Tony Capuano, CEO of Marriott International, told CNBC on Monday that the distinction between business and leisure travel is fading. This is a welcome development for the hotel operator recovering from the coronavirus pandemic.
People on vacation and other personal trips have resulted in the hospitality industry recovering from the damage caused by Covid, which occurred more than a year ago. The return of corporate travel is critical to a full comeback, however, and questions have been raised about how long it will take for this to return to pre-pandemic levels – if at all.
“We believe you will see a steady return of business,” Capuano said in an interview on Squawk on the Street, noting that mainland China business travel demand in March was 5% higher than in March 2019 China’s recovery schedule is widely viewed as a few months ahead of the US
However, according to Capuano, Marriott could benefit from a broader change in how they view business travel in the aftermath of the pandemic if many employees are expected to have greater flexibility in entering the office due to the remote working required by Covid.
As more people return to the office, business travel will increase, Capuano said. “The thing that will be interesting to see, I think it will be less clear what the purpose of the trip is,” he said.
“We are increasingly seeing people who say, ‘I can combine travel purposes. I can combine leisure with business travel.’ And we think this is really good news for our hotels across the country, “said Capuano, who has been running Marriott since February. He took over for the late Arne Sorenson.
Capuano’s comments came Monday shortly after the Maryland-based company released its first quarter financial results. Marriott’s adjusted earnings per share of 10 cents beat the consensus estimate of 4 cents, according to FactSet, while quarterly revenue of $ 2.32 billion was below forecast of $ 2.38 billion.
Marriott shares fell more than 3% on Monday, trading at $ 142 apiece. The stock is up about 7% since the start of the year.