Research Insights Travelers are eager to get back to business

Travelers are eager to get back to business

January 2021
Phocuswright Research

The meetings and event industry has been a particularly hard-hit subset of the travel industry during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Phocuswright's recently published travel research report U.S. Meetings and Event Travel: Where They Work, Stay and Play, meetings and event travelers are eager to get back to business once opportunities return. Nine in 10 are willing to attend meetings and events even if the threat of COVID-19 hasn't been resolved, and only 23% plan to cut back travel to only attend essential meetings or events. If the decision were only up to travelers, the outlook for the industry's return would be much rosier. Below are key findings from the report, based on a survey of meetings and event travelers, along with interviews with executives across the sector. The report also provides lodging spend and forecasts for the U.S. meetings and event segment through 2023.

The impact of COVID-19 on events and meetings:

  • Travelers are eager to get back to business. Nearly three fourths of travelers expect that their companies will allow select business travel as opportunities return.
  • Response to how the pandemic will impact how they plan to get there, what types of meetings they'll attend and where they'll sleep varies across travelers.
  • Comfort attending meetings or events doesn't change much by event purpose or size; conventions, conferences or trade shows only lag other meetings and events slightly
  • Three in four travelers feel comfortable traveling for U.S. meetings and events, but far fewer are content to cross international borders.

Phocuswright Chart: Hotel Room Revenue Total and Meetings and Events: 2018-2023
(Click image to view a larger version.)

With the start of the new year, many questions remain unanswered, and the impact and uncertainty of COVID-19 continues to haunt all stakeholders in meetings and event travel. The question of when the industry will return ultimately depends on a complicated mix of science, government, employer policy and traveler confidence.

This travel research report delves into the U.S. meetings and event marketplace dynamics and opportunities. The research examines traveler motivations, preferences, planning behaviors and spend patterns during pre-pandemic times, so industry stakeholders have benchmarks to consider when meetings and event travel returns. Get the report here.

For more on meetings and event travel, see COVID-19 Pandemic: An Unwelcome Event in Meetings & Event Travel.

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