WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Although the usual detailed data are not currently available, Waikiki hotel industry insiders say January and February have been, if profitable, still a bit softer than last year.
"I've been hearing the first quarter has been looking softer than last year," says Joe Toy, CEO of Hospitality Advisors LLC. "There is a lot more uncertainty in the markets compared to last year."
Toy says lower airfares are helping, but booking windows remain short, "which always points to visitors getting nervous before they're willing to commit to travel."
In 2015 first quarter hotel occupancy was 80.1% statewide, down from 80.8% in 2014. Waikiki was 84.8% full, down from 86.6% in 2014. Average room rates rose statewide but fell a dollar in Waikiki.
"Last year bookings looked soft and in January a slight panic set in, with everyone coming out with special packages," Toy said. "All the deals jump-started the industry for the remainder of the year."
Data for 2016 have been unavailable because Hospitality Advisors moved its offices and had computer issues, then discovered technical issues relating to misclassification of hotel tiers. In the absence of hard data, the only current guidance is what hoteliers are saying.
"We're doing okay, but not quite as well as last year at the same time," said the CEO of a company that manages several Waikiki hotels. "The difference is incremental but, yeah, we're down a little."
UHERO, the UH Economic Research Organization, forecasts 1.3% more visitors this year, a third of last year's growth rate, and says visitor spending will rise but won't keep up with inflation.