Few things dominate the discussion around travel recovery as much as business travel. While a definitive forecast is still hard to predict, one thing is clear. "The frequent headlines declaring the death of business travel are simply not true," asserts Derek DeCross, SVP of Global Sales for IHG Hotels & Resorts.
While travel’s recovery has been largely powered by leisure, business travel has quietly resumed. In August, IHG Hotels & Resorts released earnings for the first half of the year. Among the findings: major companies are focusing on destination-driven corporate gatherings versus large-scale conferences and events. Driven by our Essentials Collection, like Holiday Inn, avid hotels, and Holiday Inn Express, as well as our Suites Collection, which includes Staybridge Suites, the company is seeing a measured recovery in group bookings and occupancy.
“Even last year – before vaccines and when travel restrictions were at their strictest – we saw small to mid-size companies begin traveling again,” says DeCross. “We observed that the desire for business travel never fully went away.”
IHG has seen interest in the IHG Business Edge program – which greatly benefits businesses in the small and medium enterprise (SME) space – increase, adding nearly 11,000 accounts so far this year. Currently, there are more than 50,000 registered accounts on the platform, and IHG continues to observe strong momentum in the SME segment.
Groups & Meetings
Global pace of groups & meetings steadily increased from January through August of 2021, with U.S. cities leading bookings.
So far this year, Chicago, Phoenix, Philadelphia, and Atlanta have seen the most groups & meetings business. Shanghai, China, rounds out the top five cities as urban markets continue to drive recovery in China.
“Since summer of 2020, our hotels in the U.S. have seen the sports and entertainment industries take the lead in groups & meetings business,” says DeCross. “And it’s a trend that’s continuing.”
With year-round demand for this sector, IHG Hotels & Resorts introduced the IHG Sports Rate to offer teams the chance to book multiple rooms and enjoy savings. The IHG Sports Rate is now available in U.S. and Canada but will be global in the coming weeks and months.
Social, Military, Educational, Religious, and Fraternal (SMERF) organizations have been, and will continue to be, essential for group business.
In Europe, Paris, Berlin, and Munich are also seeing a revival in groups & meetings business with the entertainment industry leading bookings alongside government/military, transportation, and media & publishing. Specifically, in the UK, London, Edinburgh, Birmingham, and Manchester are top destinations.
Corporate & Govt. Travel
Across the travel and hospitality industry, global corporate travel has not returned to pre-pandemic levels and may not for some time, but that does not mean there aren’t visible signs of recovery.
So far in 2021, China has seen the most significant activity in corporate travel bookings, with Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu, and Hangzhou as the top markets.
“In August, Europe saw its highest level of bookings for the year driven by urban and suburban markets,” says DeCross. “The UK, Germany, and France all saw month-on-month booking gains in urban markets in 2021.”
In the Americas, suburban and metro markets like Atlanta, Houston, and Chicago have been driving corporate travel bookings.
Globally, government and military bookings, as well as transportation, are leading business travel recovery. According to DeCross, in July alone, IHG saw room growth among those workforces, as well as legal, finance, consulting services, and more. That growth dipped in August in Greater China and the Americas, as bookings in urban markets declined.
“Ultimately, we strongly believe in the long-term value of all travel, and that includes all forms of business travel, as well as groups & meetings,” says DeCross. “We are now nearly two years into this global pandemic, and our hotels know how to be nimble, resilient, and instill confidence in our guests.”
So, whether through Meet with Confidence, IHG Business Edge, or exclusive offers for corporate meetings and social events as an IHG Business Rewards member, IHG Hotels & Resorts gives every traveler the most important thing needed to keep going – adaptability.
With a family of 17 hotel brands and IHG Rewards, one of the world's largest hotel loyalty programmes, IHG has over 6,000 open hotels in more than 100 countries, and a further 1,800 in the development pipeline.
- Luxury & Lifestyle: Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas, Regent Hotels & Resorts, InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, Vignette Collection, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, Hotel Indigo
- Premium: voco Hotels, HUALUXE Hotels & Resorts, Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts, EVEN Hotels
- Essentials: Holiday Inn Hotels & Resorts, Holiday Inn Express, avid hotels
- Suites: Atwell Suites, Staybridge Suites, Holiday Inn Club Vacations, Candlewood Suites
InterContinental Hotels Group PLC is the Group's holding company and is incorporated and registered in England and Wales. Approximately 350,000 people work across IHG's hotels and corporate offices globally.