5 things to know: 14 February 2020
5 things to know: 14 February 2020
14 FEBRUARY 2020 10:25 AM

From the desks of the Hotel News Now editorial staff:

  • House bill introduced to provide Real ID alternative
  • What hotel execs are saying about the impact of coronavirus
  • Airbnb blocks bookings in Beijing through April
  • US hotel results for week ending 8 February
  • Pair posing as rap industry figures arrested for scamming hotels

House bill introduced to provide Real ID alternative: Two members of the U.S. House of Representatives have introduced a bill that would allow airline travelers to use TSA PreCheck as an alternative to the Real ID requirement that begins 1 October, according to a news release. The bill also requires the TSA to come up with a contingency plan for handling travelers who do not have Real ID-compliant credentials after the deadline.

“As the October 1, 2020 deadline quickly approaches, many Americans are still without Real ID-compliant identification,” said Congresswoman Debbie Lesko, a co-sponsor of the bill. “Only 16% of Americans believe they have a Real ID, while approximately 99 million Americans say they do not have any form of Real ID-compliant identification. These figures are clear indicators of the mass confusion, chaos, and delays that will most certainly occur across our nation’s airports if proper measures are not taken by 1 October. We must take action to ensure a seamless transition when Real ID requirements take effect.”

What hotel execs are saying about the impact of coronavirus: During their fourth-quarter and full-year 2019 earnings calls, hotel company executives have shared with analysts and shareholders how the coronavirus (COVID-19) is affecting their properties and overall business.

“The 60 government-mandated hotel closures we saw in the first week of the outbreak peaked last weekend at a 1,000 of our (hotels in) China. Approximately 900 of the 1,000 closures are Super 8 master licensee franchisees,” said Wyndham Hotels & Resorts President and CEO Geoff Ballotti.

“The safety of our employees and guests is our top priority, and we continue to work closely with the local authorities to ensure that we’re doing what’s right for the well-being of everyone there,” said MGM Resorts International Chairman and CEO Jim Murren. “As such, our Macau casinos and gaming areas are currently closed, so we are maintaining some non-gaming facilities to support our hotel guests. During this time with our casinos closed, we are actively managing our costs and are incurring approximately $1.5 million of operating expenses per day across both properties—the majority of which is payroll.”

The HNN editorial staff will continue to collect comments from executives as the earnings season continues.

Airbnb blocks bookings in Beijing through April: Following Chinese government guidance about the coronavirus (COVID-19) for short-term rental companies, Airbnb has suspended bookings between 7 February and 30 April in Beijing, CNBC reports. Guests who had already made reservations during that window will be refunded.

The company also suspended bookings in Wuhan, China, where the virus started, until 31 March and the Yongchuan district in Chongqing in central China near Shanghai through 20 February.

″As efforts to control the novel coronavirus outbreak continue, we will comply with additional guidance issued for the industry during this public health emergency,” Airbnb said in a statement. “We will refund and support guests who had cancelled reservations. And we will continue to work diligently to build programs that support our community of hosts.”

U.S. hotel results for week ending 8 February: The U.S. hotel industry reported mixed year-over-year results for the week ending 8 February, according to data from STR, parent company of HNN. Occupancy dipped 1.4% to 59% while average daily rate grew by 1.5% to $128.75, resulting in revenue per available room remaining flat at $75.98.

The Miami/Hialeah, Florida, market came out as the big winner among the top 25 U.S. markets after hosting Super Bowl LIV. ADR jumped 25.2% to $307.04 and RevPAR followed with an increase of 26.8% to $252.83.

Atlanta, the host of last year’s Super Bowl, reported the steepest declines in ADR and RevPAR because of the year-over-year comparisons. ADR dropped 21.4% to $116.40 and RevPAR fell 24.7% to $76.36.

Pair posing as rap industry figures arrested for scamming hotels: Two men have been charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft after they scammed a number of hotels, two recording studios and a car rental company by pretending to be with entertainment firm Roc Nation and rap artists Wu-Tang Clan, the Associated Press reports.

The two first left without paying a $45,000 bill at the Georgian Terrace Hotel in Atlanta. They also didn’t pay their $39,000 bill at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta. They drove a rented Rolls Royce Phantom, for which they did not pay the $60,000 bill. Two Atlanta-area recording studios reported the two didn’t pay their tabs for a combined $17,000.

The two were arrested by law enforcement when hotel staff at a Fairfield Inn & Suites in Augusta didn’t believe their story they were with Roc Nation and the Wu-Tang Clan. When the hotel sales director called Roc Nation, the entertainment firm denied the two were associated with the company.

Compiled by Bryan Wroten.

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