Hotels feeling the impact from COVID-19

Local News

Birmingham, Ala. (WIAT) — Hotel managers throughout the Birmingham area say the industry has lost billions due to the pandemic.

Hotels in the area are usually at 70-80% capacity, but they are now down to 30-35%, which has caused massive losses this fiscal year.

“I’ve been in the industry for 40 years and have never seen anything like this,” Jim Larkin with Hotel Indigo said.

Larkin says they have made plenty of adjustments such as masks wearing, sanitizing and deep cleaning on a regular basis.

“I never envisioned a hotel room would be like a hospital room, but that’s where we are going,” Larkin said.

He says some smaller cities in Alabama didn’t feel the financial impact, but places like Huntsville and Birmingham were hit hard.

“When you cut that in half, you are only working on a 20-30 percent profit margin,” Larkin said.

He says business travel is limited these days, and most customers are people travelling for leisure; which he says will only continue to happen if the safety protocols are in place.

“Conferences, reunions, all sorts of businesses all depend on whether the public is confident they can gather without any concern about health issues,” Larkin said.

Other financial experts say it could be years before hotels recover, but Larkin remains optimistic for the Birmingham area in 2021.

“I have hope that as we approach the end of the first quarter in 2021, we will all be looking at ourselves and saying this is getting behind us,” Larkin said.

Larkin says bigger cities like Atlanta, Nashville, or New York will feel the impact for some time since business travel is limited.


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