5 things to know: 21 March 2019
 
5 things to know: 21 March 2019
21 MARCH 2019 9:26 AM

From the desks of the Hotel News Now editorial staff:

  • US interest rates ‘unlikely to raise’ in 2019
  • Costs and margins dominate talk at Hunter Conference
  • New York City’s Chrysler Building might become a hotel
  • South Korea hotel-room filming scandal explodes
  • 100 million Americans to take vacations in 2019

U.S. interest rates “unlikely to raise” in 2019: Federal Reserve officials have decided to leave U.S. interest rates unchanged and indicated increases are unlikely at any time in 2019, according to The Wall Street Journal. Rates are now between 2.25% and 2.5%.

The announcement by the Federal Reserve’s board of governors comes on the back of inflation in 2018 not being as high as initial estimates but concerns this year that the U.S. economy is slowing down.

“It may be some time before the outlook for jobs and inflation calls clearly for a change in (interest rate) policy,” Jerome Powell, the reserve’s chair said.

Costs and margins dominate talk at Hunter Conference: Panel and breakout chatter on the first day of the Hunter Hotel Conference in Atlanta was dominated by talks of rising costs and shrinking margins, according to the Hotel News Now team present at the event.

As HNN’s content strategist Jeff Higley reported “Revenue per available room (in the U.S.) … continues to check in at around 2% while expenses are growing at a 5% clip or more.”

Editor in chief Stephanie Ricca wrote that hotel companies have laser focus on their piece of the industry, saying what she heard from the event is “evidence … that all types of hotel companies are successfully carving their niche into the current slow-but-steady RevPAR growth trajectory.”

New York City’s Chrysler Building might become a hotel: New York City’s famous Art Deco-style Chrysler Building, on Lexington Avenue between 42nd and 43rd streets, might become a hotel, according to Bloomberg.

The 77-story, 1930 building is being sold to New York City’s RFR Holding LLC and Innsbruck, Austria’s Signa Holding GmbH. RFR’s CEO Aby Rosen, according to the news report, said he would consider converting the tower into a hotel.

South Korea hotel-room filming scandal explodes: Four people have been arrested in South Korea for allegedly installing video cameras in hotels rooms and filming approximately 1,600 guests without consent. The arrested men also have been charged with selling footage on the internet, according to South Korean police authorities and reported by the BBC.

Authorities said the suspects, who uploaded more than 800 videos from 30 separate hotels and eluded capture by basing the website outside of South Korea, face up to 10 years in prison. The BBC report notes “5,400 people were arrested for spy camera related crimes in 2017, (although) fewer than 2% were jailed.” The scandal has resulted in protests throughout the country and anger at the government, with protestors feeling it has not done enough to protect people and sentence wrongdoers accordingly.

100 million Americans to take vacations in 2019: Almost 100 million Americans will take a family vacation in 2019, according to AAA. That figure equates to roughly four out of every 10 Americans traveling.

The number, AAA said, is slightly higher than that of 2018. In 2019, research showed, 68% of Americans will take a summer holiday thanks to gas prices being “nearly a quarter cheaper so far in 2019 compared with the first few months of last year.” Travelers in the south of the U.S. are more likely (68%) to take a family trip than those in the Northeast (35%).

Compiled by Terence Baker

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