Hotel ADR: Understanding the Concept of Average Daily Rate
By Jordan Hollander
Last updated February 16, 2023
7 min read
Whether you're a hospitality student or experienced professional working on your hotel's budget it's important to refresh your knowledge about the concept of average daily rate.
Let's get the basics out of the way. ADR in hotels stands for average daily rate. ADR times Occupancy = RevPAR (revenue per available room). ADR is used to both identify commercial opportunities or it can be leveraged as a revenue management tactic. A hotel who's ADR is lower than its comp set should be concerned all else equal. We'll introduce some tactics below to improve relative performance. Similarly, a hotel may intentionally increase or decrease ADR via rate manipulation to execute on a specific commercial strategy.
Now that we've got the basics out of the way, let's dive in...
RevPAR may be the hotel industry's favorite KPI but ADR (average daily rate) is a close second. And the truth is that they are closely intertwined. So, even if you are still confused about the jumbled terminology of hotel revenue management, we're here to sort you out! By the end of this article, you'll understand how to calculate ADR and how to interpret and influence it in your hotel’s revenue management strategy. Average daily rate metrics aim to help business owners understand the average price rooms are being sold for in isolation. By pulling metrics apart we are better able to identify problems and opportunities to forge stronger revenue strategies.
What is ADR? (Average Daily Rate)
ADR stands for average daily rate and is widely used in the lodging industry as the best indicator for hotel room rate quality since total revenue metrics can be obscured by other factors like ancillaries or food and beverage. For real estate businesses and specifically hotel operators with perishable inventory, pricing strategies can make or break profitability. The formula for ADR is simple - just divide the total rooms revenue at your hotel by the total occupied rooms. So if you have $10,000 in rooms revenue and 100 rooms sold, your ADR is $100. The "A" in ADR stands for "average" because you'll usually be looking at YTD (year to date) or TTM (trailing twelve months) averages. You can really use this metric for any given time period but you'll need to make sure key performance indicators are always being compared apples to apples for a time perspective. It's a common mistake to divide rooms revenue by total number of rooms - this methodology can lead to artificially deflated RevPAR since it accounts for unoccupied and complimentary rooms.
ADR= Room Revenue/Occupied Rooms
ADR shows hospitality industry revenue managers how well they are doing at maintaining the pricing strength of their properties. An ADR that's trending upwards or downwards can be a worrisome sign or it can be the result of a clear revenue management strategy - so before attempting to optimize ADR it's important to understand context. Evaluated on its own and out of context, ADR doesn't tell the full picture of a property’s performance.
Context comes from using ADR as a performance benchmark for comparing one hotel against another. A hotel revenue manager will create a “competitive set” or
"compset" made up of hotels that attract similar types of guests, and then track the performance of the individual property compared to the compset.
If your hotel’s ADR is higher than other properties in your compset, it may have resulted in fewer bookings (i.e. lower occupancy) because you are less price competitive than other hotels all else equal. In other words, when a traveler compares your hotel to similar hotels, the lower rate will entice them to book with a competitor. Generally, this is a bad thing; you want your hotel to be competitively priced so you don’t lose bookings! In general, lower rates will result in higher occupancy and higher rates will result in lower occupancy. However, this is a bit simplistic, as we’ll cover in the next section on tactics to influence ADR. Generally speaking there is no such thing as "good ADR" in isolation because you'll also need to consider and compare occupancy with historical results and the compset to see how your property is doing.
ADR is a Component of RevPar
Alongside occupancy rate, a property's ADR impacts RevPar (or revenue per available room), a key industry metric that tracks interactions between a hotel’s ADR and its occupancy rate. Hoteliers love RevPar because it shows how well they’re doing relative to similar hotels when adjusting for the number of available rooms. It's also a helpful revenue management signpost, showing how well a hotel generates revenue from its rooms.
To boost RevPAR, you can increase ADR and/or occupancy; a higher ADR and occupancy rate means more revenue per available room. However, as we mentioned already, there’s a breaking point where a higher rate reduces demand. In general, you increase your rates too much, your occupancy will go down. This can actually be a net positive for revenue, as long as you’re increasing your rate enough to account for the lost occupancy. But it can also cause a dip in occupancy that can’t be made up with higher rates.
For example, let’s say you decide to push your RevPar up by increasing ADR from $120 to $140. The occupancy at your 100-room hotel goes from 60% to 50%, which means your RevPar goes from $75 to $70. But now you are servicing 10 fewer rooms, which can save you money on the operations side. And, you can then target guests at that $140 rate and rebuild your occupancy. If the initiative succeeds, your RevPar ends up at $84 ($140 ADR*60% occupancy). Win!
