It was the best of times, it was the ‘almost worst’ of times. As we approach Labor Day, memories of family traditions fill my mind. It is the joy of the last days of summer vacations and the dread of the start of the school season. It is the tale of two cities. Does this sound familiar to you? With the current surge of Covid cases nationwide, I investigated several perspectives, and here is how I see the recovery emerging:
The Covid variant continues to risk the economies and mindsets, but positive signs of recovery are on the way even though the 2021 event volume is at 37% of 2019 levels.
Recovery Is On The Horizon, but The Climb is Still Steep:
Events have been a successful driver of demand for many destinations, especially attracting overnight visitors. Examining multi-day events with more than 300 attendees through PredictHQ, September event attendance is predicted at 77% of 2019 levels showcasing a positive momentum for the visitor economy across the country. The state fairs, festivals, and concerts are back. The U.S. Open Holiday Weekend Evening sessions are already sold out. September paves the way to an uphill climb; however, this year’s recovery is expected to hit only 37% of 2019 levels.
The Canceled Event Volume Decreases, but Consumers Have Angst:
Overall, 200 million Americans received one dose of vaccination. It was a boost of confidence until the Covid variant hit. With the current surge of Covid cases exceeding 30 daily per 100,000 beginning August 10, 2021, safety rules have started to re-surface. The City and County of Honolulu just announced it will cancel all large gatherings on Oahu. Across the country, canceled event volume with more than 300 attendees represented 8% of all events in September, according to PredictHQ. However, it is lower than July 2021 at 11%. The cancelations are not increasing; it is the consumers’ angst that is on the rise. The Covid search terms across Google rose by three times since the Fourth of July. The uncertainty behind the virus continues to dictate the minds of travelers.
Unemployment is high, but Labor Shortage is a Reality Changing Both Minds (and Wallets)
The current leisure and hospitality unemployment rate is at 9%, which is higher than the average unemployment rate of 5.7%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics July 2021 Jobs Report. Yet, the labor shortage is a real challenge for many small businesses across the country. With the tightening of the labor market, employees have bargaining power. As a result, the leisure and hospitality wages grew by 9.6% over the previous year. The pandemic also allowed time to re-evaluate one’s purpose towards personal, professional, and family ties. It is a shift in priorities of work and life. As Gary Hamel, one of the world’s leading experts on business strategy, once said, “A noble purpose inspires sacrifice, stimulates innovation and encourages perseverance.”