SANTA BARBARA, Calif .– After a devastating year of reservations and loss of staff due to the COVID crisis, the hospitality industry is once again on its heels with the latest wave.
“We were all hoping that when we shifted the schedule to 2022 we would leave Covid behind, but as we found out it’s a very difficult environment we find ourselves in right now,” said Tom Patton, Managing Director of the Ramada by Wyndham in Goleta. He is also this year president of the California Hotel and Lodging Association.
The latest wave has caused further widespread disruption.
Patton has spoken to operators statewide about the impacts of COVID.
“They’ve seen a huge drop in group bookings for the month of January. The upside is they book later in the year.” Patton said. “People always want to travel, they’re just pushing the brakes a little bit as January approaches.”
Over the past week, numerous sporting events at all levels, including two UC Santa Barbara Men’s home basketball games, have been called off. It also means that traveling teams do not stay in hotels.
There are still plenty of pro and college games, festivals and entertainment gatherings scheduled for later this month and February, including the Super Bowl in Los Angeles, with a cautious approach to public safety.
“This is usually our quietest time of year when it comes to transient leisure activities, so we rely on group activities for that, so those groups have a huge impact,” Patton said.
With the recent storms, ski resorts have been a big seasonal boost to the hospitality industry, as well as other outdoor venues, despite the pandemic.
Patton said: “Probably everything outdoors, the ski resorts with the abundance of snow that they have received over the past few weeks, is amazing and certainly something very positive. I think all the outdoor activities in Santa Barbara got us on top of the heap. ”
Travelers who are always on the move find increased protocols for proper spacing and masks, but the industry is confident after this increase the next increase will be for a robust summer season.
“Everything we keep hearing is about that, the early bookings, the desire for groups to come later. Those are all positives,” Patton said. “There would have to be a significant slowdown to deter people from going out. People want to travel, they have that urge. We see summer as a beacon of hope.”
For more information, visit: California Hotel & Lodging Association