MEDFORD, Ore. – As businesses begin to reopen and industries start to recover amidst the coronavirus, the hospitality industry is slow to see signs of recovery.
Travel is still limited across much of the nation and under Phase 1 in Oregon, leisure travel is prohibited.
Even with the struggle to rebound, hospitality industry experts are looking at the changes and adjustments to a new normal as a opportunity.
“There’s a real opportunity here to showcase what other things southern Oregon has to offer that visitors don’t even realize,” said Brad Niva, the executive director for Travel Southern Oregon.
“I think Oregon, southern Oregon specifically, is well positioned for regional travel and allows for social distancing; whether that be rafting, fishing, hiking, enjoying the great outdoors,” said Terry Hopkins, the membership representative for Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association.
With an optimistic outlook, there’s still large drops in the market that will only take time to recover.
“I think the industry as a whole will likely follow what you’re seeing as one to two years for our numbers, our revenues, our occupancies to come back to where we were in 2019,” said Liz Dahlager, Vice President of Market Intelligence for Mereté Hotels.
Occupancy numbers dropped as much as 70% but they are beginning to slowly creep back up.
“The trend is a nice upward curve from the low being 20-25% occupancy, all the way up to, I mean we’re seeing some spikes up to 70%,” said Niva, “for example, in Ashland last week Lithia Springs Resort, which has 38 rooms, was sold out.”
“We’re seeing increases in occupancy each week and we are optimistic that that will continue to come back but the initial declines were very significant across the hotel industry,” said Dahlager.
As the occupancy numbers increase, industry experts will be looking to change their marketing strategies to meet the new travel realities of customers.
“As we come out of COVID-19 and travel starts becoming a little more relevant people are going to be very conservative,” said Niva, “we don’t expect anyone to travel more than 600 miles that seems to be the standard, 3 to 5 miles hours from home and they are going to drive.”
“Regional travel here will be our saving grace as we get back into it,” said Hopkins.