Business travel has increased dramatically over the years. A study by Statista reports that there were 464 million domestic business trips taken in 2019. While there has been a significant decline since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, business travel is already seeing somewhat of a resurgence. In fact, according to a survey of 760 members conducted by The Global Business Travel Association, 89% of respondents plan to attend an in-person meeting or event with attendees outside their company by Q3 2021.
Pre-pandemic, hotels and airports were already adapting to accommodate convenient meeting opportunities within their spaces allowing travelers the option to stay in-house without the need to travel elsewhere for small or large meetings. Post-pandemic, the option to remain in one space, thereby limiting exposure, will be even more attractive to travelers who may have residual fears.
Airports have realized the potential to offer this convenient opportunity to business travelers with both small and large conference rooms being offered at many facilities. The Conference Center at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport offers several sized conference room options and rooms are equipped with modern AV equipment including installed projectors and screens as well as Polycom audio and video conferencing. Add in additional amenities including restaurants and shopping and there is no need for business travelers to ever leave. They can fly in, meet, dine and fly home all in the same day.
Hotels are also jumping on the bandwagon with smaller meeting spaces for more intimate meetings. Recognizing the benefits of keeping customers in-house, Sheraton has plans to redesign 12 hotel lobbies around the world as test pilots to roll out more. The Sheraton Phoenix Downtown is already in the works with a soon to be unveiled space that encompasses a community feel and encourages gathering and meeting. The new design incudes their studio spaces, which are essentially small conference rooms or huddle rooms. The spaces are enclosed in frosted glass and will allegedly offer interactive whiteboards and BYOD capabilities. The hotel also offers mobile food ordering to keep meeting participants engaged.
In person meetings will begin to become commonplace again in the near future with COVID-19 vaccination levels climbing daily. Finding new ways to engage business travelers with AV equipped spaces will offer an opportunity to hotel and airports to make them a destination rather than simply a passing through point.