Skift Take

Israel's evacuees and stranded travelers poured into many of Brown Hotels' two-dozen properties after the October 7 attacks. The scene was echoed nationwide, with many hotel groups affected.

Tel Aviv-headquartered Brown Hotels saw evacuees and stranded travelers pour into many of its rooms at its 24 hotels in Israel in the aftermath of brutal attacks on Saturday.

“Around 150 of our rooms in Tel Aviv are hosting evacuees,” said Shahaf Segal, Brown Hotels’ spokesperson. “For example, at our 200-room Brown BoBo, we have 60 families of evacuees from the settlements around Gaza,” Segal said. “We organized a donation room in our conference hall, where people come in and donate clothes and other necessities.” One property has about 20 children.

Ron Huldai, Mayor of Tel Aviv, with evacuees at Brown BoBo Hotel on Monday night. Source: Brown Hotels.

Stranded Travelers

Skift has long noted that the travel sector is the global crucible for everything. For the staff of Brown Hotels, reacting to the Israel Hamas War is personal.

“The minute this is over, we’ll go back to running sexy boutique hotels and resorts,” Segal said. “But right now, we’re preoccupied with giving back to the community.”

At the Debrah Brown luxury hotel in Tel Aviv on Sunday, celebrity chef Eyal Shani provided free kosher meals to evacuees at Dvora, his restaurant attached to the hotel. On Wednesday, Shani’s restaurant will host another group.

Domestic and international tourism is at a standstill in Israel. The remaining guests are either stranded travelers unable to return from abroad because of canceled flights and displaced Israelis.

At its 14 properties in Greece in Cyprus, Brown Hotels invites stranded Israelis to use the promotional code “together” for discounted rates.

Difficult Economic Context

Brown Hotels staff are focused on the crisis. But once the emergency has receded, all hoteliers in Israel — including Dan Hotels, Fattal Hotel Group, and Isrotel — may face financial worries.

Before the crisis, Israel saw weaker hotel demand this year than expected. Bookings between January through July 2023 were 12% below the comparable timespan in 2019, according to data cited by the Israel Hotel Association. Spiking airline prices and visa snafus depressed international tourism.

Domestic tourism has been depressed by inflation. Israelis face the highest cost of living among members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Domestic travelers must also pay value-added tax on hotel room reservations. At hotels, the need for armed guards increases operational costs for hotels, who must pass it along via higher rates.

Hotel Group Reactions to War

After the deadly attack in Israel, a handful of hotel groups issued statements:

Accor, which runs four hotels in the country that were unaffected, said that one of its employees out of about 250 in the country seemed to be sadly missing: “The group has been in close contact with the teams on the ground monitoring the situation hour by hour to best adapt emergency measures and necessary support,” Group CEO Sébastien Bazin said. “Our thoughts are with everyone affected by these tragic events.”

IHG: “We’re monitoring the situation in Israel closely and are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of life. Our thoughts are with those affected. All our colleagues and guests are currently safe and accounted for. We continue to prioritize their safety and have increased security measures in and around our hotels. Six Senses Shaharut and Hotel Indigo Tel Aviv – Diamond District have temporarily closed, but our other hotels in Israel remain open and operational.”

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Tags: future of lodging, independent hotels, israel, Israel tourism, middle east

Photo credit: Aerial view of Ramat Gan, a city in the Tel Aviv District of Israel. Photo by Tamas. Source: Adobe.

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