Our industry can accomplish amazing things when we come together.
This was so clearly demonstrated through the phenomenal collaboration and great success of the Let’s Go There campaign. Every sector of the industry—from the largest corporations to smaller destination marketing organizations—united with the simple goal of encouraging Americans to keep dreaming of their next vacation.
Now? In every pocket of the country, domestic leisure travel is roaring back.
However, there is still much work to do because the full recovery of the travel economy simply isn’t possible until all segments of travel rebound. That is why we’re turning our focus to the next chapter: Let’s Meet There, which launched on June 15.
Unlike domestic leisure travel, business travel and professional meetings and events (PMEs) are struggling. In total, the U.S. saw a decline of more than $200 billion last year in direct spending generated from business travel (of which roughly $100 billion was directly due to declines in meetings and events), leading to the loss of nearly 1.5 million jobs and $28.8 billion in tax revenue.
The segment’s revival is crucial to the travel economy. Despite making up 20% of total trip volume pre-pandemic, business travelers account for 40-60% of lodging and air revenue. In 2019 alone, nearly 500 million business trips were taken (by domestic and international travelers) in the U.S, spending $348 billion on travel-related goods and services which supported 2.5 million American jobs.
The encouraging news is that business travelers are largely ready to get back to business. Polling indicates that 85% of American workers view in-person events as “irreplaceable.” However, C-suite executives must lead this charge. Knowing that face-to-face meetings are more productive, meaningful and fruitful, C-suite executives should seize the competitive advantage and encourage their teams to reestablish these critical, business-building relationships.
Let’s Meet There will seek to elevate the economic importance of PMEs—and the fact that it is possible to resume PMEs safely—to state and local policymakers, as well as the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, to encourage a reassessment of guidance for PMEs. As stated in a review of current best evidence led by scientists at The Ohio State University, PMEs have the advantage of being structured and well-organized large gatherings where mitigation factors can be enforced to protect the health and safety of those in attendance.
We have a lot of work ahead of us, but I am confident that we can accelerate the recovery of this crucial sector of the travel economy. The same energy, focus and collaboration that made Let’s Go There such a great success will carry the Let’s Meet There campaign through this next chapter. I am looking forward to continuing working with all of our partners and know this will be an important part of our industry’s comeback story.
Please click here to learn more about the Let’s Meet There campaign.