• Value Added Tax in the GCC

    Details on the new VAT established in the region covered by the GCC, including implementation best practices and documentation requirements. By Tanya Venegas, MBA, MHM, CHIA

  • Members Only: A Room for Robots in Hospitality

    Realistic uses for artificial intelligence are increasing, making way for machine-based assistance in accounting, marketing, customer service and more. This feature details current scenarios where robotics is used in the business environment, such as for accounting tasks.

  • Letter from the HFTP Global President: A New Year Equals New Possibilities

    Written By: Timothy G. Nauss, CHAE - We are officially in the year 2018. Now is the ideal time to reflect on the successes of the old year, and prepare to make this new year the best one ever. Just as we set goals for ourselves to make us healthier, happier and more successful, HFTP as an organization sets goals each year to better meet the needs of our members and the hospitality industry.

  • GDPR in Hospitality: Vendor Compliance Query Template Available to Industry

    As a professional association, Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP®) created a group of hospitality industry experts to develop hospitality-specific guidelines to assist with preparation for General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance.

Premier Inn: Q3 numbers show 'challenging' growth in UK Featured Articles·18 January 2018
Premier Inn’s parent company Whitbread PLC is soberly celebrating Q3 growth in a challenging U.K. market and more noisily its 275th birthday as rooms expansion continues domestically and internationally.

What (I think) we'll be talking about at ALIS next week Featured Articles·18 January 2018
Next week is the Americas Lodging Investment Summit, or ALIS, which kicks off the season of big hotel investment conferences, at least here in the U.S. It’ll be my 11th time covering ALIS. Let me just tell you, I still long for the days of Beverly Hills and San Diego, though downtown Los Angeles isn’t without its charms. (May I recommend breakfast at Fernando’s Taco Inn?) I’ll never forget my first ALIS, in 2007, when my colleague Elaine gave me tips about how to set up meetings in the lobby of the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza. She told me to look up people’s pictures online before arranging to meet them in the lobby, because otherwise “you’ll look into that lobby and just see a crowd full of white guys in dark suits who all look the same.”

UNWTO: Global tourism up in 2017 Featured Articles·18 January 2018
Global tourism increased 7% last year to more than 1.3 billion international arrivals, with Europe and Africa as regional leaders, and further growth can be expected in 2018, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization. “International travel continues to grow strongly, consolidating the tourism sector as a key driver in economic development,” UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said Monday during a news conference at the organization’s headquarters in Madrid. “Global tourism is enjoying a very positive dynamic and we expect this to be the case again this year with growth at between 4% and 5%.” Pololikashvili noted that the increase in 2017 was well above the sustained and consistent growth of around 4% since 2010 and represented the strongest performance in seven years.

The threat of NIMBYism to the hotel industry Featured Articles·18 January 2018
In a meeting with the CEO of a student housing owner-operator just before the holidays, our conversation steered from ‘anticipated challenges for 2018’ to local politics and frustrations caused by difficulty in getting through planning permission for new-build developments. The conversation reminded me of others that I have had with hotel companies and developers as well as restaurant operators in the recent past—they all referenced the rise of ‘NIMBYism’ as something that has caused a lot of frustration to them and their companies. NIMBYism is the acronym for ‘Not in My Backyard’—a phrase often used by opponents to relaxing building regulations, allowing development on brownfield sites or the green belt, or increasing building density in residential areas. NIMBYists, in essence, often say they might accept change—but not if it affects them. Whilst I can sympathise, to some extent, I also appreciate that it is change that helps to stimulate growth, progress and innovation. Therefore, I wondered, what were to happen if 2018 saw the NIMBYism culture spread to the corporate world?

International travel to US target of new lobbying group Featured Articles·18 January 2018
The Visit U.S. Coalition, a joint group including the U.S. Travel Association, the American Hotel & Lodging Association, the Asian American Hotel Owners Association, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, was announced Tuesday with the stated goal of increasing the U.S.’ share of international travel. The U.S. Travel Association, the American Hotel & Lodging Association, and the Asian American Hotel Owners Association are joining forces with a host of other travel- and business-related interest groups to pool their lobbying power and push for governmental change under the banner of a new joint organization. The newly minted Visit U.S. Coalition was announced Tuesday with the promise that the organization will push both Congress and the administration of President Donald Trump for changes leaders believe will help boost the country’s share of international travel.

