From the desks of the Hotel News Now editorial staff:
- Residents flee Carolinas, Virginia as Florence approaches
- More than a third of rooms still offline in Florida village post-Irma
- Hoteliers on hiring, keeping analytics talent
- More hotel companies sign on to panic button initiative
- AHIP REIT appoints new CEO
Residents flee Carolinas, Virginia as Florence approaches: More than 1 million people under mandatory evacuation order are fleeing the path of Hurricane Florence, which the National Weather Service deemed “the storm of a lifetime for portions of the Carolina coast” in its warning, CNN reports.
“… that’s saying a lot given the impacts we’ve seen from Hurricanes Diana, Hugo, Fran, Bonnie, Floyd and Matthew,” the NWS warning continued.
In issuing an evacuation order, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said: “This storm is … nothing like you’ve ever seen. Even if you’ve ridden out storms before, this one is different. Don’t bet your life on riding out a monster.”
The Category 4 hurricane is forecast to approach the coastline of the Carolinas by Friday, according to NWS’ forecasts.
More than a third of rooms still offline in Florida village post-Irma: In Islamadora, a village in the Florida Keys that bills itself as “The Sportfishing Capital of the World,” an estimated 455 of the 1,300 hotel rooms are still offline following the devastation of Hurricane Irma a year ago, reports KeysNews.com.
“Our big resorts are mostly on the ocean. Hurricane Irma was an ocean event,” Judy Hull, executive director of the Islamorada Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center, told the news outlet. “The ocean bashed us. … Everyone’s hurricane situation was different. In the Lower Keys, they lost thousands of residences. Here, Irma took out all almost all of our major resorts and most of the lodging.”
Meanwhile, in a sign of slow recovery, many of the village’s resorts have resumed operations, including the 214-room Cheeca Lodge, which underwent a $25-million renovation following the storm, the news outlet reports.
Hoteliers on hiring, keeping analytics talent: An analytics team that brings a variety of viewpoints and perspectives is an essential part of any hotel team, and it’s not always easy to find, or to keep, a panel of experts said.
Speaking on a panel at August’s Hotel Data Conference titled “Analyzing the analytics profession,” Kathryn Kilburg, senior manager of competitive analysis at Marriott International, stressed the importance of diversity on analytics teams.
“We have economists, mathematicians, hotel people, Wall Street folks—we even have a rocket scientist. We have all of these amazing minds and lenses coming together to make an analysis team robust,” she said.
Once that team is in place, “we need to make sure people don’t get stale and bored, so investing in technology is important,” said Colleen Birch, SVP of revenue optimization at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
More hotel companies sign on to panic button initiative: Following the announcement last week of an initiative led by the American Hotel and Lodging Association aimed at hotel employee safety, G6 Hospitality has joined Marriott in pledging to provide all of its employees at its owned and managed hotels with panic-button devices, USA TODAY reports.
G6, which owns the Studio 6 and Motel 6 brands, and Marriott have also been joined by Hilton, Hyatt Hotels Corporation, InterContinental Hotels Group and Wyndham Hotels & Resorts in signing AHLA’s “5-Star Promise” pledge, which in part calls for the provision of safety devices to all hotel employees in the U.S. by 2020.
“People are the heart of this business and the single greatest asset to G6 Hospitality. That is why we are committed to the well-being, peace of mind and safety of our team members and guests, and we continue to take steps to improve that experience,” CEO of G6 Hospitality Rob Palleschi told the newspaper.
AHIP REIT appoints new CEO: To replace the company’s retiring co-founder in the role of CEO, Vancouver-based real-estate investment trust American Hotel Income Properties has tapped John O’Neill, according to a news release.
Rob O’Neill, who is retiring after six years as CEO of the company he co-founded in 2012 with John O’Neill, who is his brother, will remain on the AHIP board of directors, the release states.
“Once John became a candidate for the role, Rob removed himself from the executive search evaluation process—including candidate interviews and selection—to ensure there wouldn’t be any conflicts. The other board members came to the decision unanimously,” AHIP Director of Investor Relations Jamie Kokoska told HNN via email.
John O’Neill comes to the role with more than “30 years of experience in hotel investment, development and management,” the release states. That includes overseeing “management of AHIP’s hotel operations as the portfolio grew from 32 to 115 hotels over the past six years, while serving as president of ONE Lodging Management Inc. until Aimbridge Hospitality assumed AHIP’s hotel management duties in April 2018.”
Compiled by Robert McCune.