Travel is back on the rise, and it’s interesting to see the dramatic shift on where hotel chains are now, and where they were when the pandemic began — especially because the big chains are charging an arm and a leg during summer travel. We thought it would be interesting to see which holds had the best response in the pandemic. Which hotel chains during Covid-19 proved they were taking action?
Take a look back at a story we wrote March 31, 2020, at the height of the pandemic to see which hotel chains during Covid-19 responded the best.
How 11 major hotel chains responded during Covid-19
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The travel industry has been hit hard with the coronavirus pandemic. Nearly 7 million hotel jobs total could be negatively impacted and/or eliminated, and the hotel industry can lose up to $925 billion this year, according to the American Hotel & Lodging Association.
It’s a stark and uncomfortable reality that will have little clarity until travel bans and quarantines lift.
While government officials, science experts, doctors and public figures encourage people not to travel, hotels have responded in very different ways.
Take a look at 11 major hotel chains and their response to the coronavirus.
On march 24, Marriott’s CEO Arne Sorenson told CNBC in an interview that business is worse than 9/11 and the Great Recession combined.
“What we’re seeing is dramatically worse than what we saw in those two prior crises,” Sorenson told CNBC’s Seema Mody on Squawk Alley. “We’re now seeing revenue down 75% plus, probably I suspect nearing a 90% decline in the United States. And obviously at those levels there just isn’t any business in hotels,” said Sorenson.
Sorenson has furloughed 2/3 of its 4,000 corporate employees, and tens of thousands of workers at properties. They will not be paid but receive health benefits. He also suspended his salary for the year.
Travelbinger has received several emails from Marriott employees, from publicists to marketing managers, on how they will not be paid for the next few months.
There are 32 hotel brands with Marriott, including Aloft, Courtyard, EDITION, JW Marriott, AC Hotels, Ritz Carlton, Renaissance Hotels, Sheraton, St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, Westin, W Hotels, Four Points and Le Meridien.
Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts remain open and are waiving cancellation fees worldwide until April 30.
Four Seasons has been assisting medical workers in NYC, offering free rooms to house doctors and nurses fighting coronavirus at local hospitals.
Four Seasons is still operating many hotels and offered a note on its main landing page:
At Four Seasons, we are entirely focused on the experience of our guests and our priority, always, is your health and safety. Now, more than ever, in light of the evolving COVID-19 (Coronavirus) situation, we are focused on the health and safety of all our guests, residents and employees, without compromising the quality of your experience when you stay with us.
We are adhering to the latest information, protocols and tools from the world’s leading health experts and government authorities – including the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control – to maximize the effectiveness of our response.
For so many of us, travel is a necessary and rewarding part of our lives. At all Four Seasons locations around the world, we have taken precautionary measures to ensure your wellbeing, along with that of your fellow travellers and our employees. We have heightened our already stringent practices around food handling, sanitization, disinfection and cleaning, plus specific measures based on the guidance of local health authorities and the current situation in each country and region where we operate.
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In addition to these measures, we encourage you to learn more about what you can do to travel more safely. The World Health Organization has several recommendations to reduce exposure to a range of illnesses, including hand and respiratory hygiene as well as safe food practices.
As you consider your upcoming travel plans, we want to make the experience as worry-free as possible. To offer you flexibility in your travel plans we are waiving cancellation fees until April 30, 2020 for any existing and new individual reservations at all Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts worldwide. For additional details see here.
We are doing everything we can to provide a safe, seamless and ultimately enjoyable Four Seasons experience when you visit us. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation. We know that you share our love of travel and we look forward to welcoming you to Four Seasons soon.
Firmdale Hotels, which operates high-end properties like Crosby Street Hotel and The Whitby Hotel in NYC, has closed its hotels. The website offers a letter for guests:
A NOTE TO OUR GUESTS
Following careful consideration, we have decided that in order to ensure the safety of our staff, guests and local community we have temporarily closed our London and New York hotels until further notice.
This is a decision that we have not taken lightly, however, given the current situation with COVID-19 and the recommendations from the British and American authorities we know that this temporary measure is the most sensible way forward.
We are so grateful to our many guests and customers for their support over the years and we look forward to welcoming you back very soon.
As soon as we know when we will re-open, we will of course let you know on how this hotel chain responds during Covid-19.
Hyatt hotels, which operates brands like Grand Hyatt, Miraval, Andaz, Thompson Hotels, Park Hyatt and Hyatt Regency, is waiving cancelation fees until April 30, 2020.
Hyatt hotels has announced pay cuts to all its employees from April 1 through May 31, though details on the pay cuts are unknown. The hotel chain has also furloughed 2/3 of its 55,000 corporate employees and is closing various locations temporarily.
CEO Mark Hoplamazian and Chairman Tom Pritzker have given up 100% of their salaries. The rest of Hyatt’s senior executives are reportedly taking 50% salary cuts for two months.
Hilton Worldwide is offering to waive cancellation fees at its 600+ properties in the world.
In a news release shared on March 26, Hilton has suspended operations “across many managed and franchised hotels, and those hotels that remain open have reduced services for guests because of decreased occupancy levels.”
At a corporate level, Hilton is taking the following actions:
- President and CEO, Christopher Nassetta, will forgo his salary for the remainder of 2020;
- The Executive Committee will take a pay cut of 50 percent for the duration of the crisis;
- Beginning April 4, many of Hilton’s corporate Team Members will have reduced schedules or be furloughed for up to 90 days. During this time, these Team Members will maintain their health benefits and subject to local regulations, will also be eligible for unemployment benefits;
- Corporate Team Members who are not furloughed will have their pay reduced by up to 20 percent for the duration of the crisis;
- Eliminating non-essential expenses, including capital expenditures; and
- Suspending all share buybacks and suspending the payment of dividends – other than those previously declared.
