Exactly one month after the events of Sept. 11, hotel occupancy rates are beginning to appear close to normal after a rapid fall, according to a new study released by the Cornell School of Hotel Administration.
The Center for Hospitality Research (CHR) found that on Sept. 17, national hotel room occupancy was at a dangerous all-time low of 48 percent.
Since then, however, the numbers have been on a slow and steady rise, according to the study.
“People have to get on with business. As President Bush said, ‘Life must go on.’ People have had a respectful period of mourning,” said CHR director Prof. Cathy Enz, hotel administration.
According to the study, by Sept. 28, people were beginning to come back to hotels. At the one month anniversary of the attacks, Enz said, “We’re looking at rates which resemble a return to the state of the industry as it was in the year 2000.”
Rates in the days immediately following Sept. 11 fell 25 percent but are slowly rising, the study states.
This is good news for local hotels such as the Holiday Inn located on South Cayuga Street in downtown Ithaca.
General Manager Mike Lucas said the hotel was “absolutely affected” by the recent terrorist attacks.
“Airlines and hotels are closely connected. Many airlines are having cash flow problems; I think you’ll find it’s the same for most hotels,” he noted.
And, while the Holiday Inn is experiencing continual weekend booking, Lucas mentioned that weekday travel is not nearly at normal rates.
Here on campus, however, Cornell’s Statler Hotel is booked to capacity due to this weekend’s homecoming football game, according to front office manager Jason Fulton.
Fulton said that the Statler had certainly experienced the same trends as the rest of the nation’s hotels, but one of the advantages of being an on-campus hotel is the continual flow of business.
Last weekend parents weekend at Ithaca College filled rooms, and next weekend the annual Trustee Council will convene.
Yesterday afternoon, the hotel saw a slow stream of guests through the front lobby, even with people who weren’t there for the weekend festivities.
Rich Baker ’91 is in town for business. He’s traveling by car after his company placed prohibitions on business flights because of safety concerns.
“The message came straight from the CEO himself that there would be no more air travel due to the fear that something else will happen,” he said.
And while a general increase in travel by car will certainly affect airport hotels, Enz felt that highway hotels business may pick up.
However — as America contemplates her next move — all hotels will probably experience tighter budgeting, leading to the availability of fewer positions for employees in the hotel industry, according to Enz.
Enz, however, remains optimistic about the job market for seniors in the hotel school.
“In times of crisis, people innovate. Younger thinkers often offer a new and creative outlook, so companies go to where there are new ideas,” she said. “Cornell Hotel students are known throughout the industry to be ‘good thinkers.'”
Archived article by Signe Pike