April 15, 2020 (Council Bluffs, Iowa)—Like other industries, Council Bluffs hotels lost millions of dollars in business due to COVID-19 related cancellations, according to a recent survey by the Council Bluffs Convention & Visitors Bureau.

The losses total $3,651,468.30 in canceled room nights and catering. Two hundred and forty-nine groups representing 11,285 room nights were lost. Another 13,692 room nights were lost from individual bookings, otherwise known as transient business. When asked about the first half of the year, eight hotels responded, and they anticipated a decrease in business in terms of occupancy or guest room rate or both.

All 13 of the responses indicated their staff had been reduced. They reported a reduction of 93 full-time staff and 73 part-time. When asked about future staff layoffs, five indicated those were likely or very likely to occur. Five hotels stated they don’t know. Only three replied that future layoffs were unlikely.

Two hotels, Ameristar Casino Hotel and Harrah’s Hotel & Casino, have temporarily closed. The number of full-time and part-time staff laid off was not reported.

“Council Bluffs hotels are taking a huge hit like so many local businesses,” said Mark Eckman, executive director of the Council Bluffs CVB. “With fewer travelers coming to Pottawattamie County, the ripple effect of these lost customers is likely to impact not only hotels but restaurants, convenience stores, and other retailers.”

According to the US Travel Association, travelers spent $334.69 million at businesses in Pottawattamie County during 2018, the most recent data available.

“Travelers represent new customers for local businesses and new taxpayers for local government, Eckman said. Together, those provide a benefit to all local residents.”

The Council Bluffs CVB sent the questionnaire to 22 Council Bluffs hotels on April 2nd and received responses from 13 by April 9th.

The Council Bluffs CVB serves as a catalyst to grow Pottawattamie County’s visitor economy through collaborative sales and marketing, destination advocacy, and sustainable placemaking activities in order to enhance the region’s quality of life. For more information, visit UNleashCB.com.

This post was originally published on April 16, 2020 on the Unleash Council Bluffs blog.