SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA)– Hotels are speaking up about ways to get their businesses back on track after being hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Illinois Hotel and Lodging Association laid out a new proposal this week they hope the governor will consider as the state moves forward with reopening.
Despite hotels being considered essential businesses in the governor’s stay at home order, Illinois Hotel and Lodging Association president Michael Jacobson said many voluntarily shutdown because of a lack of business. He said if things don’t change soon, the next phase of the reopening plan will continue to hurt them.
“We were one of the first industries impacted by COVID-19 and hotels will be one of the last industries to come out of it,” Jacobson said.
“If you look at a market like Springfield, a big percentage of their business and revenue is based on what we call group travel which is meeting and events taking place within the hotels so until the hotels are able to safely resume some of those events, they are going to chose to not reopen or rehire some of those people back because those are the events that really drive our job creation.”
The association is proposing that hotel meeting rooms and ballrooms be allowed to operate at 50 percent capacity in Phase Four of the Restore Illinois plan rather than at a 50 person capacity limit. It is an idea tourism experts said would give the industry a much-needed boost.
“Convention cancelations make all the headlines but really we are comprised of small meetings as well and they make up a big whole of hotel revenue. So they are very, very important and that’s why we need to have the 50 person max gathering increase to 50 percent of the event’s venue,” said Scott Dahl, Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau director.
The association said they have been in touch with Governor Pritzker’s office. They feel many meeting rooms and ballrooms have a the floor space to safely practice social distancing. The hotels are also following strict sanitization protocols to get their venues ready as they await the governor’s next move.