Marriott International has started to furlough hotel staff in an effort that could affect tens of thousands of employees.
A spokeswoman for the company, which employs roughly 130,000 associates across its managed hotels, said the workers would keep health benefits for now. The company is shuttering some hotels and needs fewer employees at the properties that remain open, she said.
“As travel restrictions and social distancing efforts around the world become more widespread, we are experiencing significant drops in demand at properties globally with an uncertain duration,” the company said in a statement. “We are adjusting global operations accordingly which has meant either reduction in hours or a temporary leave for many of our associates at our properties.”
The coronavirus outbreak is costing U.S. hotels $1.4 billion a week as it crushes demand for travel, according to data that industry executives plan to present Tuesday when they visit the White House.
Marriott Chief Executive Officer Arne Sorenson and MGM Resorts International CEO James Murren will be among the hospitality industry executives seeking government support as the virus halts travel.
The group, which will also include representatives from the Walt Disney Co. and Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc., plans to tell government officials that declining occupancies are costing hotels more than $200 million a day in room revenue at current rates.
The visit comes as airlines, cruise operators and hotel companies tap backup loans and seek financial backing from the federal government.
The industry will be forced to shed 1 million jobs in the next few weeks, according to the American Hotel & Lodging Association, which organized the meeting.
The lodging executives plan to emphasize initiatives to keep workers employed and prevent layoffs from becoming permanent, said AHLA spokeswoman Jennifer Myers. Ideas circulating in the hotel industry include tax credits for companies that retain employees, as well as incentives to promote travel.
President Donald Trump’s family business has been a longtime owner of luxury hotels, including a Washington property that was put up for sale last year.
The casino industry, meanwhile, plans to ask the White House for capital support that could include direct grants, loan guarantees and refundable tax credits.
The news of the Marriott furloughs was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.