5 things to know: 12 March 2019
5 things to know: 12 March 2019
12 MARCH 2019 9:24 AM

From the desks of the Hotel News Now editorial staff:

  • Crucial Brexit vote today in UK Parliament
  • Google quietly launches hotel booking site
  • Bazin, Accor aim to forever alter travel landscape
  • Milwaukee hotel market preps for DNC surge in 2020
  • Abu Dhabi cuts hotel taxes to encourage tourism

Crucial Brexit vote today in U.K. Parliament: Lawmakers in the United Kingdom are expected to vote today on an “improved” deal negotiated by Prime Minister Theresa May that the European Union is signaling will be the last chance for Brexit, London newspaper The Guardian reports.

“In politics sometimes you get a second chance; it is what we do with this second chance that counts because there will be no third chance,” Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission president, said about the deal. “There will be no further interpretation of the interpretation. No further assurances on the reassurances if the meaningful vote fails (today).”

The new deal addresses Parliament members’ concerns about a provision which aimed to prevent a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland if the EU and U.K. fail to agree to a trade deal within a 21-month transition period. May claimed she had obtained legal assurances from the EU that this Irish backstop would not be permanent.

But Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn declared that “negotiations have failed,” and called on MPs to reject May’s latest deal. The deadline for the U.K. to withdraw from the EU remains 29 March.

Google quietly launches hotel booking site: In a move that Fortune reports flew “under the radar,” online search giant Google has expanded its shadow over the hotel industry by launching full-fledged hotel booking engine Google Hotels.

The timing of the Google launch coincided with news that Airbnb had acquired booking app HotelTonight, which seems to move both firms squarely into the realm of online travel agencies.

Bazin, Accor aim to forever alter travel landscape: Sitting down with Hotel News Now’s Terence Baker at last week’s International Hotel Investment Forum in Berlin, Accor Chairman and CEO Sébastien Bazin shared his vision for a new “universe” in travel and his company’s place in it.

Integral to that vision is the company’s relaunched loyalty program, ALL (Accor Live Limitless), which aims to extend Accor’s reach into its guests’ entire travel experience.

“Whether you are working, living or playing, I will be there with you,” Bazin said.

Hear more about Bazin’s vision in Hotel News Now’s video interview with the CEO.

Milwaukee hotel market preps for DNC surge in 2020: The choice of Milwaukee to host the July 2020 Democratic National Convention is good news for hoteliers, as limited hotel supply downtown is likely to mean high occupancy for the entire metropolitan area, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

According to figures from STR, parent company of Hotel News Now, Milwaukee currently has 5,500 hotel rooms downtown, and a total of 17,884 in its metropolitan area. Convention organizers are expected to need 15,000 rooms for its 50,000 attendees.

“It’s probably one of the best things to happen to Milwaukee … if they can pull it off successfully,” Greg Hanis, president of Hospitality Marketers International, told the newspaper.

Abu Dhabi cuts hotel taxes to encourage tourism: In an attempt to “help the ailing hospitality sector,” Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture & Tourism announced it has reduced fees to be paid by tourists from 6% to 3.5%, Reuters reports.

The fee reduction means guests will pay 10 dirhams ($2.72) instead of 15 dirhams ($4.08) per night to stay at a hotel in the United Arab Emirates capital.

The move comes after a study by the DCT which showed Abu Dhabi had 10 million hotel guests in 2018, compared to 15.9 million hotel guests in neighboring Dubai.

“The tourism sector is a key alternative to oil,” said Saif Saeed Ghobash, under-secretary of DCT. “It is necessary to support this sector as it experiences difficulties to allow it to contribute to the achievement of future goals.”

Compiled by Robert McCune.

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