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Discounted room rate is most popular hotel incentive, survey says

What are the marketing gimmicks used most widely by hotel operators to attract guests?

Room discounts, followed by free Wi-Fi and other amenities.

A survey of more than 25,000 hotel owners and managers in North America by the travel website TripAdvisor found that discounted rooms were offered by 58% of U.S. hotels surveyed. It was 63% in Mexico and 53% in Canada.

“Regionally, it seems that the industry tends to use some of the same methods of attracting travelers,” TripAdvisor spokesman Kevin Carter said.

The next most popular incentive was “special amenities,” as the survey put it, naming free Wi-Fi as an example. In the U.S., 44% of hotels offered the amenities to guests. Perhaps the most alluring promotion for travelers is a free night’s stay — only 14% of hotels in the U.S. offered that, compared with 34% in Canada.

Other incentives offered by U.S. hotels included free parking (31%) and free newspapers (20%).

American Airlines offers luggage delivery

Starting Monday, American Airlines will offer to deliver your luggage direct to your home, office or hotel so you can skip the baggage carousel.

Of course, it costs extra.

The new service will cost a minimum of $29.95 for one bag, $39.95 for two bags and $49.95 for three to 10 bags.

That will get your luggage delivered to a location within 40 miles of the destination airport. But if the final destination for your bags is farther, you pay an extra $1 per mile.

The charges will be on top of the usual checked bag fee of $25 for the first bag, $35 for the second and $150 for additional luggage.

American is partnering with Bags VIP Luggage Delivery for the service.

Here’s how it works: You order the service online when you book a flight and drop off your luggage at the airport ticket counter. When you get to your destination, you skip the carousel and your luggage is delivered to the address you designated.

The service will be offered at about 200 airports across the country, including Los Angeles International Airport, Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana and Ontario International Airport.

“We think this service will be especially valuable to families traveling with children as well as our business travelers who need to go straight to a meeting or into the office,” said David Vance, the airline’s managing director for customer operations planning.

US Airways economy travelers can pay for meal upgrades

US Airways is giving passengers in the economy section on some routes the chance to eat like the well-heeled folks in the front of the plane.

Last week, the Tempe, Ariz., airline began to offer economy passengers traveling to Europe, the Middle East and South America the choice to upgrade their meals for an extra charge of $19.95 per meal.

A sample premium meal: citrus-marinated chicken skewers on Mediterranean orzo topped with mango chutney, served with lavosh crackers, shrimp cocktail, marinated grilled vegetables and crème brûlée cheesecake with fresh berries.

Vegetarians can order portobello tortellini marinated in sun-dried tomato pesto, served with caprese salad, lavosh crackers, hummus, baba ganoush and turtle cheesecake with fresh berries.

The premium meals are served with a choice of a Chardonnay from Northern Italy, a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand or a Cabernet Sauvignon from Argentina, among other wines.

If you don’t want to spend the extra money, you can still get the complimentary meal of pasta, beef stroganoff or chipotle chicken on international flights.

hugo.martin@latimes.com

Gay equality the rule among many of the nation’s airlines and hotels

Hyatt_CapHill.jpgReleased yesterday, the Human Rights Campaign’s 2012 Corporate Equality Index chronicles the remarkable advances that have taken place on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality in the workplace since 2002.

The CEI rates companies on 40 specific policies and practices, 32 of which are new or more demanding this year. To achieve a perfect score and the coveted distinction of “Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality,” companies must have fully-inclusive equal employment opportunity policies, provide equal employment benefits, demonstrate organizational LGBT competency, evidence their commitment to equality publicly and exercise responsible citizenship.

In the first year of the CEI, only 13 businesses achieved a top score. This year, 190 corporations, across industries, geographies and size, earned a 100 percent score on significantly more stringent criteria.

Even with the new scoring criteria, most of the nation’s leading hotel and airline companies received high scores.

Airlines:

  • Alaska Air Group Inc. (Alaska Airlines/Horizon Air): 90
  • AMR Corp. (American Airlines): 100
  • Delta Air Lines: 90
  • JetBlue Airways Group: 90
  • Southwest Airlines Co.: 90
  • United Continental Holdings Inc.: 100
  • US Airways Group: 85
  • Virgin America: 90

Hotels:

  • Caesars Entertainment Corp. (Caesars/Harrah’s): 100
  • Carlson Companies Inc. (Radisson): 85
  • Choice Hotels International Inc.: 100
  • Hyatt Hotels Corp: 100
  • Kimpton Hotels and Restaurant Group Inc.: 100
  • Marriott International Inc.: 90
  • MGM Resorts International: 90
  • Starwood Hotel and Resorts Worldwide (W Hotels/Westin): 100
  • Wyndam Worldwide Corp: 90
  • Wynn Resorts Ltd.: 90

As a result of HRC’s new scoring criteria Hilton Hotels Corp. and InterContinental Hotels Group Americas scores dropped significantly. With a score of 60, Hilton dropped 30 points from the previous year; and InterContinental received a 65, down from 85.

Hilton released the following statement:

Hilton Worldwide strives to be a welcoming and inclusive workplace for LGBT employees. We have a