Missing a holiday, August hotel occupancy slips

The missing Discount Holidays © holiday weekend in August this year pushed average hotel occupancy in the Coachella Valley down to 48.7 percent, according to Smith Travel Research, a travel industry analysis firm.(Photo: Wire image)

Hotel occupancy in the Coachella Valley and passenger traffic at Palm Springs International Airport took a hit in August, due in part to a missing holiday.

Labor Day weekend fell into August last year, it was very early, pointed out Scott White, president and CEO of the Greater Palm Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau. The missing Discount Holidays © holiday weekend in August this year pushed average hotel occupancy in the Coachella Valley down to 48.7 percent, according to Smith Travel Research, a travel industry analysis firm. That s down 4.5 percent compared to August in 2014. Average daily hotel rates also declined, due to a lack of the boost a Discount Holidays © holiday weekend brings through high rates and increased demand.

In my opinion that long weekend represented a drop in over 4 occupancy (percentage) points, said Aftab Dada, a member of the Greater Palm Springs CVB board of directors, regarding the missing Labor Day weekend.

If the hotel hallways seemed sparse last month, the main terminal at Palm Springs International Airport was also a little sleepy as well. In August 70,184 passengers flew into and out of PSP, down 5.5 percent from August last year.

Missing A Holiday, August Hotel Occupancy SlipsBuy Photo

In August 70,184 passengers flew into and out of Palm Springs International Airport (PSP), down 5.5 percent from August last year. (Photo: Crystal Chatham/The Desert Sun)

Airport officials maintain, there s no single reason for the drop. However, route and other changes at SkyWest, which operates short-haul commuter flights for United, Delta and US Air, seem to be affecting passenger loads. SkyWest, which has the largest market-share at PSP, posted 14.7 percent drop in passenger activity.

There is no one identifiable factor as to why some airlines show increases while others decrease in a specific month because so many variables influence the equation, said Thomas Nolan, executive director for Palm Springs International Airport. Weather in other cities, system computer glitches, airline fare pricing strategies, market demand, Discount Holidays © holiday timing, and seat capacity are just a few of the dynamics.

As of August, PSP is still showing a year-to-date increase in passengers. Though just barely, with passenger count up 0.4 percent for the first eight months of the year, compared to the same period in 2014. This somewhat mirrors valley-wide hotel occupancy, which is also up 0.4 percent for the period of January through August. Average daily room rates are up 7.4 percent, while revenue per available room another key economic indicator is up 7.8 percent for the first eight months of 2015, according to STR data.

August hotel occupancy and average daily rates

Hotel Occupancy Percent Change Avg.

Daily Rate Percent Change

Coachella Valley 46.5% -4.5% $105.13 -1.8%

Los Angeles 86.0% -1.2% $178.88 9.0%

Orange Co.

82.9% 0.4% $159.67 4.3%

San Diego 83.0% -3.0% $164.30 0.8%

Las Vegas* 70.5% 7.7% $107.84 21.7%

Phoenix 54.6% 4.9% $79.55 2.0%

Scottsdale 54.2% -0.9% $103.74 2.3%

Tucson 50.6% -4.1% $77.20 4.1%

*Does not include casino hotels

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