2022 bright for business travel, says IHG top brass

IHG expects continuing consumer demand, such as those in India and the Middle East, driven by milder travel restrictions.

Despite concerns about persistent uncertainty, and a perceived lack of appetite for business travel, the second half of 2021 proved those predictions weren’t entirely true, and momentum is strong heading into 2022.

“While we continue to monitor the impact of the recent variant on travel, overall, we are optimistic about the industry’s rebound. I think 2022 will be a positive surprise for many people in terms of business travel, especially the latter half,” says Derek DeCross, SVP of Global Sales for IHG Hotels & Resorts.

Business travel
Airlines have seen increasing activity among their accounts. American Express noted an increase in spending on its commercial cards in the second half of last year.

While leisure travel continues to lead recovery, the future is bright for all segments of travel, particularly for U.S. groups and meetings, small and midsize enterprises (SME), and corporate transient, which are all helping business travel make a comeback. The optimism is felt across the hospitality industry: airlines have seen increasing activity among their accounts, and American Express noted an increase in spending on its commercial cards in the second half of last year, which was led by small and midsize enterprises.

Where we see those peaks in travel, IHG expects continuing consumer demand, such as those in India, the Middle East and Africa (IMEA), driven by milder travel restrictions across feeder markets, increasing flight availability, and the return of global events like Expo 2022.

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“The largest share of business travel in this region is corporate bookings, as well as meetings and events,” says DeCross.

Some customers are putting a cap on the size of groups and meetings while others are pushing forward with Q1 travel plans with additional protections like masks, vaccination requirements and testing.

“The response from customers has varied and I think that will continue as we learn to coexist with Covid,” says DeCross.

“We’ve seen some customers delay travel for a few weeks, while others are pushing all travel into Q2 or later.”

From testing services and staying on top of public health guidelines for food and beverage and robust offers around technology, IHG will continue to be nimble and work with planners to ensure their needs are fulfilled. Partnerships like those with CVS and Wellness for Humanity are examples of how IHG continues to adapt to the evolving environment and needs of our guests and meeting planners.

“I attended multiple trade shows over the past few months in the U.S. and France, and you can feel the energy and excitement as people reunite or meet for the first time,” says DeCross.

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