The economic effects of the super-storm Sandy on the East Coast conference and hotel industry has been estimated at a loss of 600,000 business trips and $700 million in related spending.
At least three Manhattan hotels were evacuated due to the storm: the W New York Downtown, the Holiday Inn Express Wall Street in Downtown Manhattan and the Le Meridien in Midtown. Though Hurricane Sandy left Atlantic City intact, the hurricane caused two major state associations calling off their annual conferences at the Atlantic City Convention Center and had a devastating impact on the hotel properties. According to the Atlantic City Convention and Visitors Authority, cancelled events would have brought about 70,000 attendees to Atlantic City and have resulted in large blocks of empty hotel rooms.
Flight disruptions continued to hamper bookings for hotels but the most damaging blow for hoteliers was the loss of conferences, since contracts for most meetings allow groups to cancel without penalty due to major storms and “acts of God”. While some hotel carry cancellation insurance, the loss in business cannot be recovered as they are simply lost booked days. Hotels often are reluctant to enforce penalties on groups and try to help conference planners in the hope that, in good faith, they’ll rebook after the event.