Decimated: KC hotel manager describes hospitality industry amid coronavirus pandemic

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Decimated. Devastated. That’s what one hotel manager describes the hospitality business because of the coronavirus pandemic.

In the last few days, The Sheraton announced it would temporarily close. The Loews Hotel, part of the long-awaited downtown convention center, delayed its opening and didn’t provide a time when it would open.

The “stay-at-home” orders instituted across the country have kept people safe — but at a cost.

They tanked the hospitality industry. VisitKC says tourism and hospitality industries employs roughly 48,000 people in the Kansas City area. Many of them are now unemployed.

“We’ve compiled a list of resources for ways the community can unite and support each other at VisitKC.com/community,” VisitKC told FOX in an email. “This includes curbside services, online retail, donation opportunities and even virtual experiences at some of our most treasured institutions.”

“We have realized 43 cancellations representing 108,302 room nights. This represents 25% of our anticipated annual production,” VisitKC added.

That means less money coming into Kansas City. At 14th and Baltimore on a Saturday morning, there’s hardly a car in sight. The lobby of the president hotel is quiet and empty of any new guests checking in.

“Hotels are empty, virtually empty, across the country right now,” Strnad, who is the General Manager of The President, said. “If American, Delta, and Southwest, if they don’t do well, we don’t do well. If they’re in trouble, we are in trouble. If people don’t travel, they don’t get to hotels. That domino effect continues down the line. The suppliers we buy from – for instance a fruit company or a linen company – we don’t need their products, they have to lay their people off.”

But the ripple effect goes further than that. No one at hotels means no one paying a hotel tax. That means it hits the city’s budget.

“The millions of dollars worth of tax revenue that should be flowing down into the city right now, from hospitality, just is not happening,” Strnad said.

Unlike some others in town, the President is still open. It hopes to stay that way for the few travelers still coming in. It also hopes to stay open because of what that means right now.

“It’s hard to think that this hotel sat here for almost 100 years,” Strnad said, “and weather and everything it has, different types of things, and we’re not gonna let this close us.”

VisitKC also shared some hopeful statistics with Fox4.  

“On the bright side, we are currently working with 27 groups (representing 35,916 room nights) to reschedule for later this year or sometime next year. Many groups, such as Planet Comicon and Sports ETA, have already announced new dates and we anticipate that number will grow in the days ahead.”

They’ll just come to Kansas City when it’s safe to do so.

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