For many of us, September will forever be associated with students returning to school — even during a pandemic when learning has now moved to a hybrid online model. For the second-consecutive year, the pandemic has uprooted our normal rhythm of life. Not surprisingly, there is no return to normalcy after a disjointed summer that has seen domestic travel numbers increase while incoming and outbound foreign travel continues to be anemic. While the opening of the Canada-U.S. border on August 9 has boded well for many hoteliers, a surging fourth wave is now creating additional challenges, complexities and apprehension. Adding to the disruptions is the recent election announcement by the Federal Liberal government that will see Canadians return to the polling stations for the second time in only two years, leading many of us to question why the government feels the need to spend millions of dollars on an unnecessary election during a global pandemic.

As the world now grapples with a fourth wave, we are left to wonder just how long can hoteliers continue to keep their doors open and, perhaps, more importantly, just how long can we deal with the emotional ramifications of this calamity.

As one of the hardest-hit sectors in the economy, hoteliers have struggled to stay afloat for the past two years. Many may not survive while it will take others several years to return to pre-pandemic levels. This month’s Hospitality Market Report, produced by CBRE, shows just how impactful COVID-19 has been on the hotel industry.

But interestingly, while many industry pundits claim it will take three to five years to return to pre-pandemic levels, others posit we will not return to the status quo for many years — if ever — because too much has fundamentally and irrevocably changed. Take, for example, the recent announcements by two global consultancies at the WIN Global Travel Network and Hickory Global Partners virtual event, as reported by, that they’ve decided to dramatically reduce their business travel in the post-pandemic era. While both these companies have typically spent anywhere from $300 to $600 million on annual business travel, they’ve now realized they can reduce their budgets significantly and/or totally and opt for virtual meetings instead.

While the desire and need for travel will always be a driving force in our lives, especially after the privilege has been taken away from us over the past two years — and clearly in some destinations, tourism numbers are bouncing back — the reality is that business travel will continue to undergo seismic changes in the coming years, which means hotels will be forced to continually re-invent themselves in new and creative ways or risk being left in the dust.


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