Kindness & Respect Needed as Hospitality Businesses See More Guests
Eugene, OR - COVID dealt the hospitality industry a major blow over the past 18 months, but once again the industry shows that resilience pays off, Lane County's lodging properties are seeing room demand increase as pent up leisure travelers venture out and as track and field aficionados came in large numbers to experience three signature track meets at Hayward Field in June.
Lodging tax receipts are a key performance indicator and, while it wasn't difficult to surpass dismal 2020 room tax receipts, spring 2021 is showing room tax receipts equal to or exceeding pre-pandemic levels.
It probably shouldn't come as a surprise, since they are home to a lighthouse, but Florence has seen room tax receipts increase by approximately 20% throughout FY21. These increases were driven by locals heeding calls to stay close to home and take staycations and strong leisure travel demand from visitors coming to Lane County.
Record-setting June receipts bumped the fiscal year-end tax receipts to slightly more than $11 million. While still 10% below FY19 receipts, demand is clearly returning and this provides the hospitality industry a level of cautious optimism. Cautious for two key reasons. First, the recent COVID surge is affecting leisure travel sentiment and slowing the return of conventions and meetings business that metro area hotels rely upon for year-round room sales. Second, workforce shortages continue to cause many restaurants and hotels to struggle. employment opportunities range from entry level (now with higher starting wages) to professional and technical level positions. A partial list of hospitality businesses with open positions may be seen here.
As visitor activity has increased, so too have reports of poor guest behavior. The return of mask mandates means the number of difficult interactions is likely to increase. Restaurants and hotels are seeing employees targeted by verbal assaults over things like mask policies, seating wait times, longer waits for orders to arrive and, in the case of hotels, reductions in daily room cleaning practices.
Employees are working hard to give guests great experiences and it's important that guests recognize how hard these employees are working and show these employees respect and kindness. In many cases, the person serving you is a manager or owner who is trying to keep things running smoothly. Our partners at the Florence Area Chamber of Commerce launched a summer SMILE campaign to provide a positive way visitors can show their respect for employees and the Oregon Coast Visitors Association developed social media assests for businesses to encourage good behavior. Travel Lane County is providing poster templates for businesses that can be printed and posted in an effort to improve guest interactions, using its social media channels to promote positive interactions and has updated a public service announcement that will be distributed to Lane County radio stations.
Let's do our part to support our amazing Lane County businesses!
Travel Lane County markets and promotes the Eugene, Cascades and Coast region as a destination for travel, conventions, sports, meetings and events. It serves as a private, nonprofit association dedicated to economic development through visitor spending, which pumped more than $1.1 billion into Lane County, Oregon's economy in 2022. EugeneCascadesCoast.org