As countries around the world batten down the hatches to weather the COVID-19 storm and airlines ground their fleets, the global travel industry has come to an unprecedented standstill. And that means that, just like those flights, restaurants, stores, museums, and other tourist attractions, hotels that haven’t opened their doors to house COVID-19 patients, healthcare workers, or emergency responders have also closed up shop for now. But as the shutdowns stretch longer, many hotels — and especially smaller ones that lack large parent companies — may not have enough funds to come out the other side, forcing many hotels around the world to lay off employees.
But there are some things we, as hotel lovers and future patrons, can do to help our favorite hotels get through this pandemic and be able to reopen. As the basecamp for our travels, hotels are one of the cornerstones of the hospitality industry — let’s show them some hospitality of our own.
1. Purchase gift certificates.
Similar to how restaurants are trying to keep up sales by encouraging patrons to buy gift certificates toward future meals out, many hotels — from larger chains like Mandarin Oriental to independent boutique outfits — also offer gift certificates that can be redeemed toward stays, experiences, spa treatments, and on-site dining. The direct cash infusion from the purchase of a gift card could help a hotel retain staff and pay the bills during the shutdown. So if there’s a country or a city you’ve been wanting to visit for a while, and you already have a rough idea of where you want to go and what you want to do, find a hotel in the area and treat yourself or someone else to a gift certificate toward a future stay. It’ll help the hotel stay open until then and you’ll have something to look forward to when this is all over.
2. Postpone your stay instead of canceling.
If you already had a trip planned and booked for the coming months that you are now unsure about, the best thing you can do to continue supporting the companies and hotels you booked travel with is to postpone that vacation instead of canceling it. When we cancel an already paid-for trip and request a refund, valuable money is taken out of the hands and economy of the destination, which may be heavily dependent on tourism dollars. And when a local tourism economy is impacted, that means those working in and depending on that cash get hard-hit as well. If you can afford to, ask your tour operator, hotel, or travel planner about changing the date or holding until we have a clearer picture for 2020. It’ll keep the money in the area and with the people that need it, and you will already have a vacation set in place for the future.
3. Purchase merchandise.
Similar to the gift certificate option, buying merchandise and other goods from hotels’ online stores can also put money in their and their employees’ pockets for the time being. Many independent boutique hotels and resorts, like Tennessee’s famed Blackberry Mountain and Blackberry Farm, are still operating their online stores and shipping around the US. You can find their signature items such as goods made by local artisans, wellness products like shampoos or body washes, and even pantry staples like jams. Doing a little online shopping spree from your favorite hotel’s store gives them cash, and can also drive money into the local economy.
4. Donate to funds to support their employees.
Many small hotels have had to lay off their staff just to survive, but some of these have also launched an online donation page where you can contribute money to help out the employees with their living expenses. There are tons of these campaigns for individual hotels and hotel associations around the world. If there’s a particular hotel you want to help, Google to see if they have a campaign or contact them to inquire about making a donation. One such example is the Ace Hotel, the famous boutique hotel chain with locations in Portland, Seattle, Chicago, and elsewhere around the world, which has created a Family Fund to help its staffers and their families.
5. Stay engaged with the hotels online.
Social media engagement is one of the top ways to let brands know you’re still thinking of them, so to help your favorite properties out, follow them on their platforms and stay engaged with their content. Not only does it help boost their engagement numbers, but the fun pictures and videos they’re likely posting can help you do a bit of armchair traveling of your own. Plus, many hotels are now offering free digital goodies to stay connected to their patrons, like Chile’s Tierra Hotel chain, which has been sharing recipes from its hotels for things like granola bars. Renowned wellness brand Six Senses, which became famous for its signature wellness and health programs and offerings, is also bringing its special methods to the masses with the new “At Home With Six Senses” digital initiative that will offer meditation and yoga tutorials, workouts, recipes and mindfulness advice.
6. Order delivery or take-out from their on-site restaurant.
Even though many states have prohibited sit-down dining at restaurants, there are those who have pivoted to a take-out or delivery model to make ends meet. That also rings true for some hotel restaurants, like Wolfgang Puck at the Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles. Purchasing a to-go meal helps keep some of the hotel’s kitchen workers employed, as well as supporting the local suppliers that provide the food. It’s worth checking out to see if any of the hotels in your area are still running their restaurants for curbside take-out or delivery.