On Monday, the NYU School of Professional Studies Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality kicked off a two-day webinar series examining the industry’s next steps as the world emerges from the pandemic.
The "CEOs Check-In" panel was moderated by Sara Eisen, anchor of CNBC’s “Closing Bell,” and included leaders from several of the biggest hotel companies. While all of the CEOs expressed optimism for the future, that optimism was tempered by slowing vaccine rates and lingering closed borders that are hindering travel. Europe, said Sébastien M. Bazin, chairman and CEO of Accor, is “just waiting to get our act together.” While the 27 European Union member countries are still dealing with the crisis in different ways, Bazin expressed hope that the European borders would be open by June 9. Half of Accor’s bookings are made less than four days in advance, he added. “And I cannot tell you how much it does vary from one week to the other.”
Optimism is directly tied to vaccination rates and government policies, said Keith Barr, CEO, IHG Hotels & Resorts. “When you look around the world—as Sébastien was saying—you see a market open up, and you see that surge in leisure demand and then you see a market closed down or you see air routes closed down or so forth.”
“We will all have the best leisure summer we have ever had in the history of the business,” said Christopher J. Nassetta, president and CEO of Hilton, although he acknowledged different segments would recover at different rates, with business travel taking longer. The industry as a whole will probably reach 2019 numbers again in 2023, he said.