Stats are predicted to improve for the hospitality industry in 2022, but the road to recovery will be rocky, and a full recovery is still several years away, according to the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s 2022 State of the Hotel Industry Report.
Just one thing is certain—2022 is the year of the “new” traveler.
A combination of business and leisure travel—bleisure travel—has exploded during the pandemic and will require a shift in hotel operations as the industry continues to navigate the evolving needs and expectations of guests. A study of global business travelers found 89 percent wanted to add a private holiday to their business trips in the next 12 months.
To satisfy bleisure or leisure travelers and digital nomads, technology and a commitment to furthering sustainability will be critical to a property’s success, with hotels investing in technology to meet the needs of both guests and present and future employees.
“Travel and hospitality brands still face an uncertain marketplace, but all these changes also herald a new era of opportunity to drive long-term customer loyalty. They should flex with demand and respond to the added complexities and volatility in travel by delivering a ‘travel partner’ mentality to their leisure and business customers,” said Liselotte De Maar, managing director in Accenture’s travel industry.
“Travelers are now not only focused on price and quality of a location, but also on cleanliness and sustainability values and impact, and expect a clearer, more digital service. Companies will need to continue to digitally transform, reinvent their loyalty model, as well as rethink the employee proposition, if they wish to thrive.”
The report also found that, after falling by almost 50 percent in 2020, hotel occupancy rates and room revenue are projected to approach 2019 levels in 2022. That’s a 19 percent increase compared to 2021. Occupancy is projected to hit 63.4 percent, far exceeding the 44 percent reached in 2020.
Still, these figures don’t tell the whole story. The outlook for ancillary revenue, which includes food and beverage and meeting space, is less optimistic. Hotels lost a collective $111.8 billion in room revenue alone during 2020 and 2021. Business travel is expected to remain down more than 20 percent for much of the year, while just 58 percent of meetings and events are expected to return.
The Accenture Travel Readiness Index indicates that travel “readiness” is not expected to show signs of recovery until mid-year, and the effects of Omicron are still to be determined, adding to the challenges hotels continue to face.