N.O. hit with largest year-to-year decline for hotel occupancy rates

N.O. hit with largest year-to-year decline for hotel occupancy rates

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A report tracking hotel occupancy rates across the country singled out New Orleans for the largest decrease year-to-year for the month of October.

The city's hotel occupancy rate dipped to 69.8 percent last month, according to STR.

STR's report showed October occupancy rates for this year fell 9.7 percent when compared to 2016 and also revealed New Orleans had the second-largest decrease in revenue per available room, meaning on average, rooms were cheaper.

"I don't know what exactly that decrease can be attributed to, maybe it was a pretty active hurricane season that we just had. I'm just not sure. I have to do a little bit more research to give you a better answer," New Orleans Tourism and Visitors Bureau Vice President of Communications and Public Relations Kristian Sonnier said.

Sonnier believes the decline is not the start of a trend. He said for the upcoming holiday weekend, hotel occupancy is above 90 percent.

"I think it's anomalous. We're seeing a lot of interest in New Orleans," Sonnier said. "I think we are going to see a strong 4th quarter this year and a strong 1st quarter in 2018 that is going to continue throughout the year."

STR Public Relations Manager Nick Minerd said analysts blame the decrease on a negative impact post Hurricane Harvey, specifically early in the month.

Minerd also said there was a year-over-year decline around Voodoo Fest and the occupancy rate could have been affected in 2017 with Halloween falling on Tuesday versus Monday last year.

There is also the question of short-term rental sites like Airbnb stealing would-be customers away from hotels.

There are more than 3000 short-term rentals in the city and occupancy rates for short-term rentals are not reported.

Sonnier said short-term rentals could "possibly" bring down occupancy rates.

"We are just not able to track what the occupancy numbers for short-term rentals are. It could be it. I'm not sure," he said.

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