Accor-IHG: the hotel tie-up that never gets booked

Bryce Elder AUGUST 22 2020

Nothing is more powerfully frustrating, to misquote Victor Hugo, than an idea whose time will not come.

One of those familiar ideas came back around this week. Hotels group Accor of France has been working on a takeover of London-listed InterContinental Hotels to create the biggest company of its kind in the world, Le Figaro reported. As yet, Accor has not made an approach, the paper said; Sébastien Bazin, the French company’s chief executive since 2013, does not think the time is right.

Similar stories had been doing the rounds in the spring, shortly before coronavirus paralysed global travel. But variations on the Accor-IHG rumour predate Marriott’s $13bn merger with Starwood in 2016 — a deal that triggered a wave of consolidation within the lodging industry. A year ago Accor was the rumoured target and IHG its pursuer. Accor was on a list of IHG merger candidates put forward in 2014 by activist investor Marcato Capital Management, when talk of US predators had created a sense of urgency to find a European champion. Yet the timing, it seems, has never been right.

Geographically, the idea makes sense. Nearly half of Accor’s rooms are in the Asia-Pacific region, meaning it would plug into an IHG portfolio with around 60 per cent of rooms in North America. The combined group would have 1.6m rooms — around 200,000 more than Marriott, split approximately equally between Europe, the Americas and Asia.

Strategically, too, a deal has its logic. Accor’s stable of brands — Sofitel, Mondrian, Ibis, Mama Shelter — has a balance of rich and edgy to fit almost any neighbourhood. The IHG approach is much narrower — Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express make up most of its estate — but it offers superior growth prospects thanks to its early-mover advantage in Greater China, which accounts for 15 per cent of rooms and 30 per cent of its pipeline.

Cost cutting is another justification. Jefferies analysts estimate expenses synergies of between €100m to €150m, equivalent to about 7 per cent of the enlarged group’s predicted operating earnings for 2022.

IHG also offers experience managing franchises and partnerships rather than owning the real estate, which matches Mr Bazin’s favoured model. Under his tenure Accor has sold and leased back nearly all of its property. IHG’s long embrace of the same asset-light model meant it could navigate the great financial crisis better than rivals while still throwing off cash from disposals, culminating in the 2015 sale of its flagship InterContinental Hong Kong.

So why is it never the right time? Well, it is complicated. Accor’s market capitalisation of €6.2bn is significantly less than IHG’s £7.3bn (€8bn) value, the latter having rallied more than 70 per cent from March lows while the former hardly budged. The French group would therefore need the backing of its main shareholders, China’s state-owned Jin Jiang International and the Qatar Investment Authority, to effectively underwrite the share issue needed to fund any bid. Support from a private equity fund, such as Mr Bazin’s former employer Colony Capital, might also be helpful.

The proposal would not be cheap, nor easy. Institutions that dominate IHG’s shareholder register would probably be expecting upwards of £50 a share as a starting point — a more than 20 per cent premium to its current price — as well as requiring the preservation of its FTSE listing.

A plausible scenario would involve Accor bidding using one-third cash and two-thirds new shares. Using Accor’s stock as a currency to buy more richly valued peer risks appealing more to investment bankers than to shareholders, however. And given the levels of financial engineering required, it is unfortunate, to say the least, that S&P Global downgraded Accor’s debt to junk status this week.

The bigger question: Post Covid-19, is Accor-IHG still the right deal to chase?

Hotel franchise owners pay management companies double-digit percentages of revenues in the belief that a well-known brand will drive higher room rates. Name recognition is most valuable for corporate travel, which accounts for an estimated 60 per cent of IHG’s demand: about two-thirds of its rooms are in the business-friendly midscale and upper-midscale niches. How quickly those rooms will refill after the pandemic is unknown.

For leisure travel, brand safety has appeal when on a budget but uniqueness counts for special occasions. IHG has no budget market exposure and InterContinental, its luxury chain, is by design a more homogeneous experience than Accor flagships such as Raffles in Singapore and The Savoy in London.

