COVID-19: Airbnb’s layoffs, scale-down | Virgin sues property owner

Airbnb lays off 25% of its workforce, pauses hotel efforts

Due to strain from the coronavirus pandemic, Airbnb plans to lay off almost 1,900 employees, or about 25% of its workforce — a substantial downsizing for what was seen as one of the world’s most valuable startups only a few months ago. In a memo to staff, CEO Brian Chesky said the company’s 2020 revenue is expected to be less than half of what it was last year, and that despite a recent capital infusion of US$2 billion, Airbnb would need to reduce its investment in areas of its business that don’t directly support the company’s host community. That translates to a pause on Airbnb Studios and transportation, scaling back its hotels and Airbnb Lux efforts, and reducing the size of many remaining departments.

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Virgin Hotels files suit against owner

Virgin Hotels filed a lawsuit in the Superior Court of California against the owner of its Virgin Hotels San Francisco property, claiming that owner Jay Singh “is attempting to seize upon the disruption created within the hotel industry by the current COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to prematurely and wrongfully terminate the (hotel management agreement) upon manufactured and false grounds.” The hotel is temporarily closed due to the pandemic, but Virgin claims that Singh told them he intended to terminate the 20-year agreement.

Read the press release

China tourism revenue drops nearly 60% during major holiday

During the Chinese Labor Day holiday (May 1-5), China recorded 115 million tourist trips domestically, raking in tourism revenue of ¥47.56 billion (US$6.79 billion), according to the country’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism. That’s a 59.58% slump from the ¥117.67 billion (US$16.7 billion) recorded for last year’s Labor Day holiday, which was one day shorter, according to figures disclosed by the ministry. Last year, China recorded 195 million visits.

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RLH’s new cleanliness standards

RLH Corp. released enhanced cleanliness recommendations for its 1,000-plus independently owned and operated hotels. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the company has released guidelines and resources to franchisees and licensees, including:

  • Physical distancing, including the use of physical distancing markers, protocols for space between hotel staff and hotel guests, plexiglass shields at front desks and credit card terminals to limit physical contact, where possible
  • Only opening as many rooms as needed as occupancy begins to increase – when reserving rooms, locate bookings in one section of the building or in every other room, when possible
  • Increased public space sanitation including making hand sanitizer available to guests and employees throughout public spaces and hourly disinfection of public and back of house areas
  • Increased guest room sanitation including removing all reusable collateral and reading material from rooms, removing extra pillows and blankets stored in closets and focusing housekeeping attention on disinfecting every surface within a guest room such as desks, counters, phones, TV remotes, thermostats, cabinets, doors, restroom hardware, windows, lighting controls and closet hangers
  • F&B service modifications such as serving condiments in single-use containers, suspending self-serve food options, and prohibiting the re-use of cups at self-serve beverage stations
  • Technological advancements such as mobile check-in and digital keys, where available

Radisson Hotel Group’s safety protocols

Radisson Hotel Group launched its Radisson Hotels Safety Protocol, a new program of in-depth cleanliness and disinfection procedures, in partnership with inspection, testing and certification company SGS. These guidelines include hand sanitizing stations at all entrances, the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and protective screens, enhanced and recorded cleaning and disinfection frequency, social distancing in all areas of its hotels, including in the meeting and event facilities, training in local, Centers for Disease Control, or World Health Organization recommendations and health guidelines, reiteration of food safety standards and comprehensive staff training.

Choice Hotels’ clean initiative

Choice Hotels International launched a new cleanliness initiative: Commitment to Clean. Over the next few weeks, standards will be put in place across the following areas: 

  • Heightened cleaning protocols for high-traffic areas such as the front desk, fitness centers and pools, as well as other high-touch surfaces throughout the hotel, using hospital-grade disinfectant
  • Furniture arrangements designed to encourage appropriate social distancing in accordance with CDC guidelines
  • Housekeeping “on-demand” option that allows guests to request delivery of additional toiletries, towels, linens or coffee without having a housekeeper enter the room
  • Changes in breakfast offerings, with many hotels that provide breakfast replacing their buffet with pre-packaged breakfast items
  • Design enhancements to help facilitate contactless check-in and check-out, such as plexiglass partitions at front desks and key drops
  • “Clean seals” on certain high-touch items in guest rooms to provide reassurance of sterilized condition
  • Personal protective equipment for hotel staff, including masks and gloves
  • Hand sanitizing stations located in high-traffic areas throughout the hotel
  • On-property signage and decals reiterating CDC social distancing guidelines, personal sanitation guidelines and the importance of surface cleaning
  • Communications from front desk staff to guests about precautions taken for their safety and comfort, and reminders about additional safeguards available at guests’ choosing
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