5 things to know: 6 February 2019
5 things to know: 6 February 2019
06 FEBRUARY 2019 10:37 AM

From the desks of the Hotel News Now editorial staff:

  • Lunar New Year could spotlight trade war impact
  • Japan’s ‘Aspen’ attracting luxury hotel brands
  • Execs delve into challenges of retaining guests, staff
  • Economists fear automation is cutting into labor
  • Tourism booming on Galápagos Islands

Lunar New Year could spotlight trade war impact: Travel for the Chinese Lunar New Year began on 4 February, marking the beginning of a week-long period during which “hundreds of millions of people travel within the country to see relatives, fly overseas to take vacations—and open their wallets to buy gifts,” Bloomberg reports. However, this year is a bit different as China and the United States are in the middle of a trade war, and economists are watching how Chinese consumers spend.

Several businesses count on the holiday to attract tourists from China’s mainland. In 2018, Macau saw more than 900,000 visitors during the holiday week, which is about 40% more than what the area would typically see during an average week. Average hotel rates last year reached 2,000 patacas ($247), which is four times the usual rate.

Despite the fact that “weakness in China’s property and manufacturing sectors has dampened the annual outlook for the world’s largest gaming destination,” Bloomberg writes, “this Chinese New Year will definitely see business growth,” according to Lawrence Ho, CEO of Melco Resorts & Entertainment, who added that all of the company’s hotels in Macau are “fully booked for the holiday period.”

Japan’s ‘Aspen’ attracting luxury hotel brands: Niseko, Japan, a snowy town in the northern island of Hokkaido could soon become the next Aspen, Colorado, and St. Moritz, Switzerland, drawing in tourists from the U.S., Australia and Asia, as well as billionaires and luxury hotel brands such as Park Hyatt, Ritz-Carlton and Aman, according to The Wall Street Journal.

“Niseko will end up at the top of the global destinations,” Eyal Agmoni, head of a private equity firm that’s active in Niseko, told the news outlet. “There is still huge room for growth.”

In 2018, his firm began development on an Aman hotel, part of a larger development that’s set to cost “hundreds of millions of dollars with three additional hotels, shopping and restaurants,” he said.

A Park Hyatt is also under development by Pacific Century Premium Developments, led by Hong Kong tycoon Richard Li, set to open in December 2019, and will likely cost about $500 million to develop, WSJ reports.

Execs delve into challenges of retaining guests, staff: Executives during a Boardroom Broadcast general session at the Americas Lodging Investment Summit shared what is needed to attract and keep the right people for the right job as well as how to earn repeat guests, writes HNN’s Bryan Wroten.

AccorHotels Deputy CEO Chris Cahill said it comes down to hiring the right leadership team and providing the right training, which will create a good environment and entice people to want to stay.

“You can mitigate your turnover in that regard,” he said.

Economists fear automation is cutting into labor: Some economists are rethinking their confidence of technology in the labor force and “are beginning to worry about the new configuration of work,” the New York Times reports. Research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Boston University show that robots are reducing the need for workers and are shrinking wages.

The rise of robots explains the drop in “the share of national income going into workers’ paychecks over the last three decades,” some economists said. A majority of the new jobs open are in industries such as health care, hospitality, retail and building services, “where pay is mediocre,” the news outlet writes, and the use of automation is drawing a line between those jobs and ones where professionals are making good wages at large corporations.

“Automation is changing the nature of work, flushing workers without a college degree out of productive industries, like manufacturing and high-tech services, and into tasks with meager wages and no prospect for advancement,” the New York Times writes.

Tourism booming on Galápagos Islands: Land-based tourism on the Galápagos Islands has grown more than 90% from 2007 to 2016, and some environmentalists and travel experts fear this boom could be a threat to the islands’ natural state, the New York Times reports.

“It is simply not sustainable to have never-ending growth in land-based tourism in this fragile environment,” Jim Lutz, president of the International Galápagos Tour Operators Association, wrote in a letter last February to Ecuador’s tourism minister.

While the Observatorio de Turismo de Galápagos says there are restrictions on the development of new hotels, “accommodations have increased dramatically over the last decade—from 65 to more than 300—with prices running from backpacker rates to over $900 a night,” the news outlet writes.

Compiled by Dana Miller.

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