I work in a valuable hotel in the part of the world that serves the Ark, the Creation Museum, the Cincinnati Reds, and other event spaces in the area. The region has developed, hotels have grown like mushrooms and many locals have seen the hotel industry as a great place of professional mobility.
Then the coronavirus came along.
Today, everything has changed. For some hotels, activities have fallen to 10-20% (at best) of what they were and things seem extremely bleak. Despite the slowdown, the situation has also been incredibly chaotic. Everything is scary and unpredictable day by day. Here are 10 realities of life in the hospitality industry during the coronavirus epidemic.
10. Hotels Are Essential, But Layoffs And Hour Cuts Are Still Happening
In the crazy days of coronavirus, hotels were considered essential. But this does not guarantee smooth operation for hotel companies or their employees. Although many essential services have experienced a spike in demand, hotels have not participated in this surge as tourism is stalled all over the world.
Many hotels do not want to cope with the rise in unemployment insurance. They first try to reduce their employees’ hours before laying off.
However, large hotels often do so badly – due to an apocalyptic loss of occupancy – that they have no choice but to lay off their employees. Some establishments near Disney World lay off left and right because the closure of the park has left a few thousand hotel rooms at only 1% occupancy. At this rate, they can hardly afford to keep the lights on, let alone continue to pay all their employees.
As for Las Vegas, many resort hotels have closed because much of their money comes from the casino business. To succeed, people need to come together in greater numbers. More than anything, these are essentially game rooms with an adjoining hotel. Without PlayStations, there is no point in staying open.
9. Some Hotels Are Offering Special Home Office Rates For Daytime Stays
At least one hotel, the Red Roof Inn, offers a weekday special from 8 am to 6 pm to use your hotel room as a home office. This offer is actually quite cheap since it amounts to just under $30 a day for your temporary office space. They even allow another person and a pet.
This is half the price of most nights in this type of hotel, but they probably don’t offer all the amenities. They probably do not expect the client to use the bed or shower. No breakfast either.
However, it is still quite inexpensive. Those looking for a home office may want to find out about this hotel or others that may soon offer similar offers. Getting away from it all and having your own workspace for $30 a day is pretty cheap, especially if the kids are at home because of your 40s and you can’t concentrate long enough to finish your job.
8. Phones Have Been Ringing Off The Hook With Cancellation Calls
When the number of COVID-19 cases increased sharply, gatherings began to be banned and hotels repeatedly received the worst calls: cancellations. During the first weeks of the COVID-19 epidemic, my hotel’s phones were ringing loudly. This has also been the case in many other institutions.
Everyone received cancellation calls for stays ranging from only a few days to the end of the summer. The occupancy rate dropped like snow in the sun. Managers and owners of many hotels are now terrified that, at best, they will break even for the year. But that is the case and it is very unlikely that this will happen.
Many hotel employees are slightly traumatized at this stage. Some have reached a weary point of resignation, knowing that most of the remaining calls will still be cancellations. We all hope that our hotels will not have to close permanently and that we will not have to look for new jobs.
There is also the concern that his working hours will be reduced. Although the U.S. Congress has adopted a stimulus package to help pay unemployment benefits during the coronavirus pandemic, it can still be difficult to request and receive the money in a timely manner.
What are you doing while you’re waiting? Very few companies hire, mostly part-time workers.
7. Breakfast Services Are Suspended Or Greatly Limited At Most Hotels
As the COVID-19 epidemic peaked, one of the first things to change was the way food was served. In order to comply with home support or on-site accommodation, restaurants have closed their indoor dining rooms. Delivery, curbside collection or driving service are therefore required, as gatherings of more than a few people are now prohibited.
Many hotels find themselves in a strange grey area. They do not know whether they are complying with the law or not. Most states have said nothing specific about hotel breakfasts in one way or another, although some states do not know whether a breakfast buffet is acceptable.
As a result, some hotel managers wondered if continental breakfasts were still acceptable as long as only a few guests met at a time. In the meantime, some establishments have completely closed these dining options, even if they do not serve hot dishes. The fact that the authorities did not give much guidance or clarification on the issue did not help.
Out of caution, most hotels have suspended breakfast or offer takeaway bags. If you need to go to a hotel for business or something else, you should first call it to find out if it still offers breakfast options. This way, you’ll know if you need to plan for the next morning.
6. People Are Trying To Get Rock-Bottom Prices When Hotels Are Already Struggling
Many people know that travel has been suspended in most places, that people do not congregate, that many holiday destinations are closed and that most hotels are doing incredibly badly right now. In fact, they may continue to perform poorly for the rest of the year.
However, like everything else, a hotel is not a charity and customers do not consider their business a charity either. With all the people running out of money right now, those who need a hotel are looking for very low prices. This makes the sale of rooms super competitive.
