I just finished off my analysis of Key West for my weekly Phocuswright hotel forecast. The good news is that Key West has done a great job of fighting the virus by banning visitors. The hotel industry was sacrificed in the process – May RevPAR was down 97% YoY.
They will now carefully reopen on June 1 – with a 50% occupancy cap for the first two weeks, and the threat of a quick lock-down if conditions start degrading.
So here’s my beef:
All hotels and vacation rentals in Monroe County have been closed to visitors since March 22. They set up a checkpoint at the county line and if you don’t have the right documents to prove you are an essential worker or resident, you are stopped 112.5 miles and 2.5 hours away from Key West.
Much to my surprise, I noticed rooms for sale at the Key West Marriott Beachside Hotel and Hampton Inn Key West for dates prior to June 1, when only essential workers are allowed to stay.
They were being sold on Marriott.com, Hilton.com, Expeda.comand all with ZERO specific notice that you would not only not be able to stay, but you would be block from entering the Florida Keys – period.
Instead, a series of guest-hostile, boneheaded messages.
Let’s review them, shall we? (Remember, the booking engine is fully functional – nothing stops the guest from booking.)
Banner message: “Customers should review government guidance to confirm eligibility to travel & stay at hotel. See travelguidance.marriott.com. Reservations will not be honored where prohibited.”
Too bad that three clicks later, the Florida link on the “travelguidance” page lands on the home web page for Florida Governor DeSantis, where there are no links to any Key West or Monroe County travel restrictions.
Worse than providing no useful information, they also wasted the prospective guest’s time.
Banner message: “Hotel Status Update: Booking Notice. Learn More”
Clicking “Learn more produces this interstitial:
“Before completing your booking, please review the State restrictions and guidelines to confirm eligibility to travel and stay at the hotel. Due to temporary rules for all hotels in this State, guests from certain community transmission “hot spots” may be subject to a mandatory self-quarantine. Contact the hotel directly for more information. Thank you for understanding.”
Banner message: “Important: This destination may have COVID-19 travel restrictions in place, including specific restrictions for lodging. Check any national, local, and health advisories for this destination before you book.”
Again, no links are provided – traveler is left to fend for themselves.
Banner message: “In accordance with government guidelines to minimize transmission of the coronavirus (COVID-19), this property can only accept bookings from essential workers. Reasonable evidence must be provided on arrival. If it isn’t provided, your booking will be canceled on arrival.”
Pretty good – not totally accurate, but at least it says only essential workers are allowed to stay.
Marriott, Hilton and Expedia all get failing grades because they don’t tell the guest – YOU CAN’T EFFING STAY IN THE HOTEL!
Airbnb gets a D, because they hide the information and make the guest read a PDF at the end of the scavenger hunt…
Booking.comgets a “B” – they should have mentioned the county being closed and the roadblocks. Arrival was not an option.
Seriously, it’s boneheaded management decisions like this that make me think maybe the hotel industry doesn’t deserve a bailout – they certainly aren’t doing anything to help guests in the middle of a pandemic – especially when the outcome is forcing displaced guests to find accommodation near Miami/Dade County, whose coronavirus case rate is 4x higher than Key West and 30% higher than the US average per capita…
The obvious solution? Loading a “Essential Worker Rate Only – Closed to leisure travel until June 1” rate plan.
C’mon folks. it ain’t that hard. If you are a brand that’s going to capture 12% of top line room revenue or an OTA that wants its 15% commission, you have to raise your game
Or, if you simply hate treating guests with courtesy and compassion, you aren’t in the hospitality business, you’re in the hostitality business – and you don’t deserve a minute of their attention or a penny of their money.
OK. maybe that was a bit harsh. Maybe they don’t hate guests. Maybe they’re just stupid or lazy. Probably both.
Guests deserve better. Stop being so damn pathetic – please, it’s embarrassing.