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  • HFTP Research Report: Pre-opening Expenditures in Hospitality

    A study of the pre-opening budget; the timeline for these expenditures; timeline for onboarding of staff; and the selection, installation and training of the technology component. By Agnes DeFranco, Ed.

  • New Global Directors Join the 2018-2019 HFTP Board

    The HFTP 2018-2019 Global Board of Directors was installed during the association's 2018 Annual Convention and introduces new directors Toni Bau, Carson Booth, CHTP and Mark Fancourt. These extensive director profiles give insight into the distinguished professions and personal goals of HFTP's newest association leaders.

  • Letter from the HFTP Global President: At the End of the Year, We Reflect on the Best of the Year

    As we prepare to transition to the new HFTP Global board at the 2018 Annual Convention in October, I would like to take the time to reflect on my year serving as HFTP Global president.

  • Members Only: 2018 HFTP Compensation and Benefits Report

    By Tanya Venegas, MBA, MHM, CHIA. Results to the biannual survey conducted by Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP). Information includes data on compensation and benefits trends for finance and technology professionals in the club and lodging industries.

How to Make Improving the Guest Experience a Joyful Task

skift Inc. ·13 February 2019
Meeting guest experience requirements is too often a series of boring checklists. But improving the end-to-end experience can be a joyful, creative project that involves everyone from the general manager to the most junior staff. Here's a way to think about it.The hospitality industry is full of standard operating procedures, checklists, and processes that can sap joy and creativity. Instead, the process of improving things end-to-end can be a highly creative endeavor and not just a list for rote memorization and blind adherence.As hoteliers seek to make an impact in 2019, a ripe opportunity is a re-thinking of guest experience. The small, micro-moments as a guest moves between planning, arrival, and checkout.Sure, there are methodologies that already exist to analyze data around each potential guest touch point, gathering feedback and making operational improvements. But there is also a much more joyful, creative approach that creates moments of delight and also echoes into the online comments and guest feedback.Not every step along the guest journey needs to be mind-blowing, but a smart g.m. knows the key moments in their experience that are poised to make a disproportionate impact. By creating simple systems of leverage, huge outcomes can happen with minimal adjustments to existing systems.

Travel Megatrends 2019: Online Travel Agencies Scurry for Salvation Beyond Hotels

skift Inc. ·12 February 2019
Online travel agencies will be around a decade from now, but food, activities, and rides will be a lot more important to them and their customers. The saplings of this future growth are already visible in 2019.The online travel agency business over the last couple of decades has largely been built around selling hotel stays. But in 2019, there will undoubtedly be an acceleration of the drive to diversify their core businesses not only into apartments and vacation rentals, but also into tours and activities, restaurants, food delivery, and ridesharing.The online travel agency future is wide open. Although it has more to do with marketing and business models than products, just consider that Booking Holdings over the last year and a half reversed long-standing practices and leaned into brand advertising instead of paid ads on search engines, and accelerated its use of the prepay merchant model over its mainstay pay-at-the-hotel agency model.So anything can happen.

What Oyo's Latest Results Say About the Business of Budget Hotels

skift Inc. · 8 February 2019
One of the most intriguing chains in hospitality today is Oyo, the India-based enterprise started by a college dropout that has since raised more than $1 billion in funding. Its rapid expansion has stoked skeptics who continue to watch the operation closely, especially this week with news it had entered the U.S.. So it's with great interest that the industry looks at Oyo's newly released financial report for 2018, which shows it still has to expand a lot more in order to break even. Here are five key takeaways from the numbers.1. BUDGET HOTELS ARE BIG MONEYThe jury is no longer out on whether budget hotels can rake in big money. Oyo roped in total sales of $1.8 billion from 75 million room nights globally last year, which translates to an average rate of $24, a true budget category as opposed to economy brands, such as Ibis or Holiday Inn Express.It also proves that this segment can be scaled quickly and efficiently through automation and digitalization. From a single hotel in May 2013, Oyo has over 8,500 hotels with a total of 458,000 keys as at December 2018.