IHG is a structure built to withstand recessions, not pandemics. It is in the main revenue collection agency for around 3,000 small businesses, mostly US-based and often corporate-reliant, that are now fighting to survive. The historic reasons why an IHG-Accor merger made sense no longer look quite so compelling. A bid could still come, but the time might never be right.

Source: https://www.ft.com/content/0f2decbb-de27-4aa6-a4b2-54f2631771d1

MGM Resorts to Lay Off 18,000 Staffers Beginning Monday

Cameron Sperance, Skift- Aug 28, 2020 12:30 pm

MGM laying off 18,000 workers is the latest testament that Las Vegas needs more than slot machines and poker tables to keep resorts running at pre-pandemic performance levels.— Cameron Sperance

MGM Grand exterior hero shot

The coronavirus pandemic’s prolonged impact on travel and major events that keep Las Vegas in business is taking a major toll on the employee headcount at MGM Resorts International.

The Las Vegas-based gaming resort company plans to lay off 18,000 employees — roughly a quarter of its entire pre-pandemic U.S. workforce — beginning Monday. The layoffs come nearly three months after Las Vegas resorts reopened from temporary shutdowns due to fears of spreading the virus. All of MGM’s Las Vegas resorts have reopened with the exception of the Park MGM.

“Nothing pains me more than delivering news like this,” MGM Resorts CEO Bill Hornbuckle wrote to staff in a letter obtained by Skift. “The heart of this company is our employees and the world-class service you provide.”

The layoffs come less than a month after MGM Resorts reported a $1 billion second quarter operating loss compared to a $371 million profit a year prior.

Federal law requires a termination date for furloughed employees who are not brought back within six months. August 31 is the six-month date for those impacted by the letter issued Friday.

MGM plans to keep laid off employees on a recall list and rehire them as demand returns, according to the letter.

Workers who return by the end of 2021 will maintain current seniority levels and regain benefits. Healthcare benefits for the laid off employees will run through the end of September.

“While the immediate future remains uncertain, I truly believe the challenges we face today are not permanent,” Hornbuckle wrote. “The fundamentals of our industry, our company and our communities will not change. Concerts, sports and awe-inspiring entertainment remain on our horizon.”

The job cuts are a sour end to a month that began with Barry Diller’s IAC/InterActive Corp. taking a $1 billion, or 12 percent, stake in MGM Resorts. That investment was driven more by Diller’s interest in MGM’s ability to build out its online gaming platform.

Many of Las Vegas’s typical lines of business have yet to reignite following pandemic shutdowns. June was the third consecutive month of no conventions in the city, and industry analysts say it could be another six to 12 months before event planners are confident enough to host another major convention in the city.

“I don’t want to predict [2021] because I don’t feel I have enough insight into what might happen to the vaccine or the virus and no way to forecast that,” Las Vegas Sands Corp. President Rob Goldstein said during an earnings call last month. “But I would be less than honest if I didn’t tell you that Las Vegas is in a very difficult place.”


FIVE Zurich Dubai-based FIVE Hotels & Resorts to make its European debut in Zurich, Switzerland

Luxury lifestyle hotel group FIVE Hotels & Resorts is preparing to fly from the nest and open its first international hotel, in Zurich, Switzerland.

Born in Dubai, FIVE started operations in 2017 with its partying-meets-luxury resort on Palm Jumeirah. FIVE Jumeirah Village followed, providing the same level of service. Together, the two hotels feature 1,198 keys and upwards of 20 F&B venues, as well as a full calendar of events and celebrity appearances.

Looking at the success of the two hotels, FIVE’s management saw an opportunity to expand into Europe. In a statement the group said its Dubai hotels have amassed more than 288,000 room nights from European travellers alone.

Formerly known as Atlantis By Giardino, Zurich, the hotel shut its doors earlier this year due to soaring expenses and a bleak economic outlook. Fast-forward to summer 2021 and the striking hotel will be revived by the Dubai-based group.

“It is a matter of pride to infuse the entrepreneurial spirit of Dubai’s hospitality scene with Switzerland’s longstanding tradition in luxury hospitality. This dream has only been realised due to the pioneering vision and tireless execution of HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, who laid the foundation and has continued to develop one of the world’s most diverse and pioneering economies,” said Kabir Mulchandani, chairman of FIVE Holdings.

