WILLIAMSBURG — Old Dominion University’s (ODU) Dragas Center for Economic Analysis and Policy anticipates that the tourism industry within Hampton Roads will continue to experience a positive trend of “pandemic recovery” this year.
This analysis is based on newly released data from Smith Travel Research (STR), a global firm that analyzes the hospitality industry. The data shows that, in the first four months of 2022, hotel revenues in Hampton Roads are up by 19% when compared to the first four months of 2019.
According to a release from ODU’s Dragas Center, “Hampton Roads’ hotel industry, except for the Miami and Tampa markets, also continues to outperform the top 25 markets in the nation in terms of growth in Hotel Revenue and Revenue per Available Room. However, hotel revenues for the commonwealth through April are still 3.5% below the levels observed in 2019. The hotel industry in the state has not yet fully recovered from the pandemic.”
According to The Dragas Center, the largest hospitality markets in the commonwealth are Northern Virginia, Hampton Roads, and Richmond, which generated about 77% of the commonwealth’s hotel revenue in 2019.
Metrics that were utilized in the STR report include rooms sold, rooms available, and rooms revenue. These three metrics are then used to calculate the Average Daily Rate (ADR), Occupancy, and Revenue Per Available Room (RevPAR). The latter is a metric designed by STR and has become an industry standard for analyzing the health of the hotel industry.
“The hotel industry continues to recover in the commonwealth and has more than fully recovered in Hampton Roads,” said Professor Vinod Agarwal of the Dragas Center. “With a significant decline in COVID-19 cases, rising consumer confidence and continued pent-up demand in leisure travel, we have seen significant improvement in the performance of the hotel industry over the 2019 levels, and we expect the industry to continue its recovery in the coming months.”
The Williamsburg Tourism Council cited STR’s analysis at its May 17th meeting.
A contributing factor to the Historic Triangles’ pandemic recovery has been its efforts in digital advertising and online marketing campaigns.
Of those exposed to digital advertising, hotel searches have risen 70% for March/April when compared to Jan./Feb., according to a slide from the Williamsburg Tourism Council’s May 17 presentation. According to that same slide, Hotel Bookings are up by 85% when comparing the same months.
“With the expected increase in demand moving into 2022, it is important to grow new audiences, while preparing for dramatic shifts in audiences with cookie depreciation,” according to that presentation. “2022 will continue to have an emphasis on in-market audiences, while beginning to cultivate new audience sources and testing.”
These sources include mobile apps, television, online blogs, social media, and Historic Triangle partnering with online influencers on various digital platforms.
According to the release from Dragas, “Within Hampton Roads, Chesapeake/Suffolk saw its revenue increase the most, 23% through April compared to 2019, followed closely by Virginia Beach (+22%). The slowest growth in revenue was observed for Newport News/Hampton market (+15%).”
The STR presentation from the May 17 Williamsburg Tourism Council can be found on Visit Williamsburg’s official website.