Expedia Struggles to Move Beyond Its U.S. Dependence

skift Inc. · 8 February 2019
When Mark Okerstrom became CEO of Expedia Group in September 2017, he said he wanted the company to become more global. In September 2018, Okerstrom repeated the ambition, noting that one of his priorities is for the conglomerate to become more locally relevant worldwide.But the change is coming slowly, as new revenue numbers revealed on Thursday with Expedia's fourth quarter and full year earnings release. During 2018, Expedia earned internationally only 44.73 percent of its $11.2 billion revenue, revealing a slight decline in the company's international share of revenue versus the prior year.In 2016, the Expedia Group booked 42.59 percent of its revenue outside of its U.S. home base.Since then it has become slightly, though not dramatically, more global.

IHG CEO Sees More Nimble Hotel Group From What He Inherited

skift Inc. · 5 February 2019
It's been a little less than two years since Keith Barr became the CEO of InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), succeeding former CEO Richard Solomons, but in that time, Barr has made it a point to make sure that IHG is a very different company."I've had a lot of people talk to me, saying, 'Wow, you know, something's different at IHG," Barr told Skift at the Americas Lodging Investment Summit (ALIS) in Los Angeles. "Which is great to have people say, because when I took over as chief executive, my aspiration was to take a company that had been very successful, but to realize its potential in an increasingly competitive marketplace."Barr's strategy involved $125 million in cost-cutting measures -- primarily from layoffs -- as well as major investments in technology, including a new reservations system, called IHG Concerto, and soon, a new property management system.

Hilton CEO: 'We're Not Trying to Compete With Google, Amazon and Apple'

skift Inc. · 4 February 2019
At a time when a number of travel and hospitality CEOs are increasingly concerned with the idea of who "owns" the customer -- and are attempting to build extensive "experience platforms" to do just that -- Hilton CEO Christopher Nassetta has a slightly different take on those efforts versus peers.Whereas AccorHotels CEO Sebastien Bazin and Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson see technology companies such as Google, Amazon, Apple, and others as direct competitors, Nassetta doesn't necessarily see things in the same light."We're not trying to compete with Google, Amazon, and Apple," Nassetta told Skift recently at the Americas Lodging Investment Summit. "We're not trying to. We're a platform and a network, and our view is that we're on the fulfillment side, that we're the experience. We're the hearts and souls that make that stay different, and we make sure that product is right, along with the amenities, and the service delivery. I don't think those guys are going to want to be in that form of fulfillment for a long, long time. I mean, I may be wrong, but ... we jointly own the customer."

Luxury Brands Are Making Unconventional Partnerships the Next Big Thing

skift Inc. ·25 January 2019
Collaborations and partnerships between high-end travel brands and their cousins in sectors ranging from fashion to food to automotive have been increasing in recent years.But in 2019, such collaborations will likely become commonplace, as luxury companies seek to align with others of their ilk in order to extend their reach and increase brand awareness."I think we are going to see a lot more of it. After all, collaboration to survive is really important. Certain species need other species to survive. When you have a common understanding of luxury and heritage, it makes sense to partner [with companies] that believe the same things," said Marek Reichman, executive vice president and chief creative officer at Aston Martin Lagonda.The boundaries are blurring within the world of creativity. It's about combining the creative thinking of successful brands, so that one and one is making three."

'Conscious' Travel Emerging as Yet Another Hot Luxury Trend

skift Inc. ·16 January 2019
For at least the past year, the travel industry, and especially the luxury sector, has latched onto the idea of "transformative travel" as the new "experiential travel."First coined in 2016 by the founders of an adventure travel company, Jake Haupert and Michael Bennet, who both lead the Transformational Travel Council, the term is meant to describe any travel experience that empowers people to make meaningful or lasting changes in their lives.And while this concept originated in adventure travel, it soon became associated with luxury travel. Why? Because there's no greater luxury today than personal fulfillment, as Skift's 2018 Travel Megatrend of the same name pointed out.

