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KCADC Real-Time Update Recap | Travel

by Lexi Ryan | May 21, 2020

Last week, KCADC hosted its second “Real-Time Update,” with a focus on travel in a post-pandemic world. More than 100 participants joined in to hear from travel experts who shared current thinking on short and long-term expectations for corporate, convention and leisure travel, and what to expect as social distancing restrictions begin to loosen.

Panelists included: 

To no surprise, COVID-19 has heavily impacted the travel industry. To help customers feel safe, travel companies are taking every precaution. Acendas Travel has pivoted business from booking travel to answering questions and concerns. Southwest Airlines is implementing enhanced cleaning, physical-distancing measures and equipping employees through the Southwest Promise. Aircrafts are being capped at 2/3 capacity.

“Year over year comparison from last year to yesterday, numbers were down 93 percent,” Van Eaton said. “Numbers are up 25 percent since last week. We are focused on creating an environment that customers will feel safe while traveling.”

Kansas City has been specifically hit related to travel during the pandemic. Daily seats will be down by 14,791 in June, KCI will receive more than $43 million in emergency federal aid to maintain its operations. On the bright side, the Kansas City International Airport is still on track to finish its brand new $1.5 billion terminal in March 2023, as it was deemed an essential capital project. Around 1,000 workers have been onsite and stayed healthy to this point. For regular updates on the airport construction, visit buildkci.com

“We’re doing great from a construction aspect,” Long said. “We have already designed and are building the four walls. The facility itself is all open and offers the ability to have social distancing. We will look at what is acceptable in mid 2022 before we prepare final touches in March 2023.” 

Every panelist seemed to reach the same conclusion: leisure travel will pick up before business travel returns. 

“We are really focusing our energy on leisure travel and staycations,” Fulvi said.  “We took a plan to the mayor letting him know how the hospitality industry in KC is planning to host travelers and attendees again. 

Downtown hotel occupancy is down 83 percent from last year and revenue is down 93 percent. Last year at this week, revenue was at $5.3M, while this week it’s at $266,000. For a list of downtown hotels or to book your staycation in Kansas City, click here

Even with the loss from COVID-19, KC is coming together stronger than ever to collaborate and prepare for the new normal as the region begins to loosen restrictions. Stay tuned for information on the next Real-Time Update in June.

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