Some Half Moon Bay hoteliers are urging the state to consider allowing them to hold meetings again.
The Half Moon Bay Coastside Chamber of Commerce and Visitors’ Bureau, which represents the city’s business community, signed on to a letter submitted by the San Mateo County/Silicon Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau asking state officials to incorporate gatherings of 50 people into the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, the state’s tiered reopening scheme.
“There just isn’t super clear guidelines at this point,” said Krystlyn Giedt, president and CEO of the Chamber.
Giedt, along with some City Council members, said that the same kind of clarity that exists around religious gatherings and cultural events was missing in the state’s guidelines.
“There’s a lot of interpretations out there of what is and isn’t allowed and how to do any type of group activity. ... The letter helps push the state to come out with more definite guidelines. We just want those guidelines so we can follow those rules,” Giedt said.
County-wide, hotel occupancy in August 2020 was 39 percent, down from 85 percent last year, and there was a 50 percent reduction in average daily rates in that same time, according to the county’s visitors bureau. All told, cities in the county face as much as a $60 million reduction in revenue that would have come from the transient occupancy tax paid by hotel and lodging guests.
In San Mateo County, Burlingame and Half Moon Bay have the largest concentration of hotels. The city of Burlingame, which relies on revenue from hotels along the airport corridor, came out with a letter in support of local hotels allowing small gatherings. Though Half Moon Bay City Council’s letter was shy of all-out support of hotel gatherings, it supported the request for clarified guidance.
John Hutar, president and CEO of the county visitors bureau, has been communicating with hotels about the changing shelter-in-place orders. Hutar’s organization’s letter-writing effort was intended to address what he believed was a conflation between large conventions and the kinds of meetings local hotels would like to bring back: onboarding, C-suite executive and certification meetings, for example.
“The entire meetings industry at a state level has been lumped into massive conventions — tens of thousands of people meeting at Oracle Arena,” Hutar said.
Dana Dahl, general manager of the Beach House Hotel in Half Moon Bay, said conferences made up 30 percent of business in past years. In the last few weeks, she has started to hear from companies interested in booking her space for meetings.
“I think the comfort level is still going to be awhile out,” Dahl said.