Lower B&B occupancy may signal canary's song
As one of the chief “cheerleaders” for Fredericksburg and Gillespie County, I want to state up front not to view this column and some that will follow in the weeks ahead as “negative.”
They are solely intended to cause some reflection on how to maintain the positive economic impact of the visitor industry in Fredericksburg and Gillespie County, as well as enhance the quality of life for our residents.
One of the questions that I am asked repeatedly is when do we have enough, or too many, B&Bs and guesthouses?
I wish I knew the answer. If I had a dollar for every time I have been asked that question, I would have a fairly nice savings account!
What I do know is that the number of new guesthouse projects that have come online in the last two years is pretty amazing for a town of roughly 11,000. Then you have to add the growing number of individuals who have decided to rent out their homes through HomeAway, Airbnb, or other online services while they go on vacation.
There are now over 900 different B&B or guesthouse units in Fredericksburg and Gillespie County that the Fredericksburg Convention and Visitor Bureau is aware of. And I am fairly confident that there are more we do not have in our records.
When private enterprise overbuilds in a particular lodging sector such as hotels or guesthouses, the occupancy can begin to slip if demand does not keep pace with development.
As lodging operators see their occupancy slip, they may react by lowering room rates to compete and gain more market share. That is a situation we do not want to find ourselves in — ever — if possible.
From several of our guesthouse reservation services, I have heard that demand for B&Bs and guesthouses was sluggish in July and August.
There are certainly state-wide and national issues beyond our control that may be contributing to that sluggish demand in Fredericksburg and Gillespie County and elsewhere across Texas. However, that sluggishness is not evident across the board. I have heard that several guesthouses and B&Bs are having a great year.
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