If my datebook (OK, yes, I’m old-fashioned and still write everything in a day planner, in addition to an office whiteboard and Google calendar) is any indication, travel is back. It’s a three-word phrase that quickly went from being punctuated by a question mark, to a period to—fingers still crossed—an exclamation point. And I’m talking about both personal and professional travel, though we all know the latter is the one that will significantly turn the industry around and the one that still needs a bit of a boost. So, perhaps, in the case of business travel, it’s more accurate to add a fourth word to the aforementioned phrase: Travel is coming back.
I will have been to Vermont, Virginia, Memphis and Nashville from the start of summer until before it even ends for leisure travel. And then there’s business travel: Los Angeles, Dallas, Columbus, Vegas, Phoenix and Dallas again. That’s the Hotel Business schedule. And that’s just before the fall season really begins. The year of being grounded, in some surreal way, almost seems like a distant memory.
With the vaccine rollout well underway and Americans ready to book and take their next vacation, the pent-up demand is real. According to AAA, 77% of Americans are planning to travel this summer and two-thirds have a summer trip either already planned or booked. If you’ve flown recently, you know this to be true: People are flocking to airports—much more than anticipated. This uptick in travelers is good news for the hotel industry and all related industries, obviously, but it seems that this much-needed rebound has surprised even the most educated and experienced analysts. Travel is bouncing back strong, waking the airline, hospitality and tourism industries after a more-than-yearlong sleep.
In this issue, our cover story is a mid-year outlook. Senior editor Gregg Wallis talks to stats companies, brand executives and industry advocates about the state of the hotel industry and about where we are with half a year behind us and another half to go. And the sentiment is unanimous: The year is turning out to be better than predicted with Q2 providing a significant jumpstart to what is anticipated to be an encouraging Q3, meaning that the industry is, at the very least, on the right trajectory. Of course, damage to the industry can’t be minimized—and there are very real and lasting effects the pandemic has thrust on the hoteliers—but recovery can, and should be, celebrated.
Our cover story begins on page 20, and we hope that the resurrection of travel—and thus, our beloved industry—resurrects hope in each of you. As the title of the cover story says, as people once again are taking off, the industry will as well. And that’s one trip we all want to take.