A light at the end of the tunnel

It’s June! The sun is out longer, the days and nights are warmer, and this issue of Hotel Business includes coverage of the Hunter Conference and will be distributed at ALIS. Is it the June sun? Or, is that a light at the end of the tunnel?

In-person meetings, conferences and tradeshows are all cornerstones of not just our business, but most businesses—and they are returning to our industry. Last month, I attended the Hunter Hotel Investment Conference and it was wonderful. Seeing friends and colleagues in person (and not in little square boxes on a screen), discussing deals and just feeling normal was a welcome change personally and professionally. There was a smile on every face, and you couldn’t help but sense the feeling of optimism that our industry so desperately needs. The overall sentiment: Business will rebound faster than anticipated.

Looking at recent data, this isn’t just a warm and fuzzy sentiment, the numbers back it up. According to a recent report from Deloitte, more than a year into the pandemic, there is optimism for the travel industry as four in 10 Americans plan to take at least one vacation this summer, similar to pre-pandemic summer travel of 2019. Americans of all ages and income levels are ready to get away and are making travel plans. The study is based on a survey of more than 2,000 Americans fielded during the week of April 17-24, who expect to take a trip that includes a flight and/or a stay in paid lodging between Memorial Day and the end of September. And more than 60% of travelers will spend about the same on their summer trips compared to 2019.

We all expected leisure travel to come back faster than group/business travel; however, May group meetings volume increased 28.4% over the previous month, according to data from Knowland. It was the fourth consecutive month that the volume increase reached double digits. I am certainly not suggesting business travel, or the industry as a whole, is in full recovery, but the metrics are moving in the right direction and that is great news for hotel owners—and all of us in the travel industry.

And speaking of owners, be sure to check out the Hotel Business Owners & Developers report, starting on page 24. Key executives weigh in on major challenges, from labor shortages to supply-chain issues. The ranked list (page 26) is based on those companies that filled out a survey, so if your company was not included this time, please be on the lookout for the next O&D survey, which will publish in our December Green Book.
The recovery curve is not going to be one straight shot up, but isn’t it great that we are finally in the recovery mindset and that we can get together, in person, to work out the challenges and emerge bigger, better and more knowledgeable than ever? It’s like feeling the warmth of the June sun after a very long winter.

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