Travel rebound is fantastic news for ailing hospitality business

On July 1, a news item that may not have appeared on your radar screen (or shown up in your Google news feed) was the most positive sign for the hospitality business we’ve seen in many months.

On that day, the Transportation Security Administration screened 2,147,090 passengers at U.S. airports. That’s a significant number because, for the first time, it exceeded the number of passengers screened on the same day in 2019 – long before most of us had ever heard of COVID-19.

According to TSA statistics, that feat has been accomplished only once since then – on July 2 – but throughout the month of July, the number of screened passengers has been only slightly behind the same day in 2019. (On July 18, for example, 2,227,704 were screened, compared with 2,727,355 on July 18, 2019.)

This trend is fantastic news for hotels, restaurants and entertainment venues because it shows that travel is rebounding sharply. And those who are involved in the hospitality furniture business should benefit, as well, since many of these properties need freshening up.

Luis Ruesga, CEO of Zuo, says the company’s hospitality business has rebounded sharply in recent months along with the uptick in travel, with products such as bar stools and dining tables leading the way.

“But we still have a long way to go. There’s still a lot of growth potential because business travel is nowhere near the level it was before the pandemic,” Ruesga said.

Statistics provided by McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas – arguably the world’s most popular business travel destination – reinforce what Ruesga is saying. While the total number of passengers arriving and departing the airport has risen steadily each month in 2021 from 1.15 million in January to 3.52 million in May, the totals are well below the 2019 numbers.

In May 2019, for example, 4.58 million passengers went through McCarran, and the highest monthly total that year was 4.61 million in October.

The difference is almost certainly due to the lack of conventions and trade shows in Vegas, and Ruesga and many other furniture executives believe it will be 2022 before that business returns to normal.

However, two important furniture industry trade shows will be taking place in Vegas in August. The annual Hospitality and Design Expo, which normally occurs in May, is scheduled for Aug. 25-26 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, while the summer Las Vegas Market will happen Aug. 22-26 at the World Market Center.  

Zuo is an exhibitor at both events, and the World Market Center is operating a shuttle between the two venues.