Hotels looking for ‘staycationers’ this summer

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INDIANAPOLIS- Since the beginning of the pandemic, hotels have taken a huge hit as travel across the country has nearly come to a halt.

The American Hotel and Lodging Association estimates hotels have already lost $33 Billion in room revenue since the start of the pandemic.

As restaurants and bars begin to slowly reopen in Indiana, hotels in Indianapolis remain relatively empty.

“We just got some new data today from downtown Indianapolis and we’re still doing single digits in terms of occupancy,” said Patrick Tamm, President and CEO of the Indiana Restaurant and Lodging Association. “That’s a crisis level at this point.”

Tamm says some of downtown Indy’s hotels hope to reopen in July, but their usual customers could remain scattered across the country and the world.

“Indianapolis relies on group business more than any other market in the country,” Tamm said. “We’re built for groups. We’re built for large 50,000, 80,000, 90,000 conventions, major sporting events.”

Tamm says even restaurants downtown rely on visitors for about half of their revenue. Now they too must turn their attention to a new customer base. Locals within driving distance.

“It’s absolutely critical,” Tamm said. “We have to get people really comfortable with going out to museums, zoos, sporting events, whether that’s youth sports or others. We have to get Hoosiers comfortable.”

White Lodging, which manages several hotels downtown has started to see an increase in same day bookings. They’ve also seen an increase in leisure travel from people within driving distance looking for a quick City getaway.

It’s not the business they’re used to, but right now every bit helps.

“Become a visitor. Become a tourist in your own town,” Tamm said. “You deserve taking a long weekend somewhere. Go check out a hotel, go check out some new restaurants. You’ve earned it, more than earned it.”

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