5 things to know: 16 August 2019
5 things to know: 16 August 2019
16 AUGUST 2019 9:21 AM

From the desks of the Hotel News Now editorial staff:

  • Choice Hotels data breach may affect 700,000 guests
  • STR, Tourism Economics lower expectations for US hotels
  • Hoteliers anxious about downturn at Day One of HDC
  • Hong Kong facing recession as tourism takes hit
  • Summer airline travel plagued by cancellations, delays

Choice Hotels data breach may affect 700,000 guests: A leak from an unsecured database exposed the personal data of approximately 700,000 guests of Choice Hotels International to hackers, according to reports by ConsumerAffairs, which were confirmed Thursday by Choice Hotels in a statement to Hotel News Now.

According to the company statement, the breach of records “did not contain payment, password or reservation information,” but did include “some guest contact information, including names, addresses, phone numbers and/or email addresses.”

The breach originated on a vendor’s server, which was hosting the data without authorization “to test a security offering,” according to the company. “None of our servers were accessed,” the company stated.

According to ConsumerAffairs, the database contained 5.7 million records, but Choice stated that most of that was test data, which was “not associated with real people.” The consumer news outlet reports that hackers who discovered the unsecured database tried unsuccessfully to ransom it back to Choice for .4 of a Bitcoin (about $4,000).

“Data security is a priority for us, and after learning about the potential exposure of data hosted on a vendor’s server for testing purposes, we immediately launched an investigation,” Choice said in its statement to HNN. “We will be notifying affected guests to advise them of what occurred.”

STR, Tourism Economics lower expectations for U.S. hotels: Weaker than expected average daily rate growth at U.S. hotels has led STR and Tourism Economics to revise down their full-year 2019 and 2020 forecasts for the industry.

While absolute hotel occupancy remains high, year-over-year growth is nearly flat, which puts pressure on ADR to drive revenue per available room, according to STR, parent company of HNN But, as the first half of 2019 performance shows, hoteliers lack pricing confidence. As a result, the forecast now calls for only 1.6% RevPAR growth in 2019 and 1.1% RevPAR growth in 2020 (down from previous projections of 2% and 1.9%, respectively).

“We continue to see ADR rise below the level of inflation even as the industry operates in the highest demand and occupancy environment in history,” said Amanda Hite, STR’s president and CEO. “The absence of hotelier pricing confidence has even extended into the peak summer months, leading us to downgrade our ADR projections by 50 basis points for 2019 and 80 basis points for 2020. Those projected decreases correlate with a downgraded GDP forecast and lead to an obvious reduction in our RevPAR projection.

CBRE Hotels also downgraded full-year 2019 expectations.

Hoteliers anxious about downturn at Day One of HDC: Cautious optimism among hoteliers appears to be fading, as worries about an impending (though not immediate) downturn prevail, the HNN editorial team reports from Day One of the Hotel Data Conference.

Panel discussions and general chatter around the host venue JW Marriott Nashville centered on how this next recession of the U.S. economy likely will be different from those in 2008 and 2001, and how the hotel industry might react, but no one seemed to doubt that a recession is coming, probably in the next year or two.

But hoteliers on the HDC stage tried to avoid being completely pessimistic about the future. Bright spots continue to include the leisure travel segment, as more U.S. households are planning and taking vacations this year than in 2018.

Watch HNN for continued coverage from the 11th annual Hotel Data Conference.

Hong Kong facing recession as tourism takes hit: Flagging tourism and business disruptions resulting from increasingly violent anti-government protests could push Hong Kong into recession this quarter, according to estimates by Capital Economics, reported by Reuters.

The consultancy in a statement to clients said it expects Hong Kong’s GDP to decline by 1% from the previous quarter.

“In the extreme case of military intervention by the mainland, Hong Kong’s economy would face a deep contraction,” the statement said. “But even assuming this never materializes, the growing threat of such action could be enough to spark capital flight.”

Meanwhile, amid a double-digit decline in inbound flight bookings, airline carrier Cathay Pacific CEO Rupert Hogg has resigned, CNN reports.

Summer airline travel plagued by cancellations, delays: A rough summer U.S. air travel season was marked by bumped passengers, cancelled and delayed flights, partially associated with the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max, CNBC reports.

The Department of Transportation reports that U.S. air carriers denied boarding to 6,589 passengers in the three months ending in June, and canceled 2.4% of scheduled flights in the first six months of 2019. Both represent increases from the prior year.

“Flight delays have also increased,” CNBC reports, with on-time arrivals falling to 73.3% in June, down from 76.4% for the same month in 2018.

Compiled by Robert McCune.

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