DALLAS - Hotel prices in North America were 3 percent higher on average in the first six months of 2013, than during the same period in 2012, according to the latest data from the biannual Hotels.com Hotel Price Index (HPI). This rise in pricing is only slightly higher than the worldwide average increase of 2 percent across all regions in the first half of this year, compared year-over-year to 2012. Although relatively small, these figures maintain a trend of slowly increasing rates seen since the start of 2010, with average prices now close to their 2006 levels before the global financial crisis began.
"As the North American travel industry continues to gradually rebound from the recession, many U.S. travelers are venturing back to their long-time favorite destinations, while others are seizing the opportunity to explore new cities," said Neha Parikh, vice president and general manager, Hotels.com North America. "The HPI is a valuable resource to identify trends and popularity, price changes and top travel spots and more, which helps you experience some amazing destinations."
At $230 a night on average, Honolulu became the most expensive U.S. designated market area (DMA) in the first half of 2013, surpassing New York City for the first time since the inception of the Hotel Price Index in 2004. With an average nightly rate of $211, New York City is no drop in the bucket, but its 2 percent year-over-year increase was no match compared to Honolulu's whopping 13 percent.
When evaluating U.S. destinations by city (not DMA) Newport Coast, Calif. blew both Honolulu and New York City out of the water with an average daily rate of $501, up 25 percent from 2012. Debuting in third place on the World's Most Expensive Cities List, this resort town is likely attracting posh visitors for its pristine five-star beaches, recently named some of the cleanest in the country.
Nashville saw the largest price increase, 10 percent to $137, among the nation's 30 largest cities.
While the Top 10 Most-Visited Domestic Destinations for Americans have remained unchanged for the past two years, several mid-sized cities in the Top 50 list saw significant popularity spikes in the first half of 2013, including Nashville (#21), Charlotte (#30) and Jacksonville (#35).
Nashville's increase in popularity from number 25 in 2012 to number 21 in 2013 may partially be attributed to the May opening of its new convention center – Music City Center. By its opening, the center had already generated over one million room nights booked for over 120 conferences and meetings. Meanwhile, Jacksonville (up to number 35 in 2013 from number 42 in 2012) hosted One Spark in April, a crowd funding festival that brought 100,000 visitors to the city, while sparking an effort to revitalize the city's downtown through the arts. Charlotte also made a notable jump to number 30 from 34 the year prior. Visitors to the home of the NASCAR hall of fame and the Charlotte Motor Speedway have also enjoyed the city's craft beer boom, as seven new breweries have opened up in the Queen City recently and more are on the way.
According to the HPI, Americans have the tendency to splurge about 34 percent more when traveling internationally versus domestically. When it comes to where overseas they prefer to spend that extra cash, London, Paris and Rome continue to be the front-running cities for the third year in a row. Nevertheless, new far-away favorites like Bangkok (#14) are beginning to move up in the ranks of Americans' most preferred international hotspots. For U.S. travelers, Bangkok also ranks number two (behind Warsaw, Poland) as an affordable 4-star hotel getaway for under $135 per night.
Niagara Falls, Ontario debuted at number 10 on the Top 10 Most Popular International Destinations List, rising notably in popularity from number 14 in the first half of 2012. Mexico City rounded out the Top 20, moving up from number 23, likely increasing in popularity as its 5-star accommodations became more attractive with a 23 percent price decrease year-over-year and travel advisories being lifted at the end of 2012.
Photo caption: Honolulu Surpasses New York City as Most Expensive U.S. Market According to Hotels.com Hotel Price Index. (PRNewsFoto/Hotels.com)