Why some visitors are better than others

Hawaii hotel room revenue topped $310 million in July, the best July the state ever had for this particular metric, Hospitality Advisors LLC reported Tuesday morning.

The bottom line was 18% better than July 2011, and that’s just room revenue, not including restaurants and retail, room service and spas.

Hospitality Advisors CEO Joe Toy summed it up in one word: “outstanding.”

What made July so good for hoteliers wasn’t just the fact that Hawaii got 8% more visitors, or the fact that they stayed longer on average.

The key, for hotels, was that we got 20% more honeymooners, 17% more people actually flying to Hawaii to get married (I use the word “flying” advisedly as there were zero cruise visits in July) and substantially more visitors from Japan, Korea and China, as well as more people who came to Hawaii on business.

What do business travelers, honeymooners and Asians have in common? They’re all substantially more likely to stay in hotels than in condos, timeshare or relatives’ spare bedrooms.

Condos and timeshares have their role in Hawaii’s visitor industry. They cushion downturns, because people who have already paid for their lodging are less likely to cancel a vacation. But other than this important countercyclical role, condos and timeshares have less financial impact than hotels because hotels employ more people.

In other words, not only is tourism soaring, but it’s the kind of tourism that means more work.

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