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Nobody Asked Me, But� No. 63

Can Airlines Learn From Hotels?; Memo to Ian Schrager;
Cambridge Seeks to Change Hotel Laws,
Impertinent Questions in Search of Pertinent Answers

By Stanley Turkel, MHS, ISHC, April 14, 2010

1.  Can Airlines Learn From Hotels?

In a recent blog (4/8/10) on the HotelNewsNow website, Stephen Hennis stated that,

�Perhaps it would be a worthwhile experiment for the airline industry to take some pointers from the hotel sector and brand each flight appropriately� while hotel brands had the bedding wars, why don�t airlines compete to develop more comfortable seating?  A Heavenly Seat on an airplane would be most welcome.�
While hotels have added amenities (plasma TV�s, IPod connections, more comfortable beds, wireless Internet, free breakfast), most airlines have reduced amenities (free baggage checking, hot meals, free movies, free pillows, free carry-on bags, fuel surcharge).

And now, the worst idea ever proposed by an airline: The Irish airline Ryanair is considering charging passengers as much as $1.50 to use the airplane bathroom on flights lasting less than an hour.  The company says that the charge would allow it to increase profit by removing some restrooms and adding more seats.

What a terrible idea.  As Crain�s New York asked: What�s next: paying for oxygen?

Unfortunately, some hotels are adopting the revenue generating tactics of the airline industry by billing guests for: 

  • Mini-bar restocking fee
  • Baggage holding fee
  • Automatic addition of gratuity to room service bills
  • Room service fees
  • Fee for lost or damaged room service trays

2.  Memo to Ian Schrager

Subject: Acquisition of the Ambassador East Hotel in Chicago.

Ernest Lessing (Ernie) Byfield, Chicago�s best known hotelkeeper in the 1930�s and 40�s, operated the Hotel Sherman Co. (Ambassador East and West, Sherman, Fort Dearborn and the Drake Hotels; the Pump Room and the College Inn).  He described a hotel manager as follows:

�A hotelman must be a master of opposites.  He needs to be a greeter and a bouncer, pious but ribald, an interior decorator and bartender; he must understand the arrangement of flowers and the disposal of garbage; he may be forced into the acquaintanceship with accouchment and embalming; he should appreciate swing music but encourage quiet, be noted as a connoisseur and competent as a plumber; he must walk with beauty, but only walk with it� Only a man of very loose moral character should accept the job.�
When the famous international chef Martial Noguier came to the Pump Room in the 1980�s he was stuck by the �magical quality of the room�.  He was referring to a time when founder-hotelier Byfield presided over a dining room lit up every few minutes by a waiter in turban and Arabian garb, carrying flaming food on swords to guests� tables.  Byfield was fond of saying, �we serve almost everything flambé in that room.  It doesn�t hurt the food much.� This prompted humorist Robert Benchley to quip, �Any minute now they�ll be bringing in the manager on a flaming sword.�

3.  Cambridge Seeks To Change Hotel Laws

Click here to read an article that appeared in the Boston Globe (April 7, 2010) by Brock Parker.

4.  Impertinent Questions In Search of Pertinent Answers

Question:   How is it possible that the largest hotel franchise companies can advertise for new franchisees without even mentioning the major issues: territorial protection, termination and windows provisions, liquidated damages, choice of venue, dispute resolution, vendor exclusivity, minimum performance, etc.?

Question:   Do Radisson franchisees agree with the Carlson�s �Ambition 2015� campaign which will require them to spend $900 million in the next five years?

Question:   In light of one-sided franchise agreements, which are mostly non-negotiable, can any objective-minded hotelier rely on the conclusion reached in a recent Cornell Hospitality Research Brief?: 

�Research Question:  We investigate brand-specific investments (BSIs) by hotels belonging to two major North American hotel brands and the role these investments play in safeguarding the relationship and creating value for both partners.

Results:  Our results show the conditions under which brand-specific investments safeguard the relationship by protecting against opportunism, and enhance a hotel�s performance�..

In summary, the key action implication of the results of this study is that by building closer relationships between hotels and the brands affiliated with them, both benefit because each party acts in the best interests of the relationship leading to higher performance for both.�

5. Quote of the Month

We can have a democracy or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of the few.  We cannot have both.
        Justice Louis Brandeis
Please take note that Stanley Turkel, MHS, ISHC has just published �Great American Hoteliers: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry.� It contains 359 pages, 25 illustrations and 16 chapters devoted to each of the following pioneers: John McEntee Bowman, Carl Graham Fisher, Henry Morrison Flagler, John Q. Hammons, Frederick Henry Harvey, Ernest Henderson, Conrad Nicholson Hilton, Howard Dearing Johnson, J. Willard Marriott, Kanjibhai Patel, Henry Bradley Plant, George Mortimer Pullman, A.M. Sonnabend, Ellsworth Milton Statler, Juan Terry Trippe and Kemmons Wilson.  It also has a foreword by Stephen Rushmore, preface, introduction, bibliography and index. Visit to order the book.

Stanley Turkel, MHS, ISHC
[email protected]

Also See: Nobody Asked Me, But No. 62 / Do the Radisson Franchisees Agree with Carlson's billion-dollar Makeover Program? At Last: A Win-Win Victory for Tourism; Congratulations to the Harris Rosen Foundation / Stanley Turkel / March 2010

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