Have you ever driven past a hotel – say, a Hilton – and the next week the same hotel is a Marriott? It happens in the hotel industry from time to time. Now it is easy track these branding changes, called re-flagging in the industry. STR Analytics actually reviews this information and maintains a huge database. They have tracked around 90,000 brand changes over the past 25 years and some of their results may be surprising.
While 60% of properties have never changed their brand, another 20% have changed once. The remainder have changed brands at least twice. Independent hotels are much more likely to remain that way, twice as long as branded properties.
Upscale brands are the least likely to switch, though higher tier luxury and upper upscale are slightly more common. Midscale and economy are the most frequent to re-flag. Despite averaging over 3,000 brand changes a year, STR maintains that most properties are very loyal to their first brand. However, once a property changes their flag, it is not that uncommon for them to change again.
[Hotel News Now - How Long Does a Brand Last]
Yes, this was a Travel Avalanche. I have pretty good travel karma but it caught up to me on a recent trip. While I blogged about it here for my trip from Norway to Colorado Springs and here for the return trip, Joe Sharkey of the New York Times felt there were some lessons to be learned for other travelers.
Here’s the summary:
- Original outbound flight plan was KRS-CPH-EWR-ORD-COS.
- KRS-CPH flight was canceled due to airline strike, re-routed OSL-EWR which required a five-hour bus ride in the rain to get to OSL.
- Stayed overnight at OSL (after being assigned an already-occupied room), flew out the following morning OSL-EWR.
- EWR-ORD flight was canceled due to weather. Re-routed EWR-DEN with a delay. Lost my paid-for first-class seat.
- Flew DEN-COS in a tiny regional jet to finally arrive at destination, amazingly only four hours later than originally planned.
- Original return flight plan was COS-IAD-CPH-KRS.
- Because of coding error, entire return ticket was canceled but checked bag made the flight anyway. Red flag – checked bag on an international flight with no accompanying passenger.
- After more than an hour of discussion, had to purchase new same-day international ticket and re-routed COS-ORD-AMS-KRS with no checked bags. Another TSA red flag!
- Arrived safely but checked bag was delayed. It arrived two days later.
But it could have been worse. At least I wasn’t sent to the wrong continent! Talk about coding errors on a ticket!
I can count on one hand the number of times I check a bag when I fly. Why was it checked on this flight? Because in my luggage was a blender that I use to make smoothies. The blender blade could not pass through TSA security. So I learned a valuable lesson for future travel: When something like this blade makes it impossible to carry on a bag, that item needs to put into a separate checked bag while my other items – clothing, toiletries, etc… – can still be carried on with me.
Like all newspaper articles, it wasn’t long enough to give enough thoughts to help others so here are some things that may help prevent your own Travelanche:
- Once you become aware of an issue (weather, strike, etc.), take action right away. I waited until the end of my business day and by then all flight alternatives were gone. Worse, even train tickets were sold out.
- You may not be aware of all the various options to get from Point A to Point B. Enlist the help of your travel agent if you use one, your hotel’s concierge, local folks, or even Google. The corporate travel agent I went through only mentioned a car rental possibility. A local person mentioned taking a taxi but it was the hotel staff that alerted me to the bus option. I am glad I did not stop at the car rental suggestion for the trip from Kristiansand to Oslo, instead asking, “How else can I get there?”
- Never, ever let your luggage go on a different itinerary than you. The airline agent had good intentions when she got my bag moving along the conveyor belt. The deadline for bag checking was fast approaching and she had thought she had my return ticket situation figured out. As my bag rolled out of sight, she realized that my ticket still had issues. Alas, the bag made the flight but I did not.
- Take a photo of your checked bag(s). Luckily I did this and was easily able to show the Norwegian-speaking baggage agent what my bag looked like as I filed my missing bag claim.
- When filing a missing bag claim, get a copy of the actual claim form. I didn’t. All I received was a handwritten claim number along with being told to go to track the status on klm.com. My claim never did show up on their missing bag tracking site.
- Get a phone number for the local baggage claim office. I know better but forgot to do this. Trying to get ahold of the local office was darn frustrating as I bounced between United and KLM’s baggage claim departments. (My bag went via United and SAS; I traveled via KLM.)
- Ask for an overnight amenity kit from the baggage claim office. Being an eternal optimist, I figured that my bag would show up before the end of the day but shame on me, I should have known better. Toothpaste and hair brushes are expensive in Norway as I found out in my rush to get a few supplies. Stores close at 6pm so it was a mad rush after business meetings to get just the minimum needs in preparation for the next day’s business meetings.
Sometimes travel events are beyond our control, other times it is a matter of choosing between the lesser of evils. I got caught up in this, though I admit with embarrassment my own mea culpa for things I could have done better. My hope is that exposing my failures will help you in your future travels so you never have to go through a Travelanche like I did.
I know, this is heresy. Writing a blog about driving? I mean, you don’t earn miles or points by just driving so who cares?
Well, I thought I would pass this along because: (a) many business travelers actually do drive for their work; (b) many leisure travelers pack up their cars for vacations and (c) many of us sit in traffic on our way to the airport. Besides, none of us travel all the time so this may have some other applications. INRIX released their annual survey of traffic congestion and some of the results are at least modestly surprising.
