Leading hotel group, Choice Hotels Asia Pac, says corporate travel has returned to a new normal with guests seeking value for money as work trips merge into leisure.
Both capital and regional cities are experiencing a major surge in corporate bookings as business travellers opt for longer stays and embrace COVID safe travel and a return to the workplace.
Choice Hotels CEO Trent Fraser says CBD properties within the Choice portfolio have seen strong growth in the first half of this year and Sydney has been the most popular destination leading the return to business stays.
“Occupancy levels in Sydney continued to climb steadily through May and June, and into July and we see this trend continuing in forward bookings out to the end of the year,” Mr Fraser says.
“Adelaide CBD is also enjoying a solid recovering, with occupancy up 21% on similar market competitors, and 67% on 2021 figures,” he added.
Understandably, corporate travel has changed and COVID is still a big consideration for business travellers. The hotel giant notes that one of the key trends they’re experiencing is people opting for longer stays rather than making multiple trips in a month.
“Corporate bookings are currently averaging 5 days in comparison to 4 days in 2019, which indicates that travel habits are changing.
“Workers are fitting more into their trips such as taking the time to network or attend events, involving more nights away for additional work or social engagements. They’re also tacking on leisure trips to their business trip, including a weekend with friends or family away with their weekly work commitments.
“This has translated into 20% growth on pre-pandemic length of stays,” says Mr Fraser.
However, recent announcements encouraging people to work from home due to a spike in COVID cases is a concern for CBD properties who are only just starting to recover from the last two years.
Tony Cakmar, General Manager at the Clarion Suites Gateway, says the rolling lockdowns and border closure periods made the trading conditions incredibly problematic and the return of a broad work from home direction would impact the confidence of travellers.
“It means less activity in the city generally, but also means corporates can’t travel interstate or intrastate,’ Mr Cakmar says.
“We have a lot of regional Victoria accounts and if they’re not coming into their city offices to work that will have a huge impact,” he added.
Mr Fraser says the Choice Hotels group has experienced rebound across their city hotels and resilience within their customer base, so another change of pace would dramatically impact what is a promising outlook.
“Right now, corporate forward bookings are strong. This travelling segment has adapted and knows how to travel and stay safe with COVID and work within these new conditions.
“Our early figures for the first half of 2022 show this segment eclipsing 2019 figures – it’s a strong market that is playing catchup and they will be hesitant to return to remote working,” says Mr Fraser.
For more information or to book your next corporate visit, visit https://www.choicehotels.com/en-au/deals/business-travel