It would be easy to look back at what the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association has accomplished over these past 100 years. After the past eighteen months, it would be cathartic to reminisce about the trends, technological advancements and overall hardships this association and industry has witnessed and provided solutions for over that time. As all of you know, hospitality does not do easy, and is always looking forward not backward. When COVID-19 becomes an item for the history books and not a persistent threat, this industry will look different. As this continued evolution occurs, MRLA will remain the industry's top advocate, resource, and voice. In the meantime, below you will find additional information on available resources and industry trends.
Mask and Vaccine Mandates
With confirmed cases of the Delta Variant on the rise, schools, governmental units, and private business alike are assessing what their polices should be on masks and vaccines. Some are choosing to leave it up to individuals while others are choosing to mandate masks, vaccines or both. These entities have made what they believe is the best choice for students, constituents and customers based upon the unique environment they operate in. The MRLA knows that, while well intentioned, a one size fits all policy is not effective. Moving forward, it should be up to individual entities and industry experts to make these types of decisions. Preventing any further restrictions, mandates and shutdowns will continue to be a focus of the MRLA.
Technology In the Hospitality Industry
Before COVID-19, our industry was already witnessing increased utilization of technology. From mobile orders to contactless payment and delivery to electronic menus, technology was already influencing the day-to-day operation of the hospitality industry. During the pandemic, this influence was accelerated as business owners large and small quickly adapted to continue to protect their staff and serve their customers safely under unique pressure. This trend is not exclusive to the hospitality industry, as workforce struggles and consumer trends continue to grow, customer demand will continue to shift toward a more technology. Some businesses have already made this transition, some are in the process and others are unsure if their customer base will welcome it and are unsure if they can afford this transition. For others, adopting new technology simply is not a viable solution. No matter where you are, the MRLA and our Allied members stand ready to help you improve your current technology, implement a new plan or show you how technology can help you run a more effective and efficient business.
Industry Support: Federal + State
After two rounds of Paycheck Protection Funding and one round of Restaurant Revitalization Funding (RRF), it appears that the shift in Washington D.C. is away from grants and toward loans with favorable terms. This is not because members of the hospitality do not deserve additional funding, but rather every business that was impacted by COVID-19 is requesting a similar funding mechanism at this point and elected leaders are navigating how to address this.
The truth is, there is simply not enough to go around. While the MRLA, in partnership with the National Restaurant Association, continues to advocate for Congress to replenish the RRF, the Associations have also been working to identify other avenues for relief to pandemic-related revenue loss. Our partners at the NRA and American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) have engaged the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to expand its Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program which was created to help small businesses struggling to cover business operations. If the program expands, more restaurants and hotels would qualify for loans; amounts for loans would be higher; and the funds could be used to offset previous commercial or private debt.
As our industry navigates the final months of 2021, MRLA Members can stay up-to-date on legislative updates through our weekly newsletters, News Now video updates, or by reaching out directly to the Association.