5 things to know: 4 January 2019
5 things to know: 4 January 2019
04 JANUARY 2019 10:41 AM

From the desks of the Hotel News Now editorial staff:

  • Marriott revises number of guests affected by data breach
  • US added 312,000 jobs in December
  • Revenue strategy’s tone in 2019 set by slow, steady growth
  • Chinese money is moving into Vietnam’s businesses
  • European Commission approves sale of Whitbread’s Costa Coffee

Marriott revises amount of guests affected by data breach: Marriott International officials provided an update on the breach of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide’s guest reservation system that was announced 30 November. While the company originaly stated up to 500 million guests were affected, officials now believe the number is significantly less.

Marriott said the number of “potentially involved guests” is approximately fewer than 383 million guests, but the “company is not able to quantify that lower number because of the nature of the data in the database,” according to a press release. The company did confirm it has “identified approximately 383 million records as the upper limit for the total number of guest records that were involved.”

The company also gave more specifics on the breach, noting in impacted 5.25 million unencrypted passport numbers, 20.3 million encrypted passport numbers and 8.6 million encrypted payment cards. The company said “there is no evidence that the unauthorized third party accessed either of the components needed to decrypt the encrypted payment card numbers.”

"We want to provide our customers and partners with updates based on our ongoing work to address this incident as we try to understand as much as we possibly can about what happened," Arne Sorenson, president and CEO, said in the news release. "As we near the end of the cyber forensics and data analytics work, we will continue to work hard to address our customers' concerns and meet the standard of excellence our customers deserve and expect from Marriott."

As of the end of 2018, operation of the Starwood reservations database has been completely phased out, the release states.

U.S. added 312,000 jobs in December: According to numbers released by the Labor Department Friday morning, the United States added 312,000 jobs in December and the unemployment rate increased to 3.9%, higher than November’s 3.7%, The New York Times reports.

On average, hourly wages grew by 3.2% year over year, and overall employers added more jobs in 2018 than in 2017. Job openings are at a record high as more employees are quitting due to a feeling of confidence in the “hiring outlook,” the newspaper reports.

Revenue strategy’s tone in 2019 set by slow, steady growth: Hotel revenue managers are predicting steady but slowing growth in 2019, which means experts need to be both smart and creative when it comes to generating revenue, writes HNN’s Dan Kubacki.

Cassie Bond, VP of revenue management at Chesapeake Hospitality, said in an email interview that her company is bullish on 2019, but it’s better to be proactive and “stay one step ahead at all times.”

“Overall, we are expecting RevPAR growth in most of our markets next year, and it’s going to be through ADR,” Bond said. “As Chesapeake budgets are designed by day and market segment, this provides the framework for our revenue-management strategies. We have to be thoughtful about our mix of business in order to achieve our goals.”

Chinese money is moving into Vietnam’s businesses: As China and the U.S. are in the midst of a trade war, Chinese money is flowing into Vietnam, according to the Los Angeles Times, and some Vietnamese, including hoteliers and small business employees, are worried about the “prospect of a longtime foe increasing its economic control in their country.”

Phuong Hong, a communications manager for a chain of boutique hotels in Vietnam, said she is among those with skepticism, despite the fact that her company saw some reward from the almost 5 million Chinese visitors to the country in 2018.

Several Chinese investors are looking to invest in a “special economic zone with low land prices and tax incentives” at a seaport near China’s capital of Hanoi, Zhao Xijun, associate dean of the School of Finance at the People’s University of China in Beijing, told the newspaper. Some experts are worried that too much inflow of money from China could cause more backlash and riots.

European Commission approves sale of Whitbread’s Costa Coffee: On Thursday the European Commission announced it has cleared the deal for U.S. drink manufacturer Coca-Cola to buy the Costa Coffee chain, which was previously owned by U.K. hospitality company Whitbread PLC, according to Reuters.

HNN’s Terence Baker reported on the proposed deal in August that Coca-Cola would purchase the chain for $5.1 billion, and the sale would allow Whitbread to concentrate on its U.K. and international budget-hotel expansion. Whitbread owns the Premier Inn and Hub by Premier Inn brands.

Compiled by Dana Miller.

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