As domestic and international travel slows to a trickle amid the global coronavirus pandemic, hotels around the world have either shut their doors or seen their occupancy numbers nosedive. But many of them haven’t gone dark entirely.
As of March 25, 7 out of 10 hotel rooms were empty across the United States, according to the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA). The association reported that hotels are currently on pace to lose more than $500 million in room revenue per day (or $3.5 billion per week) based on current and estimated future occupancy rates. Nearly 4 million total jobs have either been eliminated or will be eliminated in the next few weeks, AHLA reported.
“COVID-19 has been especially devastating for the hotel industry,” stated Chip Rogers, AHLA president and CEO. But he added, “The hospitality industry stands ready and able to do whatever we can to make it through this unprecedented crisis, while building a foundation for a stronger tomorrow.”
Despite the devastation, hotels around the world have started turning on guest room lights at night that form messages of encouragement and hope. Whether the illuminations are in the shape of a heart or spell out the words “hope” or “love,” they’re an attempt to spread some positivity during an extremely challenging time.
“It’s been incredible to see this grow into a movement of now hundreds of hotels around the world all displaying solidarity and support for their local communities,” said Emma Corcoran, vice president of global corporate affairs for Intercontinental Hotels Group.
The company’s Crowne Plaza property in Belgrade, Serbia, was among the first to turn room lights on to display an inspiring message, said Corcoran.
“We’re incredibly proud of the way our hotels teams have responded to these challenging circumstances, supporting guests, our hotel owners, and each other, while also finding new ways to care for our communities. Switching on our lights of love is just one demonstration of that, and we’ve loved seeing more and more hotels across the industry get involved,” she added.
Hundreds of Marriott International properties have also shone similar messages of love and hope, a movement that started totally organically, said Allison Sitch, vice president of public relations for Marriott International, the Americas.
“Just as we are all eager to return to a time when family and friends can come together in our homes, the same is true of the reunion we look forward to with our guests,” said Jaime Moench, market director of sales and marketing of the Ritz-Carlton, Naples in Florida (part of the larger Marriott family), which turned on its lights in the shape of a heart.
The Standard International has had to temporarily close all its hotels due to the coronavirus pandemic—the Standard, High Line; the Standard, East Village; the Standard Spa, Miami Beach; and the Standard, London—but hearts will light up the facades of both the High Line and London properties until the hotels reopen.
The desire is “to inspire hope through a simple, yet powerful, visual communication,” the company said in a statement.
The Intercontinental Mark Hopkins in San Francisco had to close in March, but “we decided to light up our windows in the shape of a heart to show solidarity and continuous support for our employees and the local community, as a symbol of love and hope,” said Michael Pace, the hotel’s general manager.
Pace noted that many other hotels have done the same in San Francisco, “further spreading the love around our beautiful city. I’ve loved watching the hotel industry come together during this time with the common goal of bringing unity to our cities.”