Struggling inns within the Omaha space are seeing a small spike in enterprise
OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – As hotels fight the pandemic, a harsh reality sets in: Some will barely make it by 2021, forcing both smaller boutique establishments and large chains to cock their wallets and keep a careful eye to keep.
The Omaha hospitality industry has seen a small surge lately, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t in the woods just yet.
Olympic trials canceled. All concerts canceled. Important conferences and meetings that are being taken away just hurt everyone, ”said Deepak Gangahar, co-owner of Anant Enterprises LLC alongside Kirti Trivedi, which operates four Omaha metro hotels, including Even and Aloft.
Gangahar says the 79% drop in event cancellations in Omaha since March 2020 has nearly wiped out its franchise.
“We closed some hotels in March and April and the occupancy rate was around 5%. It was just terrible, ”said Gangahar. Anant Enterprises’ drastic downturn in business earlier in the year was in line with the rest of the US as COVID-19 cases began to rise and travel restrictions were put in place.
“This will be the worst year in the hospitality industry’s history – worse than the Great Depression,” said Chip Rogers, president and CEO of the American Hotel and Lodging Association.
According to AHLA data, 71% of hotel owners across the country said they couldn’t afford to stay in business without another round of government help. Unstable consumption patterns caused by the pandemic quickly drove many hotels into the red.
“Many counties and cities across the country regularly change their rules and poor consumers, they don’t know what to think and, of course, you are scared of the coronavirus,” added Rogers.
At 38%, Omaha is below the national average of 40% for hotel occupancy. For the Aloft Hotel in West Omaha, occupancy has just risen to 30%.
It’s a slow climb, said Gangahar, he certainly doesn’t take it for granted. He had to lay off some employees months ago when the utilization was only 5% and he said this was a low point for the entire franchise he calls a small family.
But one thing he stated that he will never sacrifice is the quality of service.
“We learned how to work more efficiently in the COVID crisis without jeopardizing our most important safety goals for our customers and employees,” he said.
Employees at its four hotels are all required to wear masks, surfaces are cleaned with UV bars to kill bacteria, and social distancing is enforced in all public areas such as the hotel’s restaurants and bars.
Even with a slight increase in business across the subway, hotels are still generating half their average revenue, according to Visit Omaha.
Douglas County offers a total of 9,784 hotel rooms every evening – that’s nearly 4 million rooms per year.
Gangahar said vaccines offer promising relief for the ups and downs of business for the coming weeks. Even so, he and thousands of other hoteliers say they have taken an unsafe path.
“Hope for the best; be prepared for the worst,” said Gangahar.
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