There are early signs that the U.S. hotel industry's growth may be slowing down slightly, two experts say.
In her Wednesday report, analyst Rachael Rothman of Susquehanna Financial Group says that revenue per available room (revpar) for U.S. hotels fell 0.6% for the week ended Sept. 22 compared with the same week a year ago, marking "a third week in a row (that) there has been a significant deceleration in revpar growth."
While the Rosh Hashanah holiday "most likely impacted the past two weeks," she writes, "it now appears that lodging industry trends are slowing more than expected."
The report lowers expectations for U.S. revenue per available room for the third quarter, which ends in a week. The expectation had been for revpar to grow during the period by 6% to 8%.
The signs are there, says R. Mark Woodworth, president of Atlanta-based PKF Hospitality Research.
"Demand growth overall - while still positive - has begun to slow down," Woodworth told me.
Obama vs. Romney
The rapidly approaching Nov. 6 presidential election plays a role in this picture, he say.
"As we come closer to knowing what the next four years will hold, consumers and businesses have begun to put things on hold â?? postpone decisions that might be impacted by the ultimate outcome of the election," he says.
According to data tracker Smith Travel Research based in Hendersonville, Tenn., occupancy in U.S. hotels for the last week vs. same week were essentially flat (-1%), with luxury dipping the most (-6%). for the week ended Sept. 22.
Results, of course, vary by city.
San Francisco tops the charts
Of the top 25 cities tracked by STR, San Francisco filled the highest percentage of rooms (94.3%). That means the City by the Bay beat out powerhouse New York (86.2%) and Oahu (88.3%).
San Francisco's market's performing so strong that rates and revpar for the period jumped by about 25% apiece, even though the occupancy level stayed flat.
Orlando had the lowest occupancy last week, filling just 53% of rooms - down nearly 17% from a year ago. Visit Orlando spokesman Brian Martin says this month's typically slow for Orlando, and on top of that, the city is facing an unusually difficult comparison. "We had one of our best years in terms of meetings and conventions" last year, he says.