5 things to know: 26 July 2016
5 things to know: 26 July 2016
26 JULY 2016 9:31 AM

From the desks of the Hotel News Now editorial staff:

  • Starwood releases likely last earnings before acquisition
  • Travelers urged to overcome Zika ‘fears and hype’
  • Low-cost airlines rewriting the rules of distribution
  • Seattle to hold vote on hotel workers’ rights
  • Running helping hotels establish neighborhood connection

Starwood releases likely last earnings before acquisition: With company officials projecting Marriott International will close on the acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide “in the coming weeks,” Starwood announced its likely last quarterly earnings as an independent company today. The report for the second quarter showed constant-currency revenue per available room grew 3.4% in North America and 1.4% across the globe.

But the company also posted a net loss of $263 million for the quarter, driven in large part by the loss from discontinued operations connected to the spin-off and sale of vacation ownership platform Vistana.

Other highlights of Starwood’s earnings report included a 7.1% year-over-year increase in management fees, franchise fees and other income; the addition of 120 hotel management and franchise contracts with 21,400 rooms; and the opening of 20 new hotels with 4,200 rooms. Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization was $297 million for the quarter.

Starwood officials noted in the release that the company is still waiting regulatory approval from the Chinese government and “the satisfaction of other customary closing conditions” to finalize the deal with Marriott.

In other earnings news, hotel REIT FelCor announced its second-quarter results, with a 2.6% increase in same-store RevPAR and net income of $13.8 million for the quarter.

Travelers asked to overcome Zika "fears and hype": The Puerto Rico Tourism Company has put out a call to tell travelers they can “have a worry-free vacation” to the U.S. territory despite fears related to the Zika virus.

A news release issued Monday cites epidemiologist Dr. D.A. Henderson claiming travelers can safely head to Puerto Rico if they “take a common sense approach.”

“Unless you are pregnant or planning to conceive, there’s no reason to avoid traveling to destinations where Zika may be present,” he said. “If you use common sense precautions to avoid mosquito bites, like applying insect repellent and wearing protective clothing, any threat of Zika infection can be easily managed. The overreaction and hype about Zika is not warranted or helpful.”

Caribbean hotels in general seem to be suffering as travelers fear the potential of the Zika virus.

Low-cost airlines rewriting the rules of distribution: Irish airline Ryanair’s recent foray into booking hotel rooms, hostels, bed and breakfasts and other forms of lodging—named Ryanair Rooms—is the latest in a trend of low-cost airlines in that region disrupting room distribution, writes Hotel News Now’s Terence Baker.

Greg O’Gorman, director of ancillary revenue for the company, said it’s part of Ryanair’s strategy to own more of the travel booking journey.

“(It’s) all of the above, and more,” O’Gorman said. “Our customers buy the whole range of products, so we intend to appeal to the widest cross section of customers that we possibly can.”

Fergus Boyd, group director and VP of digital and information technology at Yotel, said the motivation is clear for Ryanair’s move.

“One can only expect that Ryanair has looked at the commission that (online travel agencies) get and wants a piece of the pie,” Boyd said.

Seattle to hold vote on hotel workers’ rights: Voters in Seattle will vote in November on whether hotel employees in the city should receive greater benefits and protections, according to The Seattle Times. The newspaper reports that Unite Here Local 8 successfully got an initiative on the ballot that will seek to provider workers “help with health insurance” along with greater protections from assault and sexual harassment.

The “Yes to 124” campaign says the industry has “not adequately provided for the safety and security of hotel employees.”

“Due to the unique nature of hotel work, hotel employees are subjected to a risk of harassment and violence on the job,” the campaign’s platform is quoted in the news story. “Unregulated workloads result in injury rates for hotel housekeepers that are higher than those of coal miners.”

Running helps hotels establish neighborhood connection: Westin hotels is finding a new way to bring locals onto property and connect with guests: running. The New York Times reports that the company’s “running concierge” program is helping “out of towners feel more at home.”

One such runner at the Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort is Edilson Cremonese, who believes the running program helps establish connections.

“Most of the people staying in the hotel are just looking for something to do that’s more local than something they’d read about,” Cremonese said. “They all want to know what to do, places to go.”

Compiled by Sean McCracken.

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