According to STR, Inc, a hotel industry market data firm, 2020 was absolutely the worst year on record for hotels as industrywide profits fell to zero, as the virus pandemic and resulting government-enforced social distancing measures kept travelers at home.
STR's latest report said the US hotel occupancy rate was 44% for the year, down from 66% in 2019. This was the lowest occupancy rate on record. In an earlier STR report, we noted weeks ago that the industry had one billion unsold room nights for the first time, surpassing the record of 786 million in 2009.
Even though S&P Global Ratings warned a few months back that the hotel industry's recovery may not occur until 2023, STR now believes a recovery in occupancy rates back to 2019 levels may not occur until 2024.
Best Western CEO David Kong recently told CNN that "If we don't get a vaccine soon and business doesn't return, it's going to get much worse."
With the vaccine rollout slower than anticipated, along with a rampant virus, leisure travel will most likely remain depressed in the first quarter of 2021.
Commercial-real estate experts at Trepp outlined last month that the overall credit performance of commercial real estate loans tied to hotels continues to show "pandemic related stress."
Even with the industry crushed by the pandemic, stimulus, vaccine hope, and the reopening trade have backstopped BBB- tranche of the CMBX Series 9 index (overly exposed to malls and hotels) from falling lower.
There's no real timetable to say when corporate travelers will start booking hotel rooms again, considering the proliferation of work-at-home and Zoom calls. There could be a permanent decline in traveling due to the virus pandemic, resulting in an unprecedented wave of hotel foreclosures.