Wyndham to acquire La Quinta in $1.95 billion deal Featured Articles·18 January 2018
In a definitive agreement announced today, Wyndham Worldwide will acquire La Quinta Holdings' hotel franchise and hotel management businesses for $1.95 billion in cash. The acquisition is expected to close in the second quarter of 2018. Wyndham Worldwide Corporation (NYSE: WYN) and La Quinta Holdings Inc. (NYSE: LQ) announced today that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Wyndham Worldwide will acquire La Quinta's hotel franchise and hotel management businesses for $1.95 billion in cash. The acquisition is expected to close in the second quarter of 2018. Under the terms of the agreement, stockholders of La Quinta will receive $8.40 per share in cash (approximately $1.0 billion in aggregate), and Wyndham Worldwide will repay approximately $715 million of La Quinta debt net of cash and set aside a reserve of $240 million for estimated taxes expected to be incurred in connection with the taxable spin-off of La Quinta's owned real estate assets into CorePoint Lodging Inc.

India's hotel market trends spur growth, optimism Featured Articles·17 January 2018
Both the broader Indian economy and the country’s hotel industry had an eventful 2017. After demonetization—the switch to cashless, electronic transactions—a goods and service tax (GST) was introduced in a bid to realign the disparate tax structure and ensure greater compliance. Because of or despite changes in economic policies, the tourism sector in India is thriving.

Marketing, infrastructure needed for Sri Lanka Featured Articles·17 January 2018
Sri Lanka, the island nation at the tip of India, enjoys good weather—outside of monsoon season—varied and accessible wildlife, a rich history and world-class archaeological sites and stunning, tropical beaches, but sources said the country needs to continue improving its infrastructure to fulfill its tourism potential.

A new industry upswing has begun Featured Articles·17 January 2018
I believe we are in the early stages of a modest upturn for hotels, following a soft landing of sorts in 2016. For most of the last two decades, the economic cycle of the U.S. hotel industry has been all about boom and bust, with two deep downturns and two long recoveries. My view is that we had a mild downturn in 2016 and that we are now on the upswing. The current growth phase looks to be a modest one, lasting only two to three years, much like the upswing in the early 1990s. Occupancy growth will be spotty, with stronger results outside of the largest markets, given substantial supply growth clustered in a few markets.

Revenue management: From resort fees to rooftop bars Featured Articles·16 January 2018
From resort fees revenue to creating the best return on investment for a rooftop bar, revenue management is a popular topic of conversation among the experts in the field, as well as hoteliers and others in the industry in general. For a look at recent trends and talking points, Hotel News Now gathered a variety of stories from the last six months on the topic of revenue management. Take a look below: One area that hotel owners and revenue managers are applying more scrutiny to is revenue from resort and facility fees, which in many cases were expected to rise in 2017.

Sustainability-conscious hoteliers purging plastic Featured Articles·16 January 2018
Something as small as a plastic straw can add up to a big problem for the environment, so some sustainability-minded hoteliers have eliminated them in favor of biodegradable alternatives, and taken other seemingly small steps to reduce their environmental footprints. At some sustainability-focused hotels, sweating the small stuff makes a big difference. Hans Pfister, president and co-founder of the Cayuga Collection, has seen firsthand how something as small as a plastic straw can add up to a big problem. Some months back, he organized a company retreat to “a beautiful island in the Gulf of Nicoya (of the Pacific shore of Costa Rica) called San Lucas, where we picked up 30 bags of plastic that had washed up on the beach.”

3 key themes for budget season Featured Articles·16 January 2018
The budget process is a time to reflect on both successes from the prior year, but also to take a step back and evaluate the upcoming year both financially and holistically. The following provides a summary of common themes surfaced during this year’s budget season, broken into three key areas: revenue, expenses and capital. 1. RevenuePrognosticators such as STR, CBRE and PwC are expecting industry-wide revenue-per-available-room to grow or decline in the range of 2% in 2018. While these may be aggregate estimates, each market, competitive set and hotel may react differently based on market-specific and hotel-specific issues. Challenge to push outside the box on RevPAR growth: In many cases, hotel teams are finding themselves “boxed into” RevPAR growth percentages by above brand guidance, with little (or no) margin to deviate from directives. This creates a conundrum for owners. Ideally, the hotel teams and ownership had discussions on RevPAR growth expectations prior to submitting the budget.

