.”
On the weekend of July 4th, the room demand at his hotel was a little lower than Burnetti had expected, which he attributes to the weather, but possibly also to room prices.
“I’m sure that makes some people think twice or look elsewhere,” he said. “Our (Daytona Beach) reputation as an inexpensive travel destination is being tested. We are seeing higher average prices than we have for a long time and that opens us up to competition from markets that are usually more expensive than us.
“Gas prices have risen; The airfare has gone up, ”he said. “The rental car costs are increasing. Traveling has become a bit more expensive and I am sure that we felt that a little on the holiday weekend. “
Fine sees the upward trend in room rates as part of the market’s welcome transition to a destination with more branded hotels with special features and amenities, such as the Hard Rock Hotel and The Daytona Marriott Autograph Collection Your hotel in One Daytona.
“We have always been known as an affordable travel destination,” said Fine. “We took our hat off for many years, but back then we had fewer brand names and fewer full-service hotels with interesting destination restaurants.
“The market has changed and we have more to offer than before,” she said. “These are really good news.”
Rates are expected to remain high
Hotel room demand is expected to remain high through the summer and beyond, said Scott Smith, professor of hospitality and study director at the University of South Carolina at Columbia.
“Leisure travel just goes through the roof,” said Smith, who served as Director of Convention Services at the Daytona Marriott in the early 1990s, the hotel that is now the 744-room Hilton Daytona Beach Oceanfront Resort.
“If everything stays the same and there is no rebound in the pandemic, rates will stay high,” he said. “People travel more. The pandemic has caused us to readjust our view of things. The thought is, “Let’s not delay the journey; let us not hesitate to treat each other well. ‘”
The dark cloud on the horizon is the ongoing labor shortage in the hospitality industry, Smith said.
Many hotel workers laid off during the pandemic have found other jobs, Smith said. Even if income from higher room rates resulted in higher wages for workers, it wouldn’t necessarily attract potential employees, he said.
“The idea has always been that if you pay a higher salary, people will break the door to work for you. We don’t see that, ”said Smith. “Some places have gone up to $ 18 an hour, and they’re struggling just like people who pay $ 15 to get people to work for them.
“For some workers the thought is, ‘Why work in a hotel where you have to spend long nights and weekends when you can work at Target for a few dollars less but have a better lifestyle? People now make decisions based on their lifestyle and not just money. “
For hotels, the need for quality workers is more important as guests pay more for the rooms, Smith said.
“People don’t mind paying the surcharge, but they want the service,” he said. “If you pay more than you have in the past but get poorer service, that will be a problem.”