Better cash in your Hilton HHonors points. Starting 15 January 2010, Hilton Worldwide is raising the number of loyalty points required to book a free night for most of its 3,300 hotels, reports fellow hotel-journalist-in-arms, Barbara De Lollis of USA Today.
The announcement, which was made quietly to members last month, is being criticized by some industry analysts.
"It's just an absolute boneheaded move," analyst Henry Harteveldt of Forrester Research told De Lollis. "It is the absolutely the wrong decision to make at a time when hotel demand is down from corporate business, conferences and leisure."
While some have declared the recession over, Bill Marriott thinks the hotel industry is just beginning to see tentative signs of economic recovery, reports CNNMoney.com. The hospitality icon told The Economic Club Thursday that despite early indications of growth, the industry still is recovering from a backlash against corporate travel fueled by politics and public anger over the financial meltdown.
"When (President) Obama got up and told the TARP recipients don't go to Las Vegas, don't fly on a corporate jet--that just threw a blanket of despair and dark clouds over the industry," Marriott said, referring to the federal Troubled Asset Relief Program. "They killed a lot of jobs in this industry."
A government affairs official with Expedia said the online travel agent does not remit taxes to hotels on service fees charged to hotels because it does not consider the fees to be part of the rent for room. The state of Florida disagrees, claiming that Expedia and other OTAs are holding onto a portion of owed taxes as profit. The dispute is being waged in court, as Florida has become the first U.S. state to join the ever-growing ranks of municipalities suing online travel agencies over alleged failure to remit taxes.
For more about the lawsuit and its potential impact on the U.S. hotel industry, read “Florida becomes first U.S. state to sue Expedia and Orbitz for room taxes.”
India’s hotel sector is making a serious push for better infrastructure to support the influx of international brands setting up shop in the country. The news came from T Nataraajan, secretary of the South India Hotels and Restaurants’ Association, who noted that countries like Malaysia, Sri Lanka and China are supporting their hospitality industries to the hilt, reports The Economic Times.
The association asked the Indian government for official infrastructure status, which would include subsidiaries to airlines, tax breaks and favorable floor space index guidelines.
Ashford Hospitality Trust refinanced its remaining 2010 debt maturity, signaling significant progress on the Dallas-based REIT’s 2011 maturities through transactions with Prudential Mortgage Capital Company and Wheelock Street Capital. The US$145 million nonrecourse financing includes an A-Note from Prudential and a B-Note from Wheelock Street with a combined interest rate of 12.26 percent and a term of six years.
Read the full press release.
Compiled by Patrick Mayock.