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Coachella Valley businesses reeling after festival, conferences called off

Benjamin Gottlieb Mar 30, 2020
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In addition to the festivals, this time of year brings all kinds of groups to the desert for conferences. Presley Ann/Getty Images for Coachella
COVID-19

Coachella Valley businesses reeling after festival, conferences called off

Benjamin Gottlieb Mar 30, 2020
In addition to the festivals, this time of year brings all kinds of groups to the desert for conferences. Presley Ann/Getty Images for Coachella
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Around the country, big music and entertainment events have been cancelled or postponed because of COVID-19, including in Southern California’s desert communities.

The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival attracts roughly 250,000 attendees and has now been postponed until October.

The decision to move the festival carries a big cost for Vidal Coronel, who owns seven single-family homes in the Coachella Valley and rents them out on platforms like Airbnb. This is usually a big time of year for Coronel with events like Coachella, Stagecoach and the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells attracting hundreds of visitors.

“During this time, we can rent them up to $500 to $600 a night,” Coronel said. “Usually it’s about $150 to maybe $200. So there’s a big difference there.” 

But with the tennis tournament called off and the festivals pushed to October, Coronel has seen an unprecedented number of cancellations. 

“I mean, my phone was nonstop for six hours, just cancellations after cancellations. And it was insane.”

The economic impact on the Coachella Valley — and its more than $7 billion tourism industry — will be significant, said Scott White with the Greater Palm Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau. 

“Tourism is the number one economy for the Coachella Valley,” White said. “It employs over 60,000 people.”

In addition to the festivals, this time of year brings all kinds of groups to the desert for conferences. Now, they’re all pulling the plug at once.

“Well, it’s absolutely a huge domino effect,” says Aftab Dada, the general manager of the Hilton Palm Springs. “Currently, the pace of the reservations [being cancelled] is immeasurable.” 

For the time being, Dada says the Hilton will stay open. The hope is that there will be enough for employees to do until these big events return in the fall. 

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

So what’s up with “Zoom fatigue”?

It’s a real thing. The science backs it up — there’s new research from Stanford University. So why is it that the technology can be so draining? Jeremy Bailenson with Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab puts it this way: “It’s like being in an elevator where everyone in the elevator stopped and looked right at us for the entire elevator ride at close-up.” Bailenson said turning off self-view and shrinking down the video window can make interactions feel more natural and less emotionally taxing.

How are Americans spending their money these days?

Economists are predicting that pent-up demand for certain goods and services is going to burst out all over as more people get vaccinated. A lot of people had to drastically change their spending in the pandemic because they lost jobs or had their hours cut. But at the same time, most consumers “are still feeling secure or optimistic about their finances,” according to Candace Corlett, president of WSL Strategic Retail, which regularly surveys shoppers. A lot of people enjoy browsing in stores, especially after months of forced online shopping. And another area expecting a post-pandemic boost: travel.

What happened to all of the hazard pay essential workers were getting at the beginning of the pandemic?

Almost a year ago, when the pandemic began, essential workers were hailed as heroes. Back then, many companies gave hazard pay, an extra $2 or so per hour, for coming in to work. That quietly went away for most of them last summer. Without federal action, it’s mostly been up to local governments to create programs and mandates. They’ve helped compensate front-line workers, but they haven’t been perfect. “The solutions are small. They’re piecemeal,” said Molly Kinder at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. “You’re seeing these innovative pop-ups because we have failed overall to do something systematically.”

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