Bars, ride-sharing drivers to suffer with conference cancellations

Bars, ride-sharing drivers to suffer with conference cancellations

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Two major conferences were canceled Tuesday, which business owners and ride-share drivers say will have a major impact on their sales. Combined, both conferences drive in more than 7,000 people. Those workers compare these events to “major holidays” for their business.

The Association of the U.S. Army Global Force Symposium and the National Children’s Advocacy Center’s International Symposium on Child Abuse were both cancelled as organizers hope the coronavirus outbreak settles. Huntsville Hospital also canceled their Wellness Conference.

From hotels to bars and restaurants to ride-sharing, this announcement hurts their bottom line.

“Dollars and cents-wise to a place like this, it’s huge," described bar owner Chase Shelton. He has owned ‘The Poppy’ pub for several years in downtown Huntsville.

Shelton says his business sees a significant revenue surge when these conferences come to town. “We adjust staffing for it. We adjust our ordering," said Shelton. "So, when these things cancel it’s a major bummer for us.” Several private parties planned at his bar now hang in the wind.

“Our bank accounts are a lot lower, a lot lower," stated Leigh Ann Browne.

Browne drives for ride-sharing companies full-time.

Even before the conference cancellations, Browne says she noticed fewer travelers in the area.

“I am thinking about a part-time job," admitted Browne. "I love this job but I wouldn’t know what to do or where to go because it’s not much money. I do this full-time. It is a good living.”

Both workers says they understand decisions made with an abundance of caution and will adjust.

Huntsville leaders are hopeful things won’t be so bad and encourages local participation.

“Just because we don’t have out of town people coming in doesn’t mean the in-town people will be out enjoying some of the great restaurants we have in this city now," said Councilman Bill Kling.

Some hotel managers in Huntsville shared with WAFF 48 News that room reservations are being actively being cancelled.

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