5 things to know: 13 September 2017
5 things to know: 13 September 2017
13 SEPTEMBER 2017 9:16 AM

From the desks of the Hotel News Now editorial staff:

  • Assessing the damage from Hurricane Irma
  • Supreme Court: Some refugees can be barred from US
  • Hoteliers hope for more measured approach to overtime rule
  • August pipeline data shows growth in rooms under contract
  • Study measures guest expectations against experience

Assessing the damage from Hurricane Irma: Like evacuees returning to their homes in the wake of Hurricane Irma, hotel companies with properties in the path of the storm are just beginning to take stock of the damages. Hotel News Now has compiled statements and reactions from hotel companies with presences in Florida and various parts of the Caribbean.

“What’s good is it’s getting better,” said Wendy Kallergis, president and CEO of the Greater Miami and The Beaches Hotel Association. “Some of our hotels are operating, are opening in different parts of Miami-Dade County. They of course have to assess the damages.”

Meanwhile, hotel industry experts discussed what the long-term impact could be for the U.S. hotel industry and the markets hit hardest by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Supreme Court: Some refugees can be barred from U.S.: In a one-paragraph statement issued Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court delayed the ruling of a lower federal court that would have allowed “a group of about 24,000 refugees, who have assurances from sponsors,” to enter the country, reports The Washington Post.

The court’s statement did not address other objections to the Trump Administration’s travel ban, specifically related to its interpretation of a “bona fide” connection, which the court previously ruled was an exception when it comes to blocking citizens from six Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S.

It does grant a stay, requested by the administration, of a ruling by the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals that interpreted a Supreme Court directive as meaning that refugees with sponsor assurances should be allowed into the country.

A Supreme Court hearing is scheduled for 10 October to consider the merits of the ban.

Hoteliers hope for more measured approach to overtime rule: The hotel industry has been watching closely the federal court that issued an injunction against a U.S. Department of Labor-proposed rule that would have increased the overtime threshold for salaried employees. The latest development, a ruling that the labor department overreached its authority, seems to be a victory for hoteliers and other U.S. employers who thought that an increase set under the Obama administration (raising the threshold from the $23,660 mark set in 2004 to $47,476) was too much, too fast, writes Hotel News Now’s Bryan Wroten.

That increase, which was set to take effect in December 2016, has been struck down by U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant III. The judge’s decision can be appealed, but it’s unclear whether the labor department will pursue an appeal or propose a new rule with a lower threshold amount.

“The issue with the huge step proposed by the prior administration is that it was so significant, it would push a lot of people out of salaried jobs,” said Bob Habeeb, president and CEO of First Hospitality Group. “That wasn’t ‘doing them a favor,’ as most appreciated the security of salary.”

August pipeline data shows growth in rooms under contract: According to August data from STR, parent company of Hotel News Now, rooms under contract increased significantly in the U.S., Europe and the Middle East/Africa region compared with August 2016.

The U.S. saw an 8.8% year-over-year increase in rooms under contract, with 590,080 rooms in 4,911 hotel projects. Rooms in the construction phase also increased 12.9%, with 192,132 rooms in 1,463 projects for the same period.

In Europe, 177,755 rooms in 1,160 hotel projects represented an 18.1% year-over-year increase in rooms under contract; and rooms in construction (75,755 in 488 projects) grew by 17.5% during the same period.

The Middle East/Africa pipeline for August showed 164,898 rooms in 583 projects under contract in the Middle East, which is a 5.4% increase from August 2016. Rooms in the construction phase grew 17.2%, with 98,027 rooms in 309 hotel projects.

Africa reported 57,011 rooms in 308 projects under contract in August, a 0.3% year-over-year increase. Rooms in the construction phase decreased 5.6% year over year to 28,260 rooms in 160 projects during the same period.

Study measures guest expectations against experience: A study by marketing firm Acxiom titled “Expectations vs. Experience” finds that “most travelers have more interaction with hotels than any other travel component,” but “some of the most valued aspects of the hotel stay are also sources of great discontent.”

The company surveyed U.S. citizens between the ages of 20 and 75, who have taken at least one business or leisure trip at least 75 miles from home in the past year that included paid lodging and/or air travel, and have played active roles in planning leisure trips in the past year. Of those surveyed, 30% said they book their leisure trips on hotel websites, versus 28% who book on online travel agencies.

As for what frustrates them the most about a hotel experience, 51% said “check in/out took too long;” 44% said “outdated room features/design;” 33% said “poor customer service;” and 26% said “checking too many websites while booking.”

Compiled by Robert McCune.

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