April 02, 2020
By Megan Boley

As we forge ahead in uncertain times, this collection of articles and examples from the industry parse out the details of the current business environment and how hotels are coping – and helping others – during this time.

Be flexible and plan for the future

This article discusses how hoteliers need to have a forward-focus and plan for the uncertainties in both the short- and long-term. Planners will likely be cancelling or rescheduling their events for later in the year, so flexibility on all sides will help this to be executed smoothly.

Social distancing might also affect the way meetings are set up, so hoteliers that are able to accommodate this and have a plan for these instances will set themselves up for success. This can also mean smaller and more intimate gatherings, so make sure you’re prepared to downsize large spaces to accommodate these types of changes. Being flexible on cost, too, if the meeting is downsized can win points and build relationships with planners as they adapt their meetings to fit this new normal.

When things resume to “business as usual,” make sure you’re taking all measures necessary to reduce health risks and ensure a safe and clean facility – like with hand sanitizing stations and making sure frequently touched items are cleaned regularly. The article ends on a hopeful note: “The events industry can use this challenging time to prepare for a future of opportunity and to forge closer relationships with our customers.”

An example from Homeikan, Tokyo

Hotels in Japan are taking a more unconventional approach to adapt to these new circumstances. Homeikan in Tokyo, an operator of traditional inns, is taking advantage of the district’s rich history of being home to more than 100 traditional Ryokan inns where writers would write in seclusion. Guests can pay 8,000Y per night to feel like great authors of the past and work in seclusion.

In March, bookings sold out within hours of the offer being made available and could become a fixture. Other hotels are trialing similar strategies. In the wake of school closures in Japan, Tokyo Daichi Hotel Yonezawa, has opened its doors to students unable to study at home. 

Support your local community

In the meantime, some hotels and convention centers have transformed into emergency care facilities by contributing beds and space to alleviate the overcrowded hospitals. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently announced that the main showroom of New York City's Jacob K. Javits Center would be converted into four 250-bed hospitals, measuring 40,000 square feet each. Some hotels and venues are even serving as space for the homeless. This article breaks down a list of hotels and convention centers and how they’re helping – and how you can help, too.

Other venues doing their part

ExCel Centre, London 
The ExCel Centre in London, United Kingdom, used for tradeshows and conferences, is being converted into NHS Nightingale, the first temporary hospital in the United Kingdom. In the coming months, this center will become a key facility in the country’s fight against coronavirus. The hospital will hold 4,000 patients with 500 beds equipped with oxygen and ventilators to treat the critically ill. The UK isn’t the only country looking to their convention centers to help; New York’s Javits Convention Center is also following suit.

The Four Seasons Hotel, New York
Healthcare workers are, without a doubt, the heroes of the moment. Many have come out of retirement; students are working for free, and cabin crews from major airlines may even be drafted into battle. The Four Seasons in Manhattan, now closed to the general public, is offering free accommodation to doctors, nurses and medical personnel. By doing so, the luxury, five-star hotel will aid those who must travel long distances after working 18-hour shifts. This will provide them somewhere to rest and regenerate.

Convention and Visitors Bureaus (CVBs)
It’s not just hotels and venues joining the fight. Convention and visitor bureaus (CVBs) across the globe are doing what they can to support their countries. Some, such as Lexington, Kentucky, have become a source of support and information for their community. Their Covid-19 Coronavirus Response page mentions that by doing so they “collectively prepare a strong, thorough response for serving the public as a whole.”

AV and venue set-up vendors build temporary facilities

They were supposed to build stages for Coachella. Now they’re building tents and temporary facilities for hospitals and local governments. Choura Events, a production firm, pivoted from constructing tents and staging facilities for music festivals, sporting events, and dinners across Southern California to building overflow facilities for doctors to treat patients in the coming weeks.

Other vendors have followed their lead, like Gallagher Staging and Upstaging. Joey Gallagher, chief executive of Gallagher Staging said: “It’s definitely a whole new environment for us, but it’s also what we’re used to: adapting.”

Donate unused food

Hotels and venues are also donating their unused food to their local community, as well as masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer to healthcare workers and law enforcement officers. The food not suitable for human consumption is being donated to local animal rescues. "With so many individuals and families struggling during this difficult time, we wanted to make sure that this food was put to good use,” said Gregory J. Fox Esq., chair of the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority's board.

Apps like Goodr, Copia, and Food Rescue US can help coordinate food donations, depending on what city you’re located in. Read the rest of the article for a detailed breakdown on how hotels and venues across the country are pitching in and helping their communities with food donations.

Hotels open up to the homeless

Hotels are also taking this opportunity to provide shelter and support to one of the hardest-hit groups in society, the homeless. France, in particular, is dedicating empty hotel rooms to those needing to self-isolate during the outbreak, with the hotel group, Accor, pledging single rooms to help in this effort. Housing minister Julien Denormandie assured the population that “Solidarity will not be a victim of Covid-19."

Following France’s lead, the UK has also opened 300 rooms for this purpose. The London Mayor’s office worked with IHG to block-book rooms at two London hotels for the next 12 weeks.

Read more about what to do when a crisis strikes:

Risk management for event planning


Megan Boley

Megan is a published web writer and editor with a passion for crafting stories. She specializes in planning and creating content across all platforms for brands and organizations, with a focus on demand generation. In her free time, she's a voracious reader and a blue belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu.
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