With the return of Marathon, hotels expect a busy weekend, but challenges remain



Runner Kelly O’Rourke, center, of Minneapolis, wore his Boston Marathon jacket while shopping with wife Tina, right, at Marathon Sports on Boylston Street in Boston on Thursday.Craig F. Walker / Globe Staff

The marathon weekend has always been busy for local hotels. Add in a slew of other events – Red Sox playoffs, postponed pandemic weddings finally happening, people looking for a change of scenery – and occupancy is on the rise, at least for now. , Fischer said.

Although hard data is not yet available for the fall, Boston’s hotel market has been one of the slowest to recover in the country, according to data from Pinnacle Advisory Group, a Boston-based hospitality consultant.

Year-to-date revenue is down about 70% from 2019 levels. Business travel has yet to rebound, meaning hotels are relying on leisure travelers . Still, September was stronger than analysts expected, and October could follow suit – thanks to sporting events, college weekends for parents, and warm weather extending holiday seasons.

“It’s a boost for the market, and it’s at a time when we need it most,” said Sebastian Colella, vice president of Pinnacle Advisory Group.

Events like the marathon and a revived fall sports scene gave hotels the guests they badly needed to make up for lost business trips, Chris Allen, general manager of the Boston Marriott Newton on Commonwealth Avenue, said at a mile and a half from Heartbreak Hill.

This weekend they are almost full, he said.

“Our weekends, Fridays and Saturdays, have been the bread and butter this fall, and even throughout the summer,” he said. “When [the Delta variant] started to increase in July, which did not dampen leisure travel as much as business travel.

But like so many other sectors of the economy right now, some workers are not benefiting from the rise in business, said Carlos Aramayo, president of UNITE HERE Local 26, a union of hospitality workers. Its members have only saw about 60% of their hours restored, Aramayo estimated, although the number may be higher this weekend. But entire departments in large hotels – usually people who worked in room service, restaurants, or lounges – stay at home.

If customers pay for an expensive hotel room and can’t order room service or access the services they expect, Aramayo said, he’s worried they’ll choose an Airbnb or another short term rental the next time they visit town.

“We strongly believe that at this time, the interests of our members, the workers who wish to return to work, align with the interests of our customers, who wish to have a full service experience in hotels,” said Aramayo . “From my perspective, many hotels in Boston are owned by real estate investment trusts…. These are places that have been very aggressive not to reopen things. I think a lot of these financial entities make these decisions without thinking about the guests. “

Among those employees is Zalinda Singh, who worked for room catering services at Hilton Boston Logan Airport from 2015 to 2020, when she lost her job due to the pandemic.

“It’s my favorite place to work,” Singh said. “You have an idea, I just made this person’s day a lot better. Even though they had a bad experience elsewhere, I can improve it.

Singh lives in East Boston with her husband and 11-year-old daughter. They lost a family member to COVID, and she and a few other relatives fell ill. Since federal unemployment assistance for people made redundant during the pandemic expired in September, she said, it’s hard to make sure her daughter isn’t too worried about money.

Singh would love to go back to work, she said – she misses her coworkers and interacting with the guests, making sure their platters are perfectly suited so that she can bring some joy to their days.

“We are patiently waiting,” Singh said. “We think we are long overdue.”

You can reach Gal Tziperman Lotan at [email protected] or 617-929-2043.



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