Business

Houston’s Hotel Industry Begins Recovery As The COVID-19 Pandemic Fades

For the first time since the pandemic began, all major U.S. hotel markets turned a profit in May.

The InterContinental Houston – Medical Center has more than doubled its occupancy compared to January.

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Houston hotels are once again turning out profits, as the number of active COVID-19 cases has steadily declined across the region.

The rebound comes after the industry fought to survive over the past year, when the pandemic decimated hotel occupancy across the country.

According to hospitality data firm STR, Houston hotels saw an approximate $30 profit per available room in May, up from a 49 cent loss per available room in January.

In the Texas Medical Center, room occupancy at the InterContinental Houston has more than doubled since January, according to Doug Kelly, the hotel's director of sales and marketing.

He said the recent increase in business was thanks to hospital patients who were no longer putting off procedures for fear of contracting COVID-19. He added that the hotel was also seeing more groups of people come back, as well as people taking “staycations”.

"The component that's still missing is some of the international travel," Kelly said. "We're starting to see most of it to come back from Mexico and Latin America, and then as it continues to grow, we'll start seeing Europe and the Middle East and Asia come back as well."

Hotel occupancy in Houston was slightly below 60% in June — a stark contrast compared to April 2020, when occupancy was about 22% across the city.

Downtown hotels, which rely heavily on convention and business travelers, fared the worst last month, with just above 31% occupancy. That number rose to more than 51% on weekends. In comparison, these same hotels were below 5% occupancy in April 2020.

Nationwide, hotel occupancy was higher than 66% in June.

Despite the improved numbers, Houston’s hotel industry has not yet fully returned to pre-pandemic levels of operation.

In May, hotel profits in Houston were nearly three times less than they were in February 2020, just before the start of the pandemic.

Compared to other major markets, Houston's May 2021 performance ranked near the middle. Hotel profits across the nation are currently at about 70% of their 2019 level.

In terms of profitability, Miami's hotels were doing the best with nearly $160 per available room. On the lower end, San Francisco's operating profit was about $1.50 in May.

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Florian Martin

Florian Martin

Business Reporter

Florian Martin is currently the News 88.7 business reporter. Florian’s stories can frequently be heard on other public radio stations throughout Texas and on NPR nationwide. Some of them have earned him awards from Texas AP Broadcasters, the Houston Press Club, National Association of Real Estate Editors, and Public Radio...

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