Early Look: Business Travel in D.C. on the Rise

Early Look: Business Travel in D.C. on the Rise

Tourism wasn’t the only type of travel hit hard by the pandemic. As more and more meetings and conferences went virtual, fewer people found themselves traveling for work. But what impact did this have on the hospitality industry? 

Using a combination of mobile GPS data and proprietary methodologies, Buxton tracked corporate travel trends across Washington D.C. neighborhoods from the beginning of 2019 until the end of August 2021. This type of travel, which dropped to 22% of all travel in the peak of the pandemic in the D.C. area, has now climbed back up to 27%. 

Here’s a closer look. 

The Return of Business Travel 

In the chart below, we can see that business travel is trending up year-over-year compared to 2020, which is good news for hotels, motels, and resorts that depend on regular conferences, conventions, and other events. 

While levels haven’t returned to what they were pre-pandemic, this rebound is an early indicator of what’s to come. Opportunities for site selection, investment, and revenue in D.C. can be found by understanding origination and destination trends, as well as business drivers in the marketplace. 

Neighborhood Hot Spots 

Most hotel advisory firms report summarized business and leisure travel trends at the market level, which is too large of a geography to reference and utilize for site selection and investment decisions. By getting more granular with the data, we can start to understand where the true business and leisure travel zones are inside a market. This makes the insights more actionable. 

For example, on the heatmap below, we tracked destination trends at the neighborhood-level in Washington D.C. The areas with warmer colors (reds and pinks) saw the highest lesiure visits from people staying in D.C. hotels or motels, and the areas with the cooler colors (blues and greens) saw lower leisure visits from people staying in D.C. hotels or motels. 

Here’s a more detailed look. 

Once you understand which areas are visitor hot spots for different types of travel, it’s possible to study the surrounding area and determine the demand drivers. What restaurants, shops, bars, and other amenities are nearby? Knowing this will help pinpoint locations that are more likely to be successful for future sites.  

The Bottom Line 

Understanding neighborhood-level travel trends has big implications for hotels, motels, and resorts that are either evaluating their existing portfolios or expanding to new markets. This granularity reveals true hot spots, which allows brands to more easily understand demand drivers, visitor origin cities and activity, potential for growth, and more as both business and leisure travel rebounds toward pre-pandemic levels. 

Interested in learning more about how Buxton can help you monitor business vs. leisure hotel, motel, or resort visits in near real time? Check out our hospitality page.