It's a hot summer for hotels. From Midtown Manhattan to downtown San Francisco, hotels are enjoying occupancy levels of well over 80% - at a time when most charge their highest room rates, a survey by PKF Hospitality Research says.

The most potent tool in boosting occupancy rates over the last decade has been the Internet.

Travel Web sites such as Expedia.com (NASDAQ:EXPE - News), Hotels.com and Sabre Holding's (NYSE:TSG - News) Travelocity. com make it possible to sell hotel rooms far more quickly and efficiently to the public.

Rooms that might go unoccupied often can be sold at last-minute discounts. In some cases, hotel chains cut out the online middleman and use their own Web sites to sell rooms directly to the public.

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