5 things to know: 21 November 2019
5 things to know: 21 November 2019
21 NOVEMBER 2019 10:35 AM

From the desks of the Hotel News Now editorial staff:

  • APAC owners undeterred by protests, trade dispute
  • Study shows travel apps, websites are lagging
  • Morocco’s rail operator to sell prestigious La Mamounia hotel
  • US, Canada weekly hotel performance
  • How one hotel created the ultimate sleep experience

APAC owners undeterred by protests, trade dispute: Investors and operators in Greater China and other Asia/Pacific markets need to remain nimble while repositioning themselves in relation to their performance despite ongoing political protests and trade wars, writes Hotel News Now’s Terence Baker from the Hotel Investment Conference Asia/Pacific. Speaking at the conference, Choe Peng Sum, Pan Pacific Hotels Group CEO, said Chinese travelers’ hesitations to visit Hong Kong means other markets will benefit.

“The shift of Chinese guests is to Europe and other parts of Asia, and that is an opportunity,” Choe said. “We are investing in this outbound journey. We will soon see an adjustment.”

He added that enduring geopolitical stress extends beyond Asia.

“If you add all the geopolitical concerns—Brexit, Hong Kong—it is a troubling time,” he said. “We want to make sure we are not over-leveraged. During the Asian financial crisis (1997-1999), we were doing scenario planning every day, and the interest rate was going up to 6%, 7% … if it had gone to 9%, a lot of companies in Singapore would have folded.”

Study shows travel apps, websites are lagging: According to the J.D. Power 2019 U.S. Travel App Satisfaction Study and the J.D. Power 2019 U.S. Travel Website Satisfaction Study, “all travel industry websites—even those operated by digital natives—score substantially lower in customer satisfaction” compared to digital leaders in other industries.

Satisfaction in travel apps, for example, lag far behind customer financial apps, the study notes. Airline, online travel agency, hotel and rental car apps are among those that trail the highest-scoring credit card apps. Travel websites had a similar story.

“Travel apps and websites have become primary conduits through which consumers experience travel, such as searching for a hotel, booking a rental car and getting real-time flight status updates,” Michael Taylor, travel intelligence lead at J.D. Power, said in the release. “Given the crucial role they play, many travel apps and websites are still too complex for consumers to navigate and do not offer the most helpful information at the right time. One hotel website, for example, requires 29 separate actions across five different pages to make a reservation. That’s not good enough when customers are experiencing simple, elegant, seamless experiences in their banking and credit card apps and websites.”

Morocco’s rail operator to sell prestigious La Mamounia hotel: ONCF, Morocco’s national rail operator, announced on Wednesday it has plans to sell luxury hotel La Mamounia in Marrakech to other state institutions in order to “help cut its $1 billion debt burden,” Reuters reports.

ONCF’s director general said in a press conference on Wednesday it also plans to issue local bonds, renegotiate long-term loans and sell other strategic assets, the news outlet writes.

“La Mamounia is one of Morocco’s most prestigious hotels, and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill stayed there in 1943 during the Second World War. State-owned ONCF has a 60% stake in the hotel,” according to Reuters.

U.S., Canada weekly hotel performance: The U.S. hotel industry recorded negative year-over-year results in three key performance metrics during the week of 10-16 November, according to data from STR, parent company of Hotel News Now.

Occupancy dropped 3.6% to 64.2%, average daily rate fell 0.6% to $129.96 and revenue per available room declined 4.2% to $81.49. Overall, 16 of the top 25 markets recorded a decrease in RevPAR.

During the same week, the Canadian hotel industry recorded mostly negative year-over-year results in the three key performance metrics, according to data from STR. Occupancy dipped 4.2% to 60%, ADR increased 0.5% to 148.96 Canadian dollars ($112.11) and RevPAR fell 3.7% to CA$89.37 ($67.26).

How one hotel created the ultimate sleep experience: Hoteliers are continuously investing to improve guest sleep, and the Lotte New York Palace is kicking it up a notch by introducing sleep suites. Out of the eight sleep suites unveiled, one in particular is home to a $200,000 bed, according to Robb Report.

The Ultimate Sleep Suite, located on the 43rd floor of the hotel’s exclusive Tower, features two bedrooms, a kitchen, living and dining space, and a master closet filled with an array of towels, sleep masks and lavender sachets.

Guests who book the suite—for a price tag of $10,000 per night—will get a pre-arrival call from a sleep curator, who will ask for pillow preferences, pajama sizes and anything else to help personalize the sleep experience. Guests will also receive an evening experience that includes chamomile tea.

Compiled by Dana Miller.

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