Hotels and Receptions



With travel at a standstill and social distancing measures in effect, the hotel industry is facing an abrupt and unprecedented drop in demand that is becoming progressively deeper and more severe week by week. According to the American Hotel & Lodging Association, as of April 22, nearly 8 out of 10 hotel rooms were empty across the country. Based on current occupancy estimates for the immediate future and historical employment impact rates, nearly 3.9 million of the hotel industry's 8.3 million jobs have either been eliminated or will be eliminated in the next few weeks. In Iowa, the hotel industry usually supports over 64,500 jobs, experts estimate that nearly 29,000 related positions could be negatively impacted by COVID-19 this year.

  • 8 out of 10 Hotel Rooms Empty
  • 8.3 Million Lost Jobs
  • 25% of Jobs Lost in Iowa

Welcome Centers and Rest Areas

  • The four official Iowa Welcome Centers are closed indefinitely.
  • All 38 interstate rest areas and facilities are currently open 24 hours a day, every day. Overnight parking is allowed. Iowa DOT staff has increased cleaning and sanitization procedures in each location, with extra attention on high-touch areas. Visit the Iowa DOT's website for more information

Wedding Receptions

Pursuant to lo\vaCode § 135.144(3), and in conjunction with the Iowa Department of Public Health, unless othen,ise modified by subsequent proclamation or order of the Iowa Department of Public Health, effective 5 :00 a.m. on May 22, 2020 and until 11:59 p.m. on May 27, 2020, a wedding reception held provided that the establishment
hosting the wedding reception complies ,,ith all the requirements of a restaurant under section 2, paragraph A, of the Proclamation.of Disaster Emergency issued 011 May 13, 2020. Such a reception that is hosted in compliance with those requirements shall not be a violation of the prohibition on social, community, recreational, leisure, and sporting gatherings and events of more than 10 people under section 5 of that Proclamation of Disaster of Emergency.

source: Gov. Reynolds Proclamation May 26, 2020

Future Trends

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.

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.

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

  • Require employees who feel sick to stay home.
  • Establish health screening protocols for workers, such as temperature taking or a health screening survey.
  • Recommend quarantine for workers with COVID-19 symptoms and those who have been exposed.
  • 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.
  • All hotel employees must wear PPE and socially distance per guidelines and recommendations provided by public health authorities.
  • Hotels should provide masks and appropriate PPE to guests upon entry into the building and ask that guests wear a mask when in hotel common areas, including the airport shuttle.

Space & Process

  • Eliminate/reduce in-person check-in or checkout with automated processes.
  • 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.
  • Close pools, gyms and spas.
  • Eliminate or place limits on the number of participants for conferences/meetings.
  • 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.


  • 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, and avoiding handshakes.
  • Advise current and past guests immediately if you become aware of a COVID-19 positive individual on the premises.

Supporting Essential Workers

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 Ottumwa has also provided complimentary rooms for medical professionals during the crisis.

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