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Hotels, Bed And Breakfasts Trim Operations While Waiting Out Pandemic

The hotel and hospitality industry has seen a dramatic drop in customers since mid-March and Northeast Ohio has not been an exception.

The coronavirus pandemic has temporarily halted sporting events, graduations and large gatherings like conventions, all of which provide the bulk of business for area hotels and bed and breakfasts.

Most guests at the Clifford House Bed and Breakfast in Ohio City have already canceled their reservations through June, said owner James Miner, and he’s had to limit the number of rooms he offers.

“In a house like mine, there’s really no easy way to control it. In two of the rooms, they’re walking past my own room to get to their room,” Miner said. “At this point in time, it’s just not socially distanced enough for me.”

Between 20 and 25 guests had reserved Clifford House rooms between March and June, Miner said, and May is normally a busy time with college graduations and visits.

A majority of the guests agreed to accept credit for a future stay rather than a refund, Miner said.

“That was a big relief,” Miner said. “Because obviously in a small business you cannot afford to return 20, 25 deposits all in one fell swoop.”

But providing credit for a future visit doesn’t prevent the bed and breakfast from losing money.

“I don’t think there is a word ‘recovery’ in this business,” he said. “I just lost three months of income, and even the people that took a credit for future use, that’s not extra money.”

Only three people have stayed at the property since March, Miner said, and he’s had to cancel the family-style breakfasts he normally offers. He’s also halted service from the part-time housing staff and is cleaning the property himself.

The pandemic struggle isn’t limited to small or privately owned properties. The Beachwood Doubletree hotel this week notified the state of 85 layoffs. The layoffs, enacted March 20, were the result of “a dramatic reduction in room occupancy and business operation.”

The Cleveland Hostel normally gets high traffic in March and April thanks to spring break travelers, said owner Mark Raymond, but those reservations have been canceled. Compared to April of last year, Raymond said the hostel’s business is down 90 percent.

A few people have made reservations for later this year, he said, but he isn’t sure when business will really pick up again.

For now, the hostel has closed its café and is operating with reduced staff, Raymond said. Management is considering some operational changes, he said, particularly for shared rooms housing four to eight people at one time.

“The travel industry lags behind everything else,” Raymond said. “Even if you’re allowed to do it, there’s still whether or not people want to do it.”

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