Taking the pulse of the industry is never an easy thing to do, particularly during these challenging times. But it’s one of the more valuable aspects of Hotel Community Forum, which gives members and readers an opportunity to have a voice and weigh in on critical issues facing the industry.
Our weekly poll questions continue to generate a strong level of response among our audience. As such, I’d like to share some of the results from the last several weeks to help give you a sense of how hotel industry insiders see things right now.
Labor Day weekend is always an important date for the lodging industry, marking not only the unofficial end of summer but more importantly a huge opportunity for drive-to destinations as many Americans take to the roads in large numbers.
This year, Labor Day took on added significance in the wake of the pandemic as there was widespread speculation that pent-up demand from consumers not traveling much, if at all, in the previous months might result in a busier weekend. When asked if the pent-up demand would result in a bigger surge than normal on Labor Day weekend the results were something of a mixed bag with some 56 percent voting yes.
Fortunately for the industry, the weekend did net some increases in new bookings. According to Duetto’s Pulse Report, which tracked key hotel business metrics from August 24-September 6, there were significant increases in performance for the hotel markets of North America, boosted in large part by the Labor Day weekend. Some of the increases include Colorado, 432%; Tennessee (excluding Nashville), 439%; Louisiana, 590%; Nevada, 272%; California, 283%; and Florida, 189%.
We also had a number of polls related to events, both economic and political, taking place in our nation’s capital, both of which figure to greatly impact the lodging industry.
For example, when it comes to a proposal for a second stimulus package from Congress, many have suggested the $3.4 trillion relief package, or HEROES Act, is simply too big expressing concerns for the long-term financial impact of such a measure. However, some 64 percent of you disagreed saying it was not.
Another political issue which everyone, both inside the lodging industry and throughout the nation, is watching is the presidential election. A number of economists have suggested that the uncertainly of the election has contributed to the economic struggles and most of you agreed. When asked if there would be an uptick in the economy following the election some 66 percent said yes. As an important side note, many economists have recently suggested the results of the election may not be known for a couple of months after the actual vote, particularly in light of all the mail in ballots.
Meanwhile, hotel owners have been hugely impacted by the pandemic and the need to control operating costs is more urgent than ever before. One of the changes that has come about as a result of the pandemic and drop in demand is a concerted effort from brands to be more flexible when it comes to costly standards. The elimination of breakfast buffets, for example, has been at the top of the list. Of course, there is always a balancing act for hotels still trying to maintain guest satisfaction. Perhaps, somewhat surprisingly when asked if brands should reduce amenities to lower operating costs some 66 percent said no.
For hoteliers in San Francisco, amenities are not the only issue. In fact, hotel owners recently filed a lawsuit against the city regarding its Health Buildings Ordinance. The ordinance requires hotels to clean and disinfect various areas of the hotel multiple times daily. In addition, each and every guestroom and bathroom must be cleaned every day unless a guest doesn’t want to. Finally, hotels are required to employ gloved doormen at each exterior door that doesn’t open automatically. You unanimously agreed that this ordinance was unfair to hotel owners.
Finally, massive layoffs from companies of all sizes have continued for the lodging industry since the onset of the pandemic. Unfortunately, our readers feel it will get worse before it gets better. Some 51 percent said they believe the pace of layoffs will increase for the remainder of the year, while some 20 percent maintain it will stay the same.