I remember the day very well. March 23, 2020.
On this particular Monday morning I walked into the office to find my phone ringing non-stop. Normally in the hotel sales world, this is a great thing! Not on this day. This is the day everything canceled. And when I say everything … I mean everything.
Corporate business had canceled travel for their employees, meetings were canceled, receptions were canceled, conferences were cancelled. Everything. And the most terrifying part is that not only were they canceling, there was no end in sight. No one wanted to re-schedule because they were uncertain about the future. This is the day COVID-19 became a reality in the hospitality world.
With corporate travel down 65%-85% since 2019, the hospitality industry has been one of the hardest-hit industries this year due to COVID-19. The good news is: travel is returning. Some companies have restricted travel guidelines for now, but they are slowly allowing their employees to travel again. Some companies are reinstating travel in phases. Many wedding receptions that were canceled in the early spring are now being re-scheduled for later in the fall or early spring 2021. Conferences are slowly starting to re-book, with social distancing guidelines in place of course. Leisure travel — guests visiting family or friends — is starting to return as individuals are able to make safe decisions.
One of the most important factors in the travel industry right now is the importance of cleanliness and extra safety measures being taken by hotels. Here at the Delta, we require all our guests and employees to wear masks while in any common area of the hotel. Our front desk staff, and guests checking in, are protected by a large protective shield at the front desk.
Our housekeeping staff is taking extra precautions with each room and sanitizing per Marriott standards. We have placed hand sanitizing stations at each elevator and outside our meeting rooms. Hand sanitizing wipes are also now placed in each room. The measures we have taken over the last few months have been extensive, but necessary for the safety of our guests and employees.
Think of the cleaning measures you have taken in your own home during the past few months. You have probably used a lot of disinfectant spray and wipes to keep your family safe. Imagine doing that with 152 rooms, two bars, a restaurant, a full lobby, and over 4,000 square feet of meeting space!
An old adage states “This too shall pass,” and it will. As our governor says daily, “We will get through this, and we will get through this together.” I think we can all agree the changes in 2020 have shaped our future in ways that we never would have anticipated. We can only hope that the end result will be an industry, and a world, that will be more prepared than ever to deal with adversity and come out successful and prosperous.
Stay safe, Ashland!
CARA HEDRICK is the director of sales for Delta Ashland Downtown.