Oyo's Push Into Southeast Asia Is a Wake-Up Call for Budget Hotel Chains

skift Inc. ·14 December 2018
On its own, Oyo entering Southeast Asia should concern existing budget hotel players. Oyo with Grab should make them go shaky in the knees. Consolidation or new alliances will not surprise anyone.Southeast Asia's budget accommodation sector has been under the long shadow of China and India. Strange, because the hotel space in Southeast Asia is three times as big as India's, and dotted with invisible, non-classified hotels waiting to be spruced up, branded, and redistributed efficiently. Maybe existing players prefer that they stay in the shadows. But that won't be for long as Oyo marches into the region.The king of budget hotel brands is expected to shake up or wake up a rather sleepy playground, again strange, given that numbers that matter for the sector are bright. In Indonesia alone, where Oyo is putting in $100 million to expand, there are around 300,000 non-classified and 233,000 classified hotel rooms, according to Statistics Indonesia 2016. The majority (70 percent) are three stars and below. Share of supply inched 3 percent towards midscale and budget from upper upscale between 2013 and 2017, according to STR.On the demand side, the number of domestic travelers -- the heart of business for budget accommodations -- keeps rising. Last year, there were 264 million domestic tourists, leisure and business, exceeding the Indonesia tourism ministry's target of 260 million. The International Air Transport Association estimates that the number of domestic passengers carried by Indonesian airlines will rise to 355 million in 2036, making Indonesia the fifth-largest air travel market in the world, behind China, the U.S., India and Turkey.

Airbnb, HomeAway and Others Form International Vacation Rental Group in Japan

skift Inc. ·13 December 2018
The big vacation rental players have formed an association in Japan, with the blessing of the Japan Tourism Agency. It may be a model for other Asian countries to follow.It's been in the works for six months and finally a Japan Association of Vacation Rental will be incorporated in January, comprising nine founding members that aim to boost Japan's tourism through vacation rental businesses, including homesharing, ryokans that use residential facilities, and event vacation rentals.The group comes together as Japan has been strictly enforcing rules against illegal rentals.The association includes Agoda International Japan, Airbnb, Booking.com Japan, Ctrip International Travel Japan, HomeAway, Hyakusenrenma, Tujia Japan, Rakuten Lifull Stay and Space Market, the latter a Tokyo-based startup offering on-demand rental of unused or idle venues.This isn't the first vacation rental association. There's the Vacation Rental Management Association in the U.S., Short Term Accommodation Association in the UK, UNPLV in France and Fevitur in Spain.But what makes the Japan association unique is that it manages to get domestic and foreign players to cooperate towards the development of the vacation rental industry in the country.

Airbnb's Deal for French Firm Could Signal Entry Into Property Management

skift Inc. ·13 December 2018
To be honest, this acquisition is a bit puzzling, and has us wondering: Why buy when you can partner instead? But perhaps Airbnb is onto something.Airbnb isn't known for making many investments or acquisitions, but its newest purchase may reveal a major shift in the company's strategy toward homesharing.The San Francisco-based company announced this week it had acquired a French concierge services/property management company called Luckey Homes for an undisclosed sum.France is one of Airbnb's top markets in the world, with more than 500,000 listings and a total of 13 million guests and hosts. Paris is Airbnb's No. 1 destination in the world, but also one where the company is facing regulatory battles with the city.Luckey Homes, founded in 2015, helps short-term rental hosts with managing their listings, handling guest arrivals and departures, providing cleaning services, and offering customer assistance in 20 different cities in France, but the company also has intentions of expanding globally. Since its founding, Luckey Homes has raised approximately $3.2 million (EUR2.8 million) in funding from Paris-based real estate developer, Nexity, and venture capital firm Newfund. Airbnb has reportedly purchased Nexity and Newfund's shares in Luckey Homes.

Airbnb and Major Landlord Settle Lawsuit Over Subletting Violations

skift Inc. ·12 December 2018
The Miami settlement could have broader implications for Airbnb when other big landlords take it to task for hosts violating their apartment leases. And, it isn't a bad thing for Airbnb to resolve its issues with various regulators and to erase some of these legal irritants when it will likely solicit investors for a 2019 initial public offering.Airbnb and a landlord that owns several large apartment complexes in Miami and other markets settled a lawsuit in which the plaintiff argued that tenants were violating their leases and creating harmful conditions by acting as hosts and renting their apartments to Airbnb customers.In a joint statement Tuesday, Apartment Investment and Management Co. (Aimco), which owns the Bay Parc Apartments, Flamingo North Tower and Flamingo Center Tower apartment complexes in Miami, indicated that they have settled all of their disputes and the litigation between them has been dismissed. Plaintiff Aimco and defendant Airbnb said they believe the settlement is mutually beneficial.While focused on Miami, the ruling any ruling would have directed how companies like Aimco pursued Airbnb in other destinations. The Denver-based Aimco operates in 22 markets and has 250,000 units on the market.

