With the spread of Covid-19 triggering a shortage of
hospital beds nationwide, hotel software company Cloudbeds is hoping U.S.
hotels, many of which are now nearly or completely empty, can rally to help
fill the gap.
On March 23, the San Diego-based startup debuted
#Hospitalityhelps, an online platform designed to connect property owners and
operators with local governments and healthcare providers in need of overflow
“In a recent calculation we’ve seen, we need around 300,000
additional hospital beds to solve this crisis in North America alone,” said
Cloudbeds co-founder and CEO Adam Harris. “That’s a scary number. But the hotel
industry has well above that, easily.”
Under the #Hospitalityhelps initiative, hoteliers can submit
an online form at hospitalityhelps.org to make their properties available,
while government and healthcare agencies can email [email protected] to
outline their needs.
Cloudbeds has leveraged its network of more than 22,000
hotel partners to get the word out while collaborating with technology
providers, OTAs, management companies and other industry players to widen the
platform’s reach. As of March 24, more than 25,000 beds had been made available
Cloudbeds co-founder and COO Richard Castle said, “We’re
getting people way outside of our customer base, and we’ve even had competitors
come to us and ask about how they can participate. We don’t want this to be
about Cloudbeds. If anything, we’re actually trying to distance our brand from
Cloudbeds hopes the #Hospitalityhelps portal will improve
the existing ad hoc system, in which local governments are left scrambling to
find hotel partners and sending out mass request for proposals (RFPs).
“We’re trying to remove that fragmentation,” Harris said.
Complicating matters, Castle said, is the fact that
accommodation needs are evolving quickly and will likely go far beyond just
providing beds for the critically ill.
“We’re going to need more than a few hundred-thousand beds
nationwide,” Castle said. “We’ve got people who need to be quarantined. We’ve
got homeless people who need to get off the streets, because the virus will
spread throughout their community rampantly. We’ve got nurses and doctors who
should be living in proximity to where they’re working. They’re working
prolonged shifts, and they may not want to go home to their families because
they don’t know if [they or their families] have been infected. This is
essentially like massive group business for hotels.”
The rush to meet these myriad needs is already hitting high
gear. In Chicago, for example, officials have moved quickly to rent hotel rooms
capable of housing between 1,000 and 2,000 patients. Likewise, in San
Francisco, city supervisors have circulated an RFP and are reportedly working
to make approximately 8,500 hotel rooms available to the homeless, healthcare
workers and first responders before the end of March.
Castle acknowledged that some government RFPs indicate there
are monetary incentives available to hotels, but he emphasized that the vast
majority of properties participating in #Hospitalityhelps “aren’t even asking
“We’re hoping businesses won’t have to completely shut down,
the healthcare system can get some relief and that there’s stimulus coming down
the line,” Harris said. “Most importantly, if we can step this up, this can
make a difference and save lives.”
Meanwhile, Cloudbeds isn’t alone in its efforts. The
American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA) recently unveiled Hotels for
Hope, a similar initiative designed to connect hotel properties with the health
According to a release from the AHLA, Hotels for Hope has
more than 6,500 U.S. properties located in proximity to healthcare facilities
at the ready. The organization has said it will work to assist government
efforts and work with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in
coordination with the U.S. Army and local emergency management and public
Hoteliers interested in joining the Hotels for Hope database
can find more information here.
“The number of hotels wanting to be part of the program is
growing by the hour,” said Michael Jacobson, CEO and president of the Illinois
Hotel & Lodging Association. “Our hotels are answering the call to action.”