Expedia has rolled out a new hotel booking platform with a revamped “Expedia Verified Reviews” program, reports msnbc.com.
The program is designed to make better use of Expedia’s growing database of millions of traveler-generated hotel reviews and assure users that reviews are not faked.
The enhanced platform allows travelers to filter hotel searches in new ways (for example, by proximity to a sports stadium) and confirms that each review—good or bad—was written by an Expedia customer who actually booked and stayed at that hotel.
Chesapeake Lodging Trust announced Tuesday that it closed on the previously announced acquisition of the newly developed, 122-room Holiday Inn New York City Midtown - 31st Street for a purchase price of US$52.2 million, or approximately US$428,000 per key. The Trust funded the acquisition with a borrowing under its revolving credit facility. Chesapeake entered into an agreement with Real Hospitality Group to manage the hotel.
James L. Francis, Chesapeake's president and CEO, stated, “We are excited to acquire our first hotel in the New York City market at a very compelling entry point. Given the robust demand in midtown Manhattan, our operator's experience managing hotels in New York City, and the strength of the IHG reservation system, we expect the Holiday Inn New York City Midtown - 31st Street to ramp-up very quickly.”
HVS and ESSEC Business School partnered to survey the French hotel investment community regarding expectations about the French hotel market and gauge investment and lending parameters used.
Highlights of the report include:
• The respondents exhibited some measured optimism when asked about their expectations for occupancy and average rates in the next two years: About 50% indicated occupancy would increase, while the remainder said it would either stay flat or decrease. Almost 60% pointed towards an increase in average rates against 40% that indicated there would be no growth in rate or decline.
• Most respondents felt net-operating income would remain unchanged. HVS reported this difference suggests that few respondents were confident in the ability of hotels to ensure a good flow-through or conversion of the increase in revenue into operating profit.
• When asked for lending terms and their expectations about loan amounts and parameters, respondents rarely shared similar views, with the exception of interests, which 100% of respondents said will go up.
• Questions on loan-to-value ratio and debt-service coverage ratio indicate a continuing movement toward more stringent lending terms, with most respondents seeing an increase in DSCR, with LTV increasing or remaining unchanged.
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The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index increased in December to 64.5, up from 55.2 in November.
“After two months of considerable gains, the Consumer Confidence Index is now back to levels seen last spring (April 2011, 66.0). Consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions improved again. Looking ahead, consumers are more optimistic that business conditions, employment prospects and their financial situations will continue to get better. While consumers are ending the year in a somewhat more upbeat mood, it is too soon to tell if this is a rebound from earlier declines or a sustainable shift in attitudes," said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center.
Consumers' assessment of current conditions also improved in December. Those stating business conditions are "good" increased to 16.6% from 13.9%, while those stating business conditions are "bad" declined to 33.9% from 38%.
Consumers' short-term outlook improved as well. The proportion of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months increased to 16.7% from 13.7%, while those expecting business conditions will worsen declined to 13.4% from 16.1%.
Economists are a bit more optimistic about the U.S. economy as 2011 comes to a close, according to a CNNMoney report.
Twenty economists surveyed indicated their fear of the economy falling into a new recession has retreated in the last three months, as they put the chances of a new downturn at approximately 20%. Three months ago, they believed there was about a 30% chance. Only two of them raised the risk of recession.
However, economists still are not overly excited about the outlook for growth in 2012. Growth for the full year is expected to be a more modest 2.4%, with only 2% growth in the first three months of the year.
Compiled by Stephanie Wharton.