The Hilton hotel empire is eager to welcome back business gatherings and weddings at its ballrooms, meeting spaces, and guestrooms worldwide. Its executives forecast on Tuesday that it expects its group bookings to speed up this year and return to pre-pandemic levels within about 12 months.
The Virginia-based hotel operator has historically seen about 20% of its bookings tied to group travel. In the third quarter, group bookings had rebounded to 16% of its mix. That was a sharp improvement from groups accounting for only 10% of the mix during the worst of the pandemic.
Group revenue booked in the first quarter for all future periods was down just 4% relative to 2019 levels.
Revenue from large corporations was just 12% below the 2019 level in March, while Hilton said it noted continued strength in accounts for small and medium enterprises.
In the quarter ended March 31, Hilton generated $211 million in net income, a measure of profit, on $1.72 billion in revenue. The company swung to profit — having suffered a loss of $108 million in the same period a year ago. Revenues were up 96%, year-over-year.
Comparable revenue per available room (RevPar) rose 80.5% for the quarter versus the same period of 2021 due to increases in both occupancy and average daily rates. RevPar was down 17% compared with 2019 or pre-pandemic levels but came in better than J.P. Morgan ’s estimate that it would be 25% below 2019 levels.
For the first quarter, Hilton's systemwide occupancy came in at 58.1%, while systemwide ADR for the quarter rose 35.2%, to $139.17.
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