Groups Urge Congress to Pass “Save Hotel Jobs Act”

April 29, 2021
Groups Urge Congress to Pass “Save Hotel Jobs Act”

The pandemic has resulted in nearly 200 hotels closing their doors permanently in New York City alone. New congressional legislation seeks to save many of the jobs lost in closures there and across the country.

U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and U.S. Representative Charlie Crist (D-Fla.) have introduced the “Save Hotel Jobs Act” to support hotels and hospitality workers as the industry seeks to rebuild from COVID-19’s damage. The American Hotel & Lodging Association reports business travel is down 85% and is not expected to make a full recovery until 2024. 

In total, 3.1 million jobs directly tied to leisure travel and hospitality have yet to return, comprising more than one-third of all unemployed Americans, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate remains 330% higher than the rest of the country.

On April 28, AHLA and UNITE HERE, the largest hospitality workers union in North America (representing more than 300,000 employees), announced a partnership to support the legislation. 

Every day, hotels are closing for good, and hardworking, loyal employees are sadly being let go,” said Chip Rogers, president and CEO of AHLA. “No industry has been more affected by the pandemic than hospitality. Government-issued travel bans and restrictions, which are meant to slow the spread of the virus, have wiped out 10 years of job growth in our industry. Now, millions of jobs and thousands of businesses are at risk—not just hotels, but the many businesses and workers hotels also support in the community. Congress must step up now to support the hotel industry workforce with targeted relief.”

Among the highlights of the “Save Hotel Jobs Act” are: 

  • Direct payroll grants will be utilized for payroll and benefits expenses for workers. The legislation would also require grantees to give laid-off workers recall rights to ensure those who lost their hotel jobs due to the pandemic are able to get back to work.
  • Providing a Personal Protective Equipment Tax Credit to promote worker safety measures, which would allow for a payroll tax credit for 50% of costs associated with the purchase of personal protective equipment, technology designed to reduce the impact of the pandemic, increased testing for employees and enhanced cleaning protocols that do not negatively impact the level of work for housekeeping staff. 

Hotels near beaches, lakes and other leisure hot spots will be among the earliest to recover fully, while urban properties reliant on business travel for company meetings, seminars and training will likely lag behind. Urban hotels reported a 66% decrease in room revenue in January 2021 compared to early 2020, prior to the pandemic’s outbreak in this country. The lost cash flow expands when calculating F&B and other finances group business brings.

Without incoming cash, hotels have let workers go and many were forced to close for good, including venerable properties like Marriott Wardman Park, a mainstay in Washington, D.C.’s Woodley Park neighborhood since 1928.

According to recent reports, New York City has seen one-third of its hotel rooms—more than 42,000—wiped out by the COVID-19 pandemic, with nearly 200 hotels closing permanently. 

“The pandemic has left millions of hotel employees out of work and many more struggling to get by with less hours – they need help,” Schatz said. “Our bill creates a new grant program that will bring back hotel jobs, pay workers and help our economy recover.”

 

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Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.