Every day the uncertainty grows
Every day the uncertainty grows
26 JUNE 2020 7:26 AM

If there’s anything hoteliers can count on, it’s that they have no idea what they can count on.

I’ve noticed a pattern in our coverage and conversations this week. The industry, while climbing out of the depths of the crisis, is paralyzed by uncertainty.

I suppose that’s a natural reaction after going through a shock the depths of which would’ve previously been unthinkable.

This phenomenon is crippling the deals market as well as making it hard to plan in some markets where it’s unclear whether traditional demand drivers will return, and if they do to what degree.

That left me wondering how to quantify unknowns at the moment.

Without falling into a woefully out-of-date discussion of known unknowns and unknown unknowns, it’s worth examining the demand drivers that we can all collectively admit we don’t know how they’ll pan out.

As my colleague Danielle Hess recently wrote, college towns are in a unique predicament. Colleges and universities will be operating in fundamentally different ways for the near future. That will include drastic changes to big travel-inducing events like homecomings and athletics.

With sports, the hemorrhaging isn’t limited to college athletics. Honestly, at this point, it seems like the only winners with sports-induced roomnights are Disney resorts, which are hosting almost the entirety of the NBA for its resumed seasons, and whatever hotels are hosting fans for rugby games in New Zealand.

Questions remain for the Major League Baseball season, now months behind schedule; the NHL, which similar to the NBA hopes to resume in an alternate format; and the NFL, which seems to be at least publicly pretending that nothing will change.

How do hotels that rely on those events for guests react?

If I’m the GM of a hotel that makes a considerable amount of revenue from the fact that I’m close to an NFL stadium, I have no idea what to expect for the rest of the year. You obviously hope for the best, but with worse news about COVID-19 cases every day, you’d be negligent in your duties if you assumed the best.

As First Hospitality’s David Duncan put it during the recent online Lodging Industry Investment Council meeting, there’s never been a period of less visibility for the hotel industry.

One last note before I close out: A couple of weeks ago, my colleague Terence Baker wrote a mostly fine blog about how hotel industry prognosticators are prone to overly dramatic pronouncements.

In service of making that point, he claimed I had once called COVID-19 the “black swan to end all black swans,” which is something I never actually said in any fashion.

In that spirit, here are some things Terence Baker has definitely said and I’m totally not making up right now:

“Birds are rubbish, and people who like to watch them are dumb.”

“The Eagles are really an underrated band.”

“My perfect Sunday is a Coors Light and my TV.”

“I like to find shortcuts while running marathons, but I still finish last.”

What do you think? Let me know via email or on Twitter.

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