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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

World Events Lead to Dramatic Swings in Hotel Prices



Political and Natural Events Strongly Impact Room Rates in First Half of 2011, Says new Hotels.com Hotel Price Index™ (HPI®)




LONDON, September 13/PRNewswire/ — Hotel prices have experienced pronounced volatility as a result of political turmoil and natural disasters in the first half of 2011, according to the latest Hotels.com® Hotel Price Index™ (HPI®).

The average price of a room around the world rose by just 3% in the first six months of the year but this masked some steep rises and falls in regions affected by the historic events.

Other factors such as currency strength and supply of rooms also impacted average room prices across the world, although the report shows that overall these were just 6% higher than when the HPI was launched in 2004, representing outstanding value for travellers.

Prices fell 6% in Asia Pacific year-on-year but rose in all other areas: 4% in North America, 2% in Europe and Latin America and 1% in the Caribbean.
Counting the Cost of the Arab Spring

The uprisings which occurred in North Africa and the Middle East triggered substantial reductions in hotel prices across the region as tourists and business travellers stayed away not only from countries directly hit by the civil unrest but also from those which escaped political protest.

However, the fall in consumer confidence was good news for destinations in southern Europe as travellers returned to more traditional havens. The rising demand pushed up prices in some Spanish sunshine destinations and the overall HPI for Europe rose 2% compared with the first half of last year.

Ireland was also helped by the high-profile visits of Queen Elizabeth II and President Obama which triggered a slight market recovery in hotel prices by attracting visitors and boosting demand.
Japanese Earthquake Hits Prices in Asia Pacific

Average prices for hotel rooms across Asia Pacific fell by 6% over the period. The Japanese earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis at Fukushima led to reduced occupancy and falling demand in the country and also had a knock-on effect in other parts of the region as the Japanese chose to stay close to home.

However, despite the downward price pressures, there were also some marked rises in the region, especially in strong economies such as Australia where corporate travel continued strongly and the Australian Dollar remained high.
Travellers from Economic Powerhouses Enjoy Lower Hotel Rates

This factor was also evident in other countries with strong currencies and economies and meant citizens from nations such as Brazil, Sweden and Switzerland benefited from lower prices in many destinations, particularly the US and UK where the US Dollar and Pound Sterling struggled to hold their ground.

David Roche, President of Hotels.com, comments: "This year, for the first time, dramatic political and natural world events, such as the Japanese earthquake and Arab Spring, have caused the most pronounced level of hotel price volatility since we began this report in 2004.

"However, despite some exceptional price movements, it is important to highlight that overall the picture has been one of gradual recovery with many room rates still on a par with what they were seven years ago, representing great value for the traveller.

"Of course, other factors such foreign exchange fluctuations, one-off political sporting, cultural or trade events and discounting by hoteliers can also influence prices but it's important to underline the general health of the sector so far this year.

"This can be seen by the growth in the supply of rooms all over the world with nearly 6,000* hotel projects in development. This increase in accommodation also acts as a brake on prices and, once again, is good news for the consumer."

The Hotels.com HPI is based on bookings made on Hotels.com sites around the world and tracks the real prices paid per hotel room (rather than advertised rates) for about 125,000 properties across more than 19,000 locations. The latest HPI looks at prices in the first half of 2011 compared to the same period last year.

For a full copy of the HPI report, graphics and video interview with Hotels.com President David Roche go to:
http://press.hotels.com/en-gb/


Alternatively, email pressoffice@hotels.com or call:
Lizann Peppard on +44-20-7019-2265
Zoe Chan on +852-3607-5719
Alison Couper on + 44-20-7019-2360

* July 2011 STR Global Construction Pipeline Report

About Hotels.com

As part of the Expedia group which operates in all major markets, Hotels.com offers almost 140,000 quality hotels, B&Bs and serviced apartments worldwide. The company currently operates more than 85 Hotels.com sites around the world and travellers can book online or by contacting one of the multilingual call centres.


The hotels.com Biannual Hotel Price Index Shows a 3 Percent Global Price Increase and Gradual Recovery

Report also Finds Americans Paid 11 Percent More for European Hotels; Japanese Travelers Spent the Most on Travel Abroad

DALLAS – September 13, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Today, hotels.com®, the leading provider of lodging worldwide, released its biannual Hotel Price Index™ (HPI®), revealing a 3 percent global price increase and a gradual recovery despite major natural catastrophes and world events affecting travel during the first half of the year. Room rates are still lower than their peak in mid-2007, indicating to travelers that good deals and value are within reach for consumers.