Agencies Find Opportunity When Vacations Are Tacked Onto Business Travel

skift Inc. ·12 December 2018
Conventional wisdom says a good travel agent can arrange leisure travel or corporate travel, but not both. Even if it were true, there's nothing to prevent the agency from selling both leisure and business travel -- except believing conventional wisdom.Leisure travel is leisure travel, business travel is business travel, and never the twain shall meet for travel agents. Except when they do."Mixing leisure and business travel is a great opportunity," said Marc Casto, president and CEO of Casto Travel, based in Silicon Valley.An Unpacking Bleisure Traveler Trends survey from Expedia, released earlier this year, found that 60 percent of business travelers combine business and leisure travel. That's up from 43 percent in 2016. Business travelers from the UK, Germany, India, and China were among those blending business and leisure travel in a big way.The agency that doesn't handle both is not only losing out on business travel revenue, but is missing a chunk of easy leisure add-on sales as well, experts say.The issue, Casto said, is that leisure and business travel come close to being different disciplines. The skill sets are similar, but the knowledge base, attitudes, expectations, and payment mechanisms diverge.We don't want to stereotype, but here are some tendencies.

Venture Capital Shows Growing Interest in New Hospitality Models: What Are the Risks?

skift Inc. ·12 December 2018
To quote a smart venture capitalist, "Just because investment money is pouring in doesn't mean all bets are good bets!" WhyHotel itself may be a well-run business, but the sudden rush of venture money into a full array of hospitality businesses does raise eyebrows overall.WhyHotel, a company that runs pop-up hotels in luxury apartment buildings, said Wednesday that it had raised $10 million in a Series A round of investment.Highland Capital Partners led the round. WhyHotel raised seed funding of $3 million earlier this year, accounting for all of its other venture funding to date.It's not traditional for venture capital to fund the building of hotels.WhyHotel is one step removed from being an actual hotel. So far this year it has instead created a series of "pop-up hotels" that are really glorified vacation rentals available by the day, with daily housekeeping service.The company has worked with professional property owners and developers in Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, to borrow units and split the income.But WhyHotel would like to expand to open new pop-ups and also create a permanent presence in some places.

WebBeds and 3 Asian Wholesalers Form First Bedbank Coalition to Share Supply

skift Inc. ·10 December 2018
Hotel chains and airlines have formed alliances, why not bedbanks? The first bedbank alliance by four Asian players may be the first of its kind, but what's more important is whether it can work. After all, if it looks so logical and easy, why didn't anyone do it sooner?Four Asian travel wholesalers, WebBeds Asia-Pacific, Hotelpass Global Korea, Westminster Travel Hong Kong, and AntaVaya in Indonesia, have formed what may be an industry-first bedbanks alliance, similar to those formed for hotels and airlines.Called OPP, for opportunity, they want to tap the "Asian Century opportunity," the idea being Asian travel markets are continuing to grow at spell-binding rates and hotels want to reach these Asian travelers, yet wholesale distribution remains highly fragmented."We know from speaking to our hotel partners that one of their major goals is to achieve more widespread distribution [of their rooms] more effectively, including penetration into Asia's emerging markets. This coalition of highly respected market leaders, which creates an unprecedented regional force, will enable this," said Larry Lo, CEO of Westminster Travel.

Expedia to Hoteliers: Vacation Rentals Won't Steal Your Business

skift Inc. · 7 December 2018
Expedia officials can try to assure hoteliers that the rise of alternative accommodations is no big deal for their businesses. But you can be certain that figuring out how to manage this changing dynamic is of paramount concern for all parties involved.How is Expedia Group going to balance what has long been its core business -- hotels -- with all the efforts it is making to load vacation rentals and apartments on its sites after acquiring HomeAway in 2015.Speaking before 4,500 audience members, including many hoteliers, Expedia officials sought to convince them that mixing alternative accommodations into Expedia's search results won't hurt hotels.Cyril Ranque, president of Expedia Group's Lodging Partner Services, told the audience at the company's Explore '18 partner conference in Las Vegas Wednesday, that although some hoteliers are concerned about the proliferation of vacation rentals in Expedia's search results, they shouldn't worry because the use case for a hotel versus a vacation rental stay are clearly different.

