After the apocalypse
Hotels adjusting to COVID-19 world, looking to agents for help
2020 marks the year that I officially cross the threshold of having worked for 30 years in the hotel business.I’ve lived through the tail end of the Black October recession and stock crash, 9/11, SARS and the 2008 financial meltdown, but the effect of Covid-19 has had a more massive impact on hotels than all of the crises mentioned above rolled up together as one.
It has been nothing short of a bloodbath.
Marriott International furloughed 172,000 employees last month in one fell swoop, and the bloodbath has not stopped since right across the hotel industry right across the world.
For those fortunate enough not to have been furloughed in the travel industry, there is a very good chance that hotel contacts in your rolodex are not current as brands continue to have to reduce costs and lay off employees.
The last person leaving the hotel business will literally have to turn off the lights.
Canada has enjoyed record breaking years from 2017 right up until 2019 and hotel key performance indicators show nothing less than the apocalypse since March 2020.
Hotels across the country – and across the globe – have temporarily shut their doors and the question remains for some, will they open again?
Hotels that have remained open have been reporting single digit occupancy in cities across Canada, with the national occupancy for the week ending April 4th down 79% year over year from 2019 to a dire 12.8%. (Source: STR)
All of us in the industry are waiting for the eventual bounce back, but the question remains how long will this take to start normalizing and will we be able to survive until this occurs.
In the meantime, as an industry, we are having to rapidly adjust our operations to ensure the health and safety of both our front line employees and our remaining guests.
For obvious health and safety reasons we are having to close traditional amenities like pools and gyms and our restaurants can only serve take out. Breakfast buffets have been replaced with boxed breakfasts to ensure hygiene and social distancing.
As with other front line businesses, we are installing plexiglass guards at our front desk for the protection of everyone, furnishing our employees with personal protective equipment and ensuring social distancing in public areas with directional signage on the flooring and asking guests who are able to use the stairs to do so as we encourage use of the elevator for one person at a time.
As is the case with the airline industry, hotels are scrambling to implement a new cleaning regimen to address the new needs of employees and our guests, and maintaining standards of hygiene that will reduce the danger of the virus.
When our travel economy begins to normalize and businesses start sending personnel on the road again, and families want to get away for a trip after being isolated for so many months, the hotel business – which has always been an ally of the travel agency community – will be counting on the support from our agents who have been our partners for decades.
This symbiotic relationship will be a vital revenue stream to our partners who have suffered financially through this crisis, as every constituent in the industry has, and we all look to move onward together to better times.