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Local hotels step up to assist health care, remote workers

Local hotels step up to assist health care, remote workers

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WATERLOO – The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the hospitality industry hard, but local hotels are hitting back, pivoting to help workers in troubling times.

A number of Cedar Valley hotels, including Hilton properties and Courtyard by Marriott, are offering discounted daytime work space to people who’ve been displaced from their offices because of the novel coronavirus.

“We were trying to think of something we could offer up, understanding that some people have busy environments at home but still need to conduct work,” said Mark Aftanski, chief operating offer for Chris Bros Hospitality. The company owns and operates Hilton properties in Cedar Falls and Waterloo.

“Work space” rates of $35 are available for workers who need a quiet space to conduct business. A digital key allows them entry into a room and hotel wi-fi from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

At least 13 local hotels are offering similar day rates, and some also have added reduced rates for health care workers.

The rates are a win-win for workers and a struggling industry.

Because of the pandemic, the U.S. hotel industry is projected to see a 50.6% decline in revenue per available room in 2020, according to hotel research firm STR.

Tavis Hall, executive director of Experience Waterloo, reached out to local hotels to see how his organization could help.

“This is an incredibly stressful time for everybody,” Hall said. “We recognized how difficult a time it is for our friends in hospitality on the accommodations side. We figured we would see if folks would be open to the idea of promotions to address different facets of the crisis, spur a little creativity.

“You’ve got folks who are working from home. There are a lot of people out there who love their spouse, but they also love their space. There’s a real benefit for some folks to change their location so they can be more productive.”

Aftanski said Hilton’s single occupancy work space rooms are sanitized between guests and social distancing is maintained between staff and guests at all times.

“We just want to be a better decision than going to an office where there are people,” Aftanski said.

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