Between travel restrictions linked to a pandemic and the reluctance of many to take the risk of traveling for business or pleasure, 2020 has been a disaster for the entire travel industry. A new report of the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA) cast the impact of Covid-19 in even more stark relief: 2020 was the worst year on record for the hospitality industry.
Hotels in the United States cut 670,000 jobs in 2020, while the hospitality industry as a whole lost nearly 4 million jobs, the AHLA found. With demand at historically low levels, half of hotel rooms in the United States are expected to remain empty through 2021.
In order to attract customers at difficult times hotels got creative, like Marriot relying on its Loyalty program to encourage members to pay daily rates for the use of hotel rooms as remote offices and the expansion of multiple brands online sale of products such as pillows and bathrobes. But the actual activity of getting travelers to rooms is not expected to return to pre-pandemic activity and employment levels until 2024. In fact, the overall impact of reducing air travel and Hotel occupancy rates were nine times worse than 9/11, according to AHLA data from April.
Although the current Covid-19 pandemic has caused considerable economic damage to many industries, the hospitality and airline industry have been among the hardest hit. In November, the International Air Transport Association reported that consumer demand had fallen by a third in 2020, causing its biggest shock since World War II.
Hotels across the United States are only expected to create around 200,000 jobs in 2021.
“Covid-19 has wiped out 10 years of growth in hotel jobs,” said Chip Rogers, president and CEO of AHLA. “Yet the hallmark of hospitality is endless optimism, and I am confident in the future of our industry.”
Will the vaccines help?
The hospitality and airline industries are pinning their recovery hopes on the successful distribution of vaccines in 2021. Polls show that about half of consumers see the vaccine as their main concern when considering a trip this year. year.
In the meantime, survey data also shows that effective hygiene and cleaning services are widely considered by consumers when choosing a hotel, just behind price.
“Despite the challenges facing the hospitality industry, we are resilient,” added Rogers. “Hotels across the country are focused on creating a ready environment for guests when the trip starts to return.”