Times may be tough, but they've brought us all together in unexpected ways. As we forge ahead, let’s be mindful of the good deeds and helping hands that will get us through this downturn.
In this edition of our new weekly blog series, Good Works and Great Ideas, which we publish every Friday, we highlight how hotels are going above and beyond to assist healthcare workers across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic.
More than 16,000 U.S. hotels sign up to support the healthcare community
The American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA) is launching Hospitality for Hope — an initiative that identifies hotel properties that have volunteered to provide temporary housing for emergency and healthcare workers. Participating hotels could potentially be used as emergency hospitals or housing for those who require quarantine. Since the publication of this article in Lodging Magazine, the number of hotels that have signed up has increased to over 16,000.
Hospitality for Hope was created with the idea to boost collaboration between the hotel industry and local, state, and federal governments to provide much-needed assistance during this unprecedented health crisis. Already, the initiative has identified 2.3 million rooms located near healthcare facilities. Government officials will be able to search properties in this special AHLA database based on geographic location.
“As an industry of people taking care of people, the hotel industry is uniquely positioned to support our communities by caring for the first responders who are on the frontlines of this public health crisis,” said Chip Rogers, AHLA president and CEO.
AHLA is also offering free resources for the month of April to help industry employees further their education at no cost during this unplanned hiatus.
Hilton and American Express donate one million room nights to medical staff
Hilton and American Express recently announced a partnership to donate up to one million hotel room nights to medical professionals across the country. After hearing stories of doctors and nurses sleeping in cars, basements, or garages in an effort to distance from and protect their families, vice president of global brand communications at Hilton Craig Dezern knew they could do something to help. Starting the week of April 13, the program will provide free rooms to doctors, nurses, EMTs, paramedics, and other medical staff who need places to stay.
“Hilton and American Express realized there was an opportunity here to do something for these frontline medical workers who really are the heroes of the moment,” said Dezern. “We both want to be part of the solution, and we joined with our owner community who really are part of their own communities as well. We think we’ve come up with something that can be a meaningful approach to helping solve some of the issues today.”
In addition to the rooms they’ve pledged in their partnership with American Express, Hilton has also announced a tool to connect furloughed workers with short-term jobs at places like CVS, Amazon, and Walgreens.
Twin River Casino Hotel transforms into a COVID-19 testing site
In Rhode Island, Twin Rivers Casino now serves as a drive-through site for COVID-19 tests. Selected by Rhode Island governor Gina Raimondo, the Twin River site — in partnership with CVS Health — provides free tests to all Rhode Islanders. The site doubles the state’s current testing capacity and will be able to perform around 1,000 tests per day.
Marc Crisafulli, executive vice president of Twin River Worldwide Holdings, Inc. said: “This level of collaboration truly is representative of the fact that we are all in this together, and we stand ready to do all we can to support the State’s efforts to manage the spread of the virus.”
How other hotel brands are responding to COVID-19
Hotels have had to make many changes in the past few months in order to adapt to the new normal. This list from Lodging Magazine outlines the ways in which brands are responding to the crisis, and it’s updated as new information is released.
Wyndham recently announced a partnership to provide team members whose positions have been furloughed or eliminated access to full-time, part-time, or temporary positions at retail, grocery, senior living, and other sectors. Wyndham is also working with AHLA to make available additional relevant job opportunities for affected hospitality professionals.
Red Roof has launched several initiatives to help students, displaced workers, and medical providers. Their Student Support Program provides students displaced as a result of college campus closures rooms at a discounted rate and an Amazon gift card to help offset expenses for a stay of seven days or more. In response to the interruption of work environments, they’ve launched the Work Under Our Roof program. This is designed to provide rooms for people to rent as workspaces from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at a reduced rate. Their Room in Your Heart program will provide first responders, nurses, doctors, firefighters, police, and emergency medical providers with free rooms on a limited basis through May 31.
MGM Resorts announced on March 23 several initiatives to support those impacted economically during the COVID-19 pandemic, including a $1 million crisis and disaster relief pledge into an employee emergency grant fund and donating the equivalent of 400,000 meals across the United States.
Don't forget to update your Cvent Supplier Network profile!
One of the best ways to keep event planners informed about what’s going on at your hotel is via your website and on sourcing platforms. Especially if you’re doing good deeds and helping your community, make sure to include that information on your profile so planners know about it.
Planners are still planning: According to Cvent Supplier Network data, planners are sending thousands of RFPs each week as of this writing in early April 2020 – with a clear shift toward late-year event timing. Cvent’s Supplier Network makes it easy to keep hotel profile pages up to date. It’s critical information that planners are looking for as they continue to submit RFPs for future events and check in to see if your hotel is active.