Hotel consultants Pinnacle Advisory Group report that following solid months in January and February, hotel occupancy for many hotels in the Boston Metropolitan Statistical Area - which includes most of eastern Massachusetts except for the Cape and Islands, plus southernmost New Hampshire - that is normally expected to average over 80% for the month of March, had dropped to single-digit levels by last week.
Between 10 March and 23 March, Massachusetts declared a state of emergency related to COVID-19; prohibited gatherings of more than 250 people - quickly reduced to 25, then to 10; closed schools, restaurants, bars and most retail establishments.
The restrictions on size of gatherings hit group demand - which normally makes up about 30% of March hotel business in Boston - immediately and very hard. Citywide conventions that would have filled 31,000 hotel rooms were canceled or held virtually.
US national bans on inbound travel from China, continental Europe, the British Isles, Canada and Mexico immediately caused a drastic reduction in travel through Boston Logan Airport, which had nearly 3M international visitors in 2019.
Absence of college students, delayed start of the Red Sox 2020 season, and postponement of the Boston Marathon have further negatively impacted Boston hotel business for spring 2020.
Will Boston bounce back from this? When, and how far? Watch this space.