On the road again: Delta variant may slow pace of travel, but hotel CEOs remain optimistic
- November 1, 2021: Vol. 8, Number 10

On the road again: Delta variant may slow pace of travel, but hotel CEOs remain optimistic

by Andrea Zander

The pent-up demand from U.S. travelers, as well as the easing of travel and other restrictions, has allowed for renewed interest in travel and tourism, with families embarking on long-delayed trips, and businesses scheduling in-person meetings again. The U.S. hotel industry’s occupancy levels in June were the highest recorded since October 2019, reaching 66.1 percent, according to data from research firm STR.

Hotel operators are seeing sales double from a year ago, as tourism is recovering during the first half of 2021 and reaching occupancy rates similar to pre-pandemic levels.

Overall, U.S. hotel transaction volume rebounded strongly in the second quarter to $130.9 billion, the third-highest second quarter after 2019 and 2007, reported CBRE, after four consecutive quarters of year-over-year decline.

Blackstone’s and Starwood Capital’s joint acquisition of Extended Stay America for $6.1 billion represented nearly half of the total hotel volume in the second quarter.

Many hotel firms are reporting a strong second-quarter performance.

Marriott International’s sales revenue rose to $3.15 billion in the three months through June, from $1.5 billion in the year-ago quarter.

The firm reported profit of $422 million, compared with a $234 million loss in the same period last year.

In addition, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts reported global RevPAR increased 110 percent compared with second quarter 2020, and it declined 17 percent compared with second quarter 2019 in constant currency.

InterContinental Hotels Group saw occupancy and rates continue to improve in July, with nearly 50 percent of InterContinental’s hotels achieving RevPAR above 2019 levels and, in the more recent weeks, rates have been on par with 2019, reported Paul Edgecliffe-Johnson, CFO and head of strategy at the firm, in a second-quarter earnings call.

But concerns about of the Delta variant of COVID-19 may disrupt future trip plans and the continuous strength of the sector.

After months of steady recovery, confidence in travel’s safety continues to decline, according to data released by Destination Analysts. After hitting a high of 52.9 percent at the end of June, the share of American travelers who feel “confident” or “very confident” they can travel safely in the current environment fell to 36.6 percent by early August.

The leaders of some of the world’s largest hotel companies remain confident, however, and will continue to be vigilant about the safety of their guests.

Andrea Zander is web content editor of Institutional Real Estate, Inc.



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