Embracing the Holiday Spirit

Insights into the Upbeat Hotel Industry for Late 2023

Unwrapping the promising trends of the hotel industry in 2023—AHLA reveals surge in business and leisure travel amidst staffing challenges.

In the final stretch of 2023, the hotel industry is donning its holiday spirit with a cheerful outlook, thanks to a surge in business travel and the unwavering fondness of both corporate and leisure travelers for hotel stays.

If you’ve been following our social activity lately, we’ve touched on this topic a bit but now it’s time to unwrap the insights revealed in a recent survey commissioned by the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) and conducted by Morning Consult, painting a picture of promise and positive trends.

All Aboard the Business Travel Express

Brace yourself for good news! The survey showcased a significant increase in the enthusiasm for business travel. A whopping 68 percent of U.S. respondents, whose jobs involve travel, are gearing up for overnight business trips in the last months of 2023—quite a leap from the 59 percent reported in 2022. Even more heartening, hotels clinched the title of top lodging choice for 81 percent of these business-savvy travelers.

Leisure Travel: A Joyful Journey

Leisure travelers, too, are packing their excitement for holiday journeys. Thirty-two percent of Americans are all set for overnight Thanksgiving adventures, a delightful uptick from the previous year’s 28 percent. Christmas plans are also getting merrier, with 34 percent intending to embark on overnight trips—a three-percent rise from the joyful 31 percent in 2022. Overall, 37 percent of participants are ready for overnight escapades during the final quarter of 2023, just a touch below the 39 percent reported in 2022.

Back to the Good Ol’ Days

Guess what? Travel attitudes are reclaiming their pre-pandemic glow. A reassuring 71 percent of respondents are feeling that their likelihood of hotel stays is back to the carefree pre-pandemic days. Almost 70 percent of business travelers are happily reporting that their employers are back on the business travel track, matching or surpassing the levels from the good ol’ pre-pandemic era.

Challenges in the Heart of Positivity

Amidst the positive vibes, there’s a plot twist. Workforce challenges are playing the Grinch, with staffing shortages hindering hotels from fully regaining their pre-pandemic workforce. The survey revealed nearly 85,000 open hotel positions nationwide—a challenge that’s not unique to the hotel sector but part of a broader labor shortage story in the post-pandemic recovery.

Navigating the Workforce Conundrum

In the midst of this festive fervor, there’s a call for action. As of September, the U.S. had 9.6 million job openings but only 6.4 million individuals to fill them. Hotel wages, on average, stood at a cheerful $23.36 per hour, showing a 24.6 percent increase since the pandemic—a growth rate 30 percent faster than the general economy’s pace of 18.8 percent. AHLA’s President and CEO, Chip Rogers, is waving the hospitality flag, urging Congress to join the celebration by addressing workforce challenges through initiatives like establishing an H-2B returning worker exemption, passing the Asylum Seeker Work Authorization Act, and bringing the H-2 Improvements to Relieve Employers (HIRE) Act into the fold.

In a Nutshell

As the hotel industry gears up for the grand finale of 2023, the sparkle in business and leisure travel trends promises a jolly good time. Yet, the industry is wrestling with staffing hurdles. Overcoming these challenges is the key to unwrapping the full potential of an industry that plays a starring role in our nation’s economic tale.

As hotels aim to restore the warmth of pre-pandemic hospitality, rallying together to conquer workforce challenges will ensure a truly festive season for all; that is, if you have the right tools to combat any staffing shortages quickly while staying on budget.

Cheers to the holidays and the promising opportunities that lie ahead!

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