What the hell is going on with hotel prices?

This morning, I found a receipt in my laptop bag from a hotel in downtown Seattle (that shall remain nameless). For two nights of staying there about a month ago, the cost was $1500. I recently got a plane ticket to Europe on eight days’ notice that cost $1100. Doesn’t that seem kind of odd? There’s obviously context to this discussion — some hotels are more luxury-oriented, or have accessibility to a ton of different things, or whatever the case may be, and thus they can charge more money. Planes are planes. Those prices tend to be set by fuel, popularity of route, space, all that. Point is, it’s a different pricing structure.

Thing is — it’s rising. This year in the United States, prices are up 4.5 percent on average. In 2015, they should rise another five percent. The average room rate is $117 or so in the U.S., and I feel like — personal or work — I’ve never paid even that low. (This says the first six months of 2014 saw an average of close to $140 in domestic hotels.)

Even in 2012, this was a trend. It’s only growing since then.

Corporate travel is rising too — although honestly, I feel sometimes like we don’t really need corporate travel as much as we think we do.

This is apparently the fifth year in a row that prices have risen globally.

I wanted to find a cool graph or something to go with this, but when you Google around the topic, most of the hits that come back are about beating the system — i.e. finding that cheaper room rate. I’ve had success with HotelTonight (an app) for the past year or so, and occasionally Priceline Name Your Price will work out — although my wife doesn’t like that, because the areas aren’t always well-defined and you can end up in sketchier parts of cities you don’t know that well — but in reality (especially when traveling for work), there’s almost no way to game the system (aside from, perhaps, a rewards system of some kind; I just got in bed with Marriott on that front, as I’m trying to become a real adult now).

If you’re interested in some real decadence, here you go:

Stuff like this — rising hotel prices, taxi prices, etc. — without corresponding changes in service or what you can expect essentially led to the “sharing economy” (Uber, Airbnb, et al). Problem now is, the sharing economy is getting a little bit of backlash. Harsh reality? Hotel prices will continue to rise.

Ted Bauer