Why the Shangri-La and Klook Partnership Isn't as Odd as It Seems

skift Inc. · 6 December 2018
Hotel chains and tours and activities are converging again as Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts and Klook strike a partnership. The deal, following Marriott International's stake in PlacePass last year, has its potential pitfalls but the upside could be huge for both parties if they can make it go smoothly.One is exclusive, the other inclusive. Jet set versus young set, legacy versus cutting edge. Shangri-La and Klook may seem to be strange bedfellows but their partnership of a hotel company and a tours booking outfit announced Wednesday shows their objectives are not incompatible.Both want to reach out to new customers, Shangri-La the younger affluent clientele, Klook the luxury market. Shangri-La wants its Golden Circle members to earn and burn more points and, after adding merchandise from bathrobes to iPhones to the redemption list, sees tours and activities as the next big thing, which it is.Klook constantly wants to expand not just its user base but the number and quality of offerings, which Shangri-La hotels, with its CHI, The Spa network, over 500 restaurants and other attractions, provide, said its chief revenue officer Anita Ngai.

Marriott Breach Shows Importance of Digital Security

skift Inc. · 6 December 2018
The Starwood hack wasn't the first data breach at a major hotel chain, and it won't be the last. As the meetings and events sector becomes increasingly digitalized, so too does the risk increase when it comes to cybersecurity.The reveal last week of a long-lasting security breach inside Marriott's Starwood Hotels & Resorts should act as a reminder of what is important in the post-GDPR world we all live in.Check out our coverage below on the impact of the breach on Marriott and Starwood hotels, and what it means for the greater travel industry.For meetings and events, expect even stronger vetting of technology partners and venues in the near future. A series of lawsuits over the next few years is going to help set a precedent for how giant corporations respond to data breaches going forward.

CEO Interview: Franck Gervais of AccorHotels Europe, on What European Hospitality Looks Like Today

skift Inc. · 5 December 2018
Europe's appetite for cutting-edge design, community-driven approaches, and contemporary food and beverage concepts is constantly evolving. Hotel brands, developers, and other leaders in the industry should take note.Most hotel brands are laser-focused on expanding in developing countries across Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and South America, but it would be a mistake to ignore what's currently unfolding in Europe. There's been a huge wave of innovation coming out of the continent's hospitality industry. The days of having to choose between either grande dame hotels or boring budget beds are over, replaced by a plethora of niche lodging options that focus on community, connectivity, and creativity.Franck Gervais, AccorHotels' CEO Europe, joined the company in November 2017 after working in France's railway sector for more than a decade. During his time as chief executive officer of Voyages-SNCF.com, he focused on projects designed to enhance the customer experience. As someone relatively new to the hotel industry, Gervais brings a fresh perspective to the topic of innovation within the European hospitality sector.SkiftX spoke to Gervais about his thoughts on hospitality in Europe today, how legacy brands are reinventing themselves, how developers are rethinking public spaces, and the future of AccorHotels in Europe.

Data Breach Adds to Marriott's Ongoing Loyalty Merger Challenges

skift Inc. · 4 December 2018
In the midst of ironing out the kinks in its newly-merged loyalty program, Marriott was hit with news of a massive data breach last week. Revealed on Friday, the breach affects over 500 million former Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty members.In what may be the largest hack in the travel industry to date, Marriott last week revealed that its database of Starwood customers has been compromised since 2014, exposing over 500 million user profiles to unscrupulous parties out on the web.Though they had long been in talks, Marriott International completed its acquisition of Starwood Hotels in 2016; in only August of this year did the loyalty programs officially merge.Marriott joins a long list of travel providers that have recently been affected by data breaches. Just earlier this month, Cathay Pacific saw the information of over nine million passengers compromised while hotel operators from Hyatt to IHG to Hilton have had their own run-ins with hackers.