Through the Hilton Workforce Resource Center, Team Members are being given direct and, in some cases, expedited access to more than 500,000 temporary jobs at more than 30 leading companies including Amazon, CVS, Albertsons, and Walgreens. Hilton hopes to expand this program globally and welcome Team Members back when travel resumes, according to the press release.
Ace Hotels, which operates 11 hotels across the world, including Ace Hotel New York, Ace Hotel Seattle, Ace Hotel New Orleans, Ace Hotel Toronto, and Sister City on Bowery, NYC, has temporarily suspended hotel operations at many properties.
According to an Ace Family Fund the hotel chain organized, the hotels that have been suspended are Ace Hotel New York, Ace Hotel Pittsburgh, Ace Hotel Chicago, Ace Hotel London, Ace Hotel Palm Springs and Sister City on Bowery.
We are heartbroken to announce temporary suspension of hotel operations at several Ace properties. Ace Family Fund helps to support the staff impacted by COVID-19. https://t.co/jf1FERGeEZ pic.twitter.com/EY78nNcgZW
— Ace Hotel (@acehotel) March 23, 2020
To contribute to the Ace Family Fund, where impacted team members will be directly supported, click here.
So far, the fundraiser has raised $21,820 of its $500,000 goal.
Intercontinental Hotels Group, which has over 5,900 hotels worldwide and manages popular brands like Six Senses, Kimpton Hotels, Hotel Indigo, Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza, has reduced salary and incentives for board and executive committee members, according to a news release.
Intercontinental has not release information on furloughs or layoffs for its employees. However, according to Forbes, Kimpton Hotel Aventi in NYC laid off 40 employees.
On March 30, IHG announced the launch of the IHG® Hotel Colleague Job Center to support US-based hotel colleagues impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, which includes job opportunities with leading companies across the US looking to hire hospitality professionals who have worked in IHG branded hotels. Companies include Amazon, Walmart, CVS, Albertsons, Dominos, Pizza Hut, Lowe’s and The Home Depot. CVS, Albertsons and The Home Depot may also offer expedited applications for IHG hotel colleagues.
“The global Covid-19 outbreak has created unprecedented circumstances for the hospitality industry. Travel around the world has paused for most people, which has led to a number of IHG’s hotels closing temporarily or significantly reducing operations, impacting the employment of hotel colleagues.”
MGM Resorts International was one of the first major hotel chains to close hotels, including Las Vegas properties. MGM owns and operates major resorts like MGM Grand Las Vegas, Mandalay Bay, Bellagio, Aria, and Luxor Hotel & Casino.
In a letter issued to employees on March 13, 2020, Bill Hornbuckle, president and COO, wrote:
“As the nation grapples with the effort to contain the coronavirus, the travel industry has been challenged, and our company is no different. Business demand has decreased significantly. In response, we will temporarily close MGM Northfield Park tonight and have suspended operations of all nightclubs and day clubs. Our spas and salons will suspend operations as of Monday. Also, on Monday, approximately 150 food and beverage outlets will close, with more closing on a rolling basis. We are working diligently to minimize the impact on our employees through furloughs and layoffs which will begin next week. We will continue to pay our Flexible Time Off (FTO) eligible employees on furlough for two weeks and our hourly employees can use all available Paid Time Off (PTO) in their bank. We’ve also made the decision to maintain existing employees’ benefits, for individuals who are on our health plans and impacted by the layoffs or furloughs through June 30th. Some areas of our business operations have already begun layoffs in areas most immediately impacted by the slowdown in demand. These decisions are never made lightly, and we deeply regret the hardship it will place on these individuals and their families.”
Peninsula Hotels, which operates 10 hotels across the globe, including New York, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Beverly Hills, has not made any announcements regarding layoffs or furloughs. So far, only Peninsula Chicago has been temporarily closed.
Peninsula’s last tweet was on March 25, 2020.
— The Peninsula Hotels (@PeninsulaHotels) March 25, 2020
Montage Hotels, a luxury hotel chain with 8 properties in the US and Mexico, including Laguna Beach, Los Cabos, Maui and Deer Valley, and managed Pendry Hotels, is offering guests who booked through May 31, 2020, the chance to rebook at the same property for a future stay within one year of the original booking date.
Montage Deer Valley and Kapalua Bay (Maui, Hawaii) has been closed temporarily.
Montage released a statement on March 13, 2020.
Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Montage International places the highest priority on the health and well-being of our associates, guests and residents. We continue to monitor guidance related to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). As the CDC and WHO share more information, we will continue to update our policies and procedures accordingly.
All Montage and Pendry Hotels have taken extensive precautionary measures to ensure the safest environment possible for our associates, guests and residents. This includes increasing already-stringent policies regarding overall cleanliness, frequency of cleaning, food safety, and associate well-being and support.
Understanding that flexibility during these times is also important, we have made updates to our travel policies, as follows: Any individual bookings (new or existing) for stays through May 31, 2020 at any of our Montage or Pendry hotels (including those reservations originally booked as non-cancellable) may be re-booked at the same property for a future stay within one year of the original booking date, with any cancellation penalties and/or previously collected deposits applied to this future stay.
For further questions regarding upcoming reservations, please contact the hotel or resort directly. For those guests who booked through one of our valued travel partners, please contact them directly for their individual policies and assistance. For group guests, please contact the organizer of the event.
*This story was originally published March 31, 2020.
More Travelbinger stories:
Hotel Chains During Covid-19: Which Hotels Had The Best Response In The Pandemic?