Q3 U.S. Hotel Construction Pipeline Down Slightly, But Remains Robust

PORTSMOUTH, NH—According to the latest U.S. Hotel Construction Pipeline Trend Report by Lodging Econometrics (LE), the total U.S. hotel construction pipeline, at the end of Q3 2020, stands at 5,282 projects/655,026 rooms, down 7% by projects and 6% by rooms, year-over-year (YOY).

As expected, the hotel construction pipeline is off more substantially in Q3 ’20 as compared to Q2 ’20. This is due largely in part to an acceleration of new hotel openings in Q2 ’20 as a result of a cyclical high number of projects under construction in Q1 ’20 that were delayed and later opened in Q2 ’20. Secondly, new project announcements continue to be muted. Projects exiting the pipeline and moving to a cancelled or on hold status in Q3 ’20 stood at 191 projects/21,859 rooms.

Developers continue to closely monitor the impact the coronavirus will have on travel demand, how quickly a widespread vaccine will roll out, and the outcome of the U.S. presidential and congressional elections. It is expected that as these events and timelines provide more clarity for developers, they will begin to more confidently move forward with their development activity.

Projects currently under construction stand at 1,610 projects/216,136 rooms, down 7% by projects and 8% by rooms, YOY. Despite the decrease YOY, projects that are currently under construction continue to move forward towards their opening. New hotel openings continue to outpace projects moving to under construction. Projects scheduled to start construction in the next 12 months total 2,113 projects/246,528 rooms. Developers with projects scheduled to start construction in the next 12 months continue to adjust their construction start and opening dates, minimize carrying costs, and plan to open in a more robust operating environment. LE continues to track development timeline changes in its database. Projects in the early planning stage stand at 1,559 projects/192,362 rooms, an increase not only YOY but quarter-over-quarter as well.

Through the third quarter of 2020, the U.S. opened 599 new hotels with 68,712 rooms with another 326 projects/35,324 room anticipated to open by the end of 2020, totaling 925 projects/104,036 rooms. For 2021, LE expects another 960 projects/113,247 rooms to open.

At the close of the third quarter of 2020, the top five U.S. markets with the largest total hotel construction pipelines are Dallas with 154 projects/18,592 rooms; followed by Los Angeles with 150 projects/25,188 rooms; New York City with 144 projects/25,147 rooms; Atlanta with 134 projects/18,670 rooms; and Houston with 109 projects/11,384 rooms. These top five markets account for 15% of the rooms in the total U.S. pipeline. 20 of the top 50 markets in the U.S. have more than 50 projects in their hotel construction pipelines.

There are currently seven markets in the U.S. that have 30 or more projects under construction in their pipelines. New York City continues to have the greatest number of projects under construction with 105 projects/18,453 rooms. Atlanta follows with 44 projects/6,483 rooms, and then Dallas with 42 projects/5,086 rooms, Los Angeles with 41 projects/7,278 rooms, Nashville with 33 projects/5,532 rooms, Orlando with 31 projects/5,107 rooms and Austin with 30 projects/5,228 rooms. Of the top 50 markets in the U.S., there are 20 markets, including the seven directly listed above, that have 20 or more projects under construction in the pipeline.

Despite the impact COVID-19 has had on operating performance, development, renovation and conversion activity in the lodging industry continues. This is evidenced by the number of hotels that opened in Q3. The top 50 markets in the U.S. saw 140 hotels /17,195 rooms open in Q3 ’20. The U.S. as a whole had 280 hotels/31,271 rooms open in Q3 ‘20. Additionally, there are 1,259 hotels/207,544 rooms under renovation or conversion at the end of Q3 ’20. 11 of the top 50 markets in the U.S. have 10 or more hotels undergoing renovation or conversion activity currently.