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Sports and Entertainment Lead Return of Group Travel

Data from IHG also shows improved bookings in several other sectors, such as medical, pharma, automotive and professional services

According to data from InterContinental Hotels Group, gains in group travel business are being led by the entertainment and sports sectors.

The group says its hotels are seeing booking for film production projects in cities such as Atlanta, Chicago, San Diego and Manchester, England, allowing producers to create bubbles for crews to sequester while filming.

“Film and television productions are looking for responsible ways to keep their projects on track and produce content for 2021 and beyond,” said Derek DeCross, SVP global sales for IHG Hotels & Resorts. “Bookings for Q3 alone have more than doubled year-over-year in this vertical. This boost in business allowed at least two IHG Hotels & Resorts properties to reopen sooner than anticipated.”

Sports has seen month-to-month improvement since May and, through August, accounting for more than a third of all booked group business with larger bookings slated for 2021 and beyond.

The strength has shown up in youth sports bookings, primarily baseball and hockey in the 17 and under category. IHG says that while college and university sports bookings are down this year, the company anticipates a return once tournaments and events resume.

In addition to sports and entertainment, IHG has also reported a notable gain in medical and pharma related bookings in August and the company also saw the biggest increase in bookings from the automotive industry since January.

Bookings in the professional services vertical, particularly legal, saw growth in Q3 and are beginning to rebound after bottoming out in Q2.

IHG credits much of its strength in group bookings to the group’s Clean Promise which brings an enhanced focus on hotel cleanliness and safety. The initiative, which was launched in response to the COVID-19 crisis, uses new, science-based protocols and service measures to expand its longstanding ‘Way of Clean’ program.

The program also forms the basis for IHG’s Meet with Confidence initiative, which the hotel group provides “appropriate and creative meeting and event solutions without compromising on the experience or the flexibility that meeting planners require.”