Opinion

Opinion: Annual decline in business travel emphasizes continued need for hotel relief in West Virginia

West Virginia projected to end 2021 down $144,662,812 in business travel revenue compared to 2019

The West Virginia Hospitality & Travel Association

While leisure travel in West Virginia remains significant and stable, the hotel industry in West Virginia is still projected to end 2021 down $144,662,812 in business travel revenue compared to 2019, according to a new report released by the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) and Kalibri Labs.

Business travel is the hotel industry’s largest source of revenue and has been slow to return since the onset of the pandemic. Business travel includes corporate, group, government, and other commercial categories. Business travel revenue is not expected to reach pre-pandemic levels until 2024.

The new analysis comes on the heels of a recent national survey by AHLA, which found that most business travelers are canceling, reducing, and postponing trips amid rising COVID-19 cases. The lack of business travel and events has major repercussions for employment, and underscores the need for targeted federal relief, such as the Save Hotel Jobs Act.

Hotels are expected to end 2021 down nearly 500,000 jobs nationally compared to 2019. For every 10 people directly employed on a hotel property, hotels support an additional 26 jobs in the community, from restaurants and retail to hotel supply companies—meaning an additional nearly 1.3 million hotel-supported jobs are also at risk.

“It’s no secret that the lodging, hospitality and tourism industry in West Virginia continues to play an important role in the growth and economic development in our state. It’s also no secret the hospitality and tourism industry as a whole has been severely affected by the pandemic,” said Richie Heath, Executive Director of the West Virginia Hospitality and Travel Association. “The increase in leisure travel over the last several months has been a welcome return for many in the lodging, hospitality and tourism industry.  However, this recent report from AHLA and Kalibri Labs shows the need for continued support for our lodging and tourism industry in West Virginia as business travel continues to lag nationwide.”

“While some industries have started rebounding from the pandemic, this report is a sobering reminder that hotels and hotel employees are still struggling,” said Chip Rogers, president and CEO of AHLA. “Business travel is critical to our industry’s viability, especially in the fall and winter months when leisure travel normally begins to decline. Continued COVID-19 concerns among travelers will only exacerbate these challenges. That’s why it’s time for Congress to pass the bipartisan Save Hotel Jobs Act to help hotel employees and small business owners survive this crisis.”

COVID-19 is the worst economic event in the history of the U.S. hotel industry. Despite being among the hardest hit, hotels are the only segment of the hospitality and leisure industry yet to receive direct aid. Hotels and their employees have displayed extraordinary resilience in the face of unprecedented economic challenges, and the industry needs support from Congress to achieve a full recovery.

“The WVHTA and our members look forward to working with the West Virginia Legislature as well as our Congressional Delegation to make sure the hospitality and travel industry is kept in mind for more grants, funds or legislation that will help them recover,” said Heath.

About WVHTA

The West Virginia Hospitality & Travel Association is the official voice of the food service, lodging, convention and visitors bureaus, and travel industries in the state. The WVHTA represents the hospitality and travel industry’s interests to both governmental and private sectors. WVHTA serves as the connection between all those involved with the development of tourism in West Virginia.

About AHLA

The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) is the sole national association representing all segments of the U.S. lodging industry. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., AHLA focuses on strategic advocacy, communications support and workforce development programs to move the industry forward. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the hospitality industry was the first industry impacted and it will be among the last to recover. That is why AHLA is committed to promoting safe travel while also creating a standardized safety experience nationwide through the Safe Stay initiative. With an enhanced set of health and safety protocols designed to provide a safe and clean environment for all hotel guests and employees, hotels across America are ready to welcome back travelers when they are ready to travel. Learn more at www.ahla.com.

About Kalibri Labs

Kalibri Labs evaluates and predicts hotel revenue performance with its next-generation tech platform to support hotel owners, operators, brands and real estate investors. Kalibri Labs enables users to improve underwriting accuracy and to benchmark, execute plans and assess results for a hotel’s profit contribution targets. The Kalibri Labs database is comprised of guest transactions, including cost of sales and source of business information, from almost 35,000 hotels dating back more than 7 years and updated weekly to give an expansive view of the U.S. hotel industry. 

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