Business travel likely to resume in the fall, Hyatt Hotels CEO says


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With more workers now returning to offices, it won’t be long until business travel also resumes, according to Hyatt Hotels CEO Mark Hoplamazian.

“We are already seeing the signs of people starting to travel for work in a more affirmative way, a more significant way,” Hoplamazian said in an interview during CNBC’s Evolve Global Summit on Wednesday.

“Most of the bankers, consultants and lawyers that I’m talking to are gearing up to be back on the road, so I think that will really take hold in a more affirmative way in the fall,” he said.

Hyatt Hotels has seen a boon in bookings as travelers are now more willing to go on a vacation as the pandemic has waned. Its entire chain will see about 90% of the business it saw in 2019 during the two-week period around July 4.

Much of that has been focused around resorts, which Hoplamazian said “are back with a vengeance.” Hyatt’s resorts are about 30% above where they were in 2019 over that same holiday period.

Four in ten Americas say they intend to take a vacation that would involve a flight or a hotel booking between Memorial Day and the end of September, according to a survey from Deloitte. That compares to 42% in 2019, highlighting the post-pandemic travel rebound.

People walk around the International Hotel Grand Hyatt during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic on May 21, 2020 in New York City.
VIEW press | Corbis News | Getty Images

The drag for Hyatt has been cities and primarily cities in the North, with Hoplamazian singling out “gateway cities … that have a lot of international travel as part of their guest base over time,” including New York, Chicago and San Francisco.

While this part of the year is typically a weaker time for business travel regardless, Hyatt is seeing encouraging signs.

“Tech companies are talking about having mandatory office day weeks and getting back to work, and importantly getting back to travel,” Hoplamazian said.

Cruise industry rebounding

Carnival Corporation CEO Arnold Donald said that while the cruise industry is not yet at the same point hotel resorts are at in terms of a high level of bookings, the company is “looking forward to be in a similar position very soon.”

“We’re extremely excited about a July restart here in the U.S.,” Donald said at the CNBC Evolve Global Summit, noting its fleet has been sailing in Europe since Fall 2020. “We have robust bookings and pent-up demand.”

Carnival will be requiring passengers to show proof they are vaccinated in accordance with CDC guidelines.

The CDC recently eased its warnings for cruises from the highest level, but it did recommend only fully vaccinated people take trips when sailing resumes in the U.S. Earlier this week, Royal Caribbean Group had to delay the first voyage of its Odyssey of the Seas ship after eight crew members tested positive for Covid-19.

Carnival’s decision, however, puts it at odds with recent laws banning so-called vaccine passports in Florida and Texas, where its ships will depart from.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has threatened cruise operators with fines up to $5,000 per passenger if they have a proof of vaccine requirement.

Asked if Carnival would be willing to pay a fine, Donald said that the company’s highest responsibility and top priorities were “compliance, environmental protection, all safety and wellbeing for everyone.”

“We’re going to have to comply with everybody, we’re going to have to comply with Florida and with the destinations we go to, with the CDC, with other regulatory bodies similar to the CDC around the world, and we’re confident everything will get worked out,” he said. “I’m not anticipating we’ll ever have to pay a fine, I’m confident we’ll work stuff out with the governor, the CDC and the industry.” 

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