Every company in the travel industry wants to know who their best customers are. If you’re a frequent flyer, hotel guest, or rental car customer, it’s always smart to join a preferred customer program.
Take Kimpton Hotels, for example. The hotel chain recently rolled out what it calls Kimpton Karma Awards. There are four tiers. You achieve higher levels by staying more often, and awards follow accordingly.
Just sign up, and you’ll get free Wi-fi at Kimpton hotels and $10 toward a drink at the bar or from the mini-bar. Rack up three stays in a year or stay 10 nights, and the second tier will get you a $30 in-room spa credit and complimentary upgrade upon check in depending on availability.
Stay seven times–or 20 nights–and you’ll get late check out, a welcome amenity, and two upgrades in a year. At the top tier, which requires 14 stays or 40 room nights, you’ll earn comp nights faster, and the company will even give you direct access to Kimpton’s CEO.
We all know airlines offer a wide range of extras to elite frequent flyers. But don’t overlook programs offered by Hilton, Starwood, Hyatt, and most other major hotel companies.
A month or so ago, I did a “Travel Minute” about folks who dress as cartoon and action figure characters and hang around Manhattan’s Times Square hoping to pick up a few bucks posing for photos with tourists’ children. It was becoming a problem, and it appears with the recent arrest of Spiderman, things are going to change.
Some of those folks in costumes have gotten quite pushy. Or they try to charge foreigners ridiculous sums. Super Mario was accused a while back of groping a woman, and an Elmo figure pleaded guilty to a disorderly conduct charge after delivering an anti-Semitic tirade.
But most recently, it was Spiderman’s turn in the barrel. He was arrested for allegedly punching a policeman who confronted him about charging tourists $10 for each photograph with him. And when his buddy, Naked Black Cowboy, turned up at the police station to check on him, he was frisked and arrested for possession of cocaine.
A police officer called these not-so-lovable characters “little terrorists preying on tourists,” and I agree it’s gotten out of hand. Sesame Workshop is considering suing panhandlers dressed up as Sesame Street creations without permission, and the City Council may require licensing.
Good idea, I think.
Airlines want to keep planes in the air as long as possible because a plane on the ground doesn’t earn any money. They’ve forever tried to figure out the most efficient way to board passengers in order to avoid a delayed departure.
I’ve flown airlines that board folks with seats in the back first, followed by everyone else. Or everyone with window seats boarded followed by middle seat and then aisle seat passengers.
Dr. Jason Steffen works as a scientist at the Fermilab Center for Particle Astrophysics, and he decided he wanted to figure out the ultimate answer. He created a computer model of passengers boarding with luggage, and he learned the least efficient way to board was back to front. Even though it sounds logical, only one passenger can put their luggage away in the overhead at a time, so you have one passenger stashing his luggage while another several wait.
So what’s the most efficient way?
Dr. Steffen says sending passengers in so adjacent passengers in line are seated two rows apart. That way, the most passengers can get situated at the same time without bumping into others. Now you know.
Believe it or not, there is a guesthouse in the fancy town of Hudson, NY, that will charge you $500 if you hold a function at their place and any of your guests post a negative review of the property on the Internet.
The Union Street Guest House, according to the NY Post, charges couples $500 if any of their guests posts a negative review on any internet site following a stay there.
When I read this, I called the inn immediately for comment. I didn’t receive a call back, nor did the NY Post. However, the Post reported the policy is stated on line, and quotes it. But several hours after reading about this, I went to B&B’s website and looked under “rates & policies” and also read the site’s section detailing rules for events and weddings and saw no mention of this ridiculous policy.
Since I received no answer to a call and email, and I soon learned the inn quickly removed the stipulation saying it was a joke. But that’s not what one guest said when he received a letter from the place demanding a guest retract a negative on-line review or his credit card would be hit for cash.
I’d suggest the inn’s owners remember the first amendment. You don’t like something someone writes? Sue ‘em. It’s the American way.
Unless you’ve spent a lot of time following congressional legislation, the buzz around a bill the House of Representatives passed last month might have escaped your attention. It’s not law yet because the Senate hasn’t voted, but you might not like it.
It’s titled the “Transparent Airfares Act,” and airlines want it badly because they want to post only the actual airfare part of a ticket’s price when advertising fares. Given that taxes and fees add an appreciable amount of money to a ticket, consumer groups are complaining loudly that not including those costs—as they are now when you comparison shop fares—constitutes tricky advertising.
I talked with the CEO of Spirit Airlines recently about this, and he says he supports this legislation even as its opponents complain this move is just the opposite of “transparent.” Ben Baldanza of Spirit says you don’t see the cost of something you buy at a store or a meal at a restaurant with the tax included until you end the transaction.
I said, yeah, but we’re not always doing side-by-side comparisons on the price of a sport coat or a hamburger. Plus, taxes on those items vary city to city and state to state. Not so with airline tickets.
I hope the Senate kills this bill.
Here’s a petition you can sign if you agree with me.