Local hotels see spike in travelers

FRESNO, California

The Whirlpool King Suite at the La Quinta Inn in Fowler costs about $115 per night online. But starting this month the price could go up slightly to $120 dollars a night.

"It's something that we really don't like to see."

The La Quinta in Fowler is a little more than a year old, and yet they are one of the busiest in the Valley because of its close proximity to Highway 99.

Sales Manager Aeric Acevedo says their customer service also attracts people from out of town. "We know what they want, and they know what to expect here and I think knowing what to expect at a hotel is a good feeling."

Industry analyst group S.T.R. says occupancy rates in 2011 were up over 2010 and the average daily rate increased more than four percent to $107.

Local real estate agent Roger Story has more than 40-years of hotel experience. He believes independent hotels like the Picadilly Inn will struggle to stay in business when engaged in a room rate war with consumers. The owners of Fresno's Picadilly Inn chain filed for bankruptcy in 2010 and owed a reported $30-million.

"The older hotels can't survive when the new hotels come in, because everyone wants to stay in a nicer place. And if it's competitive, then the new hotel guys drop their rate and it really affects the lower end," said Roger Story.

The hotel specialist also says chain hotels like La Quinta are linked into a national database which the independent's cannot keep up with. "If somebody's coming back east and then traveling to Oregon or something. Typically they'll make their reservations in advance and stop along the way. Well Picadilly is not known. So they'll stay at the Hampton or some other hotel that's got a reservation system."

But there is hope for hotels like the Picadilly Inn. Banks are less and less likely these days to foreclose on them and Story says some have successfully converted into other revenue generating businesses like retirement homes.

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