While the average occupancy rate at L.A. County hotels remained flat last year, the average daily room rate increased faster than inflation, rising 4.5 percent over 1998.

The average price of a hotel room in L.A. has been rising steadily since 1993, according to hospitality-industry consulting firm PKF Consulting. Although the first two quarters were sluggish, special holiday and New Year's Eve events, strong convention business and Rose Bowl visitors all contributed to a very strong fourth quarter.

The 50 largest hotels in L.A. County currently employ a combined 17,418 workers to maintain their 25,795 rooms. Their job security is probably strong for the immediate future; developments like the Hollywood & Highland entertainment/retail project, the Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, as well as the Democratic National Convention in August, promise to entice more visitors to the area. PKF Consulting predicts another year of modest growth in the L.A. lodging industry.

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