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Updated: COVID-19 Impact Deepens

Trigild Spring Lender Conference Canceled 

The Trigild Spring Lender Conference, scheduled for April 15-16 in Dallas, has been canceled. In an email, organizers said: “The health and safety of our attendees is of utmost importance to us. We have been monitoring the coronavirus situation closely and, unfortunately, we believe it is in everyone’s best interest to cancel the event. The 20th anniversary of our Trigild Fall Lender Conference is scheduled for October 14th-16th at the historic Hotel del Coronado in San Diego. More information to come later this summer. We hope to see you there!”

UPDATE: White House officials are considering deferring taxes for industries hurt by the coronavirus outbreak, including hotels, among other options, according to a report in the Washington Post.

It’s not clear how such relief deferring taxes to the travel and hospitality sectors would be administered according to the report.

Speaking on CNBC and Fox Business, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow  said the U.S. government may provide help to certain sectors, such as the hospitality. The federal government may also step in and help people in certain parts of the country forced to stay at home because of coronavirus, as well as small business who may need “cash flow” help amid the outbreak, according to Kudlow.

UPDATE: Best Western Hotels & Resorts (BWHR) is helping its loyalty members retain their elite status with Best Western Rewards as the coronavirus continues to impact global travel plans. Effective immediately, all BWR members globally will maintain their current status through Jan. 31, 2022, without needing to fulfill the necessary qualifications.

BWHR is also extending support to its BWR members who might have already suffered a downgrade as a result of restricted travel—BWR members who downgraded a tier at the end of 2019 will be leveled-up to their previous tier and will maintain that status through Jan. 31, 2022, without needing to fulfill the necessary qualifications. Additionally, BWR members can donate their reward points to BWHR’s charitable fund, Best Western for a Better World, which has committed to supporting those impacted by the virus worldwide.

“The impact of the coronavirus on the travel industry is far-reaching,” said David Kong, president/CEO, BWHR. “At BWHR, caring is in our DNA, and I am immensely proud that we can demonstrate this spirit of caring by taking steps to protect our valued guests during this time of fear and uncertainty; we very much appreciate their loyalty and business. We are also working diligently to support our hoteliers who have and will continue to experience declines in business as a result of the virus.”

All BWR members worldwide are eligible for elite status protection and no action is required on the part of the member. Status will be maintained for all members regardless of their current tier, ensuring both new and veteran members are protected at this time.

INTERNATIONAL REPORT—As more cases of COVID-19 are discovered across the globe, the hospitality and overall economy are feeling the pinch, with the stock market plummeting and events across the globe being canceled or postponed.

While Marriott has reopened some of them in recent days, about 90 of its 375 China hotels are currently closed. Arne Sorenson, president/CEO, Marriott, said in a conference call with investors that the company began seeing declines in hotel occupancy rates in the Asia-Pacific region in mid-January. Sorenson said while the company cannot fully estimate the financial impact of coronavirus, Marriott could lose out on $25 million in fee revenue per month, assuming the low occupancy rates persist.

In February, RevPAR at Marriott hotels in Greater China dropped almost 90% compared with the same period last year. In the Asia-Pacific region, the company’s RevPAR declined 25% year-over-year in February in areas outside of Greater China.

The company released an updated statement on Feb. 28: “We are closely monitoring the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization’s statements regarding the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases and following guidelines from these agencies and the local health departments. The well-being of our guests and associates is of paramount importance. We continue to waive cancellation fees for hotel stays through March 15, 2020 for guests with reservations at our hotels in mainland China, Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR and Taiwan. Effective February 26, 2020 we are also waiving cancellation fees for guests with reservations at our hotels in South Korea, Japan and the Milan (Lombardia region) and Venice (Veneto region) regions of Italy for hotel stays through March 15, 2020. Additionally, we will waive cancellation fees for guests in mainland China, Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan and the Milan (Lombardia region) and Venice (Veneto region) regions of Italy traveling outbound to other Marriott destinations globally for hotel stays through March 15, 2020.”

Expedia has suspended it listings in Mainland China and released the following statement to Hotel Business: “At Expedia Group, we are always looking ahead at global events that might impact the safety and well-being of travelers. We rely on information from governments, which provide travel advice for locations around the globe. Once governmental advice reaches a certain level of travel concern, we take action to close off destinations on our sites. These ‘Stop-Sells’ will remain in effect until the situations improve and travel advice changes.”

Wyndham Hotels & Resorts is among many companies that has waived change and cancellation fees for its guests. “The safety of our guests, owners, team members and partners around the world is a top priority,” the company said in a statement. “We are recommending that our hotels around the world follow the guidelines established by the World Health Organization (WHO), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and their local health departments—and to report any suspected cases to the proper authorities as soon as possible. We have sent supplies to our hotels in China for distribution to workers, guests and members of the community.

“Guests traveling to or from Greater China, South Korea or Italy with direct bookings for stays in any of our hotels through March 31 will have their cancellation or change penalties waived. We are also extending current Wyndham Rewards member status for all gold, platinum and diamond members from our Greater China and Southeast Asia-Pacific Rim regions through the end of 2021. We continue to monitor the situation closely.”