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12/03/2020

BREAKING: AHLA Shares Real-Time Update at HT-NEXT 2020

Michal Christine Escobar
Senior Editor (Hotels)
Michal Christine  Escobar  profile picture

"The hotel industry has suffered like never before. You can’t have revenue drops like we’ve seen without real people being impacted in real ways," said Chip Rodgers, President and CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) during closing comments on Day 3 of HT-NEXT 2020.

(To view Rodgers's comments — and other HT-NEXT content — on-demand until Jan. 8, register at www.ht-next.com)

“When we started this year, 8.3 million people were employed in hospitality and about 25% of those jobs are now gone. We’re projecting — absent any additional assistance or some dramatic turn around that no one could anticipate — of the remaining jobs, approximately half will be lost. Plus, many hotels will not make it through the pandemic,” he added.

In fact, from March through December 2020, the hospitality industry has lost approximately 400 jobs per hour.

“That is why we talk so much about the need for additional assistance,” Rodgers explained.

When the CARES Act was passed, the language within the bill made it clear that Congress felt this pandemic would be over within 8-10 weeks. Of course, that wasn’t the case. But no further monetary relief has really come to the industry. For example, the Mainstreet Lending Act never really materialized even though it was supposed to help small businesses with loans, Rodgers noted.

But the AHLA has been working to do what it can to persuade congress to provide further relief to the hospitality industry. Some of its wins include getting the Affiliation Rule waived so that individual hotels would have access to relief, getting the Flexibility Act passed so hotels could use aid in new ways, and getting the Per Diem Rate frozen in 2021 at 2020 rates. Additionally, the AHLA has helped get Limited Liability Protection bills passed in 13 states and is expecting even more states to pass the bill once the new congress and new administration come into power in January, with the possibility of national bill also on the horizon.

However, more monetary relief has really been what the industry needs and, since May, AHLA has been advocating for more, Rodgers said. It even went so far as to create a COVID Relief Organization with 300+ organizational members — including HTNG — that lobbied Congress to act.

In breaking news, Rodgers shared at HT-NEXT 2020 that a new plan has been released by the Problem Solvers Caucus — a group of moderate senators from both sides of the aisle — to the tune of $908 billion. Reading from the bill, Rodgers shared that the initial plan includes: $288 billion for a second round of paycheck protection money to go to businesses hurt by a 25% revenue drop, $160 billion in state and local aid, $180 billion in additional unemployment insurance or approximately $300 extra unemployment for a period of four months, $82 billion for schools, $45 billion for transportation, money for vaccine distribution, as well as Limited Liability Protections.

Of even greater interest have been the voices coming out in support of it. According to Rodgers, Mitch McConnell’s office released a statement saying that said: “Compromise is within reach” and “Let’s make law” implying that he is willing to make a deal with Democrats.

Additionally, Steven Mnuchin, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, made a statement on Dec. 1 saying in part: “Based on recent economic data, I continue to believe that a targeted fiscal package is the most appropriate federal response. I strongly encourage Congress to use the $455 billion in unused funds from the CARES Act to pass an additional bill with bipartisan support. The Administration is standing ready to support Congress in this effort to help American workers and small businesses that continue to struggle with the impact of COVID-19.”

Taking all of this new movement into account, Rodgers noted that “we’re on the precipice of the first major relief since March” and asked HT-NEXT attendees to put pressure on their government representatives to pass this new aid package as soon as possible. For those looking for email, phone call or letter templates, AHLA has them available.