Unpacking social media in the hotel industry

A Yelp users looks at the page for the Godfrey Hotel.  The Chicago hotel subscribes to Check Mate, a mobile platform that allows hotels to track the social influence of its guests. / megan k. rauch / MEDILL
A Yelp user looks at reviews for the Godfrey Hotel. The Chicago hotel subscribes to CheckMate, a mobile platform that allows hotels to track the social influence of its guests. / megan k. rauch / MEDILL

By Megan K. Rauch

Seth Rau is a self-described travel junkie. The Ohio native has visited nearly all 50 states and countless countries. Rau says he enjoys exploring new hotels and restaurants, and he frequently writes reviews of them on Yelp and TripAdvisor, both online review sites.

On a recent trip to Argentina, Rau was pleasantly surprised to discover that the boutique hotel where he was staying had given him a 10 percent discount on his bill. The reduction came after the hotel staff had seen that Rau had written a favorable review on TripAdvisor, which specializes in hotel reviews. Continue reading “Unpacking social media in the hotel industry”

To focus on building brands, Hyatt adopts “asset-light” model

The Hyatt property in the Chicago Loop is currently undergoing renovations.  Hyatt has been using capital generated by lightening its assets to make various improvements to existing hotels, to build its brand and to expand the company worldwide.  / megan k. rauch / MEDILL
The Hyatt property in the Chicago Loop is currently undergoing renovations. Hyatt has been using capital generated by lightening its assets to make various improvements to existing hotels, to build its brand and to expand the company worldwide. / megan k. rauch / MEDILL

By Megan K. Rauch

Chicago-based Hyatt Hotels Corp. recognizes that for many business travelers, there are few things distinguishing one hotel chain from another.  And company officials want to change that for Hyatt guests.

Continue reading “To focus on building brands, Hyatt adopts “asset-light” model”

Chicagoans stage peaceful sit-in following Ferguson announcement

By Megan K. Rauch

Demonstrators camped outside Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office Tuesday to protest urban violence and racial discrimination.
Demonstrators camped outside Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office Tuesday to protest urban violence and racial discrimination.

More than 100 people gathered outside Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s fifth-floor office at City Hall Tuesday for a sit-in to address urban violence, police brutality and the lack of economic opportunity for blacks in Chicago.

The protest follows the announcement Monday that Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson will not face criminal indictment for fatally shooting Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old.

Continue reading “Chicagoans stage peaceful sit-in following Ferguson announcement”

Priceline shares plummet on weak European outlook

photo-4
A customer uses priceline.com, one of the Priceline Group’s online travel booking sites. / megan k. rauch / MEDILL

Megan K. Rauch

A dismal outlook for Priceline Group Inc.’s fourth quarter could not offset better-than-expected earnings for the third quarter, causing shares of the travel booking company to drop 8.4 percent Tuesday. Continue reading “Priceline shares plummet on weak European outlook”

MGM continues to improve but earnings remain below expectations

photo-3
Texas Hold ‘Em. / megan k. rauch / MEDILL

By Megan K. Rauch

MGM Resort International’s earnings remained in the red for the third quarter, but the casino operator continues to rebound from a bankruptcy scare in 2009.

Net loss for the third quarter narrowed to $20.3 million, or 4 cents per diluted share, from $22.3 million, or five cents per diluted in the year-ago quarter. Revenue increased one percent to $2.49 billion from $2.46 billion.

Continue reading “MGM continues to improve but earnings remain below expectations”

Rising costs and overseas slowdown hurt Hyatt earnings

photo-3
The Hyatt Hotels Corp. property in Chicago’s Loop is currently undergoing renovations. / megan k. rauch / MEDILL

By Megan K. Rauch

Shares of Hyatt Hotels Corp. came under pressure Wednesday, after the Chicago company, pinched by higher costs and slow international growth, released disappointing third quarter earnings.

Net income for the company dropped 42 percent to $32 million, or 21 cents per diluted share, from $55 million in income, or 35 cents per  share in the year-earlier period. The lodging corporation reported $1.1 billion in revenue for the quarter ended Sept. 30, up from $1.03 billion a year earlier.

Continue reading “Rising costs and overseas slowdown hurt Hyatt earnings”

Jobless claims, leading indicators boost optimism on the economy

photo 2
Stores in the Chicago Loop are seeking new employees, which indicates continued strength in the job market. / megan k. rauch / MEDILL

By Megan Rauch

A gauge of the number of people joining the ranks of the unemployed fell to the lowest level since 2000, while the index of leading economic indicators rose more than expected, according to two reports Thursday that painted a reassuring picture of the economy. Continue reading “Jobless claims, leading indicators boost optimism on the economy”

U.S. stocks soar after Fed minutes

The Chicago Federal Reserve Bank / megan k. rauch / MEDILL
The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago / Megan K. Rauch / MEDILL

 

by Megan K. Rauch

Stock prices surged Wednesday afternoon, after the release of the latest minutes from the Federal Reserve suggested interest rates might remain near zero farther into the future.

The minutes make it clear that the Federal Open Market Committee, which controls interest rates, is increasingly wary that issues abroad could impact the U.S. economy going forward.  Disappointing economic conditions in Europe and Asia and the growing strength of the U.S. dollar on the economy were among the biggest concerns for the Fed.

At the September meeting, the FOMC affirmed its March decision to not raise interest rates zero for a “considerable time,” even as the committee noted that the economy is improving at a moderate pace.

The Fed still plans to wind down its bond-buying program, an economic stimulus effort known as Quantitative Easing, by the end of this month.  The question investors are focused on is how far into the future the Fed will actually begin raising interest.  The tenor of Wednesday’s minutes seemed to indicate that hikes aren’t imminent, despite a recent spate of strong economic reports in the U.S.

That’s because of concerns over softening economies overseas.  “Some participants expressed concern that the persistent shortfall of economic growth and inflation in the Euro area could lead to a further appreciation of the dollar and have adverse effects on the U.S. external sector. Several participants added that slower economic growth in China or Japan or unanticipated events in the Middle East or Ukraine might pose a similar risk,” the September minutes said.

Continue reading “U.S. stocks soar after Fed minutes”

Global weakness hits U.S. stocks for third straight day

photo
Chicago’s Willis Tower megan k. rauch/MEDILL

Signs of weakness in the U.S. manufacturing economy and concerns about global growth drove the major stock indexes down Wednesday to their lowest levels since mid-August.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 238.19 points, or 1.4 percent, to close at 16804.71. The S&P 500 Index lost 26.13 points, or 1.3 percent, to close at 1946.16. The Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 71.3 points, or 1.6 percent, to close at 4422.09.

Treasury securities rallied as investors fled the stock market, sending the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note down to 2.40 percent compared with Tuesday’s closing yield of 2.49 percent. Continue reading “Global weakness hits U.S. stocks for third straight day”