5 things to know: 7 December 2017
5 things to know: 7 December 2017
07 DECEMBER 2017 10:39 AM

From the desks of the Hotel News Now editorial staff:

  • SoCal wildfires force thousands to flee
  • Hilton’s Nassetta sees tax reform boosting hotel demand
  • Evolution of hotel workspaces has guests’ needs in mind
  • STR: US, Canada weekly hotel performance positive
  • Hoteliers say apps can’t fully replace concierges

SoCal wildfires force thousands to flee: Powerful winds are causing a disastrous series of wildfires in Southern California to spread, forcing thousands to flee their homes and closing a major freeway this morning, reports The Los Angeles Times.

The largest of the wildfires has already “carved a path of destruction that stretches more than 10 miles from Santa Paula to the Pacific Ocean,” the newspaper reports.

About 12,000 homes in the area were being threatened, and 50,000 people have been forced to flee since Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency.

Hilton’s Nassetta sees tax reform boosting hotel demand: In an interview with CNBC, Hilton CEO Chris Nassetta said he is optimistic that Congress will pass a tax-reform bill that will benefit the hotel industry by growing the economy. The effect, he said, will be increased demand for hotel rooms, which will mean a greater return for shareholders.

“In a post-spin world, we are a very capital-light business,” Nassetta told CNBC. “Tax reform and reducing our tax rates is going to drive more free cash flow, and the largest part of that free-cash-flow increase is going to go back to our shareholders.”

Evolution of hotel workspaces has guests’ needs in mind: Workspaces in hotels are changing to meet the changing work habits of business travelers, particularly those who prefer to work alongside other people, reports Hotel News Now’s Bryan Wroten.

As part of its three-year, $200 million Accelerate Program initiative, InterContinental Hotels Group’s Crowne Plaza brand has rolled out to its properties more than 3,000 Worklife guestrooms, and has introduced a Plaza Workspace concept, which includes studio space in the hotels’ lobbies that can be rented by the hour.

Workspace in the lobby of the Ace Hotel New York not only draws business travelers out of their rooms, it brings in a large number of non-guests, said Brad Wilson, president of Ace Hotel Group.

“We’re going to see more and more focusing on how is this kind of live/work/eat/social environment morphing,” he said, adding that his company is looking at restaurants as workspaces with power outlets at every seat and all-day menus that can accommodate a working lunch.

STR: U.S., Canada weekly hotel performance positive: For the week ending 2 December, U.S. hotels recorded 1.5% revenue-per-available-room growth due to a 1.3% increase in occupancy to 56.6% and a 0.2% bump in average daily rate, according to data from STR, parent company of Hotel News Now.

STR notes that Houston led the top 25 markets for the week with increases of 33.1% in RevPAR and 25.5% in occupancy, due to continued demand growth post-Hurricane Harvey.

For the same week, the Canadian hotel industry posted gains of 7.2% in RevPAR, 3% in occupancy to 61.7% and 4.1% in ADR, the data shows.

Ontario led the provinces and territories in RevPAR growth (+12.6%) for the week, primarily due to ADR growth of 8%, STR reports.

Hoteliers say apps can’t fully replace concierges: “There is no app that can get to know you quite like the human app,” Joanna Husk, a concierge at the Grand Hyatt San Francisco for nearly 28 years, told The New York Times for a story on the resiliency of hotel concierge programs.

Other hoteliers agreed that there’s no tech that can quite replicate the knowledge, experience and personal touch of a hotel concierge.

“If the concierge can get tables at Le Jules Verne, L’Ami Louis and other restaurants in Paris, it’s not because of the tools they use, but because of the amount of business they bring, having contacts for a long time with the restaurant’s headwaiter, maître d’ and manager,” François Delahaye, GM of the Paris hotel Plaza Athénée and COO of the Dorchester Collection of luxury hotels, told the newspaper.

Compiled by Robert McCune.

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