IHG: Sports and Entertainment Leading Group Travel Comeback

NATIONAL REPORT—As travel resumes, mitigated by robust industry efforts around cleanliness and safety, IHG Hotels & Resorts reports that it is seeing gains in group business with entertainment and sports leading the way.

“Film and television productions are looking for responsible ways to keep their projects on track and produce content for 2021 and beyond,” said Derek DeCross, SVP global sales, IHG Hotels & Resorts. “Many productions are utilizing our hotels in cities such as Atlanta, Chicago, San Diego and Manchester, England to create ‘bubbles’ for crews to sequester while filming. Bookings for Q3 alone have more than doubled year-over-year in this vertical. This boost in business allowed at least two IHG Hotels & Resorts properties to reopen sooner than anticipated. It is a testament to the committed efforts of hotels to integrate IHG’s signature, enhanced IHG Way of Clean standard into virtual site inspections.”

IHG reports that sports-related bookings have seen month-to-month improvement since May and, through August, has accounted for more than a third of all booked group business with larger bookings slated for 2021 and beyond. Strength in youth (17 and under) sports bookings (primarily baseball and hockey) have been driven by IHG’s mainstream brands such as Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express, the company reports. While college and university sports bookings are down this year, the company anticipates a return once tournaments and events resume.

In addition to sports and entertainment, IHG Hotels & Resorts has also seen optimism in other sectors. There was a notable gain in medical- and pharma-related bookings in August, and the company also saw the biggest increase in bookings from the automotive industry since January. Bookings in the professional services vertical, particularly legal, saw growth in Q3 and are beginning to rebound after bottoming out in Q2.

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