Destination Marketing Takes Reigns to Spark Return of Hotel Group Business
By Karyl Leigh Barnes Executive Vice President & Partner, Development Counsellors International | September 2021
The travel industry is facing its own type of long haul COVID. A look at the state of business travel, particularly group business travel, makes that clear.
The U.S. Travel Association reported that business travelers spent upwards of $334.2 billion in 2019, with 2.5 million jobs depending on this sector of the industry. Unfortunately, pundits predict that the U.S. won't return to those levels until 2025, though certainty is certainly a luxury we're all lacking.
With the delta variant surging across the country, and the threat of future mutations slowing our recovery efforts, it's clear why such projections are tenuous at best. The return to the office has been pushed back for big companies like Google and Apple. These precautions signal clearly that many businesses are hesitant to get back to normal with their coworkers, let alone with a conference full of new faces.
We've been talking about this for months. Business travel is forever changed, and it will look different when it does return, and there will be a variety of challenges we must face head-on during recovery. Those discussions, however, are old hat at this point. Despite it all, business travel will persist. For destinations across North America, it has to in order to fuel the recovery that leisure tourism alone cannot achieve.
Destination marketing organizations, (DMOs), know this, and having navigated the worst of the pandemic, they are now deeply invested in attracting back business travelers with their trade shows and conferences. These large scale events provide the revenue that makes the tourism industry spin, but that also fuel local community projects. Hotel taxes also help fund many DMOs, further stimulating interest in helping to revive the ailing business travel sector.
A closer look at how DMOs can promote business events travel illustrates why their bond with hotels is - or at least should be - a close one. If hotels succeed, the DMO and the entire community succeeds.