Hotel industry sees slow visitor return, hopes for more bookings during holidays

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — For many hotels that are now reopening, reaching anywhere near half-occupancy during the holidays would be a major accomplishment. But unfortunately, hotels are seeing very few bookings in advance.

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The Shoreline Hotel Waikiki was among the properties to reopen on Nov. 1. The director of revenue management, May Cabauatan, said that they are seeing a different trend in visitors.

“We are noticing that there are not a lot of families,” Cabauatan said. “Right now, the ones who are booking are just the couples or single, or someone working doing ‘workation’ because they finally can do that.”  

The COVID-19 pandemic completely disrupted tourism. The state recently began granting quarantine exemptions to visitors who participate in its safe travel program and test negative for the virus.

Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association President and CEO Mufi Hannemann said it is less likely that large families will opt to vacation in Hawaii during the ongoing pandemic.

“Because now the requirement and the necessity to limit major social gatherings,” Hannemann said. “And also, because of the elderly who traditionally have traveled in the past. Now, it’s very, very different.”  

Hannemann said this is the expected trickle of visitors.

Vikram Singh consults with Shoreline Hotel and other properties to help with digital and revenue strategies. He said, “If you could hit 30% of what we were doing last year, it’s a really tremendous goal at this point.”  

Early bookings months in advance are no longer happening. At most, guests are booking just a few weeks ahead of their stay.

On the Big Island, Mauna Kea Resort’s Vice President of Operations Craig Anderson said it is possible that they will see more reservations made during the upcoming holidays.

“The festive period seems to be picking up. Maybe we’ll get into the 40s or 50s, or perhaps a little bit higher depending on the hotel,” Anderson said. “But we’re clearly a long way away from where we were last year.”  

He noticed some confusion from guests on the required arrival antigen test when an arrival test is optional in the other counties.

Anderson said, “Our concern would be if someone’s weighing which island they go to based on whether they may have another test.”  

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