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Hotels Playbook

This playbook provides guidelines for hotels, motels, resorts and other lodging facilities in Greater Des Moines (DSM).

Sample: Midsize Urban Hotel Risk Profile

Hotel Risk Profile Frequency

Hotel Risk Profile Duration

Hotel Risk Profile Variety

This risk profile has been determined for midsize urban hotels in DSM. The profile shows frequency, or how many people in a day; duration, or length of typical interaction; and variety, or the number of different people.*

Current Impact 

Current Impact

Future Trends 

Future Trends

Recommended Practices 

Recommended Practices

Community Partnership 

Community Partnerships

Additional Resources 

Additional Resources

Current Impact

Impact from COVID-19 has been devastating for the hotel industry. According to the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA), as of July 30, more than half of hotel rooms sat empty across the country. This is the addition to the thousands of hotels shuttered completely. The AHLA also reports that since the public health issue began escalating in mid-February, hotels have lost more than $46 billion in room revenue. The job toll is equally devastating with major hotel managers reporting significant layoffs and furloughs. Since February, 4.8 million hospitality and leisure jobs have been lost. In Iowa, where the hotel industry usually supports more than 64,500 jobs, 29,066 total hotel supported jobs have been lost, including 15,824 direct hotel-related jobs (AHLA).

Hotel Rooms Empty

8 out of 10 Hotel Rooms Empty

Hotel Jobs Lost

8.3 Million Lost Jobs

Hotel Jobs Lost in Iowa

25% of Jobs Lost in Iowa


Future Trends

Hotel Operations

Leaner and More Efficient Operations

Hotels will maintain leaner operations long after the current crisis. Operational departments will be consolidated, and many positions won't be refilled immediately.

Hotel Consolidation

Industry Consolidation

Over the return to stabilization, the hotel industry may see some consolidation as operators look for opportunities to protect themselves against unforeseen events and leverage economies of scale. Many small and medium operators may not be able to sustain themselves and become targets of large management companies with the cash and resources to navigate the crisis more successfully.

Hotel Technology Adoption

Automation Adoption

Major hotel brands have made important progress in technology adoption, such as digital room keys and digital check-in. The current crisis incentivizes other hotel brands to do the same. This technology will not only protect hotel personnel from contagion but also save hotel owners money by operating with fewer people.

Recommended Practices

Health & Sanitation

  • Conduct a health screening with all employees before their shifts in accordance with the most up to date recommendations from the local public health department.
  • Encourage employees who feel sick to stay home.  Employees who have had close contact with someone with COVID-19 should take precautions, including self-quarantine, in accordance with CDC guidance.
  • Face masks and other PPE should be worn by employees and guests in accordance with the most up to date recommendations from the local public health department.
    • People two or older are required to wear a mask or face covering when inside and indoor public space and when social distancing is not possible for 15 minutes or longer. Exemptions include people with medical conditions, people working alone or where social distancing can be maintained, people consuming food or drink and people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
  • Remind guests to wear face masks in the lobby or other common areas.
  • Require employees to comply with guidelines on sanitation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Iowa Department of Public Health.  
  • Train all employees on appropriate cleaning and disinfection, hand hygiene, and respiratory etiquette. 
  • Make hand sanitizer readily available to guests in public areas. Consider touchless hand sanitizing solutions.
  • Increase length of time between vacancies to clean rooms thoroughly. 
  • Ensure that all housekeeping staff clean rooms with appropriate personal protective gear, including gloves and masks.