To meet the additional workload of adding a third property, FIVE will employ a further 260 employees over the course of the opening, reaching 1,260 employees once the hotel opens.

“It fills me with joy to open this new chapter alongside all of our colleagues who have shown restless commitment and passion in these past months, and to challenge each other’s creativity with this new exciting project; as after all, if it’s not with fun we shouldn’t do it at all”, added Mulchandan.

Source: https://www.hospitalitynet.org/announcement/41005075/five-zurich.html

Airbnb Escalates House Party Crackdown a Week After Filing for an IPO

Dennis Schaal, Aug 24, 2020 6:00 pm

Airbnb looks to be cleaning up some overhangs before its anticipated initial public offering, including being fairly aggressive about promoting its crackdown on wayward house parties in its rentals. In case investors ask about the issue, Airbnb has an answer.— Dennis

In the run-up to — and in the five days since — filing its paperwork to become a public company, Airbnb has publicized its lack of tolerance for house parties and events in its rentals.

In the latest twist, the company announced Monday that it suspended or removed more than 50 listings in Los Angeles County, California, that were the subject of complaints or allegedly violated Airbnb’s policies on house parties or events. The company conducted a similar blitz in Arizona last month.

Clearly no would-be public company answering to shareholders, nor even a private one, would want a repetition of the Halloween 2019 house party shooting in one of its rentals in the Hollywood Hills area of California that saw five people die.

It’s certain that regulators in various jurisdictions focus on any instances of Airbnb being less than a good neighbor so the company would like to clear up as many of these community flashpoint and regulatory headaches as possible while investors consider getting in on the potential stock market action.

Since the October calamity, Airbnb has taken a series of steps to address the issue, including implementing a global ban on house parties and events last week. Under current rules, large houses can have a 16-guest maximum, and guests under 25 can’t rent locally unless they have at least three positive reviews.

Although Airbnb has banned events in its rentals, it is mulling creating an “exception process for specialty and traditional hospitality venues (i.e. boutique hotels),” the company stated. It may also take legal action against guests who violate Airbnb’s house party rules.

In the short-term rental arena, rowdy house parties are certainly not unique to Airbnb, but an argument can be made that it has a more acute problem than many peers because its guest demographic may skew younger.

Amy Hinote, the founder of VRM Intel, a news site for vacation rental managers, said that in addition to its younger clientele, Airbnb is prone to the house party problem because many hosts, and Airbnb’s own team, have “very little experience.”

“So every time they come up against an issue, they treat it like it is brand new,” Hinote said.

Property management companies, Hinote claimed, won’t rent to guests younger than 25, and they collect information about every rental guest during potentially problematic periods such as Spring Break or festivals.

Hinote said property managers informed Airbnb year ago that it needed to create website filters to avoid renting to people under 25. “If Airbnb had truly listened to their reasoning, it might have understood that house parties can be a major problem and strategies are not in place to deal with them,” she said.

VRBO HAS A DIFFERENT GUEST DEMOGRAPHIC

Expedia Group’s Vrbo stated that “the overwhelming majority of Vrbo travelers are families taking a vacation together,” so the implication is that house parties are not as acute an issue as for Airbnb.

Vrbo bans guests who conduct unauthorized house parties and hosts or managers who look the other way. It also bans same-day bookings, and provides an enrollment option for NoiseAware, which has noise detectors and updates owners or managers when decibel levels exceed permissible limits.

BOOKING.COM AND VRBO ARE QUIETER

Two already public companies, Expedia Group’s Vrbo and Booking Holdings’ Booking.com, haven’t made recent announcements about house party crackdowns.

When queried about the issue, Booking Holdings spokesperson Leslie Cafferty said, “Safety is always a priority and we provide support for partners to make it easier to set accommodation guidelines for guests, from limiting occupancy to align with local gathering mandates to setting house rules, including selecting the policy that does not allow parties.”

