Hotel industry seeing turning of tide with cruise season



Posted on March 23, 2010 at 7:43 AM

Updated Tuesday, Mar 23 at 7:56 AM

SEATTLE -- In just about a month, the cruise ships will start coming into Seattle. The expectation is that this will be a much better year than last year for the tourism industry.

Last year a record number of cruise ships cruised into Seattle with 218 different dockings. This year 223 are expected.

"Not only are they seeing good numbers, they're seeing people pay good money for a cruise, which translates for us, people coming in and spending a two-night pre or post program," said Tom Waithe, Kimpton Hotels.

The hotel industry in Seattle and nationwide experienced very disappointing receipts during the recession in 2009. But the hotel industry is poised to make a comeback. Still, rates are very low and a good bargain for consumers.

"We didn't think it would be anywhere near as bad. We were anticipating maybe a drop of 10 percent in revenue overall in 2009 and maybe even not as bad as that. What actually happened was in the 30's and 40 percent drops. It was pretty substantial," said Waithe.

But to borrow a metaphor from the cruise industry, the ship is beginning to turn.

"Starting January one, we really started to see some changes here in the city that, for the three hotels Kimpton has here, really look good for 2010," said Waithe.

Still, it's a hotel guests market.

"While the occupancy is good, the rates are low from where they were a year ago," said Waithe.

Waithe says rates will continue to be low, but asked if prices would go up as demand rises, Waithe chuckled and said, "Absolutely."

He says people can get the best bargains using social media web site like Facebook and Twitter, as well as benefiting by calling a hotel directly.