SXSW hotel bookings mark latest return of leisure travel

SXSW hotel bookings mark latest return of leisure travel

Data: Kalibri Labs, CBRE; Chart: Thomas Oide/Axios

South by Southwest hotel bookings saw a near-return to normalcy in March, the latest sign of a rebound in leisure travel, according to a new report from CBRE.

Why it matters: The hospitality sector is a significant driving force behind the local economy, and while the industry hasn’t entirely resumed, the figures are a promising sign for the summer travel season.

By the numbers: Revenue per available room, the hotel industry standard to measure a property’s performance, improved significantly during this year’s SXSW compared to one year prior, CBRE found.

  • This year’s event still fell short of pre-pandemic levels, however, when revenue per room reached $145.86. Revenue per available room this year hit $131.39, down 10% from 2019.
  • Meanwhile, total hotel room revenue, which is a helpful gauge for groups interested in tax revenue generated by the city’s hospitality sector, is up 5% from 2019, CBRE found.

Yes, but: The spike in total revenue is likely due to an increase in the number of hotel rooms since 2019, according to Kevin Donahue, who leads CBRE’s Texas hotel valuations practice.

  • There were 40,396 rooms in March 2019. That grew to 46,877 in March 2022, driven by hotel construction growth.

Flashback: Business travel was hit hard by the pandemic, but leisure travel has been on the upswing.

What to watch: SXSW officials have not yet released their economic impact report, but 2019’s impact on the local economy totaled $355.9 million.

  • CBRE predicts a rebound by 2025.

Of note: Austin City Limits‘ 2021 economic impact report will be released today in a 10am press conference.