Airport hotels are taking off

Article by Jessica Martin

Airport hotels

Airport hotels were traditionally the poor cousins of downtown establishments but as the market develops, travelers are changing their perceptions.

A surging economy is putting pressure on traveler’s budgets with downtown hotels becoming more expensive than ever – and often having fewer rooms available. As an alternative, many of those needing a bed for the night are opting for airport hotels. Long considered little more than utilitarian haunts for road-weary business travelers and low-budget conferences, these days airport hotels often rival their downtown counterparts in convenience, price and availability.

The hotel business is feeling this change. Last year hotels in airport submarkets posted an increase of nearly 10 percent in revenue per available room over the previous year, exceeding the national average by more than two percentage points.

“The airport hotel market has changed immeasurably in recent years,” Patrick Fitzgibbon, SVP of Development in Europe/Africa for Hilton Worldwide, tells Skift. “I remember when we opened the Hilton at Melbourne airport: great gym, great public areas, phenomenal restaurants, great bars. These are spaces that you walk into and go, it’s not just a bed experience, it’s a hospitality experience. And for meetings, airport hotels have become an incredibly important market in their own right.”

A growing market

Lauro Ferroni, Senior Vice President for Research and Strategic Advisory on JLL’s Hotels & Hospitality team expects the growth to continue as airports add capacity.

“Airport authorities across the board are evaluating expansion options and studying the viability of developing hotels on airport land,” Ferroni says. “There is some competition among airports as they are racing to garner the halo effect that can come with having a high-quality hotel property that is part of the airport.”

With more than 600 million passengers taking to the skies in the United States last year, according to the Bureau of Transportation, it looks like clear skies ahead for transportation hubs.

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