It is clear that when the peaks of covid outbreaks subside, travel will not go back to exactly the way it was before. There will be winners and losers when cities and borders reopen.
Tyler Morse of MCR Hotels and Steve Hafner, the CEO of Kayak with three hotels now in the fold, looked into two different crystal balls about the future of lodging. Morse argued that the mix of business versus leisure travel will return to pre-pandemic levels, while Hafner said the changes will be more lasting.
Morse, whose MCR hotels are now the third-largest operator in the U.S., said the split is currently 90 percent leisure travel and 10 percent corporate travel in the hotel industry, but he expects it to return to the traditional levels, namely 70 percent corporate and 30 percent leisure travel.
“The hotel industry will go back to the mean as it always has,” Morse said.
Hafner responded that the mix may go back to being 70 percent corporate and 30 percent leisure at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel, which MCR Hotels recently acquired, but many people in the future will book alternative accommodations and avoid Marriott International properties. . Sheraton is a brand of Marriott.
The changes, which include shorter booking windows and longer stays, will be more lasting, Hafner said. He argued that traditional corporate travel will not repeat its former form, although spending levels may return.
Kayak Co-Founder and CEO Steve Hafner and MCR Hotels Chairman and CEO Tyler Morse spoke at Skift’s Future of Lodging Forum on Wednesday about “What’s next for hotels as they get ahead of consumer demands” in a discussion moderated by Skift founder Rafat Ali.
Morse said he agreed with Hafner that travel patterns will be robust. Travelers are “jumping up and down on their masks right now” because they want to take trips and gain experiences, and will even borrow money to travel if necessary.
“It’s just a matter of how you slice the pie,” Morse said, arguing that Airbnb will take a cut and so will Marriott.
Hafner said on his Kayak travel metasearch platform that people know the types of accommodations they’re looking for, whether they’re looking for a short-term rental or a hotel, and they’re not necessarily open to both.
The two differ in some aspects of distribution. Noting that TWA Hotel and John F. Kennedy Airport don’t use online travel agencies like Hafner’s sister company, Booking.com, Morse said hotels need to take more risks and experiment with disabling online travel agencies. line.
Unlike hotel flags, Morse said, one attractive thing about online travel agencies is that you can easily reuse them if a hotel deactivates them and then needs to return them for distribution purposes.
Hafner countered that some of Morse’s properties do in fact use Kayak for distribution and that only a subset of hotels have the brand strength to boycott online travel agencies. Kayak’s CEO added that his company can help hoteliers reach travelers, such as Chinese tourists, who they might not otherwise be able to reach.
However, that was a reference to a bygone era, namely when there were Chinese international travelers.