hotels house health care workers agencies lend hand

As hotels rush to make lodging available to medical personnel, travel agencies and other travel players are bolstering hospitality industry relief efforts with their own Covid-19 aid initiatives.

Among those answering the call to arms is Los Angeles-based agency TravelStore, which was appointed the travel management partner for the state of California this month. Under the California’s emergency response program, TravelStore is charged with organizing stays in no-cost or low-cost hotel rooms for health care workers.

According to Trudy Flores, senior vice president of Northern California operations at TravelStore, all of the company’s corporate travel consultants as well as many of its leisure consultants are now working solely on booking reservations for frontline workers. The company reports that more than 200 California hotels have opted to provide lodging, with TravelStore booking a total of 32,000 room nights within the program’s first eight days.

“We are very thankful for the opportunity to assist our health care professionals,” Flores said in a statement. “Medical professionals are routinely working 12- to 24-hour shifts and making long commutes to and from home, where they risk spreading the virus to family members.”

California health care workers looking for more information can visit TravelStore’s government travel site. 

Tripadvisor is similarly working to connect hotels with medical workers and government agencies through its newly launched Hotels for Health program. According to Tripadvisor, the effort will leverage the digital travel platform’s “extensive database” of over 2 million properties worldwide. 

The company has established a new portal, through which health care providers can submit requests for accommodations and hotels can volunteer rooms. Once a connection is forged, the logistics and details of the accommodations are then managed directly by the property and agency or provider involved.

Meanwhile, Windy City Travel, a Chicago-based agency and Tzell Travel Group affiliate, has put a unique spin on its aid efforts with the launch of a “Thank-ation” giveaway program, which will grant select Illinois nurses an all-expenses-paid vacation to the destination of their choice.

Nurses must be nominated to be eligible to win a Thank-ation, with submissions currently being accepted online. One Thank-ation travel certificate, which can be redeemed through the end of 2021, will be awarded to a winning nurse every Friday through May 8.

Windy City Travel said it will sponsor the first four Thank-ations in full, with the public being asked to donate additional funds in order to extend the program.

“As complicated as our business is right now, we wanted to do something to help,”  Lynn Farrell, Windy City Travel president, said in an email. “We don’t have masks, we don’t have PPE, but we do have vacations.”

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