5 things to know: 1 September 2017
5 things to know: 1 September 2017
01 SEPTEMBER 2017 9:27 AM

From the desks of the Hotel News Now editorial staff:

  • RLJ Lodging Trust completes merger with FelCor
  • Higher fuel prices, lower supply could hurt Labor Day travel
  • Hotels shadowed by total eclipse see record performance
  • Hiring in US slows in August while jobless claims rise
  • Federal government settles legal challenge to travel ban

RLJ Lodging Trust completes merger with FelCor: RLJ Lodging Trust announced it has completed its merger with FelCor Lodging Trust, according to a news release. Shareholders voted to approve the merger on 15 August.

Robert Johnson will serve as the company’s executive chairman while Ross Bierkan will serve as president and CEO. Leslie Hale will be the COO and CFO. The merged company’s board now has eight members, with Patricia Gibson, from FelCor’s board, joining RLJ’s board.

“We are pleased to complete this transformative merger that creates the preeminent lodging REIT in the upscale focused-service and compact full-service space,” Bierkan said in the release. “Over the coming months we look forward to realizing the benefits of our expanded platform and executing our strategic plan to drive long-term shareholder value.”

Higher fuel prices, lower supply could hurt Labor Day travel: Gasoline prices have increased as a result of Hurricane Harvey shutting down oil refinery in parts of Texas, which might dissuade Americans looking to travel over Labor Day weekend from hopping in their cars, Reuters reports. The article states prices will probably peak over $2.50 a gallon, the highest since 2015.

While the U.S. Department of Energy released 500,000 barrels of crude from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, the issue is having enough refined gasoline, according to the news agency. The U.S. has one million barrels of gasoline on reserve, but that would only supply the East Coast for eight hours. Motiva Enterprises’ Port Arthur refinery, the country’s largest, will remain closed for two weeks, the article states, and other refineries might stay shut for longer.

Hotels shadowed by total eclipse see record performance: Last week’s solar eclipse that traveled coast to coast across the U.S. attracted millions of travelers to see the event, writes Carter Wilson, VP of consulting and analytics at STR, Hotel News Now’s parent company. As a result, hotels along the path of the eclipse experienced unprecedented performance boosts.

“The total revenue-per-available-room increase for all hotels in the path of totality on Sunday, 20 August, was an impressive 244%, with hotels in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, blowing away all other cities, achieving a staggering 1,644% RevPAR gain,” Wilson writes. “These are Super-Bowl-and-beyond numbers. However, keep in mind many of these cities have very limited hotel supply, making it easier to collectively push performance.”

Hiring in U.S. slows in August while jobless claims rise: The U.S. Department of Labor reported nonfarm payrolls increased by a seasonally adjusted 156,000 jobs in August compared to July, The Wall Street Journal reports, though economists surveyed by the newspaper predicted 179,000 new jobs.

The labor department revised its job growth numbers for June and July downward as well, to 210,000 and 189,000, respectively, a net decrease of 41,000 jobs. The department’s report indicated a slowing in hiring for leisure and hospitality jobs, the newspaper reports.

The unemployment rate rose to 4.4% from the previous 4.3%, the newspaper reports, but the rate is still “historically low.” Wages continued their modest growth rate.

Federal government settles legal challenge to travel ban: Under a settlement agreement over its first travel ban, the federal government will identify and send letters to every person improperly barred from entering the U.S., offering a list of free legal services organizations that can help them to obtain visas or other entry documents, The New York Times reports.

There is no guarantee those who pursue entry to the U.S. through this process will receive approval, but “the government agreed to process their applications in good faith,” the newspaper reports. There are no damages or any other type of monetary compensation awarded in the settlement, according to the article. Those who did not reach an American airport because they were not allowed to board a flight in the first place are not covered by the settlement.

Compiled by Bryan Wroten. 

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