I recently had the pleasure of attending the Travel and Tourism Research Association’s Marketing Outlook Forum in Houston with over 200 industry researchers, marketers, vendors and partners.

I returned home with dozens of new relationships with industry colleagues, valuable insights and a renewed desire to continue to meet face-to-face. 

But when it comes to the insights I gathered while I was there, my key takeaways include:

  1. 2023 will test the U.S. labor market’s resilience. With consumer finances weakening, wage growth and consumer spending slowing, and an increased ability to predict demand and staffing needs, the labor market’s strength is being tested. 
    • What this means: Unemployment will likely remain low and while layoffs will occur, there will continue to be employment opportunities. 
    • As a result of some industries overstaffing during the pandemic and others struggling to fill openings, the current employment cycle is being characterized as ‘worker reallocation’. 
  2. Air travel demand remains strong and has nearly returned to 2019 levels but there are significant headwinds curtailing growth. Staffing shortages, labor and fuel costs have limited the ability of many airlines to meet surging demand. 
    • The pandemic wiped out 15 years of capacity growth and there are currently close to 5,000 airplanes not in use.
    • There is a critical need for pilots, airline mechanics and air traffic controllers. The industry needs 12,000 new pilots in the U.S. alone by the end of 2023.
  3. Meeting planners are optimistic for continued group business growth, but event expectations are high, and sustainability is top of mind. 
    • According to the soon to be released MPI Q1 Meetings Outlook, seven in 10 meeting planners expect budgets will increase in 2023, yet revenue is often not keeping up with increased costs.
    • Attendees are looking for unique, memorable experiences that cannot be replicated virtually.
    • Nearly half of meeting planners are willing to pay more to make their event more sustainable—yet their appetite to absorb additional costs is minimal. Most are only willing to pay an additional 10% or less.

Additionally, 25 members of U.S. Travel’s Research Advisory Committee attending the conference had the opportunity to connect with each other during an informal networking reception. 

The ability to meet and discuss trends, insights, challenges and opportunities impacting the industry’s outlook in the coming months with fellow research colleagues and U.S. Travel members was immeasurable.  

U.S. Travel

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