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Life after COVID-19 pandemic: hotel buffets may be gone forever

Brian Sozzi
·Editor-at-Large
·3 min read
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Ingesting 3,000 calories in under an hour - while spreading germs by touching various serving spoons and plates — at the hotel breakfast buffet may be a thing of the past in life after the COVID-19 pandemic, numerous industry insiders have told Yahoo Finance.

“I think it’s a long time before buffets come back. Even with sneeze guards and things like that, I think that the time of the buffet in a hotel, breakfast buffets are long gone,” said Aimbridge Hospitality CEO Dave Johnson on Yahoo Finance’s The First Trade.

Aimbridge manages more than 1,400 hotels for well known chains such as Hilton and Marriott. Johnson expects hotel gyms to reopen as states allow. Pools will still be good to go, Johnson says, but seating will be spaced out to promote social distancing. Cleaning protocols will also be taken to the next level — something Yahoo Finance recently heard from Hilton CEO Christopher Nassetta.

That said, judging by current trends in the hotel industry amidst a nation still under quarantine it’s clear buffets wouldn’t be doing much business now anyway.

Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Orlando at SeaWorld, breakfast buffet. (Photo by: Jeffrey Greenberg/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Orlando at SeaWorld, breakfast buffet. (Photo by: Jeffrey Greenberg/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Hotel occupancy for the week of May 3-9 crashed 55.9% year-over-year to a mere 30.1%, according to new data from industry research firm STR. Revenue per available room (RevPar) plunged 74.4% to $22.95. Aggregate data for the top 25 markets for hotels showed larger year-on-year declines than the national averages for occupancy, average daily room rates and RevPAR.

Minor signs of a recovery in hotel demand have emerged, but most experts agree the rebound will take some time to gain steam in any form.

“More people are flying, as shown in daily checkpoint counts from the TSA, and more people are staying in hotels for a variety of purposes—the weekly number of rooms sold topped 10 million for the first time since the end of March. The markets benefiting more from leisure sources in areas with more relaxed distancing measures will see a sharper recovery line than others. Overall, the recovery will be uneven across the country,” said Jan Freitag, STR senior vice president of lodging insights.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and co-anchor of The First Trade at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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