5 things to know: 29 April 2019
5 things to know: 29 April 2019
29 APRIL 2019 9:33 AM

From the desks of the Hotel News Now editorial staff:

  • 3,000-person Sri Lanka conference canceled
  • Rotana agrees to distribution deal with Airbnb
  • Rockefeller Center to offer 10 floors to Airbnb
  • Being kosher adds demand but presents challenges
  • Three hotel firms announce major Middle East pushes

3,000-person Sri Lanka conference canceled: The knock-on effects on the Sri Lankan tourism and travel industry resulting from the Easter Sunday bombing blasts continues with news that organizers have canceled at least the original dates of a major conference hosting 3,000 delegates at the capital Colombo’s Cinnamon Grand Hotel. The hotel was one of the Sri Lankan hotels to have experienced a bomb during the terrorism action.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora conference was due to be held on 23 May to 3 June, with delegates coming from more than 200 countries. The hotel’s owner John Keells Holdings said in a statement that it called “upon the relevant authorities to take urgent steps to prevent a recurrence of these heinous acts (of terrorism).”

Rotana agrees to distribution deal with Airbnb: Abu Dhabi-based hotel firm Rotana will pilot a direct distribution platform with Airbnb for its Dubai properties, according to United Arab Emirates’ newspaper The National, which quoted Rotana’s acting CEO Guy Hutchinson. This deal implies a “sign of the regional industry’s embrace of the technology company.”

The Airbnb agreement, the first in the UAE, requires regulatory approval by the government. Hutchinson, speaking at the Arabian Travel Market taking place 28 April to 1 May also said his company is considering opening a property in the southern Iraqi city of Basra and re-entering Damascus, the capital of war-torn Syria.

Rockefeller Center to offer 10 floors to Airbnb: In other Airbnb-related news, New York City’s famed 87-year-old Rockefeller Center will convert 10 floors of one of its towers into accommodation that it intends to distribute via Airbnb, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Ownership group RXR Realty said the accommodation will be up and running within one year and added that it hopes to avoid some of the challenges experienced by other businesses moving into the space by having only unionized staff and closely following city regulations.

Being kosher adds demand but presents challenges: Having hotels and their food-and-beverage offerings be fully consistent with religious kosher rules can add a healthy addition to revenue numbers, but putting this all into practice does not come without challenges, according to Hotel News Now’s Dana Miller.

Yael Ron, GM of the Ritz-Carlton, Cleveland, told Miller that operating a kosher kitchen can be complicated because of the preparation and training that is needed as well as having to coordinate with a local rabbi for supervision.

Gene Hunt, the Grand Hyatt Washington’s director of events, said hotels with kosher kitchens must also follow kashruth Jewish religious laws when cleaning dirty plates and supplies. Keeping kosher is a moral obligation that requires a commitment to constant and continuing staff education, he added.

Three hotel firms announce major Middle East pushes: Despite fears that oversupply is causing problems in the Middle East, hotel firms are not stopping their expansion plans in the market. Central Hotels, Hyatt Hotels Corporation and Swiss-Belhotel International have all announced major expansions this week.

Dubai-based Central Hotels, which has three Dubai hotels, is to open a further three by 2022, according to a news release. Hyatt announced it will double its Saudi Arabian portfolio to 10 hotels and approximately 1,300 rooms by 2023. Swiss-Belhotel International, in a news release of its own, said it plans to open seven hotels across the Middle East/Africa region by the end of 2019.

Compiled by Terence Baker.

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