If the most recent data is to be believed, hotel revenues in Orlando are dropping at possible catastrophic rates, and this could be an indicator of what some may have already felt in the metro Orlando vacation home industry.

Data for Orlando vacation home occupancy and rate is difficult to collect, as the industry is very fragmented. However, as market indicators, we are inclined to consider hotel data trends to help as a mirror to the vacation home industry.

Recently SmithTravel Research, a provider of hotel industry data, reported that revenue per available room tumbled 13.2 percent nationally during the week Nov. 9-15, 2008 compared to a year earlier. Revenue per available room, or RevPar as it is termed, is a key gauge of a hotel’s revenue performance.

At the local level, metro Orlando has begun to see the largest drops in both rate and occupancy across the board for the hotel industry since 2001. For the week ending November 15th, 2008 hotel Rev PAR dropped by a whopping 27.3 % according to the ORLANDO CVBrecords .

So what are the ramifications for the Orlando vacation home market? Hotel data now tells us that a short term combination of rate and occupancy are in a state of significant decline. Not a surprise given the current economic environment, but the level and rate of the decline is much more devastating than what is being reported on some media outlets. It remains to be seen if these short term indicators become longer term trends for the Orlando market and can provide some basis for an Orlando tourism forecast.

Possible ramifications in the vacation home industry could include:

1.Rev PAH (Revenue per available home), is going to most likely drop significantly, as occupancies decline and some owners and home managers alike, quickly drop their rental rates.

2.This could impact vacation home prices due to the fact that vacation homes would have a lessened ability to generate income, which would logically be reflected in the underlying home sales prices.

3.Like any business, those homeowners that are best positioned to “hunker down” will be the ones that survive. Such factors could include: limited levels of debt, high rental occupancies, good locations and marketing strategies, excellent maintenance, and the overall experience of a good vacation home management company.

The good news for families, and even some event type groups seeking economic alternatives to hotel rooms, is that they may now logically consider the benefit of vacation homes. This helps the vacation home option become more mainstream. Please see our other posts detailing the economic viability of renting Orlando vacation homes and the value they provide to consumers. In addition, the best run vacation home management companies will most likely survive and the services they provide will become more essential.

In conclusion, there is no sugar coating the data. The drop in both rate and occupancy appears to have come so quickly and deeply that major media, and even many in the tourism industry, do not yet recognize. Expect possible systemic failures in Orlando’s tourism industry if these trends continue. Unfortunately, no one can preidict the future including us.

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