Hotel News Update #1
May – July 2019

The last three months saw a number of critical developments and milestones in the hospitality industry. Here are six stories that stood out during the start of the summer travel season.

Hilton Celebrates 100th Anniversary

On May 31st, one of the world’s most recognizable hotel brands marked a century in business. Hilton celebrated their 100th birthday by launching The Hilton Effect Foundation, a new initiative that will support people and organizations that positively impact the communities that Hilton serves.

This anniversary has prompted many publications to pay tribute to the company’s legacy, with CNN looking back at the brand’s history of innovation and how the hotel chain has imprinted itself on American culture.

Wyndham Plans Major Expansion to China 

Wyndham is looking to continue expanding its already massive presence in Greater China, as Hotel News Now reports that the company is on pace to add 500 new properties in the world’s most populous country over the next three years. 

The franchising company already has 86 openings scheduled in the Asia Pacific region for the remainder of the year. All of Wyndham’s properties in the region participate in the company’s well-known loyalty program, Wyndham Rewards.

CNBC also reports that Marriott, Hilton and Hyatt are also working on massive expansions across China this year, even as some forecasters are concerned about the country boycotting American brands.

DC’s “Drip Pricing” Lawsuit

Marriott International was recently accused of misleading online customers. DC’s attorney general filed a lawsuit against the hotel giant which, as Skift’s Danni Santana writes, has put the industry on notice. The lawsuit claims that Marriott has been excluding extra fees from the prices listed on the chain’s official website and online travel agencies.

In a statement to The Washington Post, Marriott spokesperson Jeff Flaherty said the company would not comment on pending litigation but looks forward to continuing their conversations about online booking fees with other U.S. attorneys general.

The District of Columbia Attorney General has filed a lawsuit against Marriott International, claiming the company’s online booking method deceives customers.

Travelodge Looks to Fill Brexit Staffing Gap

With many UK hotels facing a staffing pinch caused by the country’s impending departure from the European Union, Travelodge sees a potential solution in students looking for summer work. The Guardian reports that the chain is aiming to fill 800 part-time positions and make 2,200 permanent hires.

This is not the first time Travelodge has launched a staffing initiative aimed at a particular demographic in preparation for Brexit, as the company announced in January that it was looking to hire unemployed parents interested in rejoining the workforce.

Related: How Brexit Is Hurting British Travel

US Holiday Date Shifts

Date changes for US holidays in 2019 are expected to have a significant impact on the country’s hospitality industry. Most notably, Columbus Day, Thanksgiving and Easter occur a week later in the 2018-19 period compared to the previous year. STR writes that these changes will have an effect on when breaks for K-12 and post-secondary students are scheduled, and in turn, impact hotel demand.

IHG Phasing Out Plastic Toiletry Bottles

With environmentally-conscious consumers pressuring companies in all industries to cut down on their use of plastic, hotels are upping their efforts. After confirming that the company was working on its plastics problem during an earnings call in May, environmental news site EcoWatch writes that IHG will end its use of miniature plastic toiletry bottles by 2021.

This move to phase out plastic is an industry first, but with a growing number of travel brands looking into eco-friendly options, the trend could continue. Elaine Glusac of the New York Times writes that state legislators in California are considering making this shift mandatory, but IHG chief Keith Barr says the pressure to make this change is coming from guests.

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