The Hotel Business Is (Finally) Booming Again

Thanks, baby boomers

A man walking through the lobby of a hotel with a suitcase.
Adam Hester / Getty Images

Business is back and better than ever for hotels. Well, maybe not ever, but the industry is on the up and up.

A new study by the American Hotel & Lodging Association and Kalibri Labs expects this year's hotel revenue for leisure travel to exceed 2019 levels by 14 percent. Business travel, however, is lagging, but only slightly; the study anticipates hotel revenue for business travel to come within one percent of 2019 levels by the end of the year. (You can see full data sets for the top 50 markets in the U.S. here.)

There is a bit of a catch: this project is not adjusted for inflation, and we all know how that's going. "The hotel industry continues its march toward recovery, but we still have a way to go before we fully get there," AHLA president and CEO Chip Rogers said in a statement.

Still, this hotel boom has had a positive side effect: a burst of career opportunities for potential hospitality workers. And conditions for those workers are vastly improving over pre-pandemic situations. A September 2022 survey of AHLA member hotels states, "81 percent have increased wages, 64 percent are offering greater flexibility with hours, and 35 percent have expanded benefits."

"Thanks to higher wages, better benefits, and more flexibility and opportunities for advancement, there has never been a better time to work at a hotel," said Rogers.

But with the economy in turmoil and a recession on the line, you might expect some bad news for the hotel industry in 2023. But according to new data by travel insurance company Seven Corners, everything might turn out just fine.

The company reports that Baby Boomers are buying twice as much travel insurance as they did in 2021. Given that the generation holds more than 51 percent of the population's wealth, it's not surprising that they have disposable income for travel, despite inflation and a potential recession. Plus, as they're of retirement age, they have much more free time on their hands.

Generation Z is coming hot on the Boomers' heels, which has demonstrated 37 percent growth in purchasing travel insurance since last year. After years of lockdowns, perhaps this young generation is raring to see the world now that they're entering the workforce and accumulating wealth.

No matter who is spending the money, it's all good for the hard-hit hospitality industry. Let's hope the upward trend continues.