Our Hotel Industry’s Annual Checkup. How Did We Fare?

Posted by: Economic Development Team on Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Waldorf is home to Charles County’s active hotel market, which includes nine national “flag” properties located along Route 301, one of the busiest U.S. highways along the Atlantic seaboard. Our hotel industry holds a distinct position in the marketplace, so just as getting an annual doctor checkup is important for good health, the wellbeing of our hotel industry has been annually studied and analyzed for the past three years.

The EDD completed the 2019 *Waldorf Hotel Analysis in June, using quantitative data collected by Smith Travel Research (STR), a private data vendor that collects and reports on hotel occupancy and room rate data from hotels and motels across the U.S. Representatives of six of the nine Waldorf hotels were interviewed, and they provided a holistic view of the local hotel markets, including both insights and challenges faced by individual hotels in the area and collective challenges resulting from the changing dynamics of the national hotel market.

The Hotel Industry is Changing

According to those interviewed, the hotel market has changed in recent years. With the influx of hotels in adjoining communities and the decreased demand now that construction of the power plant on Billingsley Road is complete,  the Waldorf lodging market has been experiencing increased competition with  hotel supply outweighing demand.

Data from STR showed a decrease in hotel occupancy and Revenue per Available Room (REVPAR). These are both key indicators of the lodging industry that measure hotel efficiency and performance.  This decline somewhat mirrors national trends, which saw a slight downturn in late 2018 following years of growth. Given this dip, the overall hospitality industry continues to monitor market forces affecting the industry. In the context of Waldorf, this includes keeping a close eye on major future room-night demand drivers

How Do We Bring Customers Here? How Do We Make Them Stay?

The Charles County Tourism Department is currently implementing steps to entice day visitors to stay overnight in our local hotels. Some of these initiatives include outbound marketing and promotions, seasonal campaigns, and destination development. They’ve created a partnership with CycleLifeHq to integrate Charles County curated rides into the larger cycling platform and are revamping the tourism online platform.  Tourism and the EDD are working in close collaboration with hotels to improve the local lodging market.

Future Demand Drivers

Commerce, cultural and recreational assets, meeting and events facilities, and entertainment and destination attractions all contribute to demand for lodging. In Waldorf’s case, there are several factors that could increase the number of customers to our hotels. The construction of the Governor Harry W. Nice Memorial/Senator Thomas “Mac” Middleton Bridge replacement could drive significant hotel occupancy. According to the Maryland Transportation Authority, the bridge is set to begin construction in 2020 and end in 2023 when it opens to the public. This should generate at least three years of hotel market demand for the region.

Another more permanent demand driver is the Army Reserves Center in White Plains which is newly operational. The Army Corps of Engineers projects that the facility will be utilized 37 weekends per year, providing training for approximately 200 Army reservists per two-day session, requiring that trainees use local accommodations for two nights. Assuming all visiting personnel require overnight lodging, the facility could generate a maximum of 14,800 room nights per year.

The EDD will continue to monitor the impact of these two projects, as well as the shifting nature of the marketplace, and work in collaboration with Tourism and local hotels to support a healthy lodging industry. Read the full 2019 Waldorf Hotel Analysis for more information.

*Although the Town of La Plata has two flag hotels and the Town of Indian Head has one flag hotel, their distance from the Waldorf lodging cluster suggest that they have their own unique demand profiles and market characteristics and were therefore not included in this analysis.

 

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