Columbia motels proceed to really feel impacts of COVID-19 pandemic


Hotels in Colombia continue to attempt to stay afloat amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic as many have suspended their travel.

According to the Columbia Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, the occupancy of the hotels in the city of Columbia is just over 20% below the value of 2019 according to the latest available data as of September.

The industry has recovered from the first major slump during the pandemic. Interest rates fell to 21.5% in April.

Megan McConachie, Strategic Communications Manager for the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau, said fall months are more difficult to compare because event schedules like the University of Missouri soccer games vary from year to year.

Trey Propes, the president of the Missouri Hotel and Lodging Association, said it would have been impossible to survive if the numbers had stayed this low.

“At least we’re not in the 20 percent yet where you can’t pay your bills, you just can’t. No hotel can pay the bills for 20 percent of the revenue they had over the years,” he said.

He said it was much better to be in the 40% range, but it still won’t be enough to pay all of their bills.

Propes said one major thing that has affected the industry in Colombia is canceled events.

“Columbia has probably canceled more events than most communities, and they’re event-driven, while Branson and the Lake aren’t necessarily event-driven, but vacations, too,” he said.

McConachie said if more events like MU soccer games resume, even if capacity is limited, there will be an increase in people traveling to Colombia which could increase occupancy.

“Even with a quarter capacity, we still saw people here in town for that first home game and then again for that kind of surprising home game,” she said.

The Convention and Visitors Bureau has been working to help the hotel industry by keeping them informed of the change in the COVID-19 health policy.

The office has also restarted its leisure marking campaign to let people know how to travel to Colombia safely.

“We attach great importance to our mask regulation and to maintaining social distance and washing your hands so that people who do these road trips, what we really see now, that it is safe for them when they land in Colombia and for ours Church, “she said.

This campaign is aimed at people who live within driving distance of Columbia.

The office also received just over $ 450,000 spread across three separate areas: deliveries, secure events, and marketing.

Propes also said that a lot of hotels cut prices to get more people to book rooms, but he said that probably isn’t working because people aren’t traveling.

Propes said Columbia is also harder hit than other places because there are so many hotel rooms, not including festivals and other events.

“That’s what Columbia is building on. Because of that, it has 40 hotels. There aren’t 40 hotels because the daily needs of the people who come to Columbia are 40 hotels. They aren’t. They are probably 20 hotels,” said he.

Propes said he was concerned about property taxes hotels will have to pay at the end of the year. He said it is difficult for companies to plan so far in advance when they face new challenges every day.

McConachie said the last few months of each year and January are usually slower months and hotels must be patients as it will take a long time for tourism in Colombia to return to 2019 levels.

Propes said because money from the past few months is being lost in 2020, hotels will continue to face tough choices, as the owner of the Holiday Inn Executive Center had to do.

“I think we’ll see more of this when people who are having problems try to find a way to get through. Either am I going away? You know what I’ve spent building or my life or my last five to ten years I’m only reducing my losses because I can’t, “he said.

McConachie said hotels had told the Convention and Visitors Bureau that they were gradually doing more business in leisure, sports and business travel.

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