From the desks of the Hotel News Now editorial staff:
- Las Vegas housekeepers pushing for panic buttons
- Effects of currency exchange on hotel performance
- Tight labor environment has some employers looking to Puerto Rico
- RLHC announces sale of five properties
- Rate drives strong 2017 for Canadian hotels
Las Vegas housekeepers pushing for panic buttons: The Culinary Union in Las Vegas is pushing casino-resort operators to give housekeepers panic buttons as part of their latest round of bargaining, according to the Associated Press. The buttons, which they hope to distribute to more than 14,000 housekeepers, would be designed to alert authorities if the employees were being attacked or threatened, with the report noting many have been sexually harassed and assaulted.
Union officials believe the buttons are financially feasible for the resorts given current industry and economic conditions.
"It's not like the recession anymore," Geoconda Argüello-Kline, secretary-treasurer of the union, told the Associated Press. "The economy is better. ... We want the companies to be successful and grow, and we want the workers to have the right share from the company and the fair share, too."
Effects of currency exchange on hotel performance: Jan Freitag, SVP of lodging insights for HNN’s parent company STR, has presented some new research looking at the impact of currency fluctuations on room rates in gateway markets. Freitag notes there is currently room for hoteliers to use a weakening U.S. dollar to their advantage in these markets by presenting higher rates on international booking platforms, which would translate to higher ADR in the U.S. while still being more affordable for international travelers based on the strength of their local currencies.
“Smart pricing, together with a concerted effort from the U.S. Travel Association to generate travel intent, should help stimulate room demand from foreigners that will then aid the industry overall,” Freitag writes.
In related news, the U.S. dollar continues to fall relative to international currencies today after a brief rally, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Tight labor environment has some employers looking to Puerto Rico: With the well-documented issues Puerto Rico is continuing to face, including high unemployment, many employers in the continental U.S. have turned to the island territory in search of talent, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The newspaper reports the current tight labor environment—U.S. unemployment is at a 17-year low—has many employers looking to Puerto Rican residents as a possible source of high-quality labor, especially since island residents are U.S. citizens and do not need visas.
These efforts seem to be taking hold. In the wake of the hurricane, more than 53,000 Puerto Ricans have permanently settled in Florida alone, according to the state’s Office of Economic and Demographic Research.
RLHC announces sale of five properties: RLH Corporation has made progress in the company’s stated plans to sell off owned assets with an announced agreement to sell five properties, according to a news release. The company is working on selling a total of 11 hotels for a collective price between $165 million and $175 million.
No price has been announced yet in connection with the deal, although the news release claims the company “was able to negotiate pricing for these first five hotels reflecting single-digit cap rates.” The specific properties sold were not identified. The five sales are anticipated to close between February and March.
Rate drives strong 2017 for Canadian hotels: Strong year-over-year rate growth, combined with moderate growth in occupancy, combined for a decidedly positive 2017 for hoteliers in Canada, according to the latest data from STR.
A 2.4% increase in occupancy to 65.9% and a 5.2% jump in average daily rate to 156.73 Canadian dollars ($127.27) combined for a 7.7% increase in revenue per available room to CA$103.31 ($83.89).
Analysts noted low supply growth and an increase in inbound visitors tied to the country’s 150th anniversary helped push occupancy to its highest absolute levels since 1999.
Compiled by Sean McCracken.