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Houston tops December hotel comeback list

You may find it a little tougher to book your favorite guest room or land a good deal next month in Houston and Tampa.

That’s because Houston and Tampa rank highest on the Top 5 list of U.S. hotel markets expected to experience the biggest recoveries next month in terms of occupancy.

Before I reveal the Top 5 and Bottom 5 for December, I wanted to let you know that you’re reading the first installment of a new feature that Hotel Check-In has developed with hotel data tracker TravelClick.

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Three times a month, you’ll find a feature right here on Hotel Check-In that I’ll write using TravelClick’s analysis of its forward-looking data for the USA’s Top 25 hotel markets. For more info and a schedule of the three posts per month, see my introductory post.

The goal is to give you an idea of how hotel demand and rates are doing in this uncertain economy, and how specific markets are faring.

Travelers might want to use the information to help strategically plan upcoming business trips. After all, you’ll have a higher chance of getting a deal from a hotel in a city on the Bottom 5 list vs. the Top 5 list.

So, let’s get to our lists.

Below, you’ll find the Top 5 and Bottom 5 markets for December travel, based on occupancy increases. We’ve also included the percentage gain (compared with a year ago) and average daily rate for all 10 markets.

December’s Top 5

  • Houston (up 16.7%) $114
  • Tampa (up 15%)$108
  • Detroit (up 14.4%)$90
  • Charlotte (up 13.1%)$112
  • San Diego (up 11.2%)$159

Houston, by the way, replaces Detroit, which ranked as the No. 1 winner for November with an expected 22% occupancy gain vs. November 2010.

December’s Bottom 5

  • Phoenix (down 8%)$126
  • Atlanta (down 7.5%)$114
  • Honolulu (down 6%)$218
  • Orlando (down 5.6%)$121
  • St. Louis (down 3.3%)$99

Andrew Stegen, general manger of Hilton’s luxury Arizona Biltmore, cites two reasons as to why Phoenix tops December’s Bottom 5 list.

First, Phoenix as a whole is landing fewer group meetings right now, he says.

“We do have a lot of government business in Phoenix, and we’ve seen a decline in government business since the (federal) budget issue in July,” he told me.

In addition, Phoenix wasn’t likely to see a big gain anyway next month simply because the city was packed in December 2010 in advance of January’s BCS National Champship game. Fans flooded the city and at Stegen’s hotel, they paid a premium of about $100 a night compared to the rest of 2010, he told me.

Top 25 market performance overall

Overall, as of Nov. 24, committed occupancy in the USA’s Top 25 hotel markets is up 2.6% vs. a year ago, while average daily rate is up 3.1%, the analysis shows.

(For you hotel data geeks out there, TravelClick took its snapshot for December data on Nov. 24.)

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