- In-person meetings, conferences, and conventions are critical to business travel recovery, which will not come until at least 2024 unless we take action to boost the segment’s pace.
Just 35% of U.S. businesses are engaging in any business-related travel, says Tourism Economics in a new report released last week. Lingering Covid-19 restrictions and a patchwork approach to reopening will prevent the crucial business travel segment from recovering until at least 2024, while leisure travel recovers to 99% of pre-pandemic levels in 2022.
Spending on travel for large, in-person professional meetings and events (PMEs) declined by 76% last year—a $97 billion loss in spending. With vaccinations and infection rates in the U.S. trending favorably, restrictions lowered, and traveler confidence rebounding, domestic leisure travel is projected to reach 99% of its pre-pandemic peak in 2022 and to grow steadily thereafter.
But in the absence of clear and consistent guidance from federal health authorities on PMEs, business-related travel is not expected to recover its pre-pandemic volume for an additional two years. A staggering 65% of all U.S. jobs lost in 2020 were supported by travel, and they cannot fully recover without a swift return of all segments of travel, particularly in-person PMEs, according to the analysis. Read more here.
Hilton President & CEO Chris Nassetta said that while 2019 business travel levels are not expected for three years, it is possible to accelerate that. He said surveys show that 85% believe in-person meetings are “irreplaceable” and can safely happen.
Tourism Economics President Adam Sacks said those states that have opened early have “jumped out in front” in recovery. He said cities that have suffered the most during the pandemic are those that rely heavily on business travel and meetings. Sacks also noted a correlation between higher levels of education and getting vaccinated, noting on average higher levels of education among business travelers, thus more likely to be vaccinated. (Source: Travel Pulse)
U.S. Travel Association President & CEO Roger Dow presented “Let’s Meet There,” an industry-wide effort to restore professional meetings and events to try to boost the pace of business travel recovery. It was introduced during MPI’s World Education Congress held earlier this month in Las Vegas. Messaging leads with data, said Dow, indicating there’s a white paper to download put together by the Ohio State University School of Nursing looking at the safe staging of structured, well-organized events.
The U.S. hotel industry recorded its highest monthly performance levels since before the beginning of the pandemic. In May 2021, occupancy was 59.3%. Average daily rate (ADR) was $117.69. Revenue per available room (RevPAR) was $69.81. Each of the three key performance metrics were the highest for any month since February 2020. (Source: Hospitality Net)