Hotel stocks surged with boost from brands, tax breaks Featured Articles·16 January 2018
Michael Bellisario, senior hotel research analyst and VP at Baird, said those overall numbers obscure the strength of C-corps and the relative underperformance of hotels REITs. “It was the year of the hotel brand,” he said. “You look at the subindexes, and it was all the hotel brands. Wyndham, Choice, Marriott, Hyatt, Hilton—all the big-cap names just ripped. For the most part, it was just over 2% growth for the REITs, but there was a wide range of performance in there.” C-corps dominateThe Hotel Stock Index’s brand subindex was up 49.9% for full-year 2017, with top performer Marriott International up 64.2%.

F&B a main theme for AC Dublin GM Featured Articles·12 January 2018
As someone who has held many food-and-beverage positions and has extensive experience in the field, it only made sense for Orcun Turkay, GM at the AC Hotel Columbus Dublin, to bring his expertise to his new role. Vaso, the rooftop restaurant and bar concept at the AC Hotel Columbus Dublin, was thought up by a team of F&B consultants in Los Angeles with some input from Turkay, he said.

How composition of RevPAR growth impacts profit changes Featured Articles·12 January 2018
To project changes in profits, we obviously need to look at the expected relative changes in revenues and expenses. Profit growth can only be realized when the dollar value of the change in revenue exceeds the dollar value of the change in expenses. Within the lodging industry, there are other metrics that have historically been reliable indicators to measure the potential for hotel profit growth. One is the change in revenue per available room. Using data from our annual “Trends in the Hotel Industry” report, we find an 86% correlation between annual changes in RevPAR and gross operating profit from 1960 to 2016. This implies that changes in RevPAR do provide a very strong indication of changes in GOP. The strong relationship between changes in RevPAR and changes in GOP becomes evident when analyzing data from the trends report. From 2015 to 2016, the entire sample of 3,331 operating statements averaged a RevPAR increase of 2.6%, while GOP for the sample grew by 3.7%. However, when stratifying the sample by the magnitude of RevPAR change, we see a linear relationship between RevPAR change and GOP change.

Outside food-delivery services gain traction at hotels Featured Articles·12 January 2018
Some hoteliers are embracing new-breed food-delivery services such as Grubhub, UberEATS and DoorDash to supplement their own F&B offerings. Sources indicated that such relationships may prove increasingly valuable over time, as guests continue to move away from ordering hotel roomservice and have growing interest in niched food offerings. Experts say the expansion of offsite food ordering beyond the traditional pizza and Chinese food delivery is yet another reflection of the evolution of hotel guest preferences. Even at full-service properties, hotel restaurants can’t be all things to everyone (for example, offering everything from sushi to Indian cuisine). Hotels that partner with outside food-delivery services—which may include making menus available in guestrooms, or even tying partnerships into loyalty programs—see it as adding value and convenience for the guest. So while not a direct source of revenue for the hotel, these services contribute to the overall guest experience, hopefully making it easier for guests to plan a return stay.

Tips for adapting and reusing your hotel asset Featured Articles·12 January 2018
Major hotel companies have been refining their new construction prototypes during the past few years. The idea is to provide a better guest experience while being more cost effective and with a quicker build time than with previous designs. That’s good news, but when it comes to adapting an existing structure, efficiency and a fast path to opening may take a bit more thought while trying to meet brand requirements. Here are a handful of things we have learned from decades of experience that can help an owner achieve the brand objectives when looking at conversions in their market. Certain markets are better for conversionsMarkets that have a high barrier of entry provide better opportunities for a conversion due to the complexity of the planning approval/entitlement process for new construction. Adding this time element with the length of time it takes to construct a new hotel can tie up a site for between two and four years before the hotel opens and starts creating revenue. On a conversion, there is typically a structure already in place with a physical plant that may be able to be repurposed.

