“We don’t have conferences and conventions of any size, nor do we have corporate meetings and business trips of any size,” Sacco said. “So you put this formula together and we exist at the moment, so to speak, on leisure trips.”
He said vacation travel could continue to recover if the pandemic doesn’t worsen, but another important segment of the hotel business – international travelers – remains “virtually non-existent”.
And although hotel occupancy across the state has increased from 2020 levels, they still have to hit pre-pandemic levels, according to Sacco.
“I think the industry will continue to struggle for the next few years,” he said.
There is certainly still a long way to go: According to the consulting firm Pinnacle Advisory Group, room income at hotels in Massachusetts fell by around 50 percent in July this year compared to the same period in 2019.
The recovery rate of the hotels varies greatly depending on the region. Areas like the Cape and the Berkshires saw “extremely heavy” tourism this summer, said Sebastian Colella, vice president of hospitality for Pinnacle, who heads the Boston office. Meanwhile, “more urban spots like Boston and Cambridge are still digging their way” because corporate and group travel historically represented two-thirds of city hotel sales, he said.
Business bookings had only just begun at the Omni Parker House in downtown Boston when news of the Delta variant stalled that humble momentum. However, leisure travel is still generating bookings for the hotel.
Jonathan Wiggs / Globe Staff
Peter Strebel, president of Omni Hotels and Resorts, said the Omni Parker House was only 5 percent occupied in the first three months of 2021, but occupied more than 60 percent of its rooms in July and nearly 50 percent in August.
Strebel said vacation trips this summer even surpassed 2019 levels – but that’s likely because the hotel had more rooms for vacationers without corporate group trips.
Still, he said, those bookings didn’t make up for the loss of weekday business travelers. During a normal July in pre-pandemic times, the occupancy rate was over 90 percent.
“[Current occupancy rates are] Basically, it allows us to make the hotel profitable again and employ more people there, but it’s not where it was, ”said Strebel.
Omni has a lot at stake in Boston – the chain opened its $ 550 million, 1,054-room Omni Boston Hotel in the Seaport District on Thursday.
With schools back on track, Colella expects Pinnacle to see a drop in leisure travel but hopes weekend bookings will remain strong through fall. He’s also seen signs that continued remote work could enable longer visits when people book leisure trips.
“Recreational traffic has shifted to where people want to relax and put their feet up,” he said. “People now travel three to four days and work remotely from the hotel, which has benefited many of these markets that have experienced those extended weekend trips.”
David L. Ryan / Globe Staff
But there’s a nagging question on Colella’s mind as the cooler weather approaches: what if a spike in COVID-19 lockdowns in winter forces it?
This could also exacerbate another serious problem for hotels: the ongoing labor shortage that hit the service industries hard over the past year.
Hotels struggled to fill both hourly and managerial positions, which led to the introduction of many changes such as optional housekeeping – a consequence of both the labor crisis and COVID-19 concerns.
Since the hotels are not as full as usual, the employees work fewer hours, and not just those who service the rooms. For example, the Omni Parker House is still serving breakfast but no longer serving dinner.
However, according to Sacco of the Lodging Association, hotels generally try to keep as many employees as possible, even if that means they have to work even when it doesn’t require a lot.
“I’m an optimist, but the truth is  was a bad year. We have a lot of consequences from this bad year, ”he said. “We’re going to climb out of there. We know we will, but it will take time. “
Angela Yang can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.