5 things to know: 20 September 2019
5 things to know: 20 September 2019
20 SEPTEMBER 2019 9:28 AM

From the desks of the Hotel News Now editorial staff:

  • Barron Hilton dies at 91
  • Airbnb announces plans to go public in 2020
  • Fitness partnerships bring benefits to hotels
  • Hotel workers in Hong Kong go on unpaid leave amid protests
  • Are college towns recession-proof?

Barron Hilton dies at 91: Barron Hilton, the son of Hilton founder Conrad Hilton, died on Thursday at age 91 in his Los Angeles home of natural causes, according to a news release. Barron was a hotelier and philanthropist who succeeded his father as chairman, president and CEO of Hilton Hotels Corporation in 1966.

“Barron Hilton helped grow his father’s 1979 bequest of $160 million in Hilton stock into an endowment of more than $2.9 billion to support the philanthropic work of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation,” the release states. “During his 30 years as head of the company, he generated an average annual rate of return shareholders of 15% with dividends. He became well known for his innovative real estate transactions.”

Though Barron retired in 1996, he retained his role as chairman of the board. Outside of the hotel industry, he was the founding owner of the Chargers football team, the release states.

Hilton President and CEO Chris Nassetta released a statement on Friday saying, “Barron Hilton was an incredible family man, business leader and philanthropist. From his leadership of our company for more than three decades, to the transformative work he led with the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation for many years, Barron was a man unlike any other. I always found inspiration in how he saw the tremendous potential of hospitality to change the world for the better—and in the unique and meaningful ways he sought to make that happen.

“On behalf of everyone at Hilton, I extend our deepest condolences to the Hilton family.”

Airbnb announces plans to go public in 2020: The New York Times reports that Airbnb announced on Thursday in a statement it plans to go public in 2020. When it goes public, it will “be one of the most highly valued public offerings to hit the market since this spring.” Airbnb is currently valued by private investors at $31 billion, the newspaper writes.

“Making a public statement about going public in a particular year is unusual among technology start-ups, which typically keep their plans secret,” the Times reports. But under securities laws, Airbnb has to reveal its plans to become public before it can offer any shares to the hosts.

Other startups that have gone public recently include Uber, Lyft, Slack and Pinterest.

Fitness partnerships bring benefits to hotels: Hotels around the world are continuously increasing guest wellness offerings through partnerships with trainers and fitness companies, writes Hotel News Now’s Danielle Hess, and the benefits outweigh the expense.

For example, the Nizuc Resort & Spa in Cancún, Mexico, is trying out a new week-long residency partnership with performance trainer Artur Zolkiewicz this September around World Wellness Weekend to “raise awareness and encourage as many guests as possible to take part in this global event,” Alicia Acevedo, spa director at Nizuc, said via email.

Hotel workers in Hong Kong go on unpaid leave amid protests: Ongoing protests in Hong Kong are driving away visitors, and now hotel workers in the city have been asked to take unpaid leave, according to Bloomberg.

Bloomberg reports that about 77% of hotel workers have been asked to take three days of unpaid leave, and 46% expect their monthly income to drop as much as $383, a survey by the Hotels, Food and Beverage Employees Association finds. If the situation continues to worsen, 43% believe that hotels will cut jobs.

Tourism in the city dipped almost 40% in August compared to the same time in 2018, the news outlet reports.

“The continuous escalation of protests to violent levels has seriously affected Hong Kong’s reputation as a shopping haven and capital of gourmets,” the association said in a statement on Monday. “Travelers, worried about the deterioration in social order, canceled their plans.”

Are college towns recession-proof? As a business proposition, hotels in college towns make sense, Bloomberg writes. According to research by John O’Neill, a professor of hospitality management at Penn State, hotels in those markets “fare better during times of economic hardship than those in other sorts of locations,” the news outlet writes.

Demand for rooms in college town markets is more stable, despite occupancy and rates typically being lower than comparable hotels in other cities, Bloomberg writes.

Paul McGowan, founder and president of Study Hotels, said there’s a steady stream of visitors who come for a variety of reasons, whether it’s alumni, parents, visiting professors or dignitaries.

“That sort of high, diverse and relatively affluent demand makes these hotels what you might call recession-proof,” the news outlet writes.

Compiled by Dana Miller.

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