Why Is It Getting Harder for Boutique Hotel Brands to Expand in Asia?

skift Inc. · 4 December 2018
Boutique American and European hotel brands aim to expand in Asia but soon realize it's more difficult than they imagined, and that it's only going to get harder. Here's why, and how they can make a go of it.Dream Hotel Group, Standard Hotels, Ace Hotel, Trump Hotels, Caesars Entertainment, Nobu Hotels, CitizenM, Karl Lagerfeld Hotels, and Laura Ashley Hotels are among a growing list of boutique U.S. and European hotel brands that want to expand in Asia.They aren't wrong in thinking that brand novelty, coupled with the region's robust pipeline, should unlock growth. But while Asian owners do have an appetite for new boutique brands with an entrepreneurial spirit, they aren't themselves risk takers, say hotel consulting firms interviewed by Skift.Owners, after all, are making a 15 to 20-year decision on a brand which, successful as it may be in its home ground, remains unproven outside. They question what is its scale, human resource network, distribution system, and support to owners?Making it harder, global hotel chains are fielding their own boutique brands in Asia, with consolidation giving them expanded development teams and corporate offices in more places throughout Asia.Add to that homegrown Asian chains that are making huge efforts to grow into the upscale and luxury space after having themselves in the economy and midscale sectors.FIRST STEPS AND MISSTEPSTake Dream Hotel Group that has only two properties in operation, Dream Bangkok and Dream Phuket, after entering Asia for over a decade.The former is an aging 10-year-old hotel by now, while the latter is managed by a Singapore-based property development company, Castlewood Group, under a licensed agreement signed in 2015 that called for "20 Dream Hotels over the next 10 years."

Michelin Guide Owner Buys Tablet Hotels to Build a Travel Business

skift Inc. · 3 December 2018
Tablet Hotels found itself a world-class strategic buyer to propel its growth. Tablet as part of Michelin will face huge marketing hurdles, and the challenge of trying to reshape Michelins legacy guide offerings.Michelin, the France-based tire company that publishes Michelin guides for restaurants and tours, quietly acquired the booking site Tablet Hotels in October.The goal of the deal, which was announced Monday, is to have the Tablet Hotels team lead the digital transformation of the print-oriented Michelin Red Guides for restaurants and Green Guides for tourism, and to build a travel larger travel vertical, Tablet Hotels co-founder and CEO Laurent Vernhes told Skift.Revenue from the Michelin Guides is a rounding error, Vernhes said. They believe it could be more than that.In fact, in 2017 Michelin, which has a market cap of $18.8 billion, created a Michelin Experiences unit to combine and grow its various travel-related assets, and has tested things such as offering Chinese travelers kitchen tours with chefs at Michelin-starred restaurants. The company also has ambitions to create a Michelin club, which would build on the learnings of the Tablet Plus membership club, Vernhes said.Travelers and foodies are now looking for experiences which tell a story, and which help them discover a universe where they can show their appreciation of the local cultures, said Pascal Couasnon, director of Michelin Groups gastronomic and tourist activities, in a statement. Tablet is part of this new lifestyle that fully corresponds to the ethos of the Michelin guides. We want to offer our readers the best, by revealing places that offer this extra soul and express the fruit of the work of hoteliers and passionate chefs alike.In a presentation at a Goldman Sachs conference in London a few days ago, Michelin stated that it considers Experiences, including travel and fine dining, as one of four key growth areas for the company. Its strategy includes investments and acquisitions to propel value creation for this restaurants and travel division, which has seen net sales triple in 2018.

