COVID-19 Postpones GMID

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COVID-19 has led to the temporary shut down of the New York Hilton.

As a result of the spreading COVID-19 coronavirus, the Meetings Mean Business Coalition has postponed Global Meetings Industry Day (GMID), scheduled for Tuesday, April 14, 2020. This annual day of advocacy shines a light on the positive impact that face-to-face meetings has on businesses and the economy.

“New meeting restrictions, travel bans and social distancing protocols make it impossible to move forward at this time. We are living in a world of great uncertainty and while we look forward to the moment when everyone who wants to participate in GMID can do so safely and confidently, we are not there yet,” according to a statement released by the coalition as the travel industry reels from COVID-19.

This announcement comes as the U.S. Travel Association is projecting that decreased travel due to the virus will inflict an $809 billion total hit on the U.S. economy and eliminate 4.6 million travel-related American jobs this year.

At a Tuesday White House meeting with President Donald J. Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, and other travel leaders, Roger Dow, U.S. Travel Association President and CEO, urged the administration to consider $150 billion in overall relief for the travel sector.

The fallout from the virus is significant. Take Marriott International, the world’s largest hotel company with 30 brands and more than 7,000 properties across 131 countries, that is reporting it is starting to furlough workers as it starts to shut down properties.

“As travel restrictions and social distancing efforts around the world become more widespread, we are experiencing significant drops in demand at properties globally with an uncertain duration,” Marriott said in a statement. “We are adjusting global operations accordingly, which has meant either reduction in hours or a temporary leave for many of our associates at our properties.”

Hilton has done the same. Not only has it furloughed employees, but various properties, take the Capital Hilton in Washington, D.C., and the New York Hilton Midtown, for example, have temporarily closed.

During the White House meeting, hotel industry leaders said the virus outbreak is on pace to cause a more significant economic hit than the 2001 terrorist strikes and the 2008-09 recession combined.

The numbers are staggering. Hotel occupancy rates were around 80% a few weeks ago but are now 10% to 20% in the busiest cities of the country, reported Chip Rogers, president of the American Hotel & Lodging Association. The original version of this story appeared on the website of sister publication, Recommend.

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