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the hotel industry is gradually approaching pre-covid levels

Sheraton Gateway Hotel at Toronto Airport.

The quarterly results presented by the leaders of the world hotel industry show a certain feeling ofoptimism. After Accor at the end of April, and the announcement of an 85% increase in turnover compared to the first quarter of 2021, the declarations of their leaders are unanimous. ” We are increasingly optimistic that the gap in revenue per room will narrow (Editor’s note: RevPAR) significantly from pre-pandemic levels in 2022“, says Anthony Capuano, CEO of the Marriott group. Similarly, Hilton introduced results ” solid for the first three months of the year, allowing the group to redistribute dividends to its shareholders ” sooner than we anticipated notes Christopher Nassetta, Hilton’s boss.

Of course, the complete recovery of the sector is not expected before 2023-2024, but the month of March seems to have firmly sealed its return to better days. ” Mars can be seen as a definitive turning point and the start of a strong and rapid recovery for the hospitality industry, accompanied by growth in the number of flights offered by airlines“, believes Gabriel Escarrer Jaume, CEO of Melia Hotels International.

The gradual resumption of intra- and intercontinental travel and the return of long-haul customers suggest a continued improvement in hotel occupancy in the months to come. In March, the Marriott group already noted that the occupancy rate of its establishments worldwide stood at 64%, a little less than 10 points lower than it was in 2019. A positive trend that was further amplified in Aprila month in which hotel groups for many recorded almost identical results to the pre-pandemic era.

Thus, after a start to the year penalized by the distribution of the Omicron variant, the Melia group’s figures have seen continuous improvement, starting from a RevPAR of 57.2% of what it was in 2019 in January, then rising to 83.4% in March, before return to its pre-Covid level in April. And this case is not unique. Marriott saw its hotels in North America also come back into balance with the pre-crisis period, while at Hyatt, the RevPAR of the Americas, Europe and South East Asia regions exceeded the level of 2019 in April.

Admittedly, the Easter period and the spring holidays played on this overall result, filling hotels with leisure customers, particularly in resort destinations. But several other elements also explain this return, starting with prices trending upwards for several months and which are globally positioned above their 2019 level.

Positive development for MICE and business travel

At the same time, hoteliers are also delighted with the development of business travel and the MICE segment. “We continue to see a return to business and group travel, which is contributing to improving RevPARs in many of our key urban markets“said Keith Barr, CEO of IHG Hotels & Resorts Group. For his part, Gabriel Escarrer Jaume said to himself “pleased to see a gradual recovery in business travel and even a return to growth in the MICE segment towards the end of the year“.

For the second half of the year, Melia already expects ” an increase in activity in the MICE and business travel segments thanks to the easing of restrictions and the confirmation of events. The Spanish group expecting its hotels in metropolitan areas to continue to approach pre-covid levels by relying on the growth in reservations from American and British customers and on the return of congresses and events of international scope. In Germany, where the hotel industry is dependent on business travel and major trade fairs and congresses, Melia expects this to improve in the second half.

The quarterly results presented by Accor at the end of last month showed the dynamics underway around the world with a Middle East region back to pre-covid levelsdriven by activity in Dubai and, more recently, by the resumption of pilgrimages to Saudi Arabia, an upturn in South America thanks to ” recovery in demand from business customers according to Accor or the expected restart in the Pacific region following the opening of borders in Australia, which have long remained closed.

On the other hand, China, among the first countries to see its hotel industry restart, has for some time been stuck in its Zero Covid strategy and bears comparison with other parts of the world. While Marriott, for example, recorded an 11% increase in RevPAR in the Middle East-Africa zone, the Greater China region lagged behind with a decline of -41.9%. “Business in Greater China continues to be affected by restrictions put in place to control rising Covid cases“, also underlines Keith Barr, IHG noting a decline in RevPAR of -51% in March compared to 2019.

More generally, Asia is seeing a slower recovery in its hotel business due to lack of international travelers, an important clientele for many countries in the south-east of the continent. But the coming months should see an improvement in this regard. While Melia found that ” domestic demand remained strong in cities such as Saigon, Yogyakarta, Makassar, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur, with occupancy similar to 2019“, the Spanish group expects international travelers ” do a strong comeback in the second half.

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