LUBBOCK, TX — When the winter blast started to barrel across Texas, local hotels braced for the worst, expecting reservations to be cancelled left and right. Many were. But later in the week, some hotels were surprised when locals started checking in — all because of that same winter storm.
“2020. The worst year in the hotel industry ever, and then, 2021 really hasn’t been any better. Then, you get an ice storm,” Rob Meyer, owner and operator of the Arbor Inn & Suites and the Arbor Hotel and Conference Center in Lubbock, said.
Meyer emphasized that the hotel business has been blasted by the pandemic for nearly a year. Just as the hotel owner started to catch his breath, winter came to Texas and froze business once again.
“You think that you get a little bit of momentum, and then something stops it,” Meyer said.
But to his surprise, a number of Lubbock residents checked in during the storm in need of heat and water.
“Travel did come down to a minimum [during the storm] … but we did pick up a lot of room nights for people whose pipes got frozen,” Meyer said.
Meyer said his hotels booked out about a dozen rooms to people whose homes didn’t have water, and he pointed out that was a lot of customers he didn’t expect, especially given the loss of the last year.
His hotels also received calls from people across West Texas and the South Plains, including Abilene and Seminole, looking for a place with power. Meyer said his hotels only lost power for a few minutes earlier this week during Lubbock’s rolling blackouts.
This small spike in business may have helped his hotels weather the storm, but Meyer hopes things will look up for the industry come spring.
“It’s just another domino that falls, and all we can do is just pick up those pieces and keep going forward,” Meyer said.