Rupal Patel, owner of Comfort Inn & Suites Hotel in Carbon Cliff, has brought in her 12-year-old to help with laundry because, like numerous businesses in the hospitality industry, she’s had a hard time finding workers.
More often, she and her husband will pick up shifts, especially late-night ones.
Hotels that closed for months in 2020, like Patel’s, have seen a rebound in leisure tourism this summer with people traveling more in the wake of available vaccinations. But beyond the shortage in staff, the hotel industry isn’t back to normal by any means.
Michael Jacobson, president and CEO of the 650-member Illinois Hotel and Lodging Association, said hotel occupancy across Illinois wasn’t expected to fully rebound to pre-pandemic levels until 2024.
The Quad-Cities region as a whole has 6,500 hotel rooms in 73 hotels, and leisure travel has made up a significant chunk of hotels’ business as companies’ travel is slower to return.
“Weekends have been driving the bus from an occupancy standpoint,” President and CEO of Visit Quad Cities Dave Herrell said.
For example, on Aug. 6, a Friday night, nearly three-quarters of Quad-Cities hotel rooms were occupied, but the previous Tuesday, just over half were occupied.
“The summer has certainly been exceeding our expectations on hotel occupancy …,” Herrell said. “But as we get closer to Labor Day, and as we move into the fall, those numbers are going to decline.”