5 things to know: 8 August 2017
08 AUGUST 2017 9:53 AM

From the desks of the Hotel News Now editorial staff:

  • Marriott sees Alibaba joint venture as direct channel
  • Marriott, Apple REIT, La Quinta report Q2 earnings
  • Travelers can fight stricter cancellation policies
  • Mantra Group to buy Art Series Hotel Group
  • California hotel faces fine for laundering donations

Marriott sees Alibaba joint venture as direct channel: A joint venture between Marriott International and e-commerce firm Alibaba Group is being touted as more than just another online-travel-agency relationship, reports Hotel News Now’s Stephanie Ricca. Marriott officials called it a new “direct channel,” which will offer members-only pricing to outbound Chinese travelers who book Marriott hotels on Alibaba’s site and app. 

“This joint venture creates a digital-travel-services and experience-curation platform,” said Marriott Global Chief Commercial Officer Stephanie Linnartz. “We’re in partnership for the experience online and on digital platforms, and offline when (guests are) in hotels.”

Marriott executives answered questions about the joint venture during a call with investors to report second-quarter earnings.

Marriott, Apple REIT, La Quinta report Q2 earnings: Marriott International, Apple Hospitality REIT and La Quinta Holdings are the latest companies to report their second-quarter performance to investors.

Marriott: Worldwide, comparable systemwide revenue per available room rose 2.2% to $120.69, occupancy increased 0.7% to 75.7%, and average daily rate grew 1.2% to $159.33 compared to the same quarter in 2016.

La Quinta: Systemwide RevPAR grew 1.9% to $64.70, ADR increased 1.7% to $91.72 and occupancy was nearly flat at 70.5% for the quarter. 

Apple REIT: The three key performance indicators for Apple REIT saw a decrease during Q2 compared to the same quarter last year. ADR dropped 0.4% to $137.56, RevPAR fell 1.3% to $112.10 and occupancy declined 0.9% to $81.5%.

Travelers can fight stricter cancellation policies: Marriott International announced in June a new cancellation policy which includes a one-night payment penalty for guests who cancel their reservations less than 48 hours before their stays. Hilton followed in July with a similar policy; and InterContinental Hotels Group switched to a 24-hour cancellation policy. Likely to be affected the most by these new policies are small companies and individual travelers. But Forbes has advice for guests on how to reduce those penalties.

Steve Reynolds, CEO of Tripbam, suggests companies should check if there is a “lenient” cancellation policy within the hotel’s negotiated rates, encourage their employees to book preferred hotels and filter out rates within online distribution channels.

Mantra Group to buy Art Series Hotel Group: Mantra Group has negotiated a deal with Australia-based Deague Group to acquire its Art Series Hotel Group, which includes seven luxury hotels, for $52.5 million, according to a news release.

This acquisition will expand Mantra’s portfolio to include more than 21,500 rooms in properties across Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia and Hawaii.

California hotel faces fine for laundering donations: The Huntley Hotel, an upscale property in Santa Monica, California, allegedly “concealed 62 campaign contributions” that totaled $97,350, and now faces a $310,000 fine for money laundering, The Los Angeles Times reports. The donations were to anti-development committees and political candidates, which hotel executives allegedly believed would oppose the further development of the Fairmont Miramar Hotel, a nearby competing property.

The Fairmont sits in front of the Huntley and was looking to add private condos and three new buildings, which would include a 21-story high-rise tower, the newspaper reports.

Compiled by Dana Miller.

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