Hospitality businesses feel the impact of postponed graduation weekend

The hotel is looking forward to move-in weekend for the university.
The hotel is looking forward to move-in weekend for the university.(WHSV)
Published: Jul. 8, 2020 at 8:44 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - After James Madison University postponed its Class of 2020 commencement ceremonies again, some businesses in the Friendly City are concerned for the fall.

“Unfortunately, we’ll have to go back to the drawing board,” Paul Gladd, with Hotel Madison, said as he heard the news about the postponement on Monday.

Since the start of the pandemic, hotels and restaurants were looking forward to the new graduation date on August 7 and 8. Many knew it would not be as large of a crowd as normal, but it would still be a rush of business.

Frank Tamberrino, with the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Chambers of Commerce, said since the graduations first postponement businesses are in a better spot.

“I think most of the hotel folks now are starting to get a bit more traffic which is good but they still were counting on that weekend, before the school year for that nice little increase base on people coming in,” Tamberrino said.

Places like Hotel Madison who had their rooms sold out for the weekend were planning to use the event as a way to begin to get back to normal.

“We were using that particular event as a launchpad into several initiatives including rehiring a lot of people and reopening our restaurant,” Gladd said. “So when it got canceled we postponed those plans.”

With no rescheduled date finalized yet for the graduation ceremonies, Gladd said they are hoping fans will still be able to return to Bridgeforth Stadium this fall for football.

“We’re concerned because it is a great demand generator,” Gladd said. “So you know not having those series of football games will greatly impact the hotel’s performance.”

Gladd said the hotel is looking forward to JMU’s move-in weekend later in August.

Copyright 2020 WHSV. All rights reserved.

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