Inn owner predicts bleak winter as COVID-19 continues to impact the lodging industry

Inn owner predicts bleak winter as COVID-19 continues to impact the lodging industry

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The lodging industry is seeing a mild uptick, but is still reeling from the effects of the pandemic with the holiday season approaching. Hotel owners say this year there will probably be more than enough room at the inn.

As hotel sales nationally dipped more than 70% this summer, the fall has seen a slight rebound continue, but hoteliers and innkeepers are not out of the woods yet. Across Virginia, hotel revenue was down 50% this past week versus the same week last year. In Charlottesville, the losses are lower – hotels in the city saw just a 30% drop over the past two weeks compared to 2019.

When we spoke to Ryan Hubbard, owner of the Dinsmore Inn, over the summer, he said that peak vacation travel had dried up, but the hotel was seeing a small boost from staycations. He said the number of people traveling shorter distances around the state to get out of the house without risking air travel was a boon during lean times. That boost has continued in the fall.

“We have picked up some of those short distance travelers, and obviously, to fall in Virginia is a great attraction,” Hubbard said.

However, where fall would have also brought in increased visitors to UVA, the lack of events has kept occupancy low. Despite the holidays on the horizon, he does not see more visitors in Charlottesville’s stocking.

“We’re projecting a rather large retraction for the winter,” Hubbard explained. "I’m not seeing any trends and our future bookings to indicate that the winter is going to, and the holiday season is going to, do well for lodging in Charlottesville.”

Hubbard says that the Dinsmore is already looking past the winter, and focusing its efforts on lining up business for next year. Inn staff are currently working on group bookings for the spring and summer of 2021, as it tries to rebound from what is increasingly looking like a completely lost year.

Copyright 2020 WVIR. All rights reserved.