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Cleveland hotel occupancy in 2018 rebounds, exceeds Republican National Convention year

January 25, 2019

Cleveland hotel occupancy in 2018 rebounds, exceeds Republican National Convention year

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Hotel occupancy in downtown Cleveland and throughout Northeast Ohio inched up in 2018, to a rate higher than the year the Republican National Convention came to town.

Hotel occupancy – that’s the percentage of hotel rooms that are filled – was 69.3 percent in 2018 for downtown Cleveland and University Circle, according to STR, a data firm that tracks travel metrics. That’s up from 66.5 percent in 2017, and the highest since 2015, before the city added several new hotels in anticipation of the RNC.

Occupancy in the six-county Greater Cleveland area increased, as well, to 62.5 percent, up from 59.7 percent in 2017, according to STR.

“The downtown and suburban markets have rebounded from all the supply added in 2016,” said David Sangree, president of Cleveland consulting firm Hotel & Leisure Advisors. “That’s very positive.”

In 2016, downtown and University Circle added four new hotels, including the taxpayer-financed, 600-room Hilton Cleveland Downtown, attached to the Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland. A 17 percent increase in room supply in 2016 led to a drop in occupancy in both 2016 and 2017.

That dip, however, now appears to be short-term.

The average overnight hotel rate increased in Cleveland, as well. The average cost to stay in a downtown Cleveland hotel in 2018 was $152.52, up from $144.86 in 2017 and just shy of $153.18 in 2016, a year marked by inflated rates due to the RNC, NBA and baseball playoff runs. In the metro area, the average overnight rate was $107, up from $104.94 in 2017.

Hotel occupancy, 2018Occupancy % change from 2017Average daily rate, 2018ADR % change from 2017 Downtown Cleveland69.3%4.1%$152.525.3 %Greater Cleveland62.5%4.8%$1072%Greater Columbus63.8%-0.8%$106.841.3%Greater Cincinnati65%-1.2%$104.790.9%Ohio60.5%0.5%$99.271.9%United States66.2%0.5%$129.832.4%

Sangree speculates that the convention center was more successful at bringing in overnight guests in 2018 than in 2017, both via traditional conventions and special events like this weekend’s Cleveland Beer Fest.

“The goal of the downtown convention center is to attract people to stay overnight,” he said. “They are doing a better job of that.” Numbers from the convention center were not immediately available for this story.

The occupancy rate increases are also a result of a growing, healthy economy, according to Laurel Keller, a senior vice president with Newmark Knight Frank, who noted the strong correlation between decreasing office vacancy rates and hotel demand. Cleveland is experiencing its lowest office vacancy rate in more than 17 years.

Keller said the increase in both hotel occupancy and overnight rates should lead to additional supply growth. Seventy percent occupancy, she said, “is a magic number for developers,” and the sign of a healthy hotel market.

The Downtown Cleveland-University Circle area hasn’t had a new hotel since June 2016, when the Hilton opened. That’s set to change later this year, with the opening of the region’s first Tru by Hilton, on Euclid Avenue between 69th and 70th streets in Cleveland’s Midtown neighborhood.

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