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Wyndham Hotels now operating at 50% occupancy, demand seen continuing

New York

WYNDHAM Hotels & Resorts Inc chief executive officer Geoff Ballotti says his midscale hotels are operating at occupancy levels of about 50 per cent after five consecutive weeks of increasing demand, which he expects to continue.

"The most important thing anyone can do is follow the guidelines of the CDC, the WHO and the states," Mr Ballotti said on CBS News' Face the Nation.

The emergency support that Congress and the Federal Reserve have made available "is incredibly helpful and we applaud the administration, we applaud Congress, we applaud all of the efforts that have been offered to our franchisees", he said, adding that his franchisees "look at this support as a lifeline".

About 90 per cent of Mr Ballotti's franchisees have applied for a Paycheck Protection Program loan, and he added that one was "about to sink with her three La Quinta hotels in Odessa, Texas, until that lifeline was thrown to her".

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Mr Ballotti said he'd like more flexibility in the PPP system in terms of stretching out the funds from four weeks to 26 weeks and the repayment period from two years to five years, and easing the rule that requires 75 per cent of the loan be used to pay salaries. Being able to use more of the money beyond worker pay would help because "our franchisees have other operating costs, like utilities, like taxes and like their mortgage", Mr Ballotti said.

Guests are being asked to wear masks as they check in. Wyndham encompasses more than a dozen hotel brands including Days Inn, Ramada, Super 8 and Howard Johnson. "Our hotels have been cleaner than they've ever been," Mr Ballotti said. BLOOMBERG

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