Hotel occupancy rates have plummeted as people shelter at home, but some local hospitality workers are extending stays to those on the front lines.
Local hotel managers said they have been getting more phone calls from traveling nurses looking for a home away from home during their assignments.
These assignments can last anywhere from a couple of days to a few months.
Nursing travel agencies work with hospitals all over the U.S. throughout the year to temporarily employ nurses with trained specialties.
Hotels like Pacific Plaza Resort in Oceano are opening their studios and rooms to these medical professionals.
They are offering everyone five nights for the price of four and up to 60% off.
Hotel receptionists said traveling nurses are booking the discounted king suites for a cozy stay.
“You have your living room with a fireplace, the couch is there and a full kitchen,” said Dee Dee Miller, who works at the Pacific Plaza Resort Hotel. “Your kitchen is just like home. You can go to the store or have [food] delivered and cook in the rooms.”
For traveling nurses on longer assignments, cheaper monthly rates can be worked out.
In Pismo Beach, the Hilton Garden Inn is hoping to take away the stress of leases and deposits for traveling or static essential workers.
“We have been able to utilize the 180 hotels in our portfolio to help nurses find places from New York to the Midwest to California," said Kristin Stayart, the director of sales at the Hilton Garden Inn in Pismo Beach.
Stayart connected with a vet tech in Texas who took a 13-week assignment in San Luis Obispo starting next month.
Even though she's not sure she will be helping with COVID-19 efforts locally, this traveling nurse wanted to stay anonymous, she said, to protect her future job.
“Trying to find housing on our own financially is hard with the cost being a little high,” said a traveling nurse who took an assignment in San Luis Obispo. “I have two pets so for the [the Hilton Garden Inn} to help me out at a very low rate it was most appreciated.”
Other essential workers like grocery store clerks are staying in hotel rooms to protect their families.
“They just are out there every single day working longer hours, being around so many people and their families are at home and not going out so they didn't want to possibly bring anything back to the house,” said Stayart.
Many traveling nurses, whether in the area to help with the pandemic or other sectors of healthcare, often turn to Facebook groups to find available hotel rooms or even privately-owned rentals.