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At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, few hoteliers really understood the width and breadth of the crisis.

In an industry that has proved cyclical in the past, many were inclined to compare it with the crises and black-swan events they’d experienced before, expecting a deep, but ultimately short, disruption to their businesses. For some, however, very human moments and personal experiences quickly showed this wasn’t like anything else they had gone through.

Thom Geshay, president of Davidson Hospitality Group, recalled a May 2020 trip from his home in Atlanta to donate stem cells to his cancer-stricken brother in Houston.

“I got to the Atlanta airport, and it was a ghost town,” he said. “I mean, literally empty. This is the busiest airport in the world, and I’m going through security with a handful of people and had the plane mostly to myself.”

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