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Coronavirus pandemic forces South Florida resorts to change how they cater to guests

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Posted at 4:47 PM, May 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-06 18:25:57-04

BOCA RATON, Fla. — As the conversation around reopening South Florida continues, Palm Beach County tourism leaders are working to make sure businesses are set up for success.

The Boca Raton Resort & Club is known for catering to its customers, but soon their requests will look a lot different.

"We’re calling you at home, or emailing and texting you, servicing your way. How many time do you want your room clean? We are doing seals on the doors, paperless check-in, contactless check-in," said John Tolbert, the president of the resort and a member of Governor Ron DeSantis’ reopening task force.

Tolbert said there’s no industry standard for reopening in a pandemic, so they’re starting from scratch.

"We’re dealing with the top doctors, top organizational development people in the world, to look at the programming, the cleanliness, every aspect of our business," said Tolbert.

Over at Discover the Palm Beaches, Jorge Pesquera and his team are closely monitoring when Palm Beach County will get the green light to slowly start phasing into reopening.

"We think that it’s important to regain the trust and confidence of the traveling public first and foremost," said Pesquera.

Pesquera added that working together as an industry is going to be critical.

"The U.S. Travel Association, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, the American Hotel and Lodging Association, all of these entities are issuing very good guidelines for the smaller folks who are independent," said Pesquera.

According to a report by Destinations Florida released on Tuesday, average hotel and vacation rental bookings 30 days out dropped to 80 percent mid-April from 63 percent in mid-March.

72 percent of the 1,000 tourism-related businesses surveyed have applied for federal stimulus funds, while only 17 percent have received them.