Delta Variant Scuttles Some Events And Meetings, Slowing Business Travel’s Return

Cecilia Nysing

The delta variant has scuttled a handful of major events, raising concerns about blunting the resumption of business travel.

The confusion and caution created by the surge in the delta variant has carried over to the events and travel business, as a number of key events have been canceled or rescheduled in wake of the pandemic’s newest turn. Business travel bookings are rising but in “fits and starts,” according to a New York Times piece, which said there’s a newly cautious attitude despite many big events maintaining their spot on fall calendars. 

These cancellations include the New York Auto Show, which had been set to start Aug. 20. The 3686 Festival, a tech event in Nashville, and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival have announced plans to push back events to 2022. Companies have been forced to push back reopening plans, which often included large team gatherings in central offices. 

Business travel is a key demand driver for the hotel industry as well as a source of foot traffic and business in central business districts. Any signs of slowing or reversing the gains made over the summer could have significant impacts on businesses that depend on corporate spending accounts, though analysts predict business will bounce back in the late fall. 

The U.S. Travel Association now forecasts that business travel would “only achieve 50 percent of 2019 levels in the fourth quarter of 2021,” per the Times report. 

Convention centers, including the Javits Center in New York City, have seen some big bookings this year, though analysts expect less robust attendance until at least 2022, as well as operational problems caused by labor issues. 

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