DC-area hotels projected to lose $2.3B in business travel revenue in 2021

The D.C.-based American Hotel & Lodging Association estimates hotels in the D.C. metro area will lose $2.36 million in business travel revenue for all of 2021, down 86.5% from 2019 levels.

The interior of a room in D.C.’s first Curio Collection-branded hotel in Logan Circle. (Courtesy Curio Collection by Hilton)

The D.C.-based American Hotel & Lodging Association estimates hotels in the region will lose $2.36 billion in business travel revenue for all of 2021, down 86.5% from 2019 levels, and an even bigger loss of business travel revenue seen in 2020.

Hotels in the District alone will likely lose more than $1.2 billion in revenue from lost business travel bookings this year, the association said. Hotels in Virginia and Maryland are projected to lose $1.5 billion and $891 million, respectively.

It will likely be years before that business travel comes back. The association currently estimates business travel revenue for hotels won’t return to pre-pandemic levels until 2024.

Business travel bookings are the largest source of revenue for hotels.

The lack of business travel and events at D.C. hotels continues to have significant repercussions on employment.

In the District alone, the number of hotel jobs is 7,000 below pre-pandemic levels. Maryland hotels also currently employ 7,000 fewer people, compared to pre-pandemic employment levels. In Virginia, the deficit is 12,500 jobs.

The association is lobbying in favor of the Save Hotel Jobs Act, legislation introduced by Florida Democrat Rep. Charlie Crist. The bill’s Democratic co-sponsors include D.C. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, as well as Virginia Rep. Gerald Connolly, and Maryland Reps. Jamie Raskin and David Trone.

The act would provide grants to hotel operators for employee payroll and tax breaks to improve worker safety. The bill was introduced in the House in May, but has not moved to committee.

The association has previously estimated that the entire U.S. hotel industry remains down 500,000 jobs compared to pre-pandemic levels and now projects the industry will lose a total of more than $59 billion in business travel revenue this year, even more than the $49 billion lost in business travel revenue last year.

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