Hotels and motels in the Killeen-Temple-Fort Hood metropolitan area experienced a better first quarter this year than in 2013.
“It is better than 2013 that is for sure,” said Rich Bertin, a general manager of Residence Inn by Marriott in Killeen. “We are normally running at 80 percent (occupancy) or higher.”
The average occupancy rate for hotels in the area was 60.2 percent for the first quarter of 2014, according to Source Strategies Inc.’s Texas Hotel Performance Report. The figure was up from 52.7 percent in the first quarter of 2013.
The change in percentage amounted to 36,000 more night stays in area hotels than the previous year.
Hotels in Bell and Coryell counties both experienced greater occupancy between the two quarters, supporting the increase, but Lampasas County dropped by almost 20 percent.
Many factors contributed to the increase, Bertin said, some of which could not be predicted such as the March hail storm.
“The hail storm brought adjusters here, and we still have some adjusters staying here today,” he said.
Area events, which Bertin said seemed to have increased this year, produced more hotel stays.
Homecomings and contracting work at Fort Hood also added to the increase in the occupancy rate, he said.
“I believe the Residence Inn is the perfect product for this market,” Bertin said.
The rooms are geared for longer stays, which are suitable for contractors working long projects and families who may be going through a permanent change of station.
While the gains are good, 2013 was an abnormal year for hotels in the area.
Sequestration, government spending cuts and furloughs took a toll on hotels in the Killeen area, Bertin said. A contractor who may have planned to stay in Killeen for three months suddenly had to go home.
“Last year was the perfect storm,” he said.
Occupancy rates for the metropolitan area lagged 8.3 percent behind the state average of 63.6 in 2013, stated the report.
The first quarter numbers for 2014 are now 5.5 percent behind the state average.
Increased occupancy translated into more revenue as well.
The industry saw an 16.5 percent, or $2.4 million, increase in revenue, compared to the first quarter last year to this year. Revenues in 2013 decreased by 4.6 percent from the 2012.
“We are running at 15 to 20 percent better in revenue than last year,” Bertin said.
Bertin projected strong industrial figures throughout the year with other events coming up such as the Starburst Junior Golf Tournament on June 9 and high school graduations, Bertin said.
With the growth of Killeen seeming to continue, Bertin was worried about the additions of new hotels such as the Holiday Inn, which will be located on Gateway Boulevard in front of H-E-B Plus in Killeen.
In just Bell County, 75 hotel rooms were added to the market between 2013 and 2014, but the industry experienced a $2.3 million increase revenue in the county.
Coryell County hotels, which lost one room, had a $242,000 increase in revenues. While Lampasas County revenues declined by $154,000 with no rooms lost or gained.