comscore Hotel rates will hit new heights in '15 | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
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Hotel rates will hit new heights in ’15

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If hotel rates seemed a bit higher last year, it wasn’t your imagination. The average U.S. hotel rate in 2014 was the highest ever — up 4.6 percent to $115 a night — and industry experts are predicting a 5.2 percent increase by the end of this year.

On top of higher rates, you can also expect hotels to add more charges, such as fees for early check-in.

A new report by STR Inc., a hospitality research firm, also shows that the average revenue collected by hotels per room rose 8.3 percent to a record $74, and occupancy jumped 3.6 percent to 64.4 percent.

The highest rates in 2014 were in New York, an average of $263 a night, according to STR. The second highest ($221 a night) was on Oahu, followed by San Francisco ($207) and Miami ($185).

The average hotel rate in Los Angeles last year was $147, about $10 higher than the average for 2013, according to STR. That’s a jump of about 7 percent, which outpaced the national increase.

Despite the record-high room rates, hotels are unlikely to give guests a break on fees and surcharges, said Bjorn Hanson, dean of New York University’s Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management.

With demand rising and occupancy rates at the highest levels in decades, Hanson said, hotels are under no pressure to cut guest fees. "Hotels have pricing power now and they will exercise that," he said.

In fact, Hanson said, hotels are creating new fees. Some now charge to guarantee a specific type of room — such as one with a view or a king-size bed.

Another reason for the fees and surcharges, he said, is that hotels are taxed by local municipalities based on room rates, not on guest fees.

WI-FI ACCESS IS IMPROVING

The good news for fliers who like to stay connected in the air is that their chances of getting wireless Internet on a U.S. airline are 66 percent, up from 38 percent in 2013.

The bad news is that the chances of getting on a flight with Wi-Fi and a power outlet are only about 45 percent.

Worldwide, Wi-Fi in-flight availability is only 24 percent, according to Routehappy.com, a travel site that gauges the features and comfort of airline seats.

If you absolutely must have Wi-Fi and a power outlet, Virgin America might be the way to go. Routehappy’s study says the Burlingame, Calif., airline has wireless Internet and power outlets on 100 percent of its planes. Southwest Airlines offers Wi-Fi on every plane but no power outlets.

Hugo Martin, Los Angeles Times

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