5 things to know: 11 September 2020
5 things to know: 11 September 2020
11 SEPTEMBER 2020 9:37 AM

From the desks of the Hotel News Now editorial staff:

  • Oregon governor issues order over hotel price gouging
  • Hoteliers adapt to changing guest needs, expectations
  • US unemployment numbers unchanged from last week
  • Federal US jobless aid to end without replacement
  • US hotel results for week ending 5 September

Oregon governor issues order over hotel price gouging: Oregon Gov. Kate Brown issued an executive order declaring abnormal market disruption after hearing reports of hotel price gouging amid ongoing wildfires, the Salem Statesman Journal reports. The order allows the state’s attorney general and Department of Justice to investigate businesses reported for price gouging.

OSU-Cascades professor Todd Montgomery told the newspaper it’s more difficult to define price gouging in hotels than in other industries because hotel rates can be adjusted quickly based on demand. Many hotel pricing systems are automated, allowing price surges within minutes.

“Price gouging is a hard, hard thing to define because it’s so relative,” Montgomery told the newspaper. “It’s even harder to prove.”

Hoteliers adapt to changing guest needs, expectations: The coronavirus pandemic has forced hoteliers to change the way they view and perform their services, said a panel of executives at the recent CHRIS+HOLA Connect online conference. While that is a challenge, they can also view it as an opportunity to improve the guest experience and keep guests coming back as they feel more comfortable traveling.

“I’ve looked at 2020 as a very critical year, and it’s a critical year from being able to convince guests that you can provide an outstandingly safe, but more importantly, enjoyable resort experience,” said Bruce Wardinski, president and CEO of Playa Hotels & Resorts. “People want to be safe, and that’s critical, but they also aren’t looking to go to a hospital or a prison. They want to go, and they want to have a resort experience and have a great time.”

U.S. unemployment numbers unchanged from last week: The U.S. Department of Labor reported the number of new unemployment claims remained the same as last week’s 884,000, The Wall Street Journal reports. New claims hit a peak of approximately 7 million in March and have fallen since then, but the pace has slowed.

Similarly, the number of people collecting state unemployment benefits dropped from earlier highs, but is still above normal levels, the newspaper reports. Continuing unemployment claims grew to about 13.4 million by the end of August.

“People’s attachment to the job market right now is pretty fragile,” said Michele Evermore, senior policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project. “Clearly people are trying to get back on their feet. They’re trying to get back to work. That’s not going to be complete ... until the virus goes away.”

Federal U.S. jobless aid to end without replacement: Additional federal jobless benefits of $300 a week is set to expire soon without any replacement as Congress continues to fight over another round of stimulus, The Associated Press reports.

State unemployment benefits typically last about six months, after which the federal assistance kicks in, providing 13 weeks of benefits. The additional $300 a week in benefits, created by President Donald Trump’s executive order, was set for six weeks, from the start of August through the end of this week. Without further action, almost all federal unemployment assistance will run out by the end of the year, the news agency reports.

The House of Representatives passed a relief bill in May that restores federal unemployment aid to $600 a week, but the Senate recently moved forward on another bill, to keep benefits at $300 a week, that also failed.

U.S. hotel results for week ending 5 September: Data from STR, parent company of Hotel News Now, shows that U.S. hotel performance for the week ending 5 September received a slight boost from Labor Day weekend. Occupancy dropped 18.9% year over year to 49.4% and average daily rate fell by 17.1% to $100.97, resulting in revenue per available room decreasing by 32.8% to $49.87.

“Hotel demand grew to 18 million room nights sold (+500,000 week over week). Saturday (5 September) occupancy came in at 69%, just 2.6% less than the comparable Saturday in 2019, and leisure markets that have showed the highest summer occupancy levels reported strong increases from the previous weekend,” the release states. “At the same time, the markets with the highest occupancy for the week were not leisure destinations. Rather, the high occupancy markets were those housing displaced residents from Hurricane Laura and the California wildfires.”

Compiled by Bryan Wroten.

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