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Hotel Owners Face Reality of the Spreading Coronavirus Outbreak

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The hotel industry is waking up to the adverse effects of the coronavirus.

After weeks of conference cancellations, corporate travel restrictions and cratering stock values, lodging owners are pulling guidance and cutting expenses while the spread of the virus socks hotel demand. The shift in tone comes after the largest companies in the industry initially pushed the idea that the impact from the outbreak would mainly be confined to operations in Asia.

Ryman Hospitality Properties Inc. -- which owns large conference hotels as well as the famous country music showcase Grand Ole Opry -- pulled its forecast for 2020 on Sunday evening under a deluge of cancellations that make past shocks to the hospitality industry look tame. Pebblebrook Hotel Trust followed suit on Monday, saying that escalating cancellations from groups and business travelers have made it unlikely that the company will achieve its first-quarter and full-year projections.

“I’m very surprised at this point that others have not,” said Patrick Scholes, an analyst at Suntrust Robinson Humphrey Inc. “Historically, this has been an industry that has been highly reluctant to take down their numbers or talk negatively about trends unless their feet have been held to the fire and it’s painfully obvious they have no choice.”