Do Not Disturb: Current, shifting guestroom policies Featured Articles·11 January 2018
In light of news that some hotel companies are changing their policies on Do Not Disturb signs and staff access to guestrooms, Hotel News Now reached out to hotel brand companies to learn what their approaches are and what changes they may be planning. Editor’s note: This story will be continually updated as new information and statements are made available. The Do Not Disturb sign, and its variations over the years, has become an iconic image of the hotel industry, assuring guests they will have privacy and won’t be intruded upon by the outside world, even if it’s just to make the bed.

How to optimize voice reservations in guest bookings Featured Articles·11 January 2018
While most hotel companies and individual properties have embraced online booking, traditional call centers and reservation agents are still making a difference in guest bookings, according to sources. During a recent webinar titled “Maximizing production via the voice reservations channel in 2018,” Doug Kennedy, president of Kennedy Training Network, discussed the importance of voice reservations and outlined several training tips for improving sales agents’ calls with customers.

Tech causing staffing issues in Europe Featured Articles·11 January 2018
Tech causing staffing issues in Europe

John Portman: An architectural legend from another time Featured Articles·11 January 2018
His work and influence is not as relevant in today’s hotel industry, but during his career that spanned more than 60 years, John Portman showed architects and hoteliers that new approaches to design could be artistically and economically successful. At one time John Portman was the most influential man in the hotel industry. That time has long passed, but his legacy as a design pioneer needs to be celebrated and never forgotten. Portman, who died last week at age 93, broke the hotel design mold in the 1970s and ‘80s with a new style of urban convention hotels noted for their soaring atriums, glass elevators and massive amounts of public space. And by incorporating his designs at many of its properties, Hyatt Hotels Corporation emerged during the 1970s as the premier operator of meeting hotels.

The Caribbean momentum: In four themes Featured Articles·11 January 2018
This past September, the Caribbean braced for impact – and then recovery – with two Category 5 hurricanes: Irma and Maria. Infrastructure and property damage, as well as scarce resources, led to several resort closures, especially in the eight islands most impacted by the storms: Anguilla, Barbuda, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Puerto Rico, St. Barthelemy, St. Maarten and the U.S. Virgin Islands. But just months earlier, significant capital had been deployed to existing resorts and new developments in the Caribbean region, and 2017 lodging performance had been trending in the right direction for the year. Among the almost 30 different nations of the region, situations today vary greatly. Some Caribbean islands, like Aruba, Cayman Islands, Curacao and Jamaica, and even other regional beach destinations in Mexico, Central America and Colombia, are benefitting from displaced demand captures and strong fundamentals leading into the peak winter travel season. And others continue to rebuild.

Cautiously reaching for the cloud Featured Articles·10 January 2018
The world has already moved online, and what’s now making this global interconnected web churn are the numerous data storage facilities housing terabytes of readily accessible information no matter the local access point. We call this “The Cloud.” But before you treat it as a panacea for whatever technology pain point or automation problem your hotel may have, there are two major drawbacks to migrating all of your processes online that you would be wise to first understand, especially given the risk for a cybersecurity breach.

2018 forecasts for Europe hotel markets mostly sunny Featured Articles·10 January 2018
Hotel-industry performance predictions are noticeably more sober at the beginning of 2018 than they were 12 months ago, according to sources. The United Kingdom hotel industry gathered yesterday for the first time in 2018 at the 13th New Year Hotel Investment Summit, hosted by business advisory host Whitebridge Hospitality. Whitebridge Director Philip Camble undertook the gritty business of estimating revenue per available room and market capitalization shifts.

Q&A: What hoteliers should know about data security Featured Articles·10 January 2018
Data security should always be top of mind for hoteliers, but that’s even truer today after revelations of significant security breaches in computer processors. Hotel News Now reached out to data security expert John Bell, the founder and president of Ajontech and long-time technology expert in the hotel industry, to get some insights on what hoteliers should be thinking about with cyber security.

How Wyndham's Ballotti flipped from pancakes to hotels Featured Articles·10 January 2018
Like a lot of today’s most successful hotel industry CEOs, Geoff Ballotti, who has been the president and CEO of Wyndham Hotel Group since 2014, started his career washing dishes. But his first job in hospitality—washing dishes at The Pancake Man restaurant in Hyannis, Massachusetts, in 1976—had its own particular pitfalls.


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