Kansas City hotel, travel industries continue to take beating

More than 550 layoffs announced in 6 weeks
Virus Outbreak New Orleans
Posted at 6:17 PM, Aug 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-14 19:17:02-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The hospitality and travel industries in Kansas City continued to be battered by layoffs because of the COVID-19 pandemic in July and early August.

While some industries are beginning to recover, the Missouri Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development received WARN Notices during the last six weeks affecting more than 450 jobs in those industries from KC-area employers and another nearly 100 jobs were lost in Kansas.

Hotels have been particularly hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic with business and leisure travel severely curtailed and the convention industry nonexistent amid mass-gathering restrictions.

The Raymond Management Company, which operates the TownePlace Suites in Liberty and the Hampton Inn in the 8500 block of Church Road in Kansas City, Missouri, notified the state in early July that it was making 24 of 38 temporary layoffs permanent.

The initial layoffs occurred in March and were expected to last fewer than six months, but “continuing issues and concerns with the pandemic” have resulted in ongoing low occupancy.

Displaced TownePlace and Hampton Inn employees continued to receive health care during the temporary layoffs, which were made permanent June 30.

The Embassy Suites by Hilton in KCMO made a similar announcement, which affects 40 employees who were temporarily laid off in mid-March.

The travel industry hasn’t been immune either.

Republic Airways notified state officials July 30 that 104 employees — 51 pilots and 53 flight attendants — based at Kansas City International Airport will be furloughed beginning Oct. 1.

Republic said in its Notice of Furlough that it believes the furloughs will be temporary, but that the company expects “that the Kansas City crew base will be closed permanently effective November 1, 2020.”

KCI’s primary dining vendor, HMSHost, also announced wide-ranging layoffs recently, informing Missouri officials that 231 temporary layoffs will be made permanent Oct. 15, if those employees have not been recalled.

The bulk of the layoffs impact baristas (64) and bartenders/servers (61).

Compass Group, which operates Canteen and Company Kitchen locations, announced 77 layoffs, including 67 in Missouri, last month after Cerner decided not to reopen any of its contracted food-service locations before the end of the calendar year.

The layoffs, which included at least 34 cooks, took effect July 15. It also impacted 10 employees in Kansas.

Hollywood Casino announced 84 layoffs July 2 in Kansas.