COVID-19 pandemic: A year later, hotel industry recalibrates, reassesses

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COVID-19 pandemic: A year later, hotel industry recalibrates, reassesses

Global hotel industry is stirring from hibernation and seeing modest gains in traveler demand

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  • In the U.S. small gains continued to be mad
  • European Union’s decision to allow fully vaccinated Americans back in is a good first step
  • Asia-Pacific moved across the 50% occupancy threshold in March

Just over a year after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic, the global hotel industry is—slowly—stirring from hibernation and seeing at least modest gains in traveler demand. The wait has been long, and it remains a work in progress.

But making headway is all you can ask for after a 12-month headache.

In the U.S., which saw performance calve last March, before bottoming out in April, small gains continued to be made in most key performance indicators in March 2021—though the strides only shined a light on the decrepitude that was 2020.

Consider gross operating profit per available room, which was up 328.9% over the same time last year to $30.63. The steep increase more a result of the depths from which it has come: GOPPAR in March 2020 checked in at $-13.38, one of eight months in 2020 when profit was negative. Still, March 2021 GOPPAR was the highest it’s been since February of last year and $20 higher than last month.

March was also the first time in a year that year-over-year RevPAR was up (4%). It was also $20 higher than last month. Both occupancy and rate were at their highest levels since last March, with the former up 5.8 percentage points over the same time a year ago to 36.8%.

Total revenue per available room hit triple digits to $100.45, aided by the overall increase in rooms revenue, despite still muted ancillary revenue.

Expenses continued to stay at bay, with total labor costs down 55% over the same time a year ago.

Profit margin was up 42.4 percentage points to 30.5%, the highest mark achieved since February 2020 and a number more in line with historical levels.

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