The effect of increasing or lowering prices on reducing or increasing demand is known as the price elasticity of demand. Thankfully, price isn’t the only thing that affects hotel revenue. Factors such as geography, traveler demographics (income, etc), hotel category and macroeconomic trends also affect the relationship between rate changes and occupancy.
Sometimes, a higher ADR results in more bookings and a higher RevPAR. Like during periods of high demand, when inventory is constrained in the local market and consumers are far less price-sensitive. Or, as we saw in our example, a hotel can take steps to position itself as a more premium brand to increase ADR without necessarily decreasing occupancy. The complex dynamics and interplay between pricing and demand is the cornerstone of revenue management.
Tactics: How to Influence Hotel ADR
ADR is a fairly straightforward hotel performance metric: to increase it, raise your rates! However, as we saw above it's important to consider the impact of rate increases on your hotel’s overall revenue potential. Blindly increasing rates to boost your ADR can reduce occupancy and thus revenues. On the other hand, strategically increasing rates can actually lead to more revenue! It's a bit counterintuitive but it's true.
Tactic #1: Brand Marketing
Thus the top tactic to influence your hotel’s ADR is to focus on brand marketing. There are three reasons why investing in premium brand positioning can be the most rewarding tactic in the long-term:
You can command higher rates. If your brand is perceived as premium, You can set your right tire without risking occupancy dips. In some cases, higher rates of loan can make your brand seem more premium! Pricing psychology is a funny thing!
Loyalty is more profitable. If your brand fosters strong loyalty with past guests, you’ll rely less on public discounting and promotions. Rather, you can market directly to past guests and offer exclusive discounts and promotions that don't require you to pay commissions. You'll also notice that strong loyalty supports strong price position, as you won't have to publicly discount rates to generate business.
Self-reinforcing cycle. As you build your book of higher-end guests, your premium positioning will build on itself. A strong brand also acts as a buffer to any downward pressures. That way, if you have had ones, your brand is already well-positioned in the eyes of consumers and won't necessarily have to resort quickly to blanket discounts.
Tactic #2: Segmentation
Another way to influence ADR is to segment your marketing so that you are better matching message to each audience. By segmenting in this way, you’ll be able to yield higher rates because you’ll speak more directly to each guest segment.
The best example of this is with targeting past guests with loyalty marketing. These guests already know you’re property -- and hopefully love it! That means they are not just more likely to book direct but also less price-sensitive overall. These guests aren’t just looking for deals, they’re looking for predictable and familiar experiences that fulfill their expectations. In general, capturing more revenue from past guests also lowers your distribution costs and increases your net ADR (see next tactic).
Since segmentation allows you to have different messages for different audiences, you can also section off certain cohorts for a more premium offer while keeping discounts focused elsewhere.
One lever to achieve this price-based segmentation is to leverage the power of package promotions. The benefit of packages is that you’re able to hide the actual rate of the room within the broader package. This is a fantastic tool to boost ADR, as you can create “value-added” packages that don’t actually cost you much more to deliver, such as a complimentary welcome drink or meals included. Once you subtract the true cost of delivering these add-ons, you’ll be left with a healthier ADR.
Tactic #3: Distribution Costs
All revenue is not created equal. Each channel that sells your hotel rooms has its own associated costs. So one approach is to focus on Net ADR, or the amount of money that your hotel keeps after paying all distribution costs for each booking. While this won’t be a metric you can use for benchmarking against your compset, its great for internal tracking of how profitable your distribution strategy is. By optimizing your channels, you reduce commission costs and increase net revenue. This will have a direct impact on profitability. And it will also make you more competitive in the marketplace; since you are securing bookings more profitably, you’ll have more pricing power when it comes to setting your rates against your competitors!
Tactic #4: Upsells and Rate Restrictions
Another path to higher ADR is to sell more to upcoming reservations and current guests. By convincing guests to upgrade to a higher category of room, you’ll increase your ADR without having to increase the public rates. This avoids the occupancy issues of increasing your public rates and keeps your hotel competitive in the marketplace. When setting up your automated upselling initiative, consider doing more than just upgrades to bigger rooms. Can you create a package that offers exclusive access to amenities or some sort of upgraded experience beyond a bigger room? These are often seen as more valuable by guests, who then are willing to pay a bigger price premium than you may get from category upgrades alone.
Rate restrictions are also a powerful tool, especially non-cancellable rates. Since guests aren’t able to cancel the booking, you can offer a better rate. This appeals to value-minded guests and reduces annoying last-minute cancellations, which can wreak havoc on yields. Length of stay is also another rate restriction to experiment with. Try different LOS requirements, such as a Friday/Saturday night stay, to better yield longer stays. While encouraging longer stays may not necessarily increase ADR (last-minute and weekend bookings are usually more expensive), it can help you maintain occupancy and keep supply low enough to merit higher ADRs.