LANSING, Mich. — The hospitality industry has been hit hard during the pandemic.
According to Lansing Entertainment Facilities Authority CEO Scott Keith, they have been struggling to get business back but it has been a slow climb.
“The variants are certainly keeping people minimized a little bit of getting back together,” he said. “We’re still seeing masks being worn. We’re still seeing vaccinations improving but I think people are just a little bit skeptical right now of how safe it is until they go and attend an event and feel comfortable.”
The Impression 5 Science Center has seen a sharp decline in visitors. Operations and Guest Experiences Manager Betsy Mappilaparampil said, prior to March 2020, Saturdays would be their busiest days.
“We would typically have around 1,000 guests every Saturday, especially during the winter months,” she said. “Now, we usually see around 500 people on a Saturday.”
The issue is two-fold as there’s also a staffing shortage.
“It’s one of the biggest challenges right now for our industry,” Keith said. “That’s across restaurants, hotels, meetings, events and venues.”
Mappilaparampil’s staff has shrunk a little bit.
“However, we were able to get some payroll protection loans to help keep everybody on staff but just with people’s lives changing every day we have seen a decrease in staff,” she said.
Because of the staffing shortage hospitality staff are asking you to be patient.
“I think it’s going to take a little while to get back where we’re really working on developing a whole new crop of staff members who are breaking into the industry and finding out something new and learning something new,” Keith said.
The Greater Lansing Convention and Visitors Bureau decided to bring some good cheer to folks working in the industry.
CEO Julie Pingston wanted to take an event they usually held with their clients and “turn the tables on it” by delivering gift baskets full of goods from locally sourced companies such as Sweetie-licious Pie Company, Park Lake Creamery, Fabiano’s Candies and others.
“We’re taking holiday cheer to all of those folks who usually this time of year are the ones giving all the good cheer and doing things for everyone else,” she said. “We’re going out today to about 100 different meeting venues, hotels, attractions just to get that holiday cheer and encourage to keep going on with everything that they’ve had happen over the last 20 months.”
Even through the hardships businesses are hopeful.
The Courtyard Marriott Downtown Lansing just opened in February. Marketing and Sales Director Corey Harvey is looking to a brighter future.
“Things definitely picked up when Michigan State University come back in business,” she said. “That gave us a nice boost along with the convention season. We’re really looking to spring of 2022.”
“I hope to see more people learning about science in hands-on ways here at Impression 5. I hope to see more school groups being able to book trips here and I just hope to see more people here,” Mappilaparampil said.
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