Research finds tornadoes have mixed consequences on hospitality industry
Operating a business in tornado alley often comes with high risks and insurance premiums. According to Dr. Stephanie Hein, head of the hospitality and restaurant administration department at Missouri State University, the lodging industry often pays that price while research indicates in many instances they suffer few damages – and act as a shelter and solace to many during the aftermath.
Hein’s most recent research focused on the revenue implications on the lodging industry of severe tornado outbreaks. Using data from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration and Smith Travel Research, she looked at occupancy rates, average daily rate and the revenue per available room (RevPAR) following 17 EF4 and EF5 tornadoes in 2011.
“Occupancy rates increased following these tornadoes, and in some cases increased significantly,” she said. “What was more interesting is that the room rates did not necessarily increase. That’s really important because when you look at RevPAR, which is a combination of your occupancy and your room rates, you really hope that no one is taking advantage of the situation when there’s a catastrophe. What I found was that hoteliers were really true to the situation, and there wasn’t price-gouging happening.”
In those initial days after the destruction, hotels often house people who are displaced from their homes, emergency assistance personnel and volunteers, and serve as command stations for recovery groups. Being part of the hospitality industry, noted Hein, means helping the community.
“We’re often the ones that are called on whenever a tragedy does happen, whether it’s restaurants donating food or hotels providing shelter. Understanding that role is important,” added Hein.
Hein’s research will be published in the fall 2013 issue of the Journal of Hospitality and Financial Management.
For more information, contact Hein at (417) 836-5159.
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College of Natural and Applied Sciences
The College of Natural and Applied Sciences incorporates more than 20 undergraduate and 13 graduate programs along with one cooperative program offered through a partnership with Missouri S&T. The academic departments that make up the college include: biology; chemistry; computer science; engineering; geography, geology and planning; hospitality and restaurant administration; mathematics; and physics, astronomy and materials science. Students have the opportunity for intense hands-on research and internships through a number of outreach and research centers and work alongside faculty who are producing cutting-edge research in their fields.
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