Marriott CEO Sees Continuing Recovery in Corporate and Group Demand
Capuano says he ‘optimistic that we’ve turned a corner’ >>
by: Harvey Chipkin
The US is seeing increasing signs of recovery in both special corporate and group demand, according to Anthony Capuano, CEO of Marriott, speaking on a second quarter earnings call. He said that while special corporate booking levels in the first three and a half weeks of July are still down around 45% compared with the same period in 2019, “we are optimistic that we've turned a corner.” US special corporate bookings rose 23% in June over May and then rose another 27% in the first three and a half weeks of July as compared with the same period in June, with improvement widespread across industries and with booking windows lengthening. Many corporate customers, said Capuano, are telling Marriott they are beginning to get back on the road this summer, “and we expect to see a step-up in business travel post-Labor Day as children go back to in-person learning and workers increasingly return to the office.” Group bookings in the US have also gained momentum, said Capuano. US group bookings made for all future dates were down 29% in June compared with those made in June of 2019, a significant improvement from March of 2021, when they were down 56% versus March of 2019. And for the first time since the pandemic started, group bookings made in the month of June or anytime in 2021 exceeded in-the-year bookings made in the same month of 2019.
Europe’s recovery, said Capuano, is still lagging given its heavy reliance on international guests, slower border reopenings and shifting restrictions that change on short notice. Yet, with the European Union easing many travel restrictions beginning in May and an increasing number of hotels reopening, occupancy doubled in just three months, reaching 31% in June. The recovery in Asia-Pacific, excluding China, stalled in the second quarter as countries such as Japan, India, South Korea and Australia imposed strict lockdowns in response to sharp rises in Delta variant cases and low vaccination rates. Encouragingly, said Capuano, “the recovery is now picking up steam again as caseloads in some countries like India have started to decline.”