Local hotels seeing mass cancelations

The nearly empty parking lot Comfort Inn & Suites illustrates the effect COVID-19 is having on the economy.

By Blake Spurney

Nicole Blackburn took a reservation from a man Thursday afternoon that she suspected was just trying to make it home.

“A lot of people that are staying are just trying to get home,” said the Holiday Inn Express & Suites desk clerk.

Otherwise, business has been so slow that housecleaning staff gets called in on a room-by- room basis.

“It’s pretty dead,” said Andy Gupta, owner of Red Coach Inn. “I don’t know what the other hotels are doing, but it’s dead here. I don’t think it’s going to get better for a while.”

Jen Kinney, desk clerk with Comfort Inn & Suites, said her hotel was in the process of laying off employees.

“Right now, we’re down to 10 [rooms], and we’re expecting it to be that way for the next couple of weeks,” she said. “We’re looking for those walk-ins.”

Holiday Inn and Comfort Inn have cut rates, but it hasn’t made much of a difference. Kinney said people had canceled their reservations through May, which includes blocks for a couple of weddings.

“Hopefully that’s the end of that.”

Blackburn at one point counted all the cancellations from weddings and big events like the Kansas Press Association convention.

“Last time I looked, it was over 300 to 400 nights,” she said.

Kinney said she wanted customers, but one never knows from where people were coming when they check into a hotel.

“We don’t turn anybody down, but boy do we sanitize constantly,” she said. The hotel recently received a new batch of cleaner that is supposed to kill the COVID-19 virus.

Kinney said until recently most of the clientel at Comfort Inn had been BNSF employees, who checked out Monday, and some random random construction workers.