• Laura Memeger

How will COVID-19 impact the hospitality, tourism, arts and entertainment industry?

Updated: Jul 14


The psychological impact of Covid-19 on travel, the hospitality industry, cultural tourism and our future enjoyment of arts, entertainment and sporting venues is likely to be profound and probably greater and more long-lasting than the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. At what point will we willingly sit on a plane, in a stadium or at a theater surrounded by strangers? Below are some observations about how these sectors may fare as we emerge from the pandemic:

  • Until greater confidence can be assured about the safety of air, rail and marine travel – either due to the development of a vaccine or, in the shorter-run, therapeutics and heightened sanitation and distancing protocols – expect the majority of travel to remain limited and occur between drivable locations. The travel industry anticipates a recovery in the shorter- distance leisure travel market to occur first, followed more slowly by any appreciable recovery in business and convention bookings.

  • Look for larger hotel chains -- with brand identity, an array of product types, access to working capital and PPP funds, and the ability to provide and enforce stringent hygiene standards -- to survive and, where possible, to acquire struggling independents that are unable to weather the current closures. Currently overbuilt hotel markets will likely adjust downward in size to reflect more conservative mid-term occupancy levels.

  • As with the office market, expect adjustments in design and space utilization in hotels, including self check-in kiosks, thermography sensors, limits to elevator occupancy, dedication of certain areas to high-risk groups, auto-cleaning bathrooms, upgraded air handling systems, and a replacement of some basic rooms with studios and suites providing kitchen and laundry services in order to reduce housekeeping and room service interactions.

  • Movie attendance has been in decline long before the pandemic, which has only accelerated the movement to in-home viewing. Studios are experimenting with more direct-to-video releases – employing the same strategy as premium sports offerings – and streaming services are providing platforms, such as Netflix Party, that allow friends to enjoy movies together as a shared experience regardless of location. Premium theaters that have more spacious seating layouts, meal/drink revenues to subsidize ticket sales, and established higher price points are likely to emerge as the strongest component of this market.

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