Are Hotels Prepared For The Return Of Meetings And Conferences

Posted: Apr 07, 2021

Meetings and conferences generate big business for hotels. The pandemic made a big mess of that. On the rebound, hoteliers are eager to see that demand segment return.

The arrival of COVID-19 vaccines—coupled with a societal eagerness to get out of the house—has led to a relatively robust bounce in leisure travel, which helped underpin a listless hospitality business. Add Zoom fatigue of workers to the list of travel motivators and the return of medium-sized and large-scale gatherings aren't too far behind.

That's good news for hotels, as properties suffered massive losses due to the near evaporation of group business last year. Pre-pandemic, when hotels were riding high, total conference and banquet RevPAR (excluding rooms) for 2019 in North America was $40.15. That revenue source fell to $9.28 in 2020. Simultaneously, conference volume mix percentage dropped nearly 30 percentage points from its height in January 2020 to a low of 10.1% in December 2020.

But are hotels ready to welcome back meetings? Marriott and Hilton think so. Both companies established vigorous cleaning protocols for all spaces at their properties during the pandemic, and they've created programs to help meeting planners get back to business.

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