Despite Record Snow, Boston-Area Hotels Saw Gains In February

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Despite record February snowfall in and around Boston, hoteliers emerged largely unscathed. (KAdam/Flickr)
Despite record February snowfall in and around Boston, hoteliers emerged largely unscathed. (KAdam/Flickr)

So much for “snowmageddon.” You’d think the record 5.4 feet of snow in February would cause legions of leisure and business travelers to cancel their trips to Boston. But you’d be wrong.

The occupancy rate at Boston-area hotels grew 7 percent last month, compared with February of last year. And the amount paid for those rooms also rose, by nearly 3 percent.

“We’re actually not surprised,” said John Hach with TravelClick, the hotel booking firm with those inside numbers. “Boston has a very strong and resilient economy.”

Hach said Boston was able to stem the losses largely because of its unique economy. People coming to town for universities or tech companies were able to shift their work around major snowstorms.

“To give you an example, I didn’t make the trip on Monday, because my flight was cancelled,” Hach said. “But I may make that trip on Wednesday or Thursday or even the following week. It’s deferred, as opposed to cancelled or lost.”

Hach said airlines have gotten better at forecasting oncoming weather and they’ve developed better mobile technology. That has made it easier for travelers to reschedule their trips, helping Boston hotels hold on to many of the strong advance bookings they had going into February.

“Overall, Boston is doing very well,” said Andrea Foster, a hospitality industry analyst with PKF Consulting in downtown Boston.

And it’s not just urban hotels managing the winter storms well, she said. The heavy snowfall gave a lift to some hotels outside 495.

“Because the crews to remove snow, the crews to handle electricity issues did move into several of these hotels and ended up staying, booking a month-long stay,” Foster said.

That’s great if you’re a hotel owner. It’s also a good sign even if you’re not. The fact that Boston-area hotels were able to stay busy shows the economy was able to keep chugging, even while everything was frozen under a deep blanket of snow.

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