A look at what the hospitality industry recovery might look like, and why business travel will face new challenges.
To quote McKinsey & Company’s Global Managing Partner Kevin Sneader, “The future is not what it used to be.” Travel analysts, financial experts, hoteliers and vendors are all wondering the same thing: When will the travel market recover and what will the recovery look like? While no one knows for sure what will happen and we won’t speculate, plenty of people are weighing in on the solution. We scoured the internet to uncover the most popular theories. Here’s what they are:
Local drive markets will see the first signs of recovery
This one is fairly obvious. Why? First, many people have less disposable income as a result of a bear market. Second, the WHO and our local governments have asked that we adhere to social distancing measures and it has become a habit for many of us. It makes sense, then, that when travel restrictions are lifted, we’re not going to want to shell out money to get into sealed germ capsules with hundreds of strangers to get to a destination. Rather, we’re going to pack our bags, jump in our cars and drive to our destination.
In a TravelPulse article, Lisa Burns, Executive Director of the Finger Lakes Regional Tourism Council is quoted as saying, “We’re already beginning to see new trends take shape. For example, travelers will be wary of public transportation and plane travel, choosing to drive via their own cars to explore nearby destinations.”
Similarly, some experts predict that people will pick hotels over Airbnbs. In a CNNTravel article, Christopher Anderson, professor of business at Cornell University’s Hotel School says Airbnbs may “struggle to communicate and standardize rigorous cleaning standards…. I’m going to want the safety and security of established cleaning protocols that I get from an established lodging provider.”
If your hotel is in the mountains, by a lake or a tourist area a few hours from the city, you’re in luck. You should be amongst the first to start seeing guests again.
Corporate travel, usually the first to recover, will take some time
Company leaders have a responsibility for employee safety and financial prudence. When travel restrictions lift, companies will likely try to keep a tight handle on business travel and only allow employees to travel for business-critical reasons.
Most companies have experienced furloughs and/or layoffs. They’re worried about expenses. When companies are trying to cut costs they often look to rein in corporate travel. Many of us won’t care. Until there’s a cure for coronavirus, we likely won’t feel safe traveling too far from home.
While there are certainly sales folks raring to get out of their homes, many people that used to travel for business are likely reevaluating whether the risk is worth the reward. Do they need to sit in an airport, get on a plane, go to a conference and stay at a hotel when we just proved that most business can be done online? Some will, for sure, but many others might retire the ‘road warrior’ moniker for a while.
Experts also agree that travel, especially international travel, is going to get much more taxing. In an opinion piece for PhocusWire, Avi Meir of TravelPerk says, “Even when lockdowns in Europe are over and we start to travel again, countries will test at the border. If you thought the line at JFK immigration control in New York was torturous before, now consider what it’ll be like as you line up, take a swab test and wait for the results.” No thanks.
Events and conventions will become a distant memory for a while
O’Reilly Media shut down its in-person events business altogether due to Covid-19. The fact that so many people were shocked about this news makes me think that events and conferences will eventually come back, but it will take some time.
The first thing local governments did to stop the spread of COVID-19 was cancel events of more than 1000 people. And then 100 people. We are afraid of large groups now and that’s what events and conventions aim to do – bring together large groups. But many feel like people will overcome the fear and begin convening again. Ali Rafat of Skift says, ‘If we ever give in to the idea that face to face events will be over, then we should also give up on the idea that people will travel again.”
While many events will be online for the foreseeable future, most agree that they will return in time.
What’s the silver lining?
The market ebbs and flows. Our personal finances ebb and flow. But when times are bad or busy or stressful, we crave escape. As Paul McGowan, Founder of Study Hotels says in the TravelPost article, “Above all, we must remember that travel is an antidote to all this: providing positive, aspirational feelings in the wake of our current confinement.” Pent-up demand is building!
For more insights like these, visit our Covid-19 resources page, updated daily: https://www.covid19hotel.info/resources/