Source: https://skift.com/2020/08/24/airbnb-escalates-house-party-crackdown-a-week-after-filing-for-an-ipo/

All U.S. Hotel Sectors Saw a Profit in July — Yes, Really

Hoteliers shouldn’t get used to good news. U.S. full-service hotels may have seen a very slight average profit per room in July, but the peak summer travel season is fading — and the pandemic still isn’t under control.— Cameron Sperance

The U.S. hotel industry still faces a long road to a full recovery, but glimmers of profitability are finally emerging across all hotel chain segments following the coronavirus crisis that temporarily closed many hotels around the world.

U.S. gross operating profit per available room in July was positive for the first time since February, according to STR. While the economy sector of the hotel industry has generally performed best during the pandemic due to lower staffing and operating costs, even the luxury sector was in the black in July.

The encouraging news comes days after STR reported the U.S. hotel industry cleared the 50 percent occupancy mark for the first time since mid-March.

“It’s still lower than a typical month, but it’s a huge improvement from seeing negative profitability across these classes over the last 3.5 months,” said Raquel Ortiz, assistant director of financial performance at STR. “That in itself is showing a vast improvement.”

Lower-scale segments are still performing better than upscale and luxury hotel sectors. U.S. limited-service hotels reported a $17 gross operating profit per room in July while full-service hotels only saw a $3 profit.

But even a meager profit is a significant improvement over the $25 loss per room in May, the worst month for full-service hotel profitability since the pandemic hit the U.S. significantly in March.

The upscale and luxury sectors have generally performed poorly during the downturn in travel due to these market segments’ reliance on business transient and convention-related travel, which have both evaporated due to pandemic-related corporate travel restrictions.

Group business travel drives nearly a third of room revenue at higher-end U.S. hotels, according to McKinsey & Co. Upscale properties are generally expected to be the last in the hotel industry to recover from the pandemic’s impact on travel.

“Group business drives hotel profitability as a source of food and beverage revenue and high occupancy nights, and because it typically books further in advance, it will inform everything from marketing strategy to revenue management,” Nathan Seitzman, a partner in McKinsey & Co.’s travel practice, told Skift in June. “So even when business and leisure transient travel fully recover, a lagging group recovery could have a disproportionate impact on hotel profitability.”

The small profitability in the full-service U.S. hotel sector doesn’t mean group business travel is flickering back to life, Ortiz added. Instead, it is more a result of room rate compression between the luxury and economy sectors encouraging some travelers to upgrade from their typical accommodations this summer.

Luxury hotels typically command a $150 to $200 per night premium over economy hotels. But the premium has narrowed to as low as $100 this summer, Ortiz said.

The recovery has generally arrived quicker to resort markets and smaller, drive-to destinations travelers favor while trying to adhere to social distancing guidelines. But there was positive momentum in July for the top 25 U.S. markets, as six of the regions were profitable compared to four in June.

The Tampa/St. Petersburg, Florida; Anaheim, California; Dallas, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Denver hotel markets were all profitable for the month of July.

Many of these markets are in Sun Belt regions popular with leisure travelers, but urban markets like Philadelphia joining the list last month could be a result of more drive-to attractions reopening and appealing to weekend travelers.

While she expects further improvements in the month of August, Ortiz noted the fall is still largely uncertain territory regarding how long the performance momentum can continue.

“I do think when August numbers come out, we’ll see more incremental improvement,” she added. “But obviously the fall and winter will be an interesting story to see where that goes.”

Global tourism loses $320 billion in first five months of 2020, says UN

More than 120 million jobs at risk from pandemic

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The tourism global industry has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic, with $320 billion lost in exports in the first five months of the year and more than 120 million jobs at risk, the U.N. chief said Tuesday.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a policy briefing and video address that tourism is the third-largest export sector of the global economy, behind fuels and chemicals, and in 2019 it accounted for 7% of global trade.

“It employs one in every 10 people on Earth and provides livelihoods to hundreds of millions more,” he said.

In addition to boosting economies, “it allows people to experience some of the world’s cultural and natural riches and brings people closer to each other, highlighting our common humanity,” he said.

But the U.N. chief said that in the first five months of 2020, because of the pandemic, international tourist arrivals decreased by more than half and earnings plummeted.

