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Antibody testing could defy travel analyst expectations and cause business travel to return before leisure, but the theory hinges on the success of the testing.

The travel industry’s recovery from coronavirus continues to be a guessing game, but one leading industry voice expects business travel to bounce back the quickest.

Social distancing measures and other coronavirus precautions depleted the travel industry over the last month, and many hotel owners have shut down properties due to limited revenue streams. Industry analysts have debated what the economic recovery would look like, from an optimistic V-shaped return to normalcy to a more prolonged L-shape. In a Friday interview on “The Long View With Rafat” livestream, The Daily Lodging Report Editor-in-Chief and founder Alan Woinski shared his outlook on why analysts could be wrong on their predictions.

“I probably have a different mindset than most folks. Everyone thinks we’re coming back with leisure travel first because it always bounces back,” Woinski said. “I think we’re in a completely different scenario right now and don’t think we can look at the past.”

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Given the infectious nature of coronavirus, leisure travelers are less likely to travel unless a vaccine is readily available for their entire family, Woinski added. But if a potential “game-changer” – potential antibody testing that shows who is immunie to coronavirus – rolls out and can pinpoint who isn’t at risk of contracting the virus, businesses would be likely to quickly send those people on necessary corporate travel.

“If we know for sure 12 percent of the population has antibodies, why can’t we start opening the economy?” Woinski said. “I think the next month is probably going to tell if I’m right on this.”

The travel expert also expects to see some hotel casualties from the downturn and that a wave of mergers and acquisitions is possible. While some analysts have questioned if coronavirus might be the big event that finally begins to chip away at the hefty number of brands operating under a single global hotel company, Woinski anticipates more brand shuffling than shutdown. However, he doesn’t expect the industry to revitalize at a quick pace.

“It’s going to be a very slow rise and in certain areas, sort of like the outbreak,” he said. “Anybody who thinks things will be exactly the way things were needs to change that mindset.”

You can watch the full interview below:

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Tags: business travel, coronavirus, thelongview

Photo credit: Business travelers will be the first to come back start booking hotels, predicts Alan Woinski, editor-in-chief of The Daily Lodging Report. Robert Couse-Baker / Flickr

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