When the Democratic National Convention was first announced, hotels in the area quickly booked up. Between the rooms and the convention hall rentals, hotels in Milwaukee and throughout southeastern Wisconsin were expecting a huge influx of business. But since the DNC has been scaled back, hotels are looking at a much smaller gathering and far fewer guests.
"Fifty-thousand visitors [originally expected], yeah, that was going to be really big. I mean, what you’re talking about now is quite honestly kind of a middling-sized meeting that if it weren’t the DNC, no one in the news media would be paying any attention to," says Tom Daykin, who covers commercial real estate for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Now, not only will there be far fewer guests and events coming to the area, but the hospitality industry is in crisis because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most travel has halted, and largescale events have been forced to cancel, bringing fewer people to the area at a time when hotels are usually at their busiest. Hotels around the country, and here in Milwaukee, are struggling to stay afloat.
"We've had layoffs ... of hundreds of hotel workers at hotels here in the Milwaukee area, as well as Madison and Green Bay," says Daykin.