Hilton announced on Monday that the company would donate up to 1 million hotel rooms to doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals, in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic. American Express would help foot the bill, both companies said, as Hilton offers the rooms “at or below cost” in partnership with individual property owners across the U.S.
Hilton has partnered with 10 professional organizations for medical workers and first responders to help connect individuals in need with rooms around the country.
“Our medical workers who are courageously and selflessly serving on the frontlines in the coronavirus crisis represent the best of who we are,” said American Express chairman and CEO Stephen J. Squeri, in a statement. “We’re honored to support this initiative with our longtime partner, Hilton, to provide the heroes in our communities a place to rest, recharge, and help keep their loved ones safe during this time.”
Hilton says participating “hotels will be staffed by team members who have received additional training on relevant health and safety measures to safeguard their own and their guests’ well-being. Hotel rooms and common areas will continue to be sanitized using industrial-grade cleaners and updated cleaning protocols.”
Travel companies including airlines and hotels have been among the economically hardest hit sectors of the economy during the pandemic. Hilton, for example, has suspended operations at some hotels, furloughed staff, and mandated pay cuts for executives.
Meanwhile hotel occupancy in the U.S. was at an “unprecedented low” of 23 percent at the end of March, according to STR, a firm that closely tracks the industry. Now, at least some of those empty rooms will be used for good.
“During this crisis, we have seen so many examples of medical professionals working in the most challenging circumstances, sacrificing their own needs for the greater good,” said Hilton president and CEO Christopher Nassetta, in a statement. “They truly are heroes.”