During the shelter-at-home order, regular clientele of hotels are at home and only essential workers are moving around the cities and states. However, federal, state, and local governments are contracting hotel rooms for essential workers, first responders, and vulnerable populations.
Attracting these new audiences requires some entirely different tactics to secure these reservations and capture these lodging dollars. The Milestone staff includes people who were in the hotel industry during 9/11 in 2001 and in the Great Recession of 2009, so many of our customers turn to us for advice and guidance.
Here are some examples of what governments need and are contracting. Follow the links in the sections below, and you can take to develop these essential worker opportunities.
At the epicenter of the worldwide pandemic, New York has leased over 10,000 hotel rooms to fight the virus.
“New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said April 1 the city has leased 20 hotels to add 10,000 beds for both first responders who want temporary housing while they interact with COVID-19 patients and to increase the hospital capacity in the city. De Blasio said the leasing of more hotels will be “key” to the city’s COVID-19 response efforts.”
California has allocated $150 million to protect the homeless. And California Governor Newsom has allocated a stipend for healthcare workers and first responders to rest and sleep closer to their facilities and not waste time and energy commuting.
“The state of California Department of General Services (DGS) has been tasked with a critical assignment to support COVID-19 response efforts. We must find available lodging for medical staff and personnel deployed throughout the state in response to COVID-19.”
In Hillsborough County Florida:
“Hillsborough County will open two quarantine and isolation sites at 10 a.m. on Thursday, April 2 to house residents and family members impacted by COVID-19. The sites give residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are unable to stay in their home a place quarantine or isolate.
Hillsborough County signed a six-month lease with both hotels to serve as quarantine and isolation sites, but the length of time the facilities will stay open and whether additional sites will be opened will be determined by local conditions. The length of time individuals will stay in the quarantine or isolation sites will be determined by the Department of Health and each person’s specific needs.”
The city of Chicago is using hotels as quarantine space at a cost of $2 million per month:
“The city of Chicago plans to rent thousands of hotel rooms to be used for people diagnosed with the new coronavirus or those who believe they’ve been exposed, in an effort to stop the spread of the virus and relieve the burden on hospitals.”
Some local governments have been moving the homeless off the streets to help them safely shelter-in-place. Homeless shelters may need to close to prevent the spread of the virus, increasing demand further.
The Army Corp of Engineers has been surging temporary hospitals in pandemic hotspots:
“These hotels are empty. The people don’t have jobs,” Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, chief of engineers and commanding general of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said at a news briefing. “We would go in and cut a contract to be able to have the state set up a lease with that particular facility, and we would then take the building over.”
The federal government may need additional housing in disaster areas, which now covers all 50 states. The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) is currently working with the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to create a database of willing properties in order to meet the demand for housing capacity during the pandemic.
To reach out to any or all of these potential customers, contact and inquire about housing and shelter programs for people in your area:
Your mayor’s office
Your county health director
Your county and city supervisors’ offices
The governor’s office and state website
The US General Services Administration, GSA Lodging
Major aid and disaster organization area branches
Milestone has assembled this list to give you examples and help you get started. After the crisis abates, government employees may continue to be part of your hotel strategy and revenue base.