Companies Respond as COVID-19 Impact Continues

INTERNATIONAL REPORT—As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, companies have taken measures to minimize the effect it has on long-term operations. Here’s a look:

Wynn Resorts

Wynn Resorts will extend paying all salaried, hourly and part-time employees through May 15, for a total of 60 days of payroll continuance. The company decided to take this action as part of its shared responsibility for the health and safety of its employees, their families and the Las Vegas and Greater Boston communities during this pandemic.

Payroll coverage will include more than 15,000 current Wynn and Encore employees. For tipped employees, it includes the average tip compliance rate or distributed tips/tokes since the beginning of the year.

“It is our shared responsibility to follow the direction of health and safety professionals to stay home and limit social contact,” said Matt Maddox, CEO, Wynn Resorts. “We owe it to each other, our families and to our community.”

Oyo Hotels & Homes

Ritesh Agarwal, founder/group CEO, Oyo Hotels & Homes, has decided to forgo 100% of his salary for the rest of the year. The company’s entire executive leadership team has taken a voluntary pay cut starting at 25%, with many opting for an additional uncapped amount, and some going up to 50% to enable building the runway for the company.

“The current situation the world over is deeply concerning to each and every one of us,” said Agarwal. “Oyo is doing everything to support the world with its limited resources in this pandemic, from making isolation centers to finding a safe place for first responders. Given the current business situation, which is unprecedented for our industry globally, I am forgoing 100% of my salary for the rest of the year. I am grateful to my leadership team, that have also taken pay cuts and support the company during these tough times. We at Oyo stand committed toward the fight against COVID-19 and will try to do everything in our control to reach out and help people while also ensuring long-term success of the company, and our ability to continue delivering on our mission to bring better living spaces for all, at the right prices, globally.”

In line with the government’s direction, Oyo has taken a series of measures to accommodate frontline medical staff in the U.S. The company has offered rooms across 300-plus hotels for free to all medical professionals, including doctors, nurses and first responders, to ensure that they can take rest, shower or just get off their feet and recharge. Oyo is grateful for the bravery and sacrifices all the medical personnel are making to save lives and stop the spread of COVID-19.


With travel at a virtual standstill, operations have been suspended across many managed and franchised hotels, and those hotels that remain open have reduced services for guests because of decreased occupancy levels.

At the corporate level, Hilton is taking the following actions to significantly reduce expenses and preserve liquidity:

  • Christopher Nassetta, president/CEO, Hilton, will forgo his salary for the remainder of 2020.
  • The executive committee will take a pay cut of 50% for the duration of the crisis.
  • Beginning April 4, many of Hilton’s corporate team members will have reduced schedules or be furloughed for up to 90 days. During this time, these team members will maintain their health benefits and subject to local regulations, will also be eligible for unemployment benefits.
  • Corporate team members who are not furloughed will have their pay reduced by up to 20% for the duration of the crisis.
  • Nonessential expenses will be eliminated, including capital expenditures.
  • Hilton is suspending all share buybacks and suspending the payment of dividends—other than those previously declared.

While difficult to make, these decisions will allow the company to weather the current crisis and emerge in the best position to welcome back its team members and guests when it is safe again to travel, the company reports.

Through the Hilton Workforce Resource Center, team members are being given direct and, in some cases, expedited access to more than 500,000 temporary jobs at more than 30 leading companies including Amazon, CVS, Albertsons and Walgreens. Hilton hopes to expand this program globally and welcome team members back when travel resumes.

Hilton has also activated its Team Member Assistance Fund to help both those Hilton team members who have suffered a direct impact, or have an impacted family member, from COVID-19. Hilton team members have been making points (converted to cash) and monetary donations to the Fund since the crisis began in China.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been tough on the travel industry, but Hilton continues to deliver hospitality even during this crisis:

  • Across the world, hotels have been donating excess food to local pantries.
  • Hilton is assisting local and national governments to provide housing for first responders and healthcare workers.
  • The Hilton Effect Foundation, the company’s charitable arm, is investing in grants to support organizations fighting the spread of infection and aiding communities in need. World Central Kitchen, Direct Relief and Project Hope are among the charities whose work will directly help those harmed by the pandemic.
  • Hilton also has made it easy for Hilton Honors members to donate their points (converted to cash) to these worthwhile organizations.

For peace of mind of guests, all reservations—even non-cancelable stays—on or before June 30, 2020, are eligible for a full refund.

Hilton Grand Vacations

In light of the growing number of local, state, federal, and international travel restrictions and shelter-in-place mandates, Hilton Grand Vacations (HGV) has elected to suspend its U.S. sales operations at this time.

