The impact of the Coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the lodging industry some 9 months after the initial outbreak as hotel demand has declined significantly throughout the U.S. and many properties are in financial distress or closed altogether. As such, it’s never been more important to gauge how hoteliers are feeling about many of the macro-economic issues potentially effecting hospitality and the long-awaited recovery.
This is why at Hotel Community Forum we continue to leverage our interactive platform and exploit the opportunity to get feedback from our members through our weekly poll questions. I would like to take this opportunity to share some of the results of the last couple of months with you.
Perhaps the greatest obstacle facing the industry relates to business travel or the lack thereof, throughout 2020. Most experts agree that not until business travel returns in earnest will the industry see a complete recovery.
We asked in early October when you thought busines travel would returning in a meaningful way in the year ahead. Some 38 percent of respondents pegged Q3 as the most likely time for a return with roughly 24 percent showing a bit more optimism opting for Q2 of next year. Meanwhile, some 22 percent are banking on a return of business travel in Q4 of next year, while just 16 percent see a bounce back occurring in Q1 of next year.
On a related note, there has been much discussion about a second stimulus package aimed at providing additional relief for many business owners, not the least of which would be hoteliers. As we close in on the end of the year, unfortunately it seems highly unlikely Congress will get anything passed until 2021 at this point. When we asked in late October some 48 percent of respondents thought something would get done by the end of the year.
Also in the political realm, President-elect Biden was officially announced the winner of the presidential election in mid-November. This after many experts had speculated the election could take weeks, even months, to be decided potentially further stalling the U.S. economy. When asked when we would find out the results of the election there was a tie with 38 percent selecting before Thanksgiving and the same number indicating by the end of 2020. Some 15 percent maintained the results would be known on election night.
While the impact of the pandemic on the lodging industry has been profound, the home sharing business, and companies like Airbnb, seems to have weathered the storm better and even thrived in some respects. Our readers seemed to agree with that sentiment as some 65 percent said home sharing sites would be positively impacted by the pandemic.
While the vaccines finally started rolling out to the U.S. population this week, it was just a few short weeks ago that Pfizer announced the positive outcome from its vaccine with better than 90 percent efficacy. When asked if the approval of a vaccine would jumpstart the hotel business some 62 percent said it would.
One of the positive trends that has been quietly gaining momentum is the number of people flying throughout the U.S., according to TSA numbers. With more people in airports every day, the promise of a subsequent increase in hotel demand is cause for optimism. When asked if the increasing number of travelers made respondents significantly more optimistic about the hotel business in the near-term 54 percent responded affirmatively.