A report released by the American Hotel and Lodging Association looking at the last six months of the pandemic as the Labor Day Holiday looms this weekend.
The report says what many in New Orleans already know: Times are tough for hoteliers, lodging numbers are not high enough to keep facilities from employing full compliments of workers and are not close enough to attain break even on the books.
But in New Orleans, where tourism IS the main industry, hotels and the marketing agencies who keep New Orleans visibility high in the minds of travelers are working to buck the trend.
“We’re optimistic, but definitely, the realistic adds to the outlook,” says Dr. Yvette Green, the interim director of the UNO Kabacoff Hotel, Restaurant, and Tourism Administration School.
Green attributes a recent bump, albeit slight, in numbers to this partnership.
“In the summertime, there was a little bit of an increase and many of our hotels attributed that to locals wanting to get out of the house, get out of the pandemic a little bit and there was some driving traffic.”
That bump is in line with efforts by New Orleans and Company, the main tourism marketing of the region, to appeal to people who are a day’s drive or less from New Orleans, roughly 300 miles.
Green says hotels are getting creative to boost occupancy levels.
“They’re serving as dormitories for the colleges. And that is also another source of business that will allow hotels to bring back staff as needed.
But as we push into Fall, what usually is seen as convention season, New Orleans hotels are serving a great need—as shelters for nearly 10,000 residents of western Louisiana, particularly the Lake Charles region where destruction of Hurricane Laura is, in some areas, near total.
“That does become an opportunity to serve as a refuge for those who are displaced by Hurricane Laura.” she says. “So that is an opportunity, and I know our hotels are looking to assist where they can.”