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Will a Chlorine Shortage Hurt Hotels and Vacation Home Owners This Summer?

[Updated: May 04, 2021 ] May 03, 2021 by Maurie Backman
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There's good news on the horizon for hotels and vacation property owners. Now that coronavirus vaccines are rolling out to the public, the prospect of traveling this summer just got a whole lot safer. And that means demand for hotel rooms and vacation property bookings is likely to skyrocket. This especially holds true for properties that feature swimming pools, which are generally in high demand. But this summer, inviting guests to swim may not be as easy a prospect as it normally would be.

Chlorine supplies are low

Chlorine is essential for maintaining swimming pool cleanliness and safety, and in the age of a pandemic, it's especially crucial. But right now, there's a short supply of chlorine due to damage to a chemical plant last year that occurred in the course of a hurricane. The result? This summer, hotels and vacation homeowners may have to scramble to get their hands on chlorine, and they might pay a pretty penny for it.

In fact, right now, a 50-pound bucket of 3-inch chlorine tablets from the In the Swim brand costs as much as $169.99 -- twice its normal cost. When we consider the amount of chlorine hotels in particular need to get their hands on, it's clear that they're looking at a much larger expense than anticipated.

That's especially problematic because while hotels are anticipating an uptick in bookings and revenue in 2021, last year was hotels' worst year ever, financially speaking. Hotel occupancy came in at just 44% in 2020, down from 66% in 2019. And while occupancy rates should improve this summer over last, hotels really need revenue right now. Paying more for chlorine, however, is apt to impact their bottom line.

Should hotels and vacation homes impose a chlorine surcharge?

In the course of the pandemic, many businesses have raised their prices or imposed a PPE surcharge on consumers to avoid having to bear that cost solo. But should hotel and vacation homeowners adopt a similar tactic to help cover the rising cost of chlorine?

Financially speaking, it could pay to go that route. But rather than bill it as a specific chlorine surcharge, hotels and vacation rentals should simply bake that cost into their overnight rate. The reality is that as demand increases for hotels and vacation homes, their owners and operators will naturally be raising rates, so there's really no need to call out a chlorine surcharge -- and potentially alienate guests in the process.

Furthermore, hotels and vacation homes that rely on their swimming pools to draw in guests may want to start stockpiling chlorine now -- before the supply dwindles even more and it becomes not only more expensive but also impossible to get.

Right now, hotels, in particular, are desperate for a major recovery, and they're in a prime position to stage one. It would be a shame to have a lack of chlorine be the thing that drives many struggling properties into the ground. Hospitality REITs (real estate investment trusts) have lost enough value to begin with -- and they don't need another hurdle to jump.

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