Good morning from Skift. It's Monday, May 9, in New York City. Here's what you need to know about the business of travel today.
Skift Daily Briefing Podcast
Listen to the day’s top travel stories in under four minutes every weekday.
Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast discusses IHG’s challenges in China, Wyndham’s ambitions in Latin America, and unexpected challenges brought on by the return of live events.
IHG Hotels & Resorts is moving closer toward a complete recovery, but the company still faces an enormous obstacle hindering its return to pre-Covid metrics — China’s ongoing travel restrictions, Corporate Travel Editor Matthew Parsons reports.
Paul Edgecliffe-Johnson, IHG’s chief financial officer and group head of strategy, said during a first-quarter trading update investor call on Friday that China’s Covid crackdowns prevented it from recording stronger numbers for the period. IHG’s first-quarter revenue per available room — a key hotel industry metric — in Greater China was down 42 percent compared to 2019 and 7 percent from 2021 levels. The company’s occupancy rate in the region was at 36 percent, a 16 percentage point decrease from 2019.
Meanwhile, IHG’s first-quarter revenue per available room was up 61 percent compared to the same period last year, hitting 82 percent of 2019 figures. The company’s first-quarter average daily rate was up 27 percent from the figure recorded last year and in line with 2019 levels.
We head to Latin America next. Wyndham Hotels & Resorts — the world’s largest hotel franchisor — is making significant plans to expand in the region, where it historically hasn’t had a major presence, writes Contributor Paula Krizanovic.
Gustavo Viescas, Wyndham’s new senior vice president for Latin America and the Caribbean, said the company’s aim is to become the region’s leading hotel company. It has a long way to go to hit that goal, with some rivals operating twice as many hotels in Latin America as Wyndham does. Wyndham’s 235 hotels in Latin America represent less than 3 percent of its global portfolio.
But Wyndham plans to double its number of hotels in Latin America in the next five years, including opening at least one Wyndham Grand in each capital in the region as well as expand all of its brands. Viescas cited Argentina and Brazil as markets with enormous growth potential, adding that Wyndham will target conversions — deals where the owner of an existing hotel assumes a new brand affiliation — in Argentina.
Finally, the widespread return of in-person events is welcome news for organizers. But it also presents challenges for an industry still yet to completely recover from the pandemic, reports Angela Tupper, deputy editor for EventMB, a Skift brand.
Catherine Chaulet, the president and CEO of event planning company Global DMC Partners, said the return of in-person events represents both the best and worst of times. While she’s thrilled that corporations realize the importance of face-to-face meetings, she expressed frustration about a labor shortage that’s complicating event planning. Chaulet said virtually all attendees at a Global DMC Partners conference last month acknowledged their companies had open positions and that they were overworked.
The widespread adoption of virtual formats has also made event planning more difficult. Tupper writes that event organizers are having to learn new technological skills, with many of them being expected to double as video production and live streaming experts. However, panelists at the Global DMC Partners conference said they can’t afford to make investments in workers with the necessary skills when they have a backlog of in-person events to plan.
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