In addition, the company has closed several of its resorts and elected to temporarily pause new reservations at its U.S., Europe and Barbados resorts through the end of April. HGV’s sales operations in Japan and South Korea remain open on a limited basis. The company’s customer service team members continue to assist owners who wish to book, cancel or modify their travel. HGV has also enacted its remote work policies to maintain continuity with its call transfer operations and corporate functions while promoting social distancing.

“The safety of our team members, owners and guests remains our paramount concern in this time of global crisis,” said Mark Wang, president/CEO, HGV. “While the level of disruption to the travel industry is unprecedented, we remain confident in our ability to manage through this difficult period. Approximately 40% of 2019 segment EBITDA was derived from recurring fees in our finance and club & resort segments. Through the end of March, we have collected approximately 90% of our member fees for fiscal 2020, which fund all of the operational costs of our resorts. We have continued to see a healthy level of inquiries from owners interested in booking stays when business resumes, and we believe that our strong inventory pipeline and focus on net owner growth has built a solid foundation of engaged owners that positions us well for the return of leisure travel as the pandemic subsides.”

He continued: “We have a conservative balance sheet, and we are taking the appropriate steps to reduce our operational cost structure and preserve our cash flow. We have also implemented proactive measures to extend the payment schedules for some of our upcoming projects with minimal impact to our planned sales launches, which allows us to defer up to $200 million of budgeted inventory spend for the year, if necessary. Finally, we have paused our share repurchase program.”

Marriott Vacations Worldwide

Marriott Vacations Worldwide closed all of its North America sales centers for two weeks effective March 23. In addition, the company closed its resorts for rental guests with stays at its branded North America vacation ownership resorts for the next 30 days, and is reducing operations and amenities at all of its resorts based on various governmental mandates and advisories.

“From Singapore to London to Hawaii, the effect on our business is both widespread and profound,” said Stephen P. Weisz, president/CEO. “We have a resilient business model with nearly half of our adjusted EBITDA contribution coming from recurring revenue streams. While we’ve never seen anything of this magnitude, we have seen other disruptions in the past and we’ve been able to manage through them.”

Since the pandemic hit, the company has seen marked declines in occupancy, rentals, and contract sales. As a result, the company is taking a number of mitigating actions:

  • The company’s executive leadership team is taking a 50% salary reduction.
  • All new hires, with the exception of mission-critical needs, have been frozen.
  • The company is implementing furloughs and reduced work hours.
  • The company is deferring its employee 401(k) match.
  • The company has developed plans that could reduce investment on capital expenditures and inventory by up to $240 million, if necessary.
  • The company has suspended share repurchases under its share repurchase plan.

“We expect that we can make the changes needed so that we can run the business at close to cash flow neutral until the business returns to a more normal level,” he said. “Thanks to the resilience of our business model and the extremely difficult decisions we are making, I firmly believe that we will come through this an even stronger company.”

MGM Resorts International

“At MGM Resorts, we are committed to doing our part to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, including the closure of our properties across the U.S.,” said Bill Hornbuckle, acting CEO/president, MGM Resorts. “While this will undoubtedly have a significant negative effect on our business in the near term, we are well-positioned to emerge from the current crisis in light of our strong liquidity position and valuable asset portfolio. With the continued execution of the MGM 2020 plan, as well as the implementation of aggressive cost-saving initiatives, we believe the company will be able to manage its expenses while navigating this unprecedented event. We are currently making very difficult decisions but believe these will be in the best interest of the company long term.”

Since March 16, 2020, all of the company’s domestic properties have been temporarily closed to the public and the company has also experienced very high group cancellations. This is an unprecedented public health crisis and the company believes that it must do all it can to assist in mitigating the impact of the epidemic to protect the health and safety of its employees, guests and the communities in which it operates. The company will continue to cooperate with local health officials to assist in accelerating the containment of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition, while the company’s Macau properties are now open, visitation remains at low levels and travel constraints continue to impact the market.

