Latest Knowland Survey Shows Silver Lining in Cleanup Crews

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Hoteliers surveyed show increase in transient bookings, take wait and see attitude on $20 billion BP claims fund

“Regardless of the situation, hoteliers who practice professional business development are going to find a way to bring in business,” said Knowland Group CEO Mike McKean. “This is just another example of the resiliency of the hotel industry.”

The Knowland Group, the world’s largest data firm in the global meetings and conventions industry, today released their fourth round of survey findings on the effects of the Gulf oil spill on the region’s hospitality industry. Results show a majority of hoteliers are finding ways to cope amidst the turmoil, with 66 percent of hotels surveyed seeing an increase in room bookings due to the oil spill cleanup. Knowland surveyed 50 hotels across the Gulf Coast that host meetings and events.

With significant losses in transient business due to cancellations from the oil spill, hoteliers are striving to fill rooms with cleanup workers. 33 percent of hotels surveyed said 25-50 percent of their business is associated with the oil spill cleanup, while 44 percent said that number is less than a quarter. 23 percent said more than half their business is coming from cleanup workers, including 4 hotels who are completely booked from those guests alone.

“It is actually a relief,” said a hotelier in Panama City Beach, FL, about cleanup workers making up 75 percent of her business. “When the oil hits, I know there will be people here to handle it.”

On another positive note, most guests associated with the cleanup are staying much longer than typical travelers. Of the rooms being booked for the spill cleanup, 52 percent are staying at least a week, 14 percent for two weeks, 9 percent for 3 weeks, 14 percent for 4 weeks, and 11 percent for 5 or more weeks. In contrast, most travelers to the Gulf Coast who are not involved with the spill cleanup are typically booking rooms for only a few days: 59 percent for two nights and 19 percent for 3 nights.

“Regardless of the situation, hoteliers who practice professional business development are going to find a way to bring in business,” said Knowland Group CEO Mike McKean. “This is just another example of the resiliency of the hotel industry.”

Those hotels who are struggling the most are hoping to take advantage of the $20 billion claims fund BP has set up. Some are waiting to see what the lasting impact will be before deciding. “It’s premature to say whether I’m going to take advantage of the $20 billion BP claims fund,” explained one hotelier in Pensacola, FL. “If the cleanup workers make up for the leisure travel bookings than I’m not going to worry about it.”

This Knowland survey was conducted over a two day period from June 28-29, 2010. The full survey results can be found below.

1.    Have you seen an increase in room bookings due to the oil spill cleanup?
a.    Yes – 66%
b.    No – 34%

2.    What percentage of your hotel’s current business is associated with the oil spill cleanup?
a.    0-24% - 44%
b.    25-49% - 33%
c.    50-74% - 9%
d.    75-99% - 9%
e.    100% - 5%

3.    How long are rooms being booked by those associated with the spill cleanup?
a.    1 week – 52%
b.    2 weeks – 14%
c.    3 weeks – 9%
d.    4 weeks – 14%
e.    5 or more weeks – 11%

4.    How long are rooms typically booked by guests not associated with the oil spill?
a.    1 night – 5%
b.    2 nights – 59%
c.    3 nights – 19%
d.    4 nights – 5%
e.    5 or more nights – 12%

5.    Has your hotel dining facilities seen an increase in traffic associated with the cleanup spill guests?
a.    Yes – 34%
b.    No – 66%

6.    Are you planning on taking advantage of the $20 billion BP claims fund?
a.    Yes – 19%
b.    No – 19%
c.    Not sure – 62%

About The Knowland Group
The Knowland Group is a proven innovator, developing intuitive marketing products and services that streamline and support event and group sales in the hospitality industry. The company, headquartered in McLean, VA serves over 2,000 hotel clients and 17,000 users globally. Recently featured on the Inc. Fast 500 List, The Knowland Group is the second fastest growing company in the travel industry. For more information, visit http://www.KnowlandGroup.com, call 410-860-2270 or follow us on Twitter @knowlandgroup.

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Jean Nickerson

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