Despite suffering massive pandemic-induced business loss, the lodging industry is pulling together to provide temporary housing for workers on the frontlines of the coronavirus—gratis. Between new initiatives from The American Hotel and Lodging Association and a partnership of Hilton and American Express, more than 3.3 million hotel guestrooms are now available to essential personnel on the job at health-care facilities across the country.
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Hilton and American Express have just introduced a program that, beginning April 13, will supply as many as 1 million hotel guestroom nights across the U.S. for workers represented by 10 organizations, including the American Hospital Association, American Nurses Association, National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians and the Society of Critical Care Medicine. “Hilton and American Express will pay for the rooms at a rate that is at or below the operating cost. These guests will not be charged,” a Hilton spokesperson told Commercial Property Executive. Hilton will execute the program in partnership with its ownership community operating properties under such brands as Hampton by Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn and DoubleTree by Hilton, to name a few.
For the time being, the Hilton-American Express initiative will only be available stateside due to differing regulations, health-care systems and the supply of Hilton guestrooms. However, the spokesperson added, “We will continue to evaluate whether we can offer similar support in other parts of the world.”
In late March, AHLA, supported by the Arizona Lodging and Tourism Association, launched Hospitality for Hope to an industry clearly eager to help as COVID-19 spreads. The program identifies hotel properties willing to offer guestrooms near established health-care facilities and connects them with local, state and federal governments seeking to provide taxed emergency and health-care workers with lodging accommodations. Already, 15,000 hotels across the 50 states and in the District of Columbia have signed on to participate. As of April 2, Texas led the way with 1,366 hotel properties having registered, followed by California and Florida with 1,315 and 1,043 participating hotels, respectively. Hospitality for Hope extends its services beyond the health-care arena to homeless families and quarantined individuals.
In addition to welcoming more hotels to the Hospitality for Hope program every hour, AHLA is working with state association partners on the creation of a Hospitality for Hope database. The database will help streamline the process of connecting hotels with government entities by assisting the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in conjunction with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, local emergency management and public health agencies. Looking ahead, AHLA notes that some participating hotels could serve as Alternative Care Sites, transforming into emergency hospitals or quarantine facilities.