Currently, some hotels offer rates so low that they risk losing money on their rooms because they do not receive enough revenue to cover all overheads. Some hotel owners believe that having a fuller home will be more beneficial to their creditors.
In the end, however, any hotel that currently sells its rooms barely reaches break-even and can even operate at a low loss.
5. When Prices Go Down, Many Criminals Come To Stay
As we mentioned, hotel prices have collapsed. As a result, drug traffickers, prostitutes, and other neophytes see these very low prices as an excellent opportunity to use hotels as a base of operations for their business. Many drug addicts who need a place to collapse during a period of sharp rise are also tempted by low prices.
As if that weren’t enough, many cities today pay to house homeless people in hotels during the pandemic. It would be great if they stayed indoors, which is all the interest. However, many of these people do not go into quarantine. Instead, they get into trouble.
The problem goes beyond housing for the homeless. They still need money to feed themselves, and some are trying to get drugs. Others have only a small scam. They want to save money so they don’t stay homeless forever.
While it’s great to give homeless people a quarantine place, they just don’t have the resources to stay in hotel rooms for weeks. They certainly don’t have the distractions that most of us have, except for the TVs in their rooms.
To make matters worse, many homeless people suffer from mental illness. Simply giving them housing without providing them with the help they need can lead to more serious problems.
4. Some Hotel Workers Have Made Themselves Paranoid Wrecks Over The Virus
Like all those on the front line, some hotel workers have become paranoid about catching the virus. Before he resigned, one of my colleagues would put on a new pair of gloves after each client and wear a mask while the CDC was still saying it wasn’t necessary (although we know better now). She also frightened clients, who feared she would wear a mask because she had coronavirus.
While you want to be careful not to catch the virus, it is also important to base your actions on common sense and not just on paranoia. Wearing gloves can help, but you should also wash your hands after taking them off. You cannot touch a potentially infected object and then touch your face, otherwise, the gloves are useless.
They can easily give you a false sense of security. In addition, your paranoia can stress you out and weaken your immune system. Although hotel employees constantly clean, wash their hands like crazy and take a lot of precautions, there is a time when your sanitation methods become a continuous panic cleanse that only drys your skin without any additional health benefits.
3. Business Is Almost Impossible To Predict Even Day To Day
As stated in the introduction, I work in a luxury hotel. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, I could work on the morning shift and predict how many customers we would have at the end of the day, with five people. This is true even for hotels that welcome a lot of visitors passing by.
Even on days when we weren’t so well off or when it was an off-peak time of year, the business was generally predictable on a day-to-day basis. Once you know how your business is going, you know how things are going to go.
However, this pandemic has changed everything. Due to cancellations, the criminal element, people traveling at the last minute to return to their place of origin, homelessness and many other factors, hotel activity has become impossible to predict on a day-to-day or even hourly basis.
The valuable hotel where I work has about 115 rooms. At the moment we are filling about 20 to 40 rooms per night. It is almost impossible to predict the occupancy rate or the days that will be better or worse.
2. Guests Are Much Chattier Because Everyone Wants To Talk About The Pandemic
You’ll have some chatty guests in a hotel, but most people just want to do their business and get going. But the pandemic has changed all that. Customers and employees regularly complain about the virus.
In fact, regular customers who have never been chatty now talk much more. This virus has scared many of us. By discussing what is happening, we have this human bond that can comfort some people and make them feel better.
Depending on the hotel employee, this can be cathartic or stressful. Some people like to have the opportunity to talk about the pandemic. Others are already hearing enough about the news and work. These employees simply want to be able to forget about the virus for a few minutes.
Unfortunately, when you work in customer service, it is your duty to talk to people and show them sympathy, even if you just want to ask them to stop talking about the pandemic. You are already quite stressed by this situation.
1. The Future Is Uncertain—No One Knows If Or When Things Will Be Normal Again
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, hotel owners and employees are nervous about the future of hotels. Many homeowners are convinced that this fiscal year is going to be a total failure. Reaching the break-even point is the new goal (if they can even manage it).
What’s more, no one knows how bad this will be for the hospitality industry in the long run. Yes, some hotels and motels will still exist because people need a place to stay. But others are aimed at guests who visit seaside resorts and other attractions.
After the end of the pandemic, we could see a long-term change in the way people interact at events, in large crowds, and with other groups. The internet is such a powerful tool that we could see more virtual entertainment resulting from it. It is possible that only small groups are allowed to meet, even in resort towns.
Even if the law allows it, things may never return to “normal” if general attitudes change. This could be really ruinous for the resort hotel industry, as about 95-99% of its activities would disappear permanently.
As in any pandemic situation, we can only do our best while we wait to see what happens. Maybe the world won’t change that much in the long run. But it is impossible to predict at this stage, and the uncertainty can be frightening.
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