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Hotel News Now editors recap and relay news from across the global hotel industry, with a focus on positive, hopeful and helpful stories our readers might have missed.

Primary Category: HNN Highlights

Secondary Categories: News

GLOBAL REPORT—The hotel industry truly is a collection of Main Street businesses. This week’s HNN Highlights showcase ways hotels are helping their cities and local residents, and cities are stoking business for their local hotel partners.

A hotel in Vienna is finding new ways to innovate its outdoor space and guestrooms as COVID-19 keeps the property’s occupancy low.

On 30 May, Zeitgeist Hotel hosted a concert on its outdoor patio space and opened surrounding guestroom windows, allowing guests inside their own private “opera box,” The Jakarta Post reports. Two opera singers and a string ensemble performed on the courtyard lawn.

Hotel director Andreas Purtscher said bookings for the concert sold out in three days. He added he plans to host three more “window concerts” over the summer.

—Dan Kubacki

From Vienna to Venice. The reopening of this iconic city, where my wife Francesca and her twin sister were born, is a major step in the world’s tourism returning to something close to normal, but there is much worry that this fragile city should not return to what it was: a destination drawing 30 million tourists a year and a small city that often is more theme park that it is a home.

Hope is coming in that stakeholders say this is an ideal time—perhaps the only time—for Venice to be reinvented. As of last week, residents no longer need to wear masks when they go out, but a return to the huge visitor numbers of yore will no doubt raise fears and infections. Of course the joy right now is that a tourism industry can see a little more revenue, but voices are asking for the brakes to be put on before things get out of hand again and the city inundated. The tourism industry might not lose out in this equation, as Venice will not lose any of its appeal and a change to the good will likely see prices and hotel rates go up.

Jane da Mosto, an environmental scientist and executive director of lobby organization We Are Here Venice, said recently in an interview with CNN Travel that “the new Venice I dream of after this is like it is now, just with more residents. … And with more residents, the city will reflect more the Venetian culture and the wonderful lifestyle that this extraordinary city offers and future visitors to the city will be able to enjoy Venice more.”

Now it is a question of politicians seeing the opportunity and coming up with a sustainable approach for residents, business owners and the environment.

—Terence Baker

Normally, June through August would be Montreal hotels’ bread and butter, but large events, such as the Formula 1 auto race that would draw in visitors, are either canceled or postponed. The W Montreal, however, has been staying upbeat and busy by cooking meals for the homeless, Montreal Gazette reports.

Since the beginning of May, the hotel staff has been on track to provide about 34,000 free meals for the city’s homeless, which equates to about 600 meals per day, the article states.

“With this crisis, we heard the call from the city that it needed help, that it had these temporary shelters with so many in need of meals,” Christina Poon, the hotel’s GM, told the news outlet. “At first, I was hesitant because of all the health concerns relating to the situation, and I was worried about my staff being safe. But our team was so gung-ho. They wanted to come to work, because all the protocols were in place and they couldn’t have been more committed to making meals for those in need.”

—Dana Miller

As demand and occupancy inches up slowly, I’ve kept an eye out for hotels starting to bring back furloughed or laid-off staff. We get more and more news releases about hotels reopening every day, and that’s an indication that at least some people are coming back to work. One example: Last week, Hotel Congress in Tucson re-opened. Assistant Room Manager Abraham Cooper told KGUN-9 “it was very difficult, but we’ve been able to rehire back more than half the staff.”

Also last week, the family owned McMenamins chain of historic hotels, breweries and other entertainment venues based in Portland announced they will “rehire hundreds of former staff members and reopen eight of its hotels,” according to KOIN-6 News. It has rehired about a quarter of its staff with the goal of bringing back 1,800 employees.

For regular updates on how hotel staffing is changing as a result of the closures and re-opening, be sure to check out the data series we publish with Hotel Effectiveness. The latest data snapshot shows that U.S. hotels added 0.5 full-time employees to the rooms division over the week ending 31 May (including Memorial Day).

—Stephanie Ricca

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Headline: HNN Highlights: Hotels, cities lean on each other

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Article Time: 8:21:00 AM