Look closely. This is a breakdown of available rooms by hotel size, courtesy of the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s latest industry profile. It clearly shows that most of the room inventory in America can be found at the small- and medium-size properties.
For example, in the “under 75 room” category, we have just over 1 million rooms. In the 75 to 149-room division, there are about 1.5 million rooms. Mega-resorts with more than 500 rooms represent about ten percent of the number of rooms.
And that’s not all.
Here’s the number of properties.
As you might expect, the number of “under 75” properties vastly outnumbers the rest, and taken together, hotels with fewer than 150 rooms account for well over three-quarters of all hotels.
So what’s wrong?
The first problem is us, and I include myself in this group.
Based on media coverage of the hotel industry, you’d think there were no small hotels, with the possible exception of the occasional bed-and-breakfast reviewed by a glossy travel magazine.
One reason is that big resorts can afford to hire expensive PR firms to promote their properties. Another is that many travel writers can be hotel snobs. They wouldn’t be caught dead in a small hotel — unless it was in Manhattan or Miami Beach.
The result is a very distorted perception of the industry.
The second issue affects the travel industry’s soothsayers. Small and medium-size hotels often don’t participate in computer reservations systems, so we have no idea if the hotel industry is “on sale” as everyone claims it is this summer, or if the silent majority of small hotels is somehow holding its own on rates.
I think there’s plenty of room for improvement, based on these numbers.