If you try to book a hotel room or reserve a flight these days, the prices are a clear indicator people are traveling.
The recovery adage in the hotel industry for much of the pandemic has been that leisure travel would bounce back first followed by corporate travel and then groups and conventions.
Leisure travel certainly rebounded the quickest, but there has been debate on if group travel — anything from social events like weddings to corporate meetings and retreats — might overtake business travel in the race to a full recovery.
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The CEOs of travel companies like Hilton and Delta overwhelmingly spew optimism when it comes to their respective business travel outlooks, and data from the last few months suggest they aren’t entirely off the mark.
However, there is a risk of it turning into blind optimism.
“We’re seeing good pricing power for higher-end corporate travel and good recovery on demand for group travel and pricing for group travel,” said Patrick Scholes, managing director of lodging and leisure equity research at Truist Securities. “But the higher-end corporate [travel recovery] is stalled.”
Truist Securities noted the extraordinary corporate travel recovery momentum from winter into spring.
Bookings were down 65% from 2019 levels in January and improved to being only about 20% down in May. Though, they have been stuck at those levels since that time.
It’s usually impossible to fully decipher what exactly is deemed business travel, and analysts typically flag business travel as stays that take place during the middle of a week.