Worst U.S. city for traffic congestion is no surprise at all. Read More…
“This car is unlike anything you’ve ever driven,” my instructor said over the roar of a 560 horsepower engine. That could be the understatement of the year. I was driving a Lamborghini Gallardo around the inside track of Daytona International Speedway, and kept saying to myself, “Wow, he’s not kidding.”
Of course this didn’t happen by chance. I was there on an invite by Exotic Driving Experience, a company that lets you live out your dreams and get behind the wheel of a Supercar on some of America’s greatest racetracks. Even though I took the Gallardo around Daytona, you could take a Ferrari 458 around Charlotte Motor Speedway or an Aston Martin Virage around Texas Motor Speedway.
You start off by booking the car you would like to drive. Read More…
Hyatt announced new guest offerings today for their HYATT house extended stay brand.
- Very Important Resident (VIR) program: Guests staying 30+ nights will receive personalized perks to make their transition from home to hotel even easier, including complimentary food and laundry credits, a pick-your suite option, VIP welcome amenities and more!
- The Morning Spread: Complimentary breakfast featuring a made-to-order Omelet Bar, as well as oatmeal, yogurts, fresh fruit and other breakfast goodness. Guests will also find more balanced items, including vegetarian and gluten-free options.
- Hyatt Has It – Borrows: A service that allows guests to borrow items commonly forgotten at home or that just weren’t practical to pack, such as phone chargers, curling irons, blenders and more.
Beginning today, HYATT house is also helping guests stay connected to friends, family and colleagues while on the road with the option create, customize and send two free Postagram Postcards from the HYATT house Facebook page.
For me this is of special interest since I often travel with an immersion blender to make my morning protein shakes. Borrowing a blender would save me checking a bag (airport security won’t allow the blender blade in my carry-on bag). I also appreciate made-to-order omelets at hotels.
Listened to this recording over the weekend between Marketwatch reporter Kelli Grant and Wall Street Journal’s Gordon Deal discussing the value of frequent flier programs. While they concede that frequent flier programs have value for those who fly, well, frequently, both feel the benefits are very limited for those who fly infrequently.
In part, their point is okay but it is also somewhat shortsighted. If you are savvy enough to learn the best ways to accumulate miles – even if you fly only once a year – it is quite easy to earn enough miles to fly at least economy for free on an airline. And I am not talking about churning credit card accounts, which can easily earn you way more than enough for an airline ticket. Just follow some basic steps and free flights will come your way… Read More…
Miami International Airport (MIA) has seen a very high number of bomb scares in recent years but this story caught my attention. Seriously, a shipment of gold valued at $625,000 was received at MIA and no one knows where it went? Wow, talk about a lost luggage problem!
Seems the gold was loaded onto a luggage cart by AA handlers. The cart was found about an hour later in front of another gate. No surprise, the gold was missing. Hopefully the other passengers all received their bags timely.
Thanks to this article, we learn that gold is the #1 import at MIA with a value of nearly $8 billion. Thanks, never knew that.
On a recent cruise with my husband, he heard other passengers talking about spotting a warship at sea. Since this was the territory between mainland China and Japan, the possibilities were numerous. Did they see a North Korean vessel? Was it a warship from China, Korea, or Japan? Because of the concerns at the time, maybe it was a U.S. ship.
Of course, I didn’t see my husband after that. He was running from port to starboard with his camera, hoping he would see this famed ship. Alas, all he saw was the ship in the photo. He ruled out foreign vessels because of the markings but a Google search turned up nothing.
Anyone know the nationality of this ship? For that matter, what type of vessel is it? My husband says it does not fit the profile of a frigate, much less a cruiser or destroyer. All opinions are welcome.
Yesterday, United Airlines announced a new benefit for small businesses. Called MileagePlus Small Business Network (MPSBN), basically it means that if you are part of a qualifying small business in the United States, you can earn MP miles not only as passengers but also earn miles for your business. Not sure why United calls this Read More…
I reported on the three days of the BoardingArea BAcon Conference here; BAcon Day 1, BAcon Day 2, and BAcon Day 3. I also talked about my travel ordeals to and from here and here. Now, a quick look back at the overall value of the time spent in Colorado Springs.
With more than a quarter century of business travel, I have attended well over a hundred conferences. Some have been a day or two, others required a week or more. Whether it’s called a conference, convention, seminar, or workshop, what all of them have in common is a focus on value – trying to squeeze the best content into a brief period of time. Here is what makes one better than another.
For most attendees, convenient location is at the top of the list. It is not surprising, then, that Read More…
As passengers, we really do want airlines to be profitable. In my 25+ years of travel, I have survived airline failures, strikes, bankruptcies, mergers, takeovers, consolidations, and wild up/down swings in earnings. Consistent profitability is good, but from the passenger side, the trend is not our friend.
You hear this all the time from the airlines: “We appreciate your loyalty.”
But do airlines really appreciate our loyalty? Delta Air Lines CEO Richard Anderson received over 40% increase in compensation this year, understandably due to Read More…