1,000 jobs for New Yorkers in need
In an op-ed for the New York Post, business reporter John Crudele writes about a relatively new company that could mean good news for the hospitality industry in pandemic-striken New York City. The company, Better.com, is in the process of hiring new workers, with a goal of 1,000. And those workers will be made up of people who’ve been laid off mostly by New York City restaurants and hotels. Better.com is in talks to hire furloughed workers from Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group, Marriott International and the New York Sports Club. The positions would all, at this point, be remote.
SBE adds 500 new positions amid pandemic
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, recruitment has begun for more than 500 new positions in the Greater Los Angeles area for SBE’s C3 (Creating Culinary Communities) subsidiary, focused on expanding the company’s growing roster of ghost kitchen concepts and delivery offerings including Umami Burger, Sam’s Crispy Chicken, Krispy Rice and the forthcoming Plant Nation. While SBE has maintained full employment for the majority of its corporate workforce, the company will be giving priority to employees who have been furloughed from other SBE restaurants and nightlife brands.
Oyo to furlough international staff
Oyo will start furloughing staff in the U.S., U.K. and other international markets in an effort to manage costs after the coronavirus pandemic led to plunging revenues. The budget hotel chain declined to give a figure, but a person familiar with the matter said the global total of affected employees was expected to run into the thousands depending on government lockdowns. Oyo, which had already furloughed most of its U.K. staff, said no employees in its home market of India would be affected. As part of a restructuring announced earlier this year, Oyo had already cut about half of its employees in China, a third in the U.S. and thousands in India. It reduced its total headcount to about 25,000.
San Fran may pay over US$100M on rooms for sick, aid workers
For the first time, San Francisco officials have shared estimates of how much the city will pay for thousands of private hotel rooms being acquired to quarantine vulnerable populations. The city will seek in total about 7,000 hotel rooms to house first responders and homeless individuals who are deemed especially vulnerable and anticipates a total cost for the rooms upward of US$105 million, which includes costs for staff, supplies, cleaning and other essentials required for the rooms. Of the 1,977 rooms under contract, 880 are set aside for first responders and 1,097 are for vulnerable populations of homeless.
Choice reduces executive pay, takes other steps
Choice Hotels International provided an update on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on its business. In recent weeks, the company adopted mitigation efforts including improving its cash position, bolstering liquidity and reducing discretionary costs. In addition, management and the board of directors are taking financial steps including:
- Reduced the compensation of the board of directors, CEO and other executive officers for the remainder of 2020
- Implemented a hiring freeze except with respect to certain critical positions, suspended associates’ 401(k) match and implemented a temporary furlough for certain positions in Europe, where government-mandated and other closures have been more prevalent
- Eliminated, reduced or deferred non-essential expenditures, discretionary capital expenditures and investments
- Suspended the company’s share repurchase plan
- Determined to suspend future, undeclared dividends for the remainder of 2020
AHLA seeks loan dollars, action to protect jobs
The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) supports plans by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to provide an additional US$250 billion in loans for small businesses. The AHLA also sent an urgent letter to the Federal Reserve and Treasury seeking action to prevent thousands of hotel properties from going into foreclosure. According to Chip Rogers, AHLA president and CEO: “Without action to shore up debt servicing, including in the CMBS market, this crisis will lead to widespread foreclosures, snowballing into mass disruption and a critical lack of liquidity in the commercial real estate market.”
Sydney performance down
STR’s preliminary data for Sydney, Australia, shows significantly lower hotel performance across the three key performance metrics as a result of circumstances around the COVID-19 pandemic.
Comparison with March 2019:
- Occupancy: -47.0% to 46.2%
- ADR: -11.1% to A$204.89 (US$127)
- RevPAR: -52.9% to A$94.56 (US$58)
Daily data for the month shows 31 consecutive days of double-digit RevPAR declines. The daily percentage declines escalated from the enactment of additional government containment measures that took effect on March 22.
Same in Abu Dhabi
Preliminary STR March data for Abu Dhabi shows significant year-over-year declines in the three key performance metrics.
Compared with March 2019 data:
- Occupancy: -32.9% to 55.1%
- ADR: -32.6% to AED333.92 (US$91)
- RevPAR: -54.7% to AED183.86 (US$50)
Daily data for the month showed 31 consecutive days of double-digit decreases in each of the three key performance metrics.
Impact on Philippines hotels and resorts
A sentiment survey to gauge the impact of the pandemic on hotels and resorts across the Philippines was conducted by Horwath HTL Singapore, in conjunction with Tajara Hospitality. Key takeaways include:
- 50% of respondents believe the impact will be felt for more than four months, and 71% felt it’s “much worse” than any previous health scares
- Total revenue performance for 1H 2020 is expected to be down 50% or more (45% of respondents)
- Total revenue performance for FY 2020 is expected to be down 50% or more (38% of respondents)
- Domestic market segments are expected to bounce back positively, while there is heightened concern for foreign demand that may never fully recover
- All respondents have implemented contingency plans from both cost and revenue perspectives
- Government assistance sought (top three): subsidies (37%), tax reduction (28%), marketing by DOT (18%)
Federal loan money in jeopardy as hotel closes
The owners of a temporarily shuttered boutique hotel and Lexington, Kentucky, officials are trying to work out repayment of a US$6 million loan the city guaranteed as part of an incentive package to get the hotel built several years ago. If the 21c Museum Hotel can’t make payments on that loan, US$6 million in federal grant money used for affordable housing projects and other infrastructure projects could be in jeopardy. The boutique chain announced March 28 it was temporarily shutting its doors at its Lexington and seven other locations due to health and safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
25Hours transforms rooms to ‘home offices’
Launched this week, the 25Hours Hotel group is opening up its rooms as “home offices” for people to work in amid the pandemic. The initiative is designed for people who might not have a suitable space to work from home (and has the added benefit of filling vacant rooms following a string of cancellations and rebookings.) The rooms cost €50 (US$54) per day, or €200 (US$217) for a pass from Monday to Friday, and include high-speed Wi-Fi, a Nespresso coffee machine and tea, a bike and a Bluetooth speaker. Customers can also bring their pets. The offer is available at 25Hours hotels in Berlin, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Cologne, Munich, Vienna and Zurich.
The hotels have also modified cancellation policies: Guests who booked a stay scheduled to arrive prior to April 30, 2020, can change their reservation for future travel until April 2021 without incurring a fee. Those who had a stay booked between March 17 and April 1, 2020, can also modify or cancel their reservation and get a refund. Additionally, guests residing in an area designated by the WHO as a risk area can modify or cancel hotel stays free of charge to any date within the current year.