Lodging Survey Results & State COVID-19 Update
March 23, 2020
Dear WH&LA Lodging Member:

Today Governor Evers mentioned just a few details of his next Emergency Order that will be released in full detail tomorrow. What we do know is his “Safer at Home” plan will require non-essential businesses to close until further notice, as part of an approach to further restrict the spread of COVID-19 in Wisconsin. What is not confirmed or official is what changes there might be to what is defined as “Essential Businesses” compared to the last Order. In all of the past orders, Hotels/lodging was exempt from the restrictions (except for meeting/event space, maximum gathering limits, restaurant and bar restrictions, etc.) and later was defined as an essential business. The WH&LA has asked for hotels/lodging to continue to be an essential business to enable to provide important lodging for medical and health professionals, other essential businesses where travel away from home is necessary, and those who cannot go home for the time being. We believe that this designation will continue, but until it is announced tomorrow, nothing is certain. We will continue to provide the latest information once details can be confirmed.

WH&LA Lodging Member Survey Results on COVID-19 Impact
Less than one week ago we initiated our original survey to let everyone know what the rest of the industry was experiencing. As a few days passed we could see that the impact was dramatically changing and there was a need for ned survey information not only for us, but for our membership. The following is a brief summary of our second survey which ended early this morning:
  • Once again we had over 100 responses representing approximately 140+ properties
  • Once again we had a close split between franchise and independent properties participating
  • While all three categories of number of rooms/units were within a few percentage points of each other, the 0-50 rooms/units was the largest participating
  • This time a stronger majority of properties identified themselves as hotels, followed by resorts and motels, however with all categories represented
  • The central region again had the most respondents, however others were not far off
  • There was a significant jump in the amount of business lost in the Meetings/Conferences/Weddings category from 2 weeks ago through end-April, not surprisingly with the recent restrictions on gatherings, but also with concerns of travelers. 61% reported losses of 90-100% in this category, and 71% reported a 75% or more loss.
  • Business travel losses showed 50% reporting a 90-100% loss, and 66% showing a 75% or more loss
  • Leisure travel losses showed 55% reporting a 90-100% loss, and 78% showing a 75% or more loss
  • Aggregate losses for all parts of the property (including restaurants, waterparks, etc.) were reported that 56% had losses of 90-100%, and 82% had losses of 75% or more
  • Looking ahead to the months of May & June, 12% reported losses at 90-100%, with 48% reporting less than 50% losses
  • Regarding employee lay-offs, 69% reported they either have already or will this week lay-off employees, with 26% saying they have none to date
  • Regarding the levels of those having lay-offs, 32% reported 75-90% of their employees, and 20% reported less than 25% were laid off
  • Regarding those planning to lay-off employees soon, 35% were predicting 75 – 90% of their employees would be laid off, and 24% projected less than 25%
  • Regarding plans to stay open or temporarily close, 37% had no plans to close, 19% are already closed, 13% plan to close soon, and 30% said they are undecided
  • On the topic of other uses of your property, 47% are considering lodging hospital/medical staff who normally do not stay overnight, 37% would consider providing lodging for hospital overcrowding, and 25% would consider lodging for the homeless, paid by an agency. A number of other comments noted other options they are individually looking into.
  • The most highly rated potential assistance members want from the state is interest-free loans, however at least 60% also were in favor of all the other options listed, such as extensions for tax deadlines, eliminating the one week wait for unemployment for their employees, and more
  • On the federal level, over 80% would like to see grants to help them to meet payroll and employee insurance coverage, 67% would like interest-free loans, or other assistance
  • Open comments focused primarily on the concern over paying bills and what this is doing to their employees, but overall reflected the challenges now and around the corner for our industry.

You can pretty much count on hearing more from us tomorrow on further state and federal developments. Please know that we appreciate your patience with the delays in being able to reply daily to a volume of questions and concerns you have shared, as we have needed to shift to remote operations, with it’s limitations. Special thanks go to Monica Goeke who has managed to turn around all these  Capitol Insiders  quickly regardless of the day or hour I am able to send it to her!


Trisha A. Pugal, CAE
Interim CEO
Wisconsin Hotel & Lodging Association