Multi-year recovery along with new opportunities for travel and hospitality sector: HVS

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HVS leaders from across the globe hosted a webinar to offer expert perspectives on key hospitality issues including how the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted the respected regions, the kind of recovery hoteliers can anticipate, as well as the long-term changes the sector is likely to see.

Opened by global CEO Stephen Rushmore, the session was moderated by HVS London chairman Russell Kett, who polled the attendees finding that some 51% of the 1,800+ global delegates expected RevPAR (rooms revenue per available room) to return to pre-Covid levels during 2023, with a further 23% anticipating a return in 2024.

Most expected hotel values to return to 2019 levels by 2023, with 28% envisaging this in 2024. Getting corporate and group business back emerged as the single most important issue for 37% of the audience, with 29% most concerned about when international visitors will return. And, in the light of the current hospitality environment, delegates demonstrated an optimistic investment approach, with 45% preferring a “hold and buy” strategy.

Based on their extensive market experience, regional variations for the hotel sector were voiced by the HVS global leaders. Charles Human, HVS president Europe, predicted a stop-start recovery, largely because of on-going local lockdowns and the further imposition of travel restrictions. “We expect regional commercial markets such as Germany to start to pick up initially, but gateway cities will be the next challenge – London is a shadow of its former self at the moment,” he said.

Hala Matar Choufany, HVS president Middle East and Africa, commented: “Perhaps the good news is that Africa has the potential to recover ahead of the Middle East, though it is very dependent on the international market. Its recovery will be tied to air traffic and connectivity, whereas in the Middle East few cities have diversified their segmentation so they are heavily dependent on the corporate sector with limited domestic demand.”

Hok Yean Chee, HVS president Asia, anticipated a slow 2021 with recovery in 2022-23 and RevPAR levels returning to 2018-19 levels in 2024. Similarly, Mandeep Lamba, HVS president South Asia, said occupancies across India were likely to come back in Q3 2022 and RevPAR in Q2 2023. “It’s going to be leisure and mid-market hotels that will lead the recovery here. Our knight in shining armour in India is going to be the domestic traveller and everyone is going to start focussing on them like they never have done in the past,” he said.

Rod Clough, HVS president Americas was more upbeat, expecting recovery in 2021 and into spring 2022, resulting from travel demand. “While we have a few difficult quarters ahead, we expect an unleashing of demand next summer into a good recovery period in the fall of 2021. In the US people want to be travelling to events and conventions and meeting colleagues. As a society, travel is in our DNA and the desire for travel is getting stronger,” he said.

While recovery was anticipated to take several years across the world, the panel expected a continuation of global hotel development.

Hok Yean Chee also anticipated hotel development would continue in China, although costs were likely to rise because of the need for a different design with social distancing a new consideration.

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