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To emphasize the advantages of loyalty programs, major hotel companies and independent hoteliers are encouraging guests to book direct. Back in August, Marriott International launched a digital campaign touting the benefits of booking hotel rooms directly through the brand, such as access to best rates and free Wi-Fi. Now, Hilton Worldwide has launched a major marketing campaign that gives loyalty members who book direct exclusive discounted room rates. The “Stop Clicking Around” campaign will also emphasize the other benefits of booking direct and being an HHonors member, such as points that can be used for free room nights, free Wi-Fi, and the ability to choose a room from a digital floor plan through its mobile app. The proliferation of online hotel booking scams has also made booking directly with hotels safer for consumers, the American Hotel & Lodging Association says. To read more, click here.

This week, the United States and Cuba will sign an agreement to resume commerical flights for the first time in 50 years. Air traffic will begin operating daily next fall, reports Reuters. Under the agreement, U.S. airlines can start bidding on routes for as many as 110 U.S.–Cuba flights per day–more than five times the current number. U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx is expected to fly to Havana tomorrow to finish the deal. As the two countries continue to mend fences, Cuba is preparing for an influx in tourists. Earlier this month, Cuba announced it would launch broadband Internet service in two pilot projects in Havana, allowing visitors to stay connected when roaming outside their hotels. The country is also continuing to add Wi-Fi hotspots, with 65 added last year and 80 more coming in 2016. This move is part of a larger push to revamp Cuba’s infrastructure. For more on this story, click here.

The market for credit default swaps, the tools banks and fund managers use to hedge against losses on corporate and government debt, is on the rise again. The ongoing volatility in the financial markets is leading some investors to turn to CDSs for protection against default. A growing CDS market indicates the rising concern many shareholders have about the safety of their investments. While credit default swaps still have a bad reputation stemming from the role they played in inflating the global credit bubble that led to the 2008 financial crisis, they remain a useful tool for managing an investment portfolio. While a growing CDS market is another indicator of global economic concerns, it still remains a fraction of its size before the financial crisis. To read more, click here.

An exodus of capital in China is casting doubt on the country’s economic prospects and shaking global markets, The New York Times writes. Wealthy Chinese families are increasingly trying to move large sums of money out of the country for fear that the value of the currency will fall and their savings will be worth less. The capital flight is already putting significant pressure on the country’s currency, the renminbi. The outlook in Japan is also darkening. Caught in a cycle of expansion and contraction, Japan’s economy shrank in the final three months of 2015. To read more, click here.

A new study from the Center for Hospitality Research (CHR) has discovered that when hotel guests post a review of their stay accompanied by a numerical rating, the comments and ratings do not always complement each another, with the negative comments having more of a significant influence on the guests’ ratings than the more satisfied and positive reviews. The authors believe that hoteliers could benefit from text analytics who can gather more specific and reliable information to improve guest experience. Read more here.

While the financial markets suggest that the U.S. is heading for a recession, every other economic indicator shows that this isn’t the case. So while oil hits a 12½-year low and the Dow is down 14.5 percent from its all-time high last May, healthy job growth in January means that employers are having trouble filling vacancies. And consumer spending is picking upHere’s a look at why central banks are having such a difficult time addressing recession fears around the world. Bottom line: Markets aren’t always the best predictor of recessions and sometimes can even help bring them about. Read more here.

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