STR: Hurricane Laura drives occupancy spike in Texas, Louisiana

Hotels in New Orleans reported an occupancy increase of 24.7 percent for the week of Aug. 23-29, reaching 38.5 percent. Photo credit: f11photo/Shutterstock (Shutterstock)

Evacuations and displacements due to Hurricane Laura created hotel demand in markets throughout Louisiana and Texas last week, according to the latest analysis from STR.

During the week of Aug. 23-29, Louisiana hotel occupancy rose 35.9 percent from the previous week to an absolute level of 55.7 percent. Texas hotel occupancy improved 17 percent to 54.4 percent.

“Different from the past natural disasters that have led to widescale evacuations, Hurricane Laura hit at a time when hotel performance is incredibly low because of the pandemic,” said Jan Freitag, STR’s SVP of lodging insights. “Usually with these analyses, we see demand shift geographically from the markets in the path of a storm to evacuation zones. In this case, the trend was simpler with increased hotel demand for most markets because there wasn’t a great deal of business to lose ahead of the storm.”

Each of the three STR-defined markets in Louisiana recorded a week-over-week jump in occupancy: Louisiana South (up 45 percent to 66.1 percent), Louisiana North (up 34.4 percent to 70 percent) and New Orleans (up 24.7 percent to 38.5 percent). Louisiana South posted the highest increase in average daily rate, up 16.6 percent to $84.44. 

Six Texas markets reported double-digit percentage increases, led by San Antonio (up 38.1 percent to 59.1 percent), Austin (up 34.5 percent to 57.2 percent) and Houston (up 31.2 percent to 51 percent). Among those markets that recorded an occupancy gain, Texas East posted the highest absolute occupancy level (61 percent), which was a 17.4 percent lift from the previous week. Gains in average daily rate were less dramatic, with the largest coming in Houston (up 11.6 percent to $79.48) and Austin (up 11.6 percent to $79.48).

“We anticipate the Hurricane Laura impact on hotel performance to remain short-term,” Freitag said. “Widespread closures and a massive amount of displacements are what cause a long-term impact. Fortunately, it appears that won’t be the case with this storm.”