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Item 1A. Risk Factors.

Forward-Looking Statements

We make forward-looking statements in Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations and elsewhere in this Annual Report based on the beliefs and assumptions of our management and on information currently available to us. Forward-looking statements include information about our possible or assumed future results of operations, which follow under the captions “Business and Overview,” “Liquidity and Capital Resources,” and other statements throughout this Annual Report preceded by, followed by, or that include the words “believes,” “expects,” “anticipates,” “intends,” “plans,” “estimates,” or similar expressions.

Any number of risks and uncertainties could cause actual results to differ materially from those we express in our forward-looking statements, including the risks and uncertainties we describe below and other factors we describe from time to time in our periodic filings with the SEC. We therefore caution you not to rely unduly on any forward-looking statement. The forward-looking statements in this Annual Report speak only as of the date of this Annual Report, and we undertake no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statement, whether due to new information, future developments, or otherwise.

Risks and Uncertainties

We are subject to various risks that make an investment in our securities risky. The events and consequences discussed in these risk factors could, in circumstances we may or may not be able to accurately predict, recognize, or control, have a material adverse effect on our business, growth, reputation, prospects, financial condition, operating results (including components of our financial results), cash flows, liquidity, and stock price. In addition, these risks could cause results to differ materially from those we express in forward-looking statements contained in this Annual Report or in other Company communications. These risk factors do not identify all risks that we face; our operations could also be affected by factors, events, or uncertainties that are not presently known to us or that we currently do not consider to present significant risks to our operations. Because there is no way to determine in advance whether, or to what extent, any present uncertainty will ultimately impact our business, you should give equal weight to each of the following:

Our industry is highly competitive, which may impact our ability to compete successfully for guests with other hotel properties and home sharing or rental services. We operate in markets that contain many competitors. Each of our hotel brands and our home rental offering competes with major hotel chains, regional hotel chains, independent hotels, and home sharing and rental services across national and international venues. Our ability to remain competitive and attract and retain business and leisure travelers depends on our success in distinguishing the quality, value, and efficiency of our lodging products and services, including our Loyalty Program, direct booking channels, and consumer-facing technology platforms and services, from those offered by others. If we cannot compete successfully in these areas, our operating margins could contract, our market share could decrease, and our earnings could decline. Further, new lodging supply in individual markets could have a negative impact on the hotel industry and hamper our ability to increase room rates or occupancy in those markets.

Economic downturns and other global, national, and regional conditions could impact our financial results and growth. Because we conduct our business on a global platform, changes in global, national, or regional economies, governmental policies (including in areas such as trade, travel, immigration, healthcare, and related issues), and geopolitical conditions impact our activities. Our business is impacted by decreases in travel resulting from weak economic conditions, changes in energy prices and currency values, political instability, heightened travel security measures, travel advisories, disruptions in air travel, and concerns over disease, violence, war, or terrorism. Our performance could be materially affected if these conditions arise or extend longer than anticipated, or in other circumstances that we are not able to predict or mitigate.

During the last recession when demand for hotel rooms declined significantly, particularly in 2009, we took steps to reduce operating costs and improve efficiency and such cost controls could again become necessary if demand significantly declines. Our efforts to implement any such changes in a manner designed to maintain guest loyalty, owner preference, and associate satisfaction may not be successful, and our market share may suffer as a result.

In addition, U.S. government travel and travel associated with U.S. government operations are a significant part of our business, which can suffer due to U.S. federal spending cuts, government hiring restrictions, or other spending limitations that may result from presidential or congressional action or inaction, including for example, a U.S. federal government shutdown, such as the partial shutdown that occurred in December 2018 and January 2019.