In an ideal world, travelers come and go through hotel lobbies on an ongoing basis. They spend a night or two, or maybe a week if they’re planning to explore a destination a bit longer. That revolving door keeps the accommodations sector alive and kicking within the tourism industry — in fact, it was valued at $632.8 billion in 2018!
Of course, everything has changed in the last few weeks. Hotels are laying off staff and closing their doors.
But the story doesn’t end there. In fact, it takes a feel-good turn in this not-so-great time.
In light of COVID-19, tourists no longer fill hotel beds. Some hotels are being creatively converted and used in different ways today.
These are just a few of the examples from around the world:
- Chicago is using hotel rooms as isolation spaces — a win-win to keep potentially infected people away from others while keeping staff safely employed.
- People are booking self-quarantine packages in Thailand.
- Homeless people are temporarily moving into hotel rooms in Oakland, California, and the United Kingdom.
- The remote Bulungula Incubator in South Africa is offering shelter to vulnerable populations.
- Madrid and New York City have turned hotels into makeshift hospitals.
- Instead of putting their families at risk, healthcare workers have a place to stay in Niagara Falls. Rooms Against COVID is supporting medical professionals in Portugal.
- OYO Hotels & Homes is offering free stays for doctors, nurses, and other first responders. Even Airbnb is stepping up by offering free accommodations for medical workers in Italy.
And for all of those hotels that don’t yet have an alternative purpose? Tech company Cloudbeds is helping hoteliers help others.
Over the coming weeks and months, the travel industry will begin to define its “new normal.” Thousands of people will lose their jobs. Businesses will close.
But so many others will persevere and evolve and find innovative solutions for making it through this pandemic.
Right now, accommodations — like all sectors of the travel industry — are hurting. But thinking outside of the box (or the stereotypical hotel room, in this case) is an opportunity for the industry to respond to the crisis at hand while positioning itself as a force for good … whatever the occasion might be.