5 things to know: 4 October 2017
5 things to know: 4 October 2017
04 OCTOBER 2017 9:39 AM

From the desks of the Hotel News Now editorial staff:

  • NYPD to train hotel staff on suspicious activity
  • Hoteliers show kindness with hurricane relief efforts
  • Proposal to raise hotel taxes could hurt Pennsylvania
  • Hotels begin to reopen following hurricanes
  • AccorHotels to acquire hotel distribution specialist

NYPD to train hotel staff on suspicious activity: While the City of New York Police Department’s Intelligence Bureau has already trained hotel employees on ways to spot guests showing suspicious behavior, the recent shooting in Las Vegas has prompted something more, according to ABC News.

Deputy Police Commissioner John Miller said everyone typically knows what a rifle looks like, but do people know what a gun case looks like opposed to regular luggage? The training will be for hotel security staff and housekeepers to help them hone in on something out of the ordinary because they have “the best observation ability to spot something suspicious,” Miller told ABC News.

In other security news, a Detroit councilwoman is seeking to restrict or monitor rifles in the city’s hotels that specifically face public spaces, such as a concert venue or a plaza like Hart Plaza, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Hoteliers show kindness with hurricane relief efforts: During hurricanes Harvey and Irma in late August and early September, some hotels came away with success stories related to providing shelter and other hospitality services to aid workers and storm evacuees, reports Hotel News Now’s Danielle Hess. Sources said the key to that success was communication and cooperation by the staff.

Concord Hospitality, which has properties in Texas and Florida, remained in operation during the storms in order to shelter evacuees and first responders. Its Courtyard by Marriott Houston Intercontinental Airport in Houston wasn’t even officially open yet when Hurricane Harvey hit, but received permission to open its doors to help provide shelter.

“The humanity that happens in these times is what’s great to see,” said Debra Punke, SVP of human capital at Concord Hospitality.

Proposal to raise hotel taxes could hurt Pennsylvania: The two largest cities in Pennsylvania—Philadelphia and Pittsburgh—could have the highest hotel taxes in the nation if the latest proposal to end the state’s “stubborn budget stalemate” passes, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

On Tuesday, Republicans who control the House of Representatives started to push toward adding a 5% tax on hotel stays in the proposal, which is on top of the already 6% statewide occupancy tax added to hotel bills. The new proposal would cause Philadelphia’s hotel tax to increase to 21.25% at the start of 2018.

“This is going to be devastating to our industry,” Ed Grose, executive director of the Greater Philadelphia Hotel Association, told the paper. He added that this increased tax could eliminate jobs and hinder the city’s ability to attract conventions.

Hotels begin to reopen following hurricanes: Many hotels in the paths of Hurricanes Irma, Jose and Maria remain closed because of the storm damage, according to The Washington Post, and some are starting to reopen.

A majority of hotels in Turks and Caicos are either currently open or will be within the next month or two, but many in the U.S. Virgin Islands remain closed with very few scheduled to open by the end of the year, according to the story.

According to the U.S. Virgin Islands’ tourism office website, “due to impact of Hurricane’s Irma and Maria, we request all visitors postpone scheduled visits to our islands.”

AccorHotels to acquire hotel distribution specialist: France-based AccorHotels announced an agreement to acquire Gekko, a hotel distribution company focused on business travelers, according to a company release.

The transaction is a part of Accor’s strategy to strengthen its services for business travelers, the release states. The deal values Gekko at €100 million ($117.6 million).

Compiled by Dana Miller.

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