American Family Voices, a D.C.–based nonprofit, is filing freedom of information requests with 11 cities, states, and counties to learn in greater detail the tax deals they are making with Airbnb. The organization says Airbnb’s tax agreements make it more difficult for local governments to shut down illegal hotels. Read more here.
Anbang Insurance Group has closed on its acquisition of Strategic Hotels & Resorts’ portfolio from the Blackstone Group, with just one more property out of 16 left to review. The acquisition includes Essex House in New York. To read more, click here.
On Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported that West Elm plans to open (obviously) stylish boutique hotels in the United States. Now that the hotel industry has had time to digest the news, Bloomberg wonders what place this new brand will have in hospitality when compared against the likes of the Baccarat hotel, launched by the fine crystal company. Positive hotel brand associations can drive retail transactions—but how much will it help West Elm and its moderately priced furniture compared to selling a more luxurious lifestyle at other boutique hotels? To read more, click here.
With data breaches regularly plaguing many hotel chains, the latest bit of related news should serve as a lesson for hoteliers: Donald Trump’s hotel chain will pay a $50,000 penalty for not alerting customers quickly about a breach that exposed 70,000 credit card numbers. The chain did not disclose the breach customers for four months after recognizing the security issue, violating state laws that require quick notification. The chain has also agreed to revamp its data security policies. For more information, click here.
Google Trips, the new travel app that allows travelers to organize and plan their trips, could threaten the continued success of TripAdvisor, Priceline, and Expedia. The “personalized tour guide in your pocket” is available without Wi-Fi and gathers information from Gmail and Google Maps. Read more here.
According to Latin America’s Hotel Construction Pipeline from Lodging Econometrics (LE), the region has 878 projects/150,485 rooms, down 1 percent by projects and rooms year-over-year (YOY). The three cities with the largest pipelines are: Sao Paulo with 38 projects/7,191 rooms, Campinas, Brazil with 34 projects/6,239 rooms and Rio de Janeiro with 32 projects/6,625 rooms.
The leading franchise companies in Latin America’s pipeline are: AccorHotels with 111 projects/16,551 rooms, Marriott International with 58 projects/9,814 rooms and Hilton Worldwide with 55 projects/7,483 rooms.
The leading brand for each of Latin America’s top three franchise companies are: Accor’s Hotel Ibis with 47 projects/6,336 rooms, Hilton Garden Inn with 18 projects/2,595 rooms and Marriott’s Fairfield Inn with 15 projects/2,579 rooms.
For hotels currently under construction, the Latin America pipeline has 400 projects/70,506 rooms, down 3 percent by projects and 4 percent by rooms YOY. There are 173 projects/29,847 rooms scheduled to start construction in the next 12 months, down 1 percent by projects and rooms. Projects in early planning, 305 projects/50,132 rooms, are up 2 percent by projects and 4 percent by rooms.