Traveling is happening and bookings are increasing.
Travelers are returning to the skies!
With air travel increasing as vaccinations spawn vacation bookings, hoteliers need to become more proactive in their outreach, particularly as it relates to group business. TSA checkpoint travel numbers in mid-March showed that more than 1.34 million people were screened, 86,000 more than the same day a year ago. United Airlines indicated that it expects its core cash burn to be positive in March 2021, a sure sign that vaccines are helping to ease travel-fear levels around the world. And while this is still 45% below 2019 levels, a sign that the industry still has a long way to go before recovering to pre-pandemic levels, the good news is that TSA screenings have topped 1 million every day since March 14, 2021, the highest volumes in a year.
According to Longwoods International tracking study of American travelers, 84% have travel plans in the next six months, the highest level since the early days of the pandemic a year ago. This is a sure sign, barring another surge in infections, that the travel industry recovery appears to be on target for 2021.
As these numbers indicate, wanderlust is real and while the first wave of travelers will come from the leisure and family-oriented vacation market, it is indicative that group business meetings, even if smaller, will begin to ramp up as well.
With that said, many businesses, and meeting planners, will be looking for meeting space that can quickly, easily and safely accommodate work-from-home employees who must visit corporate offices, smaller social gatherings and the face-to-face business meeting. We know that group business meetings are already happening and with some states, such as Texas, fully lifting restrictions, there will be a race for space unlike anything we have seen in the past.
Planning for each scenario:
Hybrid meetings aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Prepare a plan that will help them become well-versed in selling fun and engaging hybrid meetings. Don’t forget to balance the needs of in-person and online attendees. As planners get back to planning, they are going to need guidance on how to do this.
Ensure your team has the expertise under their belts to help assist meeting planners and educate them on all the details of planning successful hybrid meetings. Consider putting together a “do’s and don’ts” checklist for hybrid events.
Educating meeting planners and potential guests via visual social media on Facebook and Instagram is a sure way to engage incoming groups. Show your customers the steps you’ve taken to keep them safe.
Create short informative videos of how your staff is working to keep guests safe. We have traditionally kept cleaning efforts in the background, but today’s traveler may prefer to see your staff taking the time to keep high-touch areas clean.
As Fortune 500 companies shift their travel policies to allow employees to travel, we will continue to see a rise in transient business bookings. Know which industries, and companies, are lifting restrictions and provide the tools your sales teams need to mine the data that fits your daily market segment.
Remember the 50/50 ratio as a good indicator that group business is returning, 50% occupancy generally indicates that 50% of that business is corporate. Pay attention to your key accounts and engage with them so they know that you have everything they need to conduct their meetings.
Is your sales team ready to respond to incoming requests for meeting space?
To learn more about how Knowland can help you win in the race for space, talk to one of our prospecting pros by scheduling an appointment.