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Episode Info: Subscribe to The Destinationists on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher or Google PodcastsIn our special series looking at how different sectors of the travel industry are dealing with the fall-out from COVID-19, we speak to Jan Freitag, Senior Vice President at STR, a global hospitality analytics firm, to learn how the hotel industry is faring.Known for his data-led approach and frequently interviewed about the hotel industry by publications such as the New York Times, Freitag said while there were early signs of a recovery (for example, in the weekend leisure travel market) it was likely to be 2023 before the industry once again achieved the kind of record growth it was enjoying at the end of 2019.“There are two pieces to the recovery equation. One, is demand, are people traveling? And the other question is, what are they paying? And that second part is really, truly the wildcard.”To achieve the kind of occupancy rates that drive higher prices Jan said the industry needed transient leisure demand, transient corporate demand, and corporate group demand but the latter was almost entirely absent right now. “Without that corporate piece, it's really hard to get to compression, which means it's really hard to get to pricing power.”Asked by co-host Lauren Quaintance about speculation that demand for corporate travel would be permanently reduced, Jan said the same predictions were made post 9/11 but did not prove to be true.“Right now we're saying, ‘Oh, small meetings are done, we're all gonna be on Zoom, Webex, Teams…’ Yeah, maybe, you know, and for a short period of time, that is certainly true... I think the pendulum is swinging very, very far in one direction, which is no travel, and it will swing sort of more into the middle.”While some hoteliers had expected that there would be a drop in demand for housekeeping services during a stay (to minimise contact between staff and guests) Jan said hotel owners were instead reporting that the vast majority of resort guests were demanding housekeeping services as they were fed up with cleaning their own homes. He expected business travellers who were relatively “low touch” during their hotel stay may decline housekeeping services.Asked by co-host Andrés López-Varela what his advice was for hotels that were reopening in terms of whether they focussed on a message around cleanliness or focussed on the hotel’s offering for guests, Jan said they “need to do both at the same time”. “You need to say, “Hey, the romantic sunset, and the drink in your hand on your veranda or balcony overlooking the cove with the sunset, yeah, we have that, and by the way, you're not gonna get sick while you get there, because here are the other things that we're doing,” so I think it's sort of a two pronged approach. I'm not sure it's in the same ad, but it's certainly in two separate connected marketing campaigns.”While there was a lot of doom and gloom in the industry, Jan said he did not belie...
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