Already full with reporters and officials, Hurricane Harvey only hammered Houston’s hotels harder

Floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey flow in the Buffalo Bayou in downtown Houston, Texas, Monday, Aug. 28, 2017. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

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During the storm, the struggling hotel industry in Houston saw, and may continue to see, a big unexpected hit:

As residents attempted to flee seeking shelter, they found hotel rooms in short supply.

First responders, news reporters and state and federal emergency management agencies are taking over many of the city’s hotels as operations bases.

After the storm moves on and the waters recede, the outlook still looks less than promising for Houston’s hotels, however.

STR, a hotel industry data analytics firm, rates Houston among the lowest-performing cities for hotel occupancy.

According to a report by the hospitality studies company report, hotel occupancy rates in Houston are down for the third straight year, with less than two-thirds of the rooms occupied on average.

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Revenues per room are also on a steady decline.

The STR report further showed revenues per room fell  by nearly five percent already in 2017, despite the influx of visitors from February’s Super Bowl LI.

Additionally, the per-room revenues are down by 3.4 percent in 2015 and a staggering 12.5 percent from 2016.

That said, the initial influx of guests at the area’s hotels may provide a temporary boost to the sagging hotel industry; those who can afford to stay at a hotel while looking for permanent lodgings can bring some much-needed revenue to this sector.

Additionally, after he declared a state of emergency, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced a temporary suspension of hotel taxes across the state for the next two weeks.

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However, experts agree any concentrated stimulus to Houston’s hotel industry would be temporary at best.

In an interview, Carter Wilson, VP of STR, described the situation:

“It’s going to be very hard on Houston for the foreseeable future.”

With many of the events fueling the hotel industry, such as conventions, conferences and sporting events, moving away from the storm-stricken area, Houston’s hotels may only be seeing the beginnings of a serious economic storm.

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