Guterres said this has been a “major shock” for richer developed nations “but for developing countries, it is an emergency, particularly for many small island developing states and African countries.”

Tourism for some of those countries represents more than 20% of their GDP, he explained.

Sandra Carvao, the U.N. World Tourism Organization’s chief of market intelligence and competitiveness, said the $320 billion in lost exports from January through May is three times what was lost during the year 2009 at the height of the last global financial crisis.

And according to the policy briefing, “export revenues from tourism could fall by $910 billion to $1.2 trillion in 2020” and that “could reduce global GDP by 1.5% to 2.8%.”

In addition to tourism jobs that are at risk, the policy paper said jobs in associated sectors, including food service, that provide employment for 144 million workers worldwide are also at risk.

It stressed that small businesses, “are particularly vulnerable.”

Guterres said tourism “is also a key pillar for the conservation of natural and cultural heritage.”

According to the briefing, some 7% of world tourism relates to wildlife, “a segment growing by 3% annually.”

“The fall in revenues has led to increased poaching and habitat destruction in and around protected areas,” the secretary-general said, “and the closure of many World Heritage sites has deprived communities of vital livelihoods.”

Guterres called for the tourism sector to be rebuilt in a way that is safe for host communities, workers and travelers, and is also “equitable and climate friendly.”

Noting that travel restrictions and border closures still remain though some have been lifted, Carvao said “the recovery will be very much dependent on the evolution of the pandemic and the economic situation.”

“No country has escaped the impact of COVID on tourism,” she said. 

Source: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/global-tourism-loses-320-billion-in-first-five-months-of-2020-says-un-2020-08-25

Hotel industry facing historic wave of foreclosures

Vicky Karantzavelou / 20 Aug 2020

WASHINGTON – A new national report shows that the hotel industry is facing a historic wave of foreclosures as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to devastate small business hotel owners and its workforce. Since the beginning of the pandemic the hotel segment has faced a historic number of delinquencies and is the most heavily hit sector of the commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) market. Nearly 4,000 hotel industry leaders sent an urgent letter to Congress urging immediate action to help hotels avoid foreclosure and the loss of tens of thousands of jobs.

The report, compiled by Trepp, shows that the percentage of loans that is 30 or more days delinquent is 23.4 percent as of last month—the highest percentage on record. By comparison, the percentage of hotel loans that were 30 or more days delinquent at the end of 2019 was 1.3 percent.

From a financial perspective, the report shows that $20.6 billion in hotel CMBS loans were 30 or more days delinquent as of July, compared to $1.15 billion as of December 2019. The highest volume of delinquent hotel loans during the Great Financial Crisis was $13.5 billion. The current percentage of loans that are delinquent now exceeds the highest level during the Great Financial Crisis by 53 percent.

In the letter sent to Congress today, nearly 4,000 hotel industry leaders implored Congress to swiftly enact the HOPE Act, bipartisan legislation introduced by Representatives Van Taylor (R-Texas), Al Lawson (D-Fla.), and Andy Barr (R-Ky.), intended to provide assistance to small businesses that operate in the ailing commercial real estate market.

With record low travel demand, thousands of hotels can’t afford to pay their commercial mortgages and are facing foreclosure with the harsh reality of having to close their doors permanently. Tens of thousands of hotel employees will lose their jobs and small business industries that depend on these hotels to drive local tourism and economic activity will likely face a similar fate,” stated Chip Rogers, President and CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA). “The hotel industry strongly supports The HOPE Act to give struggling small business hotels an opportunity to keep their doors open and avoid foreclosure. We urge the immediate passage of this legislation so America’s tourism industry can survive and recover when the public health crisis subsides.

Rogers said the HOPE Act would address the unique challenges of commercial real estate. It would provide commercial property owners the temporary liquidity they need to keep their doors open in exchange for a preferred equity interest in the property. The legislation would not require any new funding and would utilize existing appropriations from the CARES Act Economic Stabilization Fund.

Other major hotel industry leaders expressed an urgency for Congress to step up to help struggling hotel businesses before it is too late. 

The economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic is decimating the travel and tourism sector – especially small businesses like hotels. That’s why we need Congress to provide hotel owners with real relief that addresses the needs of small businesses with commercial real estate assets,” said Cecil Staton, President and CEO of AAHOA. “Hoteliers are responsible for millions of jobs in communities across the nation, but unless Congress acts, there may not be businesses left for those workers to return to at the end of this pandemic. We are optimistic that the HOPE Act will help hoteliers to address the debt crisis facing the lodging industry, and save good American jobs and small businesses.

Our hotel industry has been devastated by the effects of COVID-19. The financial assistance through the HOPE Preferred Equity lending facility would provide relief and could help stimulate the economic situation in communities throughout the United States,” said Lynette Montoya, President and CEO of the Latino Hotel Association (LHA).

The HOPE Act is essential in helping provide hotel owners with liquidity when we need it most and will serve to help keep businesses open, thus saving local jobs,” said Andy Ingraham, President and CEO of the National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators, and Developers (NABHOOD).

Source: https://www.traveldailynews.com/post/hotel-industry-facing-historic-wave-of-foreclosures

9 Good Questions to Ask at The End of an Interview

by Maria Rubio | Aug 13, 2020

We all know that every hiring manager waits until the end of an interview to ask if you have any questions about the job or company. It’s vital that you prepare a few questions beforehand to show that you’re interested in the opportunity, and it also allows you to further engage and impress the recruiter. Remember, an interview is not only a window to sell yourself, but it’s also time to gather information. To help you make a smarter career decision, we’ve gathered 9 good questions that you can ask at the end of an interview:

1) What’s It Like to Work Here?

This is the perfect place to start. It gives you an honest insight into the company culture, and it also gives the hiring manager the opportunity to win you over. Understanding the company culture before you start working there is vital because you’ll spend countless hours sharing and interacting with your colleagues. If you don’t like the company culture, you’re going to have a hard time getting used to the workplace.

2) Which Are the Most Important Qualities for Someone to Excel in This Role?

This is definitely a tricky question! The reason? The recruiter will probably give you a list of skills needed to succeed in the job you’re being interviewed for, but the question can also be redirected to you. Be prepared to give a professional answer to show you’re capable of succeeding in the role thanks to your expertise and skills.

3) What Are the Expectations of This Role?

The company might post an overview of this information along with the job description. However, it’s always good to find out exactly what they’re expecting you to deliver during the first six to twelve months. 

4) What Are the Day-To-Day Responsibilities in This Position?

Knowing this will help you decide if you really want the job. Some positions may appear ideal at first glance, but they could actually involve doing a lot of things that you may dislike or don’t feel prepared for. Asking this also shows the recruiter that you care about what’s essential: the actual work that you’re going to be doing on a daily basis.

5) Who Are the Company’s Top Competitors?

This is something you should research beforehand, nevertheless it’s always nice to hear from someone that works in the company. The hiring manager might give you an answer that differs from your research and that could be a great topic to continue the conversation.

6) What Are Some of the Current Challenges Facing the Company?

Asking this shows that you want to get to grips with what’s going on in the company, and will also reveal more about the stability of the business. If you’re fast on your feet, you can turn the question around and tell the recruiter how your skills can help overcome the challenges.

7) What’s the Company’s Dress Code?

Very important! You don’t want to arrive at your first day of work looking underdressed. Ask the hiring manager, if there is a dress code you should follow, and make sure you stick to it. You never get a second chance to make a first impression! If you’re unsure of what to wear, check out our breakdown of the four levels of business attire here.

8) Are There Opportunities for Professional Development in the Company?

If you want to develop in your career, you have to make sure the company you’re going to work for will offer you opportunities to enhance your skills and knowledge. They may offer you the chance to attend workshops, conferences or seminars. If the company doesn’t really take into consideration your professional development, then it may not be the best fit for you.

9) What Are the Next Steps of the Hiring Process?

Last but not least, you should always ask about the next steps of the interview process or when you might hear back from them. This is a useful question that can give you a timeframe and find out how many rounds of interviews you’ll have to complete.