Hotel Employee Health

Process & Space Modifications

  • Eliminate/reduce in-person check-in or checkout with automated processes, such as online reservation and check-in, mobile room key and contactless payment.
  • Install protective shields (sneeze guards) between areas of guest-staff interaction, such as the front desk, concierge, and valet stands.
  • Create social distance markers in your public areas to control check-in lines and general crowding.
  • Reconfigure your restaurant, lobby and lounge seating to maintain appropriate spacing between seated guests.
  • Remove all service items in guest rooms including glassware, coffee cups, etc.
  • Provide amenities on demand to guests, or have guests select the amenities they want prior to check in, so that they can be delivered to the room fresh and sanitized.
  • Implement contactless room service, where items are left outside the door.
  • Allow guests to opt out of everyday housekeeping if they do not want staff coming into their room on a daily basis.
  • Public spaces, and the front desk, need to be cleaned frequently. If possible, provide disposable disinfectant wipes to front-of-house staff to disinfect surfaces between guests. High touch areas in public spaces include tables in the lobby area, buttons on elevators, water fountains, and ice and vending machines. Pens at the front desk, room keys and key cards should also be cleaned with disinfectant.
  • Train housekeeping staff to use the disinfectants safely and correctly. Schedule and perform routine cleaning and disinfection of all contact surfaces in public areas, guestrooms, television remote controls, toilet flush handles, door handles, water faucet handles and flooring.
  • Add disinfectant when washing laundry. Bed scarves and bedspreads should be washed between guests.
  • Transition continental breakfast to pre-packaged "grab and go" items.
  • Hotel gym, pools and spas should ensure that physical distancing requirements can be enforced and cleaning and disinfecting protocols are in place.
  • Eliminate or place limits on the number of participants for conferences/meetings.
  • Emphasize self-parking options, where possible. If valet service is provided, disinfecting of contact points within the vehicle is required. In addition, van and shuttle service should be limited and disinfecting of contact points will be required.
  • Stagger employee schedules and breaks on both a shift- and work-week basis.
  • Tighten restrictions on visitors or off-duty employees in the building.
  • Limit interactions between departments.

Hotel Facilities


  • Communicate often with staff to remind them of the importance of adhering to sanitization guidelines.
  • Post signage for both guests and staff with recommended public health guidelines, including social distancing, hand washing, coughing and sneezing into a tissue or into arm, wearing masks and avoiding handshakes.
  • Advise current and past guests immediately if you become aware of a COVID-19 positive individual on the premises.

Hotel Communication

Community Partnerships

Hotel Employees

Supporting Essential Workers

Repurpose your hotel and provide a safe space for these health care workers during this crisis. Laurie Tigges, the owner of Big Blue Bed and Breakfast in Adel, Iowa, has offered her home for medical and personnel and first responders for free. Residents offered to bring groceries to workers in the home. Big Al's BBQ and Adel Family Fun Center offered meals. Harmony Hall, a local events business, offered "glamping" space as well.

Hawkeye Hotels Logo

Hawkeye Hotels across the state of Iowa are offering free or significantly discounted hotel guestrooms to health care workers and first responders who have been affected by COVID and need a temporary place to stay. The Hampton Inn and Suites in West Des Moines has also provided complimentary rooms for medical professionals during the crisis.

Sheltering Homeless

Providing Shelter to the Homeless

Work with local governments and organizations to help preserve medical resources and provide space for people who don't have a safe place to isolate. In late March, Polk County announced it would work with the Youth Inn on the Iowa State Fairgrounds to shelter homeless residents in need of isolation.

Additional Resources

Recommended Playbooks

The business function playbooks include takeaways that are specific to professional functions that could be present in any business, regardless of industry.

Finance Button

Human Resources
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Information Technology
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Legal Button

Operations Button

Sales and Marketing
Sales and Marketing Button

*We note that these assessments are qualitative and based on expert-led judgment (Johns Hopkins, 2020). Currently, there are not enough detailed data available to enable quantitative risk stratification. Businesses will need to make decisions about re-initiating business activities before there are validated data to know the precise levels of risk.

Legal Disclaimer

The Greater Des Moines Partnership's DSM Forward playbook is not intended to constitute legal advice or provide specific direction. The preparation of a business continuity or preparations plan should be undertaken with the advice and direction of appropriate specialists and personnel, in consideration of the unique circumstances impacting each business. Third-party websites or material linked to or referenced in DSM Forward are for informational purposes only and do not constitute a recommendation of The Partnership of that material or its authors.

Last updated: 8/17/2020