U.S. Lodging Industry Overview Year-End 2020

Elaine Sahlins • 2/26/2021

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Year-End 2020: Working From Home and Dreaming of Travel  

While expectations of a softening U.S. hotel performance were anticipated at the beginning of 2020, no one was prepared for the uncertainty of the ensuing year. But even as the COVID-19 pandemic lingered and effectively shut down most travel in the U.S. and across the world, smart and experienced investors continued to amass extensive funds to pursue recapitalization and acquisitions—the most substantial market indication that recovery is highly anticipated.

As has been documented on numerous hotel industry webinars and Zoom presentations, the pandemic began to slow U.S. hotel performance at the beginning of 2020 due to inbound Asian travel restrictions. By mid-March 2020, the threat of widespread virus transmission prompted local and state governments to enact measures curtailing most commercial and social activities. As a result, many hotels were suddenly empty and some closed voluntarily for several weeks to months in the spring. Numerous challenges followed, including staffing reductions on property and on the corporate level, chain supply difficulties, new cleaning protocol requirements, and safety standards for staffing and guests. As the industry proved itself resilient, operators have had to manage with fewer supervisors, and customers have learned not to expect their rooms to be cleaned every night. The performance of the U.S. hotel industry in 2020 quantifies all the trials of a year where each month seemed to drag on. The following details the annual changes since 2018 and quarterly changes for 2020.

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