Arizona hospitality industry remains hopeful, but realistic in COVID-19 pandemic

The hotel industry is still trying to find its way out of a terrible year as the COVID-19 pandemic nearly halted out of town travel.

While some businesses say they’ve kept their heads above the water, larger venues are struggling, like the Arizona Biltmore, which filed a layoff notice for hundreds of employees.

After a brutal spring, Bill Nassikas with Westroc Hospitality says his smallest hotel property in Paradise Valley has bounced back the best.

Kim Sabow with the Arizona Lodging and Tourism Association estimates Arizona has lost $10 billion this year alone due to a lack of travelers making their way through the state.

"It’s the groups and business meeting travel that is just crushing the industry. Conventions, the big events things of that nature, that really bring in meaningful revenue into our industry," Sabow explained.

Notices filed with the state indicate the Arizona Biltmore is set to lay off 367 employees. Aramark filed to lay off 150 people at the Phoenix Convention Center but plans to hire them back eventually.

Sabow is hopeful for busy months ahead and believes the news of a potential vaccine could save the snowbird season.

"When that consumer confidence is reestablished and people say, 'OK the vaccine is in the works,' it’s going to serve us quite well," she said.

But with the spike in COVID-19 cases in Arizona, and around the country, Nassikas is still worried, saying, "We’re not tracking in the right direction because on some days we’re having as many cancellations as we are new reservations."

After the industry nose-dived in the middle of its busiest month in March, to lose out on a Spring season again could be too much to overcome.

"They come for spring training, they come for the Waste Management Phoenix Open, so it’s going to be very impactful if we lose out on that tremendously important visitation," Sabow explained.

For more coverage on the COVID-19 pandemic in Arizona, click here.