PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island’s beauty typically draws people from near and far, but the tourism and hospitality industry has been among the hardest hit over the past year.
Rhode Island Hotel Week kicks off this Saturday as a way to drive more business before the peak season begins, according to industry professionals.
“Hotels faced it the worst,” said Robin Erickson, director of domestic tourism and marketing operations at Commerce RI.
Data from the Providence Warwick Convention and Visitors Bureau shows that in 2020, hotels in Providence saw a 70.3% drop in revenue from 2019.
Aaron Messina, the area director of sales and marketing for TPG Hotels and Resorts, oversees four hotels in Providence and said the industry in the city has been struggling.
“From a revenue standpoint, this year is going to be very, very challenging,” he said. “Providence, without the festivals and the universities and the concerts and all of that stuff, doesn’t have the same draw as just going to Newport to walk around.”
The first Rhode Island Hotel Week took place last year, right before the pandemic shut everything down.
“The hotel week concept was an idea to try and drive some business during our ‘shoulder seasons,’ to develop time when necessarily hotels could use a little more business,” Discover Newport President and CEO Evan Smith said.
According to Smith, some hotels in the Newport and Bristol County areas chose to shut down during the first and second quarter of 2020 because the volume of business was so low.
“COVID drove the market down to a minimal point,” he said.
Erickson said 41 locations across Rhode Island are taking part in Hotel Week, with four price points available: $100, $200, $300 and $400, with the prices representing significant discounts.
“30% or more from all these properties, which is no easy task in a year that we’ve had,” she added.
Erickson also said there’s also a list of nine itineraries to show what’s happening in different areas.
“We took the guesswork out of it,” she explained. “You can go find something that speaks to you and enjoy a getaway while supporting the industry.”
Events like Hotel Week are important, according to Erickson, because it not only supports local businesses, but it also supports the community.
Safety is a top priority, she added. There’s a list of CDC guidelines that all hotels are following.