- September 5, 2021
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Globally, it’s been the toughest year-and-a-half in living memory for hotels and meeting venues, as well as industries dependent on people traveling and gathering. Many local facilities relied heavily on SBA Paycheck Protection Program loans just to survive.
Yet, there is light at the end of the vacant ballroom. While in-person meetings and conventions have not returned in force yet, hotel occupancy in the Portland market rose to 64.9% in June, according to lodging data firm STR, the highest it’s been since November 2019. Portland hotels hit bottom in April 2020 with the occupancy rate at 21.8%.
The average daily room rate collapsed in spring of 2020 but in 2021 it was nearly back to 2019 levels. A Portland hotel room cost $148 on average in June 2019 and was $135 this June.
When comparing Portland to markets of similar size, hotel occupancy was in line with Oklahoma City and above that of Pittsburgh, which both had lower average room rates. But Portland was well below Jacksonville, Florida, for both occupancy and average rates. The Florida city faced fewer state-ordered pandemic restrictions and has typically received a larger tourist influx than Portland.
As their employers applied for PPP loans, millions of hospitality workers across the nation endured months or a year-plus collecting unemployment if they were eligible and could navigate the very bogged-down process.
In June, accommodations employment in Oregon surpassed 20,000 for the first time since February of 2020 when the industry employed 24,600. Before 2020, lodging jobs had increased every year for a decade according to the Oregon Employment Department.
Other sub-sectors of the state’s leisure and hospitality complex have suffered along with accommodations. The worst-affected last year were performing arts and spectator sports jobs and amusement, gambling and recreation jobs, both of which shed more than 31% of the workforce over the year. Hotels and motels, museums and historical sites and food and drinking places all lost more than 22% of their employees.
As 2021 ends and 2022 unfolds, many meeting venues and lodging places may be able to attract employees and approach full staffing levels.