We can’t reiterate how crucial it is to ask good questions at the end of the interview, if you don’t, you’ll appear uninterested or unmotivated. Also, remember to avoid asking about the basic aspects of the company and leave vacations or immediate changes to your schedule to the side. Now that you have these nine impressive questions to ask the recruiter at the end of your interview, you’re bound to succeed!

Source: https://www.hosco.com/advice/en/9-good-questions-ask-end-of-interview/?utm_source=hosco&utm_medium=post&utm_campaign=questionsendofinterview

Atari Wants to Build Video Game-Themed Hotels

The first hotel will break ground later this year in Phoenix, Arizona. Another is being planned for Las Vegas. They promise to offer Atari-themed lodging, along with lots of video gaming experiences.

Michael Kan – January 28, 2020 

Atari Interactive thinks it has an idea to rekindle interest in the gaming brand: It wants to build Atari-themed hotels.

On Monday, the company announced it was partnering with a design agency to build at least eight video-gamed themed Atari Hotels in the US with the first one slated to break ground in Phoenix, Arizona later this year.

The idea is certainly unconventional, but Atari says the concept will connect with the public at a time when the market for gaming is exploding. Not only will the hotels provide Atari-themed lodging, but also lots of video gaming, including the latest VR and augmented reality experiences. In addition, some of the hotels will be designed to host esports events.

“Together we’ll build a space that will be much more than just a place to stay,” Atari CEO Fred Chesnais said in a statement. “Atari is an iconic global brand that resonates with people of all ages, countries, cultures and ethnic backgrounds and we cannot wait for our fans and their families to enjoy this new hotel concept.”

According to Atari, a design agency called GSD Group and movie producer Napoleon Smith III, who was behind the recent Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot films, will manage the hotels’ designs. Meanwhile, the Arizona-based real estate developer True North Studio will handle actual construction of the first building.

Additional hotels are planned for Las Vegas, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Denver, Austin and San Jose. Interested customers can sign up at the Atarihotels.com website to stay up-to-date on the project.

In the meantime, Atari Interactive is preparing to launch a new retro-themed console. The Atari VCS is slated to start shipping in March starting at $249, and will let you play 100 classic pre-installed Atari games in addition to modern PC games.

Source: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/345603

Accor signs 14 new northern European hotels during first half of 2020

Breaking Travel News – Aug 17, 2020

Despite a challenging first half of the year for the global hospitality industry, hotel giant Accor has signed 14 new properties in Europe during the last six months.

These include four in the UK and Ireland, six in Belgium and four in the Netherlands.

The new signings will collectively add well over 2,000 rooms to the company’s portfolio in the region.

The four signings in the UK and Ireland include the first Fairmont in Ireland, one Tribe, one Mercure and an ibis Budget.

In the luxury division, the historic Carton House is the newly signed Fairmont Hotel situated just outside Dublin.

Accor has also signed Tribe Manchester Airport, a 412-room franchised new build hotel.

This is the second Tribe hotel to be signed in northern Europe this year and marks the expansion of an existing relationship with the owners of ibis Budget Luton and the ibis Budget projects at Manchester and Heathrow Airport.

Tribe Manchester Airport is set to open in 2022.

The first half of the year also saw ten new signings in Benelux, with six important signings in Belgium.

In the first quarter, Belgium welcomed a new brand to northern Europe with the signing of an 83-room Novotel Living, an extended stay brand, at Brussels Airport.

In the second quarter, Benelux saw four new signings in the Netherlands.

The 192-room Tribe Amsterdam North and 110-room Mercure Amsterdam North are both set to open in 2021.

The 137-room Mercure Rotterdam Airport and the 136-room ibis Styles Rotterdam Airport are also due to open next year.

Phillip Lassman, vice president of development, Accor northern Europe, explained: “The first half of the year has posed a unique set of challenges for Accor and the hospitality industry as a whole.

“However, the strength of our proposition remains and through the dedication of the Accor team and hard work of our partners we have delivered an outstanding set of development results, with 14 new signings collectively adding over 2,000 rooms to our network in the past six months.”

Source: https://www.breakingtravelnews.com/news/article/accor-signs-14-new-hotels-during-first-half-of-2020/