The COVID-19 pandemic continues to batter the hotel industry. The biggest challenge now? Even though people are again taking road trips and traveling for leisure, business travel has not yet returned.
That adds up to another tough year for the hospitality industry.
The latest research from the American Hotel & Lodging Association and Kalibri Labs found that the hotel industry will end 2021 down more than $59 billion in business travel revenue when compared to 2019. This comes after the industry lost nearly $49 billion in business travel revenue last year.
This isn’t surprising. A survey released Aug. 31 by the American Hotel & Lodging Association found that 67 percent of U.S. business travelers plan to take fewer trips and 52 percent plan to cancel existing business trips without rescheduling them because of rising COVID cases.
These are grim numbers. And they’ve led the hotel industry to dramatically shed jobs. According to the lodging association, hotels are expected to end 2021 down nearly 500,000 jobs when compared to 2019.
“While some industries have started rebounding from the pandemic, this report is a sobering reminder that hotels and hotel employees are still struggling,” said Chip Rogers, president and chief executive officer of the American Hotel & Lodging Association.
“Business travel is critical to our industry’s viability, especially in the fall and winter months when leisure travel normally begins to decline. Continued COVID-19 concerns among travelers will only exacerbate these challenges.”
Rogers and the lodging association are calling on Congress to pass the Save Hotel Jobs Act, legislation that would provide grants and tax credits to help hotel operators pay employees and bring back laid-off workers.
Several Midwest states have been especially hard hit. The lodging association said that in Illinois hote business travel revenue is expected to be down 80.2 percent in 2021 when compared to 2019. In Indiana, that figure is 56.6 percent while it is 47 percent in Iowa.
The lodging association said that hotel business travel revenue is predicted to fall by 51.4 percent in 2021 compared to 2019 in Kentucky, 59.8 percent in Michigan, 72.2 percent in Minnesota, 58.8 percent in Missouri and 49.5 percent in Nebraska.
The dip in business travel revenue is expected to be 61 percent in Ohio, 62.1 percent in Tennessee and 63.5 percent in Wisconsin.