The hotels.com Hotel Price Index (HPI) is a regular survey of hotel prices in major city destinations across the world. The HPI is based on bookings made on hotels.com and prices shown are those actually paid by customers (rather than advertised rates) for the first half of 2011. The report largely compares prices paid in 2010 with prices paid in 2011. The key findings of the Hotel Price Index:

Influential Factors in American Travel at Home and Abroad

Americans continued to see a weak U.S. dollar compared to other currencies, meaning travel outside the country’s borders was more costly than anticipated. Americans paid an increase of 11 percent at European hotels in 2011 compared to 2010; a 5 percent increase in North America; a 4 percent increase in the Caribbean; and a 1 percent increase in Asia. In addition to the weak currency, 2011 was a year of major natural disasters which greatly affected travel, including major flooding in Nashville, and devastating tornadoes that caused major damage to Minneapolis and Joplin, Missouri. Despite the natural disaster, Joplin’s year-over-year average daily rate increased 3 percent, but time will tell if that will remain constant for the rest of the year. Joplin is the tenth least expensive city in the U.S. according to this year’s HPI.

After the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in March, travel to the country dropped, even in capital city Tokyo, located 250 miles south of the disaster. Reykjavik, Iceland and Christchurch, New Zealand were also subject to the extraordinary forces of Mother Nature. Massive volcanic ash clouds in Reykjavik and the aftermath of two 6.0+ magnitude earthquakes in Christchurch may have been factors in the 44 percent and 38 percent price rises in each city, respectively. These rises counter the typical trend of lower prices after a natural disaster.

Where are Americans Traveling Internationally?
There has been little change when it comes to the top three most frequented international destinations traveled to by Americans. London, Paris and Rome remain the most popular despite an 11 percent increase in the average daily rate for Americans paying for a hotel in Europe. Our neighbors to the North, Toronto and Vancouver, came in fourth and fifth place. Aside from the top three, European travel from the U.S. continues to centralize around Madrid, Amsterdam, Dublin, Florence, and Venice. Each city moved up one to three spots in the hearts of American tourists.

From Monte Carlo, Monaco to Vieques, Puerto Rico, the top ten most expensive destinations’ daily rates rose, on average, 22 percent year-over-year. Each city on the list cost American travelers more than $350 dollars a night. The city that topped the list, Bora Bora (located in the French Polynesian islands), costs more than double that amount, claiming over $800 a night from American vacationers.

Which Regions Are Growing In Popularity for Americans?
The HPI reveals that Asia is the most up-and-coming region for American travelers. Even though the region experienced a minimal room rate hike of 1 percent, Asian cities have been moving up on the list of the top 50 cities for American travelers.

Beijing moved up 12 spots from 2010 to #20. Bangkok (up 16 spots to #17) and Seoul (up 15 spots to #30) also rapidly gained popularity among U.S. travelers this year.

Hong Kong ranked as the eighth most visited city by Americans in 2011, while other Asian cities including Bangkok (17), Shanghai (18), Beijing (20), Dubai (21) and Singapore(24) ranked in the top 25 most visited international destinations by Americans.

On the other side of the world, Americans paid an average daily rate of $207 in the Caribbean after a four percent increase. Latin American hotel rooms rose two percent in 2011 with rooms costing an average daily rate of $153.

Who are the World’s Biggest Spenders?
Japanese travelers are the new top spenders when traveling abroad, paying an average of $176 per room when they head overseas. Second in line are travelers from Switzerland and Australia, who respectively spend $175 and $172 in other countries. While U.S. travelers have dropped into fourth place, spending an average of $171 per night on hotels overseas, this is still an increase from last year’s average of $160 per night. Americans are more thrifty when booking hotels in the U.S., spending $119 per night. The biggest domestic spenders are from Switzerland, paying an average of $220 in their local hotels. Travelers from India continue to be the lowest domestic spenders, with an average of $92 per room spent on hotels within their borders.


Press Contacts:

Helen Ames
Ruder Finn for hotels.com
Phone: (212) 715-1646
Email: amesh@ruderfinn.com

Taylor L. Cole, APR
hotels.com North America
Phone: (469) 335-8442
Email: taycole@hotels.com


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