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Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) hosted hospitality experts during its recent Collaboratory 2020 webinar series on the hotel industry to discuss hospitality and the return to business travel.
In its webinar "Hotel Outlook: 2021 and Beyond," GBTA interim executive director Dave Hilfman spoke with Jan Freitag, senior vice president for STR and national director of hospitality market analytics for the Costar Group, and Tobias Ragge, chief executive officer of HRS about the pandemic and changing dynamics in the industry.
Topics during the Q&A included global data benchmarking and analytics, as well as an update on the state of corporate hotel negotiations for 2021. The outlook for business travel is encouraging.
"The pandemic creates an opening for longer-term strategic approaches for both corporate buyers and hotels," said Ragge. "There's a tremendous opportunity to use data and technology to enhance transparency in everyday program management as well as the on-site guest experience."
According to Freitag and Ragge, corporate demand will return faster than Average Daily Rates (ADR) rebound. A vaccine and increased rapid testing availability will lead to increased transient and group hotel demand. However, ADR is not expected to return to normal until 2025 or later.
They also noted that a slowdown in upper-upscale and luxury hotel construction now will create a supplier's market in five years, pointing out that 71 percent of current construction is in the limited-service hotel space. Existing luxury properties be well-positioned when the industry recovers.
Loyalty programs will be a key, they said, to pulling corporate travelers back to brands, with independent hoteliers struggling more without that brand association. They also advised independent owners around the world that they should focus on getting in front of corporate procurement leaders and business travelers via search engines in order to survive.
Enhanced hygiene measures will be key to drawing in corporate travelers. Travel managers will be looking at hygiene protocols and looking for touches and virtual payment options. Hotel program leaders are also pushing for dynamic pricing thresholds, removal of Last Room Availability (LRA) clauses, reduced cancellation time windows and altered breakfast options.
Technology has transformed the in-person sales call and client servicing but has not eliminated the need for face-to-face meetings.
"Not everything can be replicated in a virtual format, and this is what will drive meetings business back," said Freitag. "The need to achieve business outcomes in person is what will enable the industry to survive in the long run."
Janeen Christoff caught the travel bug while living in London, England. After two years on the road, she settled in Los Angeles...
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