The new Delta variant is increasing the number of COVID-19 cases. And according to a new survey conducted on behalf of the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA), 67% of business travelers are planning to take fewer trips because of it.
Less Business Travel Because of the Delta Variant
Beyond the 67% who will take fewer trips, 52% also said they are likely to cancel existing travel plans without rescheduling. And yet another 60% said they plan to postpone existing travel plans. And for those who are traveling, 66% are more likely to travel to destinations they can drive to.
The data for business travel is particularly important because the AHLA says business travel and events account for more than half of hotel revenue. And to make matter worse, it says things aren’t expected to return to pre-pandemic levels until 2024.
The report goes on to say the repercussions go far beyond the hotel industry. Although hotels are expected to have close to 500,000 fewer jobs in 2021 compared to 2019, 1.3 million hotel-supported jobs are also at risk. This is because for every 10 people directly employed by a hotel, they support an additional 26 jobs in the community. This includes everything from restaurants and retail to hotel supply companies, transportation, security, and much more.
On the corporate side, travel is going to remain at only 30% of 2019 levels through 2021. The report says the low corporate travel will cost the hotel industry around $59 billion in 2021.
In addition to business travel, the survey also asked about attending large gatherings, meetings, and events. Of the 72% or 1,590 people who responded, 71% say they are likely to attend fewer in-person events or gatherings. And more than two-thirds or 67% said they are likely to have shorter meetings or events. Those who are likely to postpone existing meetings or events until a later date make up 59%. And almost half or 49% are likely to cancel existing meetings or events with no plans to reschedule.
Save Hotel Jobs Act
The industry is looking for Congress to address this issue by passing the Save Hotel Jobs Act. In the press release for the report, Chip Rogers, president, and CEO of AHLA explains the importance of this bill. Rogers says, “Hotel employees and small business owners across the nation have been pleading for direct pandemic relief for over a year now. These results show why now is the time for Congress to listen to those calls and pass the Save Hotel Jobs Act.”
According to the AHLA, the hospitality and leisure industry is one of the hardest-hit segments in the economy. However, it has yet to receive direct aid. With this legislation, many of the small businesses in the hospitality and leisure industry would have access to badly needed funds. They will be able to keep their staff employed and their business running until travel returns to pre-pandemic levels. This is especially the case for business travel.