La Crosse area hotel rooms getting booked up again

The return of leisure travel and festivals is providing a boost to the local hotel industry

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – More people are traveling again, which is good news for the local hotel industry.

Local tourism leaders say the year did start out slow, but so far, hotel revenue in La Crosse County is up 52 percent compared to last year.

Hotels thrive on tourism, which was essentially non-existent for most of last year.

But more people have been going out and about this summer, so booking a hotel room at Country Inn & Suites through October won’t be easy.

“Pretty much all of the weekends are sold out,” general manager Jay Patel said. “All the weekends, there is some sort of event going on.”

The return of leisure travel and festivals this year is paying dividends for area hotels.

“There’s nobody that does festivals better than the La Crosse region,” Explore La Crosse executive director A.J. Frels said.

Frels says some hotels in the county are reporting occupancy rates between 70 to 80 percent.

“The resurfacing and the festivals coming back that we’ve seen has been wonderful, and it’s certainly helped our hotels,” he said.

While hotels like Country Inn & Suites are generating more revenue, they’re still having some trouble finding enough staff.

“That’s a crisis everywhere,” Patel said.

Patel says these issues can create an inconvenient experience for some guests.

“Our check-in time is 3 p.m. But sometimes, there’s a possibility we are so much busy that we may not get all of the rooms ready by that time,” Patel said.

Still though, he says it feels good to see guests filling up rooms again.

“We are getting back to normal earlier than usual what we were thinking about,” Patel said.

And he says the reservations will keep coming as long as people stay safe.

Patel says Country Inn’s average occupancy rate right now is about 75 percent.

Frels adds that hotels generally need around a 70 percent occupancy rate so that they can cover the costs.

Year to date, La Crosse County hotel revenue from January to July is at about $23 million, up from $15 million a year ago.

However, hotel revenue at this time two years ago was roughly $29 million.

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