Summit Hotel Properties

Summit Hotel Properties Inc. has taken significant steps to enhance its overall liquidity position in light of the operating and financial effects due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The company has taken to several measures to enhance its overall liquidity position:

  • Comprehensive cost reduction initiatives, including the reduction of labor and elimination of certain services and amenities, have been implemented at all hotels. The company will temporarily suspend operations at certain hotels in response to specific government mandates or as the result of the current adverse market conditions.
  • The company has postponed all nonessential capital improvement projects planned for 2020 beyond those already completed or substantially complete, which is expected to reduce total capital expenditures by approximately $35 million, or more than 50% based on the midpoint of the company’s previously provided guidance range of total capital expenditures for 2020.
  • The company intends to suspend the declaration and payment of dividends on its common stock and operating partnership units beginning with the first quarter of 2020. This will conserve $19 million of cash quarterly, or $75 million on an annualized basis. The company will continue to monitor the operating environment to determine the appropriate time and level of any common stock dividend payments.
  • The company has drawn an additional $125 million on its $400 million unsecured revolving credit facility as a precautionary measure to ensure the company has sufficient liquidity to meets its funding needs for the foreseeable future. The company currently has $135 million of consolidated unrestricted corporate cash on hand and an additional $170 million of undrawn availability on its unsecured revolving credit facility. The company has no debt maturing before November 2022.

“As our industry continues to navigate through the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, we remain committed, first and foremost, to the safety and well-being of our employees, guests and associates,” said Dan Hansen, chairman/president/CEO, Summit Hotel Properties. “I’m incredibly proud and thankful for the efforts of our employees and the commitment from our key partners to serving the best interests of all of our stakeholders. Over the past few weeks, we have worked diligently with our third-party management companies and brand partners to make many difficult, but necessary, decisions at the hotel level in an attempt to preserve shareholder value and are committed to expeditiously returning to a more normal operating environment as conditions improve.”

He continued, “Additionally, we will continue to evaluate further measures to enhance our overall liquidity position as we monitor the potential longevity of the evolving situation. While these are unprecedented and difficult times in our business and for our company, I am confident our experienced team will successfully navigate this challenging environment and Summit will continue as an industry leader.”

Xenia Hotels & Resorts

Since Xenia Hotels & Resorts Inc. last issued an update on operating performance on March 11, 2020, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its operations has increased significantly, with the vast majority of group business for April and May now having been canceled and both business transient and leisure demand declining significantly throughout the portfolio, consistent with trends throughout the U.S. lodging industry.

The company’s operating partners have lowered hotel operating expenses, primarily by adjusting staffing levels in response to the significant reduction in demand. Specific actions vary by property, with a range that includes closure of restaurants, bars, amenities, floors, wings or the entire property. At present, 24 of the company’s hotels and resorts have temporarily suspended operations or are in the process of temporarily suspending operations. The remainder of the company’s properties are currently operating at reduced levels; however, the company may temporarily suspend the operations at additional hotels in the future as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to the expense-reduction efforts undertaken at the properties, the company expects to reduce its corporate full-year cash general and administrative expense by more than 20%, or approximately $5 million, primarily resulting from lower executive incentive compensation, as well as a reduction in other costs. The company will evaluate further expense reductions as appropriate.

With respect to capital expenditures, Xenia has reviewed its capital program for 2020 and is canceling or deferring approximately $50 million of capital expenditures, representing a 40% reduction. The company’s current estimate for full-year capital expenditures is approximately $70 million. This estimate primarily reflects projects that are currently in progress or for which materials have been ordered. Most of these expenditures relate to the transformative renovation of Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, Golf Club & Spa and the guestroom renovation at Marriott Woodlands Waterway Hotel & Convention Center. Each of these projects has been adjusted, in terms of timing or scope, to reduce 2020 capital outlays.

In order to bolster the company’s unrestricted cash position and to help meet its ongoing operational and financial obligations, the company drew the remaining $340 million on its $500 million senior unsecured revolving credit facility on March 17, 2020. The company’s previously declared first quarter dividend will be paid on April 15, 2020, to shareholders of record as of March 31, 2020. Xenia expects to suspend its dividend through the balance of the year until it determines the required dividend amount to cover its taxable income for 2020.

“The impact of COVID-19 on the global and U.S. economy and the travel industry in particular has been unprecedented, causing a severe impact to our short-term operations,” said Marcel Verbaas, chairman/CEO, Xenia. “At this time, our immediate focus has been on the well-being and safety of our guests, our associates and our operators’ employees at our properties, as well as the financial strength of our company. I am proud of all the hard work by our associates and our operators’ employees during these difficult times. Our dedication to keeping our balance sheet in a strong position throughout the lodging cycle and our success in significantly increasing the appeal of our portfolio to many different sources of demand should benefit us as we navigate through the current health crisis and work to stabilize our operations when business levels start to return to normalized levels. With our experienced and dedicated management team, our strong liquidity position, our high-quality portfolio, and the strength of our operators and brand affiliations, we believe we are well-positioned to weather this storm.”