With much of the U.S. sheltering in place and working from home during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, “essential workers” continue going out into society at their own risk to perform their jobs. In recognition of the efforts of these hardworking men and women, some travel companies have stepped up to show appreciation and alleviate some of the burdens for essential workers by offering exclusive discounts and lower rates.
Marriott – Rooms for Responders and Community Caregiver Programs
Through its Rooms for Responders program, Marriott has committed to providing $10 million worth of hotel stays for healthcare professionals fighting against COVID-19 in the U.S. Marriott has partnered with the American College of Emergency Physicians, the Emergency Nurses Association, and the American Hospital Association to match front line doctors and nurses with free stays in some of the most affected areas: New York City, Newark, Baltimore, Washington, DC, Detroit, Chicago, New Orleans, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles. To book, healthcare professionals must visit their industry association’s website. Marriott also created this FAQ for its Rooms for Responders program.
Marriott also established a Community Caregiver Rate at nearly 2,500 participating properties throughout the U.S., Canada, the Carribean, and Latin America. We performed a few searches on Marriott’s website to compare the Community Caregiver Rate with the best available rates and our search revealed some significant discounts of up to $100 off the nightly average rate. Since not every Marriott property is participating, it’s helpful to still check the standard rates to make sure you’re getting the lowest rate possible.
You can book through Marriott’s dedicated page or by adding the code QWO to the Special Rates box in your search on Marriott’s website. This special rate is valid for stays through June 30, 2020.
Choice Hotels – Choice Cares Rate for Essential Workers
Another hotel chain, Choice Hotels, created the Choice Cares rate for all workers and volunteers that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has identified as “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers.” These workers include doctors, nurses, and paramedics; firefighters; food and agriculture workers; and mass transit employees.
We performed a few searches on Choice Hotels’ website to see how the Choice Cares rate compares to the best available rates. Some properties showed significant discounts, with up to $40 off the nightly rate, while others were pretty much even. Discounts look to be more significant in larger cities, where rates tend to be more expensive. For healthcare workers in larger cities like New York that have long commutes between their shifts but need a clean bed and a warm shower, this rate could come in handy.
Airbnb – Waived Fees for Responders
Airbnb is waiving all Airbnb fees for the first 100,000 bookings made through its program to help COVID-19 responders. To participate, responders must go to Airbnb’s dedicated page and answer a few questions, which Airbnb then reviews. Among other things, Airbnb requires responders to provide employee ID numbers and a work reference for them to contact.
Hosts interested in offering space to host responders under the program can learn more about participating here. Airbnb also has published a set of cleaning guidelines to help fight the spread of coronavirus and requires hosts offering spaces to responders to follow these guidelines.
Wyndham – Free Gold Status to Essential Workers
Through its #EverydayHeroes initiative, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts are offering free Gold membership status in their loyalty program to all essential workers. The initiative’s terms and conditions apply to workers in any of these categories: “healthcare operations; essential infrastructure; essential manufacturing; essential retail; news media; dispensation of basic necessities to disadvantaged populations; construction; defense; maintenance of safety, sanitation and/or essential operations of residences or other essential business; any/or other provision of essential products or services (including, without limitation, logistics and technology support).”
To obtain Gold status with Wyndham, essential workers must first have a Wyndham Rewards membership account, which is free to create here. Essential workers can then go to Wyndham’s #EverydayHeroes page, log in to their Wyndham Rewards account, and provide a brief description of their job.
Gold status is one step above Blue (which is the entry-level status for all membership accounts) in the Wyndham Rewards program. Benefits for Gold status members include earning 10% extra loyalty points on paid stays and late checkout. Gold status can be earned after staying five qualifying nights.
It’s heartwarming to see these companies step up to help healthcare and other essential workers during these difficult times, especially considering the serious effects this pandemic has had on hotels. We hope to see other brands in the travel industry adopt similar programs and initiatives. If you know of any other companies offering to help essential workers during the pandemic, please share it in our Facebook group.