Skift Take

Summer travel demand is a much-needed boost to struggling hotels, but we want to hear recovery strategies beyond the next three months. Leisure travel demand doesn’t benefit everyone, so how does the entire industry advance? Find out at next week’s Skift Hospitality & Marketing Summit.

Many hotel owners are just beginning to feel the crashing wave of summer travel demand, with occupancy rates soaring from leisure travelers in the U.S. over Memorial Day and even business travel picking up in China.

But don’t spend too much time basking in the pockets of surging summer occupancy and demand. Summer is only three months, and hotel owners and operators need to capitalize on ways to grow beyond Labor Day.

We’ll be looking for insights and forecasts from all the leading hospitality experts featured across a line-up of candid conversations with Skift reporters and editors at the Skift Hospitality & Marketing Summit June 16. You can find the full list of speakers and summit agenda here.

The industry likes to focus on the expectation of an extraordinarily busy summer travel season and how that provides a major inflection point in its recovery from the pandemic. But this week’s World of Concrete conference in Las Vegas — Sin City’s first city-wide trade show since the pandemic began — is a true test for what the hotel industry might be able to count on once summer travel demand dissipates.

The event usually brings around 60,000 people to Las Vegas and is a huge boost to mid-week occupancy rates. Attendance will likely be lower this year but expect many attendees at next week’s summit to use World of Concrete’s performance as tea leaves to read for the overall industry’s performance ahead.

General industry sentiment is that leisure travel would rebound first followed by business transient and then group and convention travel. But leaders at companies like Hyatt signaled on investor calls in recent months the likelihood group and convention travel might rally before business transient.

If World of Concrete is a success, do hotel companies place more emphasis on group and convention business later in the year rather than hoping for corporate travel to kick back into high gear? If attendance is lower, are we going to hear more of the same around marketing the idea of blended business and leisure travel to capitalize on more flexible work arrangements?

The fall is just around the corner, and owners and operators need to have clear answers on the next steps of the recovery.

Investors often use a downturn like the pandemic to swoop in and capitalize on struggling assets selling at bargain prices. That hasn’t happened as much as the hotel industry would have expected in the early months of the health crisis, but it has fostered a greater conversation around how the future looks for hospitality companies of all sizes.

Accor has been the most vocal about the idea of so-called lifestyle hotels, essentially boutique hotels that emphasize local experiences and food and beverage, as the future of the industry. The company announced plans last year to spin off its brands in this category like SLS and Mondrian into a standalone entity with Ennismore, owner of brands like Gleneagles and the Hoxton.

Bigger companies want to show how it is possible to scale up these properties around the world, but how do you do that without losing some of the cool factor that makes them attractive in the first place? Further, how do you build up a lifestyle hotel portfolio when so many companies like Ennismore, IHG, and Standard Hotels are looking for similar product?

Just as the hospitality sector in many parts of the world is still fighting for its survival, it is also fighting head-to-head for growth opportunities as quickly as they emerge.

Every hotel company has a strategy to hopefully build back and throttle forward from the pandemic. But no matter what kind of optimism you may hear next week, not every hotel company will be as successful in trying to transform for what travelers want and expect in the years ahead.

Those that stumble may end up being precisely the growth opportunity an investor has been chasing for more than a year.

Join us on June 16 at our Skift Hospitality & Marketing Summit as we dig into these questions and more.

Register Now For the Skift Hospitality and Marketing Summit Happening on June 16

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Tags: accor, coronavirus, coronavirus recovery, ennismore, hospitality marketing, hyatt, skift live, skift summit, standard hotels

Photo credit: Hotel leaders have every reason to celebrate surging leisure travel demand, but they have to start thinking beyond and into corporate and convention bookings. Gayinspandex1 / Wikimedia

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