Editor’s Note: This is the 10th in a
15-part series (appearing on LodgingMagazine.com each Monday) examining
the performance of various markets in the United States. The following
is courtesy of Deloitte’s “Hospitality Vision US Performance Review.”
Fort Lauderdale’s metrics, while holding steady, remain flat overall.
According to STR, for the first 11 months of 2011, occupancy was up a small percentage point of 5.3 percent from the same period in 2010, while RevPAR improved (7.0 percent) to 78.1 from 72.9. Florida’s difficult economic climate appears to continue to dampen room demand, with average room rates up only 1.6 percent.
Yet, Fort Lauderdale is still a popular destination for tourists, not just in winter and spring, but even in summer months. The Miami Herald reports that more than 21 million people traveled to Florida between April and June, an increase of nearly seven percent from the same time in 2010, perhaps signaling a break in seasonality for the industry. At the same time, the number of international travelers increased by 16.3 percent.
Many hotels and hospitality companies enticed travelers with “perks” over price cuts, according to the Miami Herald. For example, the Ritz-Carlton offered room upgrades, $100 in resort credit, free valet parking, a $25 gift card, and a two-for-one savings at local attractions, calling the promotion “Vacation like a VIP.” Fort Lauderdale-based Regent Seven Seas Cruises announced that beginning in 2012, guests booked in rooms and suites at the concierge-level and above would enjoy priority shore excursions, restaurant reservations, and free upgrades.
But the news was not all good, as the Sun Sentinel reported that the city’s largest annual convention plans to relocate in 2012. Leaving Fort Lauderdale is ARVO, the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, whose annual meeting generated $13 million a year. The move could affect jobs, tax revenues, and construction. In some good news, the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association convention attracted more than 400 people from 35 nations.
According to an annual study by the Global Business Travel Association Foundation, three Florida cities — Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, and West Palm Beach — topped the list of the lowest tax-burdened cities out of 50 destinations, taking into account general sales tax and travel-related services, such as car rental, hotel, and meals. This could be good news for companies planning conferences for 2012.
The Sun Sentinel reports that while airlines offered fewer seats from Fort Lauderdale to several Caribbean islands (including Jamaica, the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, Trinidad, and Tobago) in 2010-2011, three carriers plan to increase service to the region in 2012, at least in part because of demographic trends (that is, the number of South Floridians with ties to the Caribbean has grown significantly in the last decade).