A Happy New Year to all our members and their families from all of us at HANYC! That it has been a tumultuous year like none other is painfully clear to all of us. The tremendous financial losses along with many hotel closures that started in the immediate aftermath of the pandemic unfortunately continue.
From the outset, HANYC has been actively engaged with stakeholders in the City and State in a number of areas from legislative to programming in an effort to alleviate the financial pain that has befallen most of us. This included successfully lobbying Albany to have hotels classified as “essential,” thereby allowing them to remain open, albeit in a limited way.
We were also successful in getting the Governor’s office to issue an Executive Order (“EO”) that ensured there would be no Landlord-Tenant relationship caused as a consequence of hotels hosting COVID patients or individuals associated with the response to the pandemic. This EO has been renewed twice due to our continuing direct efforts.
When the Governor imposed a quarantine requirement for anyone coming into the state from 37 other states, we actively engaged with the Executive Office to suggest a more business friendly approach that did not compromise public safety. Our efforts resulted in the present three day plus PCR test on the fourth day structure. We continue to advocate for a simpler, negative PCR test prior to travel to NY.
Early in the pandemic, the City of New York requested HANYC to administer what has turned out to be a nearly $300 million FEMA contract on an emergency basis for moving homeless individuals from shelters to hotels. After completing the considerable legal hurdles in a record two weeks, we onboarded 63 hotels that continue to benefit from the contract which is expected to last through June of this year.
We worked with City and State officials in a number of other areas looking to mitigate the effects of regulatory changes brought about by the pandemic such as the NYC mandated Traveler Health Form where we successfully worked with City officials to limit a hotel’s liability with regard to enforcement of the requirement.
The lockdown and infeasibility of in-person meetings resulted in us, like most others, pivoting to virtual for seminars as well. Among the many industry-specific seminars we conducted were on Hotel Loan Restructuring by Lotus Capital Partners, a specialized and unique boutique in this field; Cleaning and Disinfecting by Germ Free Earth Sciences; Impact of COVID on hotels by CBRE’s NorthEast Advisory team; E&Y’s COVID-19 forecasting seminar using their proprietary model, and many seminars by our external labor counsel David Rothfeld and his team. Internationally, a seminar under the aegis of the Global ReformBnB platform featured presentations by AirDNA and STR on the ongoing issues with short-term-rental regulations with attendees from five continents.
When Intro 2049, a Local Law regarding displaced hotel service workers and hotel service disruption notifications was in legislative discussions at the City Council, we engaged the Council Speaker’s office, the bill sponsor, the Committee Chair, and additional Council Members to brief them on the impact of the bill on the hotel industry and suggest specific revisions to the text. We were able to achieve positive and beneficial changes to the bill language, including specific time periods for notification of service disruptions as well as a 120-day push-back of the effective date of the service disruption portion of the bill.
Following the bill's passing as Local Law 99, we have engaged directly with the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) to voice hotels' concerns about the impact of the bill and have shared hotels' feedback on the law's language and the unintended negative consequences of portions of the bill.
We have left no stone unturned in our efforts in the local, national and international press to highlight the plight of the industry and the need for remedial measures resulting in over a hundred articles and several hours of TV exposure in outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, Skynews, New York Times, Bloomberg News, NBC, Commercial Observer, Crain’s New York, the Daily Mail, Fox News, Business Traveler and AP News among others.
Lastly, HANYC has continued its efforts at expanding its membership base and is pleased to have added another dozen members, despite the pandemic.
We look forward to continuing to advocate strongly and effectively for the industry at City Hall, Albany and the Federal level in the coming year and beyond.
I would like to close by thanking the Board of Directors and Chairman, Fred Grapstein, for their support through an extremely difficult year and the small but highly effective, dedicated and motivated team at HANYC: Niki Franzitta, Albert Fernandez, Rhea Randhawa, Neil Tai, Tamta Beriashvili and Alan Guan.