The correlation between the return of business travel and the full recovery of the lodging industry to pre-COVID levels has certainly been well documented. Of course, there has been much debate within the industry about just when group business will return in earnest and what hotel companies can do, if anything, to help it along.
The hotel industry is projected to end 2021 down more than $59 billion in business travel revenue compared to 2019, according to a report released earlier this fall by the American Hotel & Lodging Association and Kalibri Labs. That comes after losing nearly $49 billion in business travel revenue in 2020. Most projections that I’ve seen and heard over the past 18 months have suggested that group business will not be fully back until around 2024.
However, at the recent NYU International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference, a number of high-powered brand executives from the likes of Marriott, Hilton and others actually suggested business travel was on a much faster track than expected. Driven in part by a spike in numbers in the back half of this year, as well as the reopening of many offices throughout the U.S., CEOs such as Marriott’s Tony Capuano and Hilton’s Chris Nassetta were quite bullish on the segment’s prospects for ’22.
Nevertheless, companies still need to be proactive in their efforts to boost group business. One such example is Wyndham Hotels & Resorts recently rolling out its new Meetings Collection, which it has positioned as a new element of the brand’s Wyndham Business program.
The collection has initially launched with eight hotels and resorts located across the U.S. in meetings destinations and with plans to expand in the future. The collection was created with the needs of meeting organizers in mind, to offer rewarding solutions and a simple, streamlined way to book multi-year meetings at different hotels across the collection, according to the company.
“It is a pivotal time in the meetings and events industry, with group travel beginning to return to fully in-person and hybrid meetings,” stated Carol Lynch, SVP, global sales, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts. “We are launching this collection to support planners during every phase of the process and are excited to be able to now offer a highly efficient way for them to source and book hotels at competitive rates, earn generous rewards and deliver an exceptional experience for their group.”
The collection’s portfolio is comprised of properties from brands including Wyndham Grand, Trademark Collection by Wyndham, Wyndham and Dolce Hotels and Resorts.
Regardless of the aforementioned projections, there is still plenty of uncertainty when it comes to the future of group business, particularly in light of the new Omicron variant and the potential for more international travel restrictions to be imposed. As such, a proactive approach to generating more meeting business is a must for the hotel industry as a whole.