5 things to know: 11 September 2017
5 things to know: 11 September 2017
11 SEPTEMBER 2017 9:48 AM

From the desks of the Hotel News Now editorial staff:

  • Irma weakens to tropical storm, continues to hammer Florida
  • Post-Harvey, CBRE raises forecast for US hotel RevPAR
  • Hotels look to hold onto college students on staff
  • Preliminary August data mixed for global hotel markets
  • Belfast’s new Titanic Hotel opens with fanfare

Irma weakens to tropical storm, continues to hammer Florida: At least four people in Florida have been killed by Hurricane Irma, which made landfall in the state as a Category 2 hurricane before weakening Monday morning to a tropical storm, reports The New York Times. The death toll from the storm across the Caribbean was at least 27, according to the newspaper.

The full extent of the damage from the storm is still unclear, but Florida cities, such as Tampa, seemed to be spared the worst. Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who had warned residents Sunday that the city was about to get “punched in the face,” told The Times on Monday that the actual damage was “manageable.”

Meanwhile, Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Bryan Koon said that his assessment of the damage to the Florida Keys, where the storm first made landfall early Sunday, was that it was not “catastrophic at this point,” reports the USA Today Network.

Still, Florida officials warned that the storm is not over, and storm surges are unpredictable.

“There is no reason to let our guard down,” said Don Harrigan, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Tallahassee. “We need to be buttoned up and hunkered down, especially (Monday) afternoon with it peaks.”

As many as 5.8 million people were without power early Monday across Florida, The New York Times reports.

Post-Harvey, CBRE raises forecast for U.S. hotel RevPAR: Researchers with CBRE looked at the potential impact of Hurricane Harvey, especially on the Houston, Texas, region, where it hit as a Category 4 storm on 25 August.

At least in some ways, the storm is expected to provide a boon to hotels, with CBRE revising its forecast for total U.S. revenue per available room up, from 3.5% to 4.4% for the fourth quarter and from 2.8% to 3.1% for the full year.

“Assuming that Hurricane Harvey has a similar impact as past major storms, that there is no significant increase in room rates and that there is no major decline in the number of available hotel rooms, then hotels in the five major Texas markets could generate an additional 3.4 million roomnights of demand and roughly $430 million in additional revenue,” the CBRE report states.

Jan Freitag, SVP of lodging insights at STR (parent company of Hotel News Now), predicted that STR forecasts for U.S. hotel room supply would be revised down, and that demand would hold steady or increase slightly, as a result of Harvey.

Hotels look to hold onto college students on staff: With the college semester in full swing, hoteliers with properties in college markets have filled temporary and more long-term positions with students, writes Hotel News Now’s Danielle Hess. The trick is keeping them on board, which hoteliers say requires a mix of transparency, flexibility and on-the-job training in skillsets that would serve the students no matter what career they end up in.

“We’re very overt about offering examples of hospitality and offering an environment that keeps the art form of hospitality alive through job training and the way we communicate,” said Herman Ariza, HR director at the St. Julien Hotel & Spa in Boulder, Colorado. “We really focus on building professionals, and we celebrate (building) their career path, even if it’s outside hospitality. And we think that really adds to their commitment while they’re here, and it also helps retain them for as long as we can.”

Preliminary August data mixed for global hotel markets: Supply growth led to occupancy declines and dampened demand in London, Abu Dhabi and Jeddah, according to preliminary data from STR, parent company of Hotel News Now.

The early data shows that despite a 4% increase in supply, London hotel demand is still expected to rise 1.2%. Occupancy, meanwhile, dropped 2.7% to 82.3%, and average daily rate grew 3% to £143.28 ($189.12) —marking the 10th consecutive month for ADR growth, which STR attributed in part to the devaluation of the pound.
In Abu Dhabi, a 3.7% increase in supply contributed to a 3.4% decline in occupancy to 65.1% and nearly flat demand (+0.2%), according to the preliminary data.

Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where supply grew 17.8%, saw a 13.7% decline in occupancy to 68.5%, but still managed to grow demand by 1.7%, the data shows.

Belfast’s new Titanic Hotel opens with fanfare: The 119-room, luxury Titanic Hotel Belfast, built for £28 million ($36.9 million) at the former headquarters of Harland & Wolff (the firm which built the famously sunken luxury cruise liner), opened to fanfare on Sunday in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The opening had been anticipated for two years during renovation of the property.

Compiled by Robert McCune.

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