Member Spotlight: Hospitality and Entertainment Organizations During COVID-19
Written by Stephanie Eggers, fellow
A Better City members continue to step up during these difficult times to help frontline workers and committing unused resources in order to help those most impacted by the pandemic and explore ways to safely bring patrons back to entertainment spaces. These actions are helping adapt in-person operations to virtual events and support a united relief effort within the community at large. Our final member spotlight this week focuses on the work of hospitality and entertainment organizations in the A Better City Community that are actively engaged in work to reopen spaces to the public safety as well as provide public relief with their valuable resources.
PUTTING COMMUNITY FIRST
Our members recognize the unique opportunities they have to make a positive impact in their community during the fight against COVID-19 to ensure local frontline workers are properly protected and help those most vulnerable or impacted by the pandemic.
- In March, as businesses shuttered and sports were suspended, the Red Sox donated $1 million to pay their ballpark and seasonal employees.i
- Intercontinental Hotel & Residences (IHG) ii, Marriot Internationaliii, and Seaport Hoteliv dedicated their unused hotel rooms to provide healthcare workers with free accommodations close to hospitals. IHG partnered with #FirstRespondersFirst in this effort, Marriot International provided over $10 million worth of hotel stays for healthcare professionals in the most impacted areas or discounted rooms for those that wanted to be closer to their hospital. Seaport Hotel partnered with another ABC member, Partners Healthcare, to provide free hotel rooms to doctors treating COVID-19 patients.
- IHG donated excess food to local food banks while Seaport Hotel collaborated directly with the Greater Boston Food Bank to create almost 37,000 meals to be distributed to local residents.
- Marriot International allowed members to donate their Marriot Bonvoy points to relief organizations instead of using them for personal travel.
- Massachusetts Convention Center Authority created the temporary Boston Hope hospital within the Boston Convention Center at the height of the outbreak in Massachusetts to provide 1,000 hospital beds for COVID-19 patients.v
ADAPTING SERVICES FOR PATRONS DURING COVID-19
Due to the pandemic, many entertainment organizations were forced to close their doors and adopted online delivery for their content. For those that were not able to close, they adopted enhanced safety precautions for guests and discouraged guests from attending unless necessary.
- Boston Children’s Museumvi, the Museum of Sciencevii, and the New England Aquariumviii all shut their doors in March however they each adopted an online delivery with educational videos and resources for a virtual visit.
- Boston Harbor Cruises canceled all MBTA ferries, BHC excursion cruises, whale watches, and water taxis through July. ix
- The Red Sox had their season suspended in mid-March and subsequently shut down all training facilities.x
- Encore Boston started by suspending all large gatherings at the casino like nightclubs and bars before closing entirely through early July. During the shutdown, they managed to continue to pay their employees.xi
- Other organizations that shut their doors include Legal Sea Foods, Old Town Trolley, and the Seaport Hotel.
- IHG and Marriot continued to accommodate guests with requirements for facial coverings in all public indoor spaces at hotels and adjusted cleaning practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19. IGH offered a generous cancellation policy so any bookings made prior to April could be changed or canceled free of charge. xii
- Marriot also allowed for free changes or cancellations for new reservations made between July and September.xiii
PLANS FOR REOPENING
Massachusetts is now in phase III of the state reopening plan which has allowed for entertainment and hospitality organizations to partially reopen under strict guidelines.
- Boston Children’s Museumxiv, the Museum of Sciencexv, and the New England Aquariumxvi have all reopened to patrons that buy tickets online ahead of time with a timed visitation slot to help keep capacity low to for social distancing. Face coverings are required for all visitors and they have adopted strict cleaning and sanitization efforts to prevent the spread. The New England Aquarium has also closed interactive exhibits for the time being.
- Boston Harbor Cruises has set up a contactless check-in and has increased the sanitization efforts. They also do daily health checks on all staff members and check the temperature of riders prior to boarding. xvii
- The Red Sox recently resumed their playing season under strict guidelines to prevent the spread and with no fans however owner, John Henry, has said with proper health data trends, they may allow a small number of fans to games.xviii
- Encore Boston has also reopened under phase III with limited capacity and limited hours and high occupancy spaces like nightclubs and bars remain closed. Patrons can still go if they wear masks and maintain social distancing in the casino.xix
- Legal Sea Foods has slowly reopened select locations with strict sanitization policies, employee training on COVID-19 prevention, and daily health checks of employees.xx
- Old Town Trolley has reopened with a limited capacity of passengers on board that must wear masks. They have increased disinfection in their facilities, provide hand sanitizer on board, and are conducting health checks with employees.xxi
- Seaport Hotel has also opened its doors with face mask requirements, enhanced disinfection, and protections for employees including health checks and plexiglass barriers installed at the front desk. They are currently limiting the number of guests on each floor for social distancing so common areas are not crowded.xxii
Our members in hospitality and entertainment were essential during the height of the pandemic in Massachusetts in redirecting resources to frontline workers and those that were most impacted by COVID-19 and the economic shutdown. Now, they are trying to adapt to the “new normal” brought on by COVID-19 and adapt their services to patrons to continue to deliver high-quality entertainment and education while doing their part to prevent the spread of COVID-19.