US hotel payroll costs down, but insurance costs remain
US hotel payroll costs down, but insurance costs remain
20 NOVEMBER 2020 9:25 AM

With the reduction in hotel labor, in line with lower demand during the pandemic, payroll is down 40% to 60% from 2019 levels, but workers’ comp insurance costs continue to be a strain on cash flow.

REPORT FROM THE U.S.—Nearly half of all pre-pandemic hotel jobs are still lost, resulting in payroll costs in 2020 that are 40% to 60% below 2019, according to labor-management data from Hotel Effectiveness.

The slow recovery will mean that labor expenses will remain abnormally low through 2021. Despite this, most hotels are not experiencing similar reductions in their workers’ compensation insurance costs. Most insurance providers require premiums to be paid up front, at the start of each year, and this aggravates the cash flow difficulties experienced by most hoteliers in the current economy.

“This is especially problematic for hotel portfolios experiencing significant growth or dispositions throughout the year as either the insurance carrier is holding premium on exposures that were sold, or in growth situations there is a large bill coming at audit that needs to be estimated for accounting,” Marsha Bonner, risk management advisor and former chief risk officer for RLJ Lodging Trust and FelCor Lodging Trust, said.

“Cash is king,” she added. “Hoteliers which can optimize cash flow while reducing risk will not only survive the current crisis but will likely become the dominant players in the post-COVID-19 economy.”

Insurance companies typically rely on prior year payroll costs to determine premium amounts, but for 2021 they are using a combination of 2019 and 2020 full-year expenses. This difference will increase the cost of workers’ compensation coverage by several thousand dollars for a typical 100-room select service hotel in the U.S.

The data and chart above represent a sample of more than 4,000 same-store hotels and excludes hotels that have been closed during the analyzed period.

Del Ross is Chief Revenue Officer for Hotel Effectiveness.

The assertions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Hotel News Now or its parent company, STR and its affiliated companies. Please feel free to comment or contact an editor with any questions or concerns.

1 Comment

  • Lou November 24, 2020 9:17 AM Reply

    Each year, we use our plan for the year as the basis for our worker compensation costs, as well as our other insurance products used. Yes, for 2020, we will experience quite a refund upon the audit. Further, we requested, and received a reduction in our monthly premium installments already due to the pandemic. In providing the payroll related costs, we do such by the various worker comp categories. Of course, at the end, I focus more upon our rating as that is the key to premium costs. This article just seems to be complaining about something that really is a non-issue, and depending upon the type of worker comp program (fully insured, retro, etc), the cash impact can vary by quite a bit.

Comments that include blatant advertisements or links to products or company websites will be removed to avoid instances of spam. Also, comments that include profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, solicitations or advertising, or other similarly inappropriate or offensive comments or material will be removed from the site. You are fully responsible for the content you post. The opinions expressed in comments do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Hotel News Now or its parent company, STR and its affiliated companies. Please report any violations to our editorial staff.