Hotel Prices Start Rising Again

Hotel Prices Start Rising Again

Hotel prices are going back up as Americans start to travel again, according to a survey conducted by the travel search engine, Hotels.com.  

The average price of the world’s hotels increased by 2% in the second quarter of 2010, compared with the same time in 2009. This is the first year-over-year increase the index has seen since the end of 2007.

The Hotel Price Index regurly surveys hotel prices in major city destinations across the world, based on bookings made on Hotels.com. Approximately 91,500 properties in more than 15,750 locations make up the sample set of hotels from which prices are taken. And the prices used to compile the data are those actually paid by customers as opposed to rates advertised by the hotels.

Victor Owens, vice president of marketing in North America for Hotels.com, said that his site has seen an increased number of group bookings, which are helping to drive up room rates. He also said that many travelers are booking at destinations within driving distance from their homes, avoiding airfare.

“People are starting to travel again,”Owens said. “Discounts aren’t as steep and prices have started to stabilize. Last year, we had the staycation. This year, we have the drivecation.”

Owens believes that the residual increase in business is allowing many hotels in major domestic cities to raise their rates. New York City, for example, saw its hotels raise rates by 4% from last year. The most expensive domestic city on the index, New York has hotel rooms that can cost as much as $224 a night. Last year, patrons on average paid $196.

Washington, D.C.; Santa Barbara, Calif.; Boston and Miami followed in the index’s list of most expensive domestic cities to visit. The prices in all cities increased between 4% to 7% during the past year. Little Rock, Ark., ranked as the major U.S. city with the most affordable prices. There, you can book a room for $86, a 5% decrease year-over-year as rooms cost $91 in 2009.

Frugal travelers can check here for a full breakdown of average prices by city, state and country. However, you don’t need to amend your latest travel plans just yet. Despite the 2% increase, Owens says, hotel room rates are still markedly lower than rates at the peak of the market in 2007 and discounts are still available to those who book early and take advantage of off-season sales.

“Consumers still have more choices and more values options than previous years,” Owens says.