The hotel industry is gearing up for a robust holiday season and enjoying an optimistic outlook amid the final months of 2023. This rosy picture can be largely attributed to a recent boost in business travel, as well as a persistent preference among both corporate and leisure travelers to opt for hotel accommodations.
Informing these projections are the results of a recent survey, commissioned by the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) and conducted by Morning Consult. Among U.S. respondents whose jobs involve travel, 68 percent reported that they are likely to take overnight business trips during the final of 2023, representing a notable increase from the 59% reported in 2022. And, hotels emerged as the top lodging choice for 81 percent of the business travelers polled.
The consumer study indicates that 32% of Americans expect to travel overnight for Thanksgiving, up from 28 from the previous year; while 34 percent are inclined to do the same for Christmas, reflecting a three-percent uptick from the 31 percent reported last year. In a broader sense, 37 percent of participant expressed a likelihood that they’d be traveling overnight during the final three months of 2023, a marginal decrease from the 39 percent reported in 2022.
Notably, travel attitudes have largely reverted to pre-pandemic norms. A significant 71 percent of respondents said their likelihood of staying in hotels is once again comparable to what it was pre-pandemic. And, nearly 70 percent of business travelers reported that their employers are conducting business travel on the same or increased levels as were considered normal prior to the pandemic. That’s certainly a positive indicator for hoteliers, since business travel constitutes one of their main revenue sources.
AHLA’s survey, which polled more than 4,000 U.S. adult travelers, was fielded from September 18–23, 2023. Other several key findings include:
Businessman arriving at hotel lobby. (Photo via jacoblund / iStock / Getty Images Plus)
Although the hotel sector’s outlook is positive in terms of demand, it continues to face workforce challenges, with ongoing staffing shortages hindering hotels from fully recovering the jobs lost during the pandemic. As of now, there are almost 85,000 open hotel positions across the nation, according to Indeed.
As of September, the U.S. had 9.6 million employment openings, but only 6.4 million unemployed individuals available to fill them, per Bureau of Labor Statistics data. The national average for hotel wages that same month stood at $23.36 per hour. Since the pandemic, average hotel wages have increased by 24.6 percent, growing at a 30-percent faster rate than the general economy's pace of 18.8 percent.
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