Half of US business travellers likely to cancel existing trips

by | 05 Sep 2021 | News

Rising Covid19 case numbers in the US are prompting business travellers to consider scrapping their plans, according to a new survey, putting thousands of hotel jobs at risk.

The pandemic is continuing to thwart efforts to revive face-to-face meetings and events, which many hotels rely on for a significant portion of their revenues.

Coronavirus prompts business travel rethink

Business travel is taking a hit as the number of Covid19 cases climbs across the US, a major new study by Morning Consult on behalf of the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) indicates. It surveyed 2,200 US adults between 11 and 12 August 2021, of which 414 were classed as business travellers – people in jobs that typically involve work-related travel or who expect to travel on business between now and the end of the year.

The poll of business travellers found that 52% are likely to cancel existing travel arrangements and have no plans to reschedule. Moreover, 60% are likely to postpone existing arrangements, 67% are likely to embark upon fewer trips, and 66% are likely to only visit places they can drive to.

Across the study as a whole, 1,590 respondents were still likely to attend large gatherings, events and meetings. Among this cohort, 59% said that they were likely to postpone existing meetings or events, 49% were likely to cancel existing meetings or events and have no plans to reschedule, 71% were likely to attend fewer in-person events, and 67% were likely to have shorter meetings or events.

Hotel jobs falling sharply in DC, New York and Illinois

The AHLA has also pointed to a July 2021 study by Oxford Economics, which suggests that the US will have 500,000 fewer hotel jobs by the end of 2021 compared to 2019 – a drop of 21%. The states with the largest projected falls are the District of Columbia (43%), New York (38%), Illinois (35%), Massachusetts (30%) and Hawaii (29%).

Chip Rogers, president and CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, said: “Hotels were already on pace to lose more business travel revenue this year than we did in 2020. And now rising Covid19 cases threaten to further reduce the main source of revenue for our industry.

“Hotel employees and small business owners across the nation have been pleading for direct pandemic relief for over a year now. These results show why now is the time for congress to listen to those calls and pass the Save Hotel Jobs Act.”

The Save Hotel Jobs Act aims to support hotel workers until travel returns to pre-pandemic levels. High-profile organisations like the AHLA and UNITE HERE, the largest union for hospitality workers in North America, are urging congress to pass the bipartisan legislation.

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