HOUSTON-Houston is bucking a nationwide blow to the hospitality industry, posting the least amount of losses of the leading 22 markets, Lisa Hankamer, CB Richard Ellis Inc. associate, tells GlobeSt.com.

Hankamer, with the Phoenix-based lodging and hospitality services group, says Houston is down just 7.1% in occupancy from last year. It’s a relatively small drop in comparison to elsewhere. Dallas is down 35.7%, New York City, 41.6% and Los Angeles, 34.7%. She, like others in the industry, isn’t laying the full brunt of the blame on the Sept. 11 attacks on America. The industry was in a slump long before Sept. 11. Last year’s record pace was not expected to be repeated by many industry watchers. But, the drops being reported in all but Houston are unprecedented, she says.

It’s uncertain what the future holds for the industry. “Even prognosticators are saying its anybody’s guess,” says Hankamer. Her statistics are derived from one of the industry’s recognized leaders, Smith Travel Research, which could not be reached by press time.

What has been lost in room occupancy may be made up in meeting space, says Mark Yanke, chairman of the Hotel & Motel Association of Greater Houston. Yanke says September finished with a high number of cancellations, but that has turned around. As local companies get back to business, Yanke says year-end meetings and strategy sessions at hotels are on the rise. Social reservations, such as weddings, continue to be carried out, he says.

PKF Consulting too reports Houston has been outperforming 2000′s pace. From January through July’s end, Houston’s occupancy was 69.8%, up 2.1% for the same period in 2000. Also up was the city’s average daily room rate, standing at $90.85 in comparison to $89.28.

Hankamer believes Houston’s overall hospitality industry is stable and strong, due in part to a booming energy market. And, it’s a plus that Texans like to travel in state, known for excursions that are primarily weekend driving trips. It all stacks up to a buoyant hotel market in a down time. Still, she acknowledges, today’s hospitality industry is caught in a web of circumstances never before encountered.

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