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Hotel guests booking only days in advance, Hyatt says

Hotels have been mostly empty this year but leisure travel is starting to pick up.

These leisure travelers are the reason behind hotel bookings just days in advance, according to Hyatt.

In the U.S., more than 65% of full-service hotel bookings and more than 75% of budget hotel bookings were made only four days in advance during June, CEO Mark Hoplamazian said on the company’s second-quarter earnings call on Tuesday.

Hyatt has never before experienced this shortest transient booking window.

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The fallout from the pandemic has affected travel.

“Given the booking windows … the impact is instantaneous,” he said, noting that approximately 35% of Hyatt hotels globally shut down.

“Until meaningful and consistent progress is made toward slowing the spread of the virus, international travel in particular will continue to be negatively impacted,” Hoplamazian added.

By the end of June, 80% of Hyatt hotels were open; 87%  were open by the end of July.

The rest should open in the next couple of months.

Despite hotels’ precautions, however, visiting them is still risky, said Dr. Albert Ko, a professor of epidemiology and medicine at the Yale School of Public Health. Hotels can bring together travelers from states or countries where transmission rates are higher, for example, and many carriers may not be showing symptoms.

“That’s the kind of thing we’re worried about in terms of public health,” he said. “Those settings can be the cause of outbreaks.”

To reassure potential guests, many hotels — from luxury resorts to budget brands — are sharing the changes they’re making on their websites. New practices may include adding hand sanitizer stations in lobbies, disinfecting surfaces like elevator buttons more frequently and removing extra items in rooms, such as pens and paper. Breakfast buffets may also be replaced with prepackaged meals.

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The CDC also suggests taking the stairs when possible and minimizing the use of common areas.

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Hyatt Hotels Corp. on Monday reported a second-quarter loss of $236 million, after reporting a profit in the same period a year earlier.

The Chicago-based company said it had a loss of $2.33 per share. Losses, adjusted for non-recurring costs, were $1.80 per share.

The results did not meet Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of eight analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for a loss of $1.38 per share.

The hotel operator posted revenue of $250 million in the period, which also did not meet Street forecasts. Six analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $250.6 million.

Hyatt Hotels shares have declined 47% since the beginning of the year. In the final minutes of trading on Monday, shares hit $47.98, a fall of 37% in the last 12 months.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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