5 things to know: 3 September 2020
5 things to know: 3 September 2020
03 SEPTEMBER 2020 9:31 AM

From the desks of the Hotel News Now editorial staff:

  • Hurricane Laura victims struggle to find shelter in Houston
  • Near-term outlook for DC’s largest hotels
  • Staff training required to handle mask-mandate disputes
  • Reopening a hotel post-COVID-19 restriction
  • US, Canada weekly hotel performance

Hurricane Laura victims struggle to find shelter in Houston: Dozens of Lake Charles, Louisiana, residents seeking shelter in Houston following Hurricane Laura are now stranded, unable to find hotel accommodations, KHOU11 reports.

One evacuee, who is seeking shelter with about 25 family members, said there aren’t any hotels in Houston that are offering vouchers or shelter to victims, and there is no Red Cross shelter.

A spokesperson for the Texas Division of Emergency Management told the news outlet that evacuees will not find shelter or hotels in Houston. Instead, the agency is advising to avoid Gulf Coast cities and seek help in cities where vouchers are available, such as San Antonio, Austin and Dallas.

Near-term outlook for D.C.’s largest hotels: Some of the biggest hotels in Washington, D.C., that closed at the onset of the pandemic are now reopening, but others like the Marriott Wardman Park may never reopen, WTOP reports. Even the future for hotels that were able to reopen is still unclear.

The D.C. market “is certainly struggling right now,” Chip Rogers, president and CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, told WTOP. “I talked to one of the large brand hotel CEOs who was staying in an iconic hotel in Washington, D.C., and he told me that this time last year they were running at 90% occupancy and as of today they are running at less than 40% occupancy. That is not a good sign.”

Hotels that reopened in late August include The Conrad Hotel, Hay-Adams and Mandarin Oriental.

Staff training required to handle mask-mandate disputes: Most hotel guests are willing to comply with mask mandates on property, but in the instances when they aren’t, sources said staff must be trained to communicate with them in a variety of ways, reports Hotel News Now’s Dana Miller.

Bob Schrader, GM of the Marriott Seattle Airport hotel, operated by Spire Hospitality, said the guest perception so far has been a mixed bag.

“There are still some people who find it objectional from a standpoint of the feel of the mask or just … that they feel it’s within their right not to wear one,” he said. “But we really haven’t had too much … difficulty at all in terms of people complying.”

One instance his hotel has had to deal with was a guest who got on the shuttle to the airport and took his mask off in the vicinity of other guests. Others on the shuttle complained.

“The driver had to pull over and say, ‘if you’re not going to put your mask on, I’m just going to have to go back to the hotel,’” he said. “He complied at that point.”

Reopening a hotel post-COVID-19 restriction: Reopening a hotel during a pandemic can come with several uncertainties, but Celtic Manor Resort VP of Operations Matthew Lewis shared with Forbes how his South East Wales, U.K., hotel was able to open on 14 July right after restrictions lifted.

Lewis said his team invested in new technology and adjusted facilities to promote social distancing as well as other safety measures.

“We have invested in thermal imaging cameras at every access point to monitor the temperature of all visitors. Guests showing a persistent high temperature will be refused entry to the facilities. These are positioned unobtrusively so as not to impact on the guest arrival unless, of course, a high temperature is detected,” he said.

U.S., Canada weekly hotel performance: The U.S. hotel industry reported occupancy decreased for the second consecutive week during the week of 23-29 August, according to data from STR, parent company of Hotel News Now. Occupancy decreased 27.7% to 48.2%, ADR fell 23.2% to $98.39 and RevPAR dropped 44.5% to $47.38.

“The industry sold 237,000 fewer room nights than the previous week, which represented a demand decrease of 1.3%,” the news release states Week-over-week demand improvements were a constant since mid-April, but as summer ends and leisure travel fades, hotel performance gains have flattened.”

During the same week, Canadian hotels reported lower performance compared to prior weeks.

Occupancy fell 45.2% to 42.1%, ADR declined 25.9% to 128.83 Canadian dollars ($98.37) and RevPAR dropped 59.4% to CA$54.26 ($41.43).

Compiled by Dana Miller.

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