Airbnb Touts One of Its Most Valuable Assets as It Prepares for IPO

skift Inc. · 3 December 2018
Combatting host fatigue is a very real thing, but itll probably take a lot more than this from Airbnb to make sure those Superhosts remain loyal.Airbnb is making its most highly rated and reviewed hosts, and arguably one of its most valuable assets, the centerpiece of its latest marketing efforts.The San Francisco-based homesharing giant, which has more than five million listings in 81,000 cities worldwide, plans to celebrate its more than 600,000 Superhosts with a series of marketing initiatives, as well as an entire Superhost week beginning December 10.The marketing push comes amid growing speculation that Airbnb will take itself public in 2019, in what would be one of the travel industrys most anticipated IPOs.o become an Airbnb Superhost, a host must host at least 10 trips and have an average rating of more than 4.8 out 5 stars,. Most have hosted, on average, for a total of 140 nights.The company reported that the number of Superhosts it has more than doubled since 2017, and that Superhosts earn 22 percent more than other hosts, and have been responsible for approximately 150 million out of 400 million guest arrivals since the companys inception in 2008.In February, at a press event where CEO Brian Chesky unveiled Airbnbs newest product, Airbnb Plus, a collection of verified home listings, he also made it a point to recognize Airbnb hosts, and he noted that the company is adding 14 more benefits for its best hosts, including custom URLs for their listings, more visibility and exposure on the platform, and more promotion.

Marriott's Starwood Data Breach Joins a Decade-Long List of Hotel Data Exposures

skift Inc. · 3 December 2018
Several years ago, the hotel industry fought U.S. federal watchdog efforts to fine chains for negligent data protection practices, arguing that hotels had things under control. Hmm. A rash of hotel security incidents since then undercuts the claims of hotels, which need to take a more bank-like approach to data protection.When Marriott International revealed a massive security breach at Starwood-branded properties, it joined an unfortunate long line of guest data breaches by hoteliers.The scope of the breach at the worlds largest hotel group is more spectacular than any other in travel to date. Marriott said the breach affected hundreds of millions of customers who stayed at Starwood-branded properties between 2014 and September 10.POTENTIAL RECORD FINESThe breach may also expose parent company, Marriott, to record fines because, unlike most past breaches, some of the activity appeared to happen after Europe put into place General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in May 2018 that boosts fines for violations of some types of data security.Exact fine estimates are impossible to gauge, but experts said the prospective range would be potentially higher than the spectrum used by European Union and U.S. officials in the past. European officials have the discretion to fine companies up to 4 percent of annual revenue in the year preceding a data protection incident.Other investigations are in the offing. On Friday, the New York attorney generals office said it would open an investigation into the breach.That office has had success in pursuing prosecutions before. In 2017, Hilton Worldwide agreed to pay a $700,000 fine to the state of New York after data security failures exposed more than 350,000 credit card numbers in two breaches in 2015.

Marriott Data Breach Does Little to Rattle Already Weary Loyalty Members

skift Inc. · 3 December 2018
Loyalty members dont seem to be too bothered by Marriotts recent breach of more than 500 million users personal data. Part of that could be low expectations for Marriott, or because this isnt the first data breach rodeo for many.News broke Friday morning that Marriott suffered from a massive data breach affecting its database of Starwood Preferred Guest members a disruption that may impact as many as 500 million members of the freshly merged loyalty program.For many of Marriotts loyalty members, especially those who came from the Starwood side of the merger, the hack didnt come as too much of a surprise.From an IT perspective the merger has been very poor anyway, said Adam Jaffe, a management consultant from San Diego who has lifetime Platinum status with the newly joint loyalty program. I am not so worried as I am disappointed with how horrible the Marriott IT systems are basically if I am affected by the hack it is just a massive waste of time for me to have to fix things.

What Marriott's Data Breach Means for the Hotel Giant and Guests

skift Inc. · 3 December 2018
Security breaches of hotel guest data are not uncommon, but few have been quite on the scale of the most recent incident involving 500 million Starwood Hotels guests.On Friday, Starwood owner, Marriott International, which bought Starwood Hotels & Resorts in 2016 for $13.3 billion, revealed it had recently discovered a massive security breach involving guests who had stayed at Starwood-branded properties from 2014 to September 10, 2018.Guest information that may have been hacked included credit card information and passport numbers. The potential blowback on Marriott is still unfolding.Marriott discovered the breach on September 8 and the incident, according to Marriott spokesperson Connie Kim: We have successfully contained the incident, although this continues to be an ongoing investigation. Its not clear why Marriott chose to disclose the breach on Friday.But at a time when the worlds largest hotel company has dealt with one of the largest ever hotel worker strikes on record, as well as mounting dissatisfaction from disillusioned Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) loyalty members who have expressed their displeasure with the merger of SPG with Marriotts own Marriott Rewards program, news of this security breach will be yet another setback for the worlds largest hospitality company.

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