Mr. Disco

by Matthew Stollak on Sunday, June 20, 2010

An interesting conversation took place on Twitter between Jessica Miller-Merrell, Mike VanDervort, John Jorgensen, and myself on Saturday morning regarding the cost of hotels at the 2010 SHRM Annual Conference. Have hotels become more expensive?

I looked at selected SHRM conference brochures (i.e., the ones that I still possessed) over the past 10 years to see what it was cost a person to book a single room on a per night average. Clearly, prices in 2001 will be different than in 2010, so I used an inflation calculator to adjust costs to 2010 dollars. So, how does San Diego compare to years past?

Cost of an Average SHRM-Affiliated Hotel (per night)
Chicago (2008): $247.75 (standard deviation=$28.52)
San Francisco (2001): $246.79 (sd=$54.41)
San Diego (2010): $236.06 (sd=$40.63)
Washington DC (2006): $224.08 (sd=$38.50)
Philadelphia (2002): $209.30 (sd=$56.00)
San Diego (2005): $196.46 (sd=$47.90)
Las Vegas (2007): $161.15 (sd=$31.06)

Chicago was the most expensive option in this sample of the past 10 years, marked especially by the lowest standard deviation, indicating that there was very little variability in the price of hotels. You could find a high-quality hotel in Chicago for not much more than a 3-star hotel. Meanwhile, Las Vegas was the biggest bargain. But, how much of a bargain is it statistically speaking?

I ran a simple one-way ANOVA (i.e., a fancy way of comparing the means simultaneously) to see if there was a significant difference across the means of these 7 sampled years. The results showed a statistically significant difference overall with F=13.83 (p=.000). The results showed no statistically significant differences between Chicago, San Francisco, and San Diego (2010). In other words, while Chicago was the most expensive, it wasn't significantly more than San Francisco, or San Diego(2010).

Further, comparing San Diego in 2005 with San Diego in 2010 also showed a statistically significant difference (t =-3.68, p=.000). The results show that San Diego hotels today cost $40 more a night, on average, than they did 5 years ago (adjusting for inflation). San Diego is no longer the bargain it once was.

Finally, Las Vegas was statistically significantly cheaper than every other city in the sample. This is promising as the SHRM Annual Conference will be there in 2011. You'll be able to nab a 5-star hotel, such as the Bellagio or Venetian, for the price of a hotel in the bottom quartile in Chicago, or the median price of a hotel in San Diego in 2010.

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