Des Moines, Iowa, metro hotels are participating in a "Buy Now, Visit Later" hotel bonds campaign that will give guests who purchase a $100 voucher now an extra $50 when they book a room later, reports the Des Moines Register, which is a part of the USA TODAY Network.
The campaign, sponsored by Catch Des Moines, is aimed at giving hotels a boost during the coronavirus pandemic. People are invited to purchase a $100 hotel voucher at nearly 30 participating hotels, which will turn into $150 after the voucher, referred to as a bond, "matures" in 60 days.
Tech-savvy entrepreneurs and hotel groups have come up with the idea of selling credits that can be bought at a discount to be used for future room nights, food and for services like spa treatments.
If consumers bite, it's a win-win – hoteliers make a dent in their massive losses and locked-down customers get a big break on a future hotel stay. Whether or not it ends up making much of an impact, the concept shows that the hotel industry is at least trying to think creatively as it faces one of its biggest crises ever.
With empty hotel rooms and furloughed employees, the hospitality industry is one of the hardest-hit as Americans limit travel to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus.
Metrowide, hotels are reporting occupancy rates of 20%, according to data from Catch Des Moines. A healthy occupancy rate is about 60%.
Nationally, hotels have lost more than $21 billion in room revenue and nearly 3.9 million total jobs have either been eliminated or will be eliminated, according to the American Hotel & Lodging Association.
"Our hotels play a vital role in sustaining the wonderful quality of life we enjoy in Greater Des Moines," said Greg Edwards, president and CEO of Catch Des Moines, the metro's convention and visitors bureau and sports commission. "We're asking the community to invest in the industry that contributes to our culture and fuels growth for our entire region."
To learn more about the "Buy Now, Visit Later" campaign and purchase hotel bonds, visit catchdesmoines.com/buynowvisitlater.
Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson, much like other hotel industry executives, painted a somber but hopeful picture about the state of hospitality during the coronavirus pandemic Monday – and introduced a new company gift card strategy likely to entice travel-hungry consumers.
Sorenson teased a new discount gift card promotion during an earnings call this week. Marriott spokesman John Wolf provided the details to USA TODAY: Until May 17, customers can purchase a Marriott Bonvoy gift card at a 20% discount, to be used globally this summer and beyond. Further details are available here, including which gift cards hold the applicable discount.
Guests can only purchase this online, and exclude the Bulgari and Design Hotels, Ritz-Carlton Residences and Homes and Villas by Marriott International brands.
Kim Norvell covers growth and development for the Register. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 515-284-8259. Follow her on Twitter @KimNorvellDMR.
Contributing: Chris Woodyard and David Oliver, USA TODAY
Pay now, book later:Hotels sell credits, offering deep discounts for future stays
More Marriott details:If you want 20% off your late-summer stay at Marriott, now's your chance