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Starwood Hotels & Resorts has received a revised proposal from the Anbang consortium with an increased purchase price of $82.75 per share, which surpasses Marriott’s raised offer from last week. The company said the new bid is “reasonably likely” to lead to a superior proposal. Starwood’s board has not changed its recommendation in support of a merger with Marriott. To read more, click here.

The competition between online travel agencies and hotel chains continues to heat up in an ever-evolving marketplace. Online travel agencies have a symbiotic relationship with hotels (after all, they do draw in more guests), but also take away from the all important brand loyalty that encourages guests to continue laying their heads down under a particular chain’s roof. Despite the ongoing power struggle, hotels are still coming out on top: According to Phocuswright, 34 percent of Americans used online agencies last year, while 66 booked directly. Though it is still too early to tell, hotels’ continued success over online travel agencies could stem from recent efforts to entice guests, with brands like Hilton and Marriott running ads and offering deals aimed at guests who book direct. To find out how online travel agencies are responding to brands’ tactics, click here.

The U.S. economy grew at a faster pace in the fourth quarter than previously expected. The revised 1.4 percent increase is higher than the Commerce Department’s initial 1 percent increase. While slightly better than anticipated, corporate profits dropped in 2015 by the most in seven years. Business pressures include rising labor costs and a stronger dollar. To read more, click here.

Last year was a boom time for California’s hotel industry, with the state setting records in terms of sales volume, price per room, and new construction. This era of increased development offers hoteliers strong performance metrics, but at the same time can present roadblocks in the form of more competition for both project dollars and guests. California added 34 new hotels with 4,395 rooms in 2015, and 98 hotels (15,833 rooms) were under construction as of the end of the year. Despite the rapid development growth, hoteliers are not yet concerned about oversupply, as they do not anticipate it to be significantly higher than the long-run average. In addition to high levels of development, total sales volume jumped 87 percent year-over-year to a record $9.5 billion. To read more, click here.

Following a series of attacks throughout Europe, including the March 22 attacks in Brussels declared by ISIL, the State Department has cautioned U.S. citizens of potential travel risks as terrorist groups persist with plans to attack throughout Europe, preying on sporting events, tourist sites, restaurants and transportation. The travel alert will expire on June 20. To read more, click here.

Even though Starwood Hotels & Resorts has accepted Marriott International’s sweetened $13.6 billion offer, some analysts believe Anbang Insurance Group may yet win out with a higher all-cash bid. Other media reports claim Chinese regulators could block Anbang’s bids for both Starwood and Strategic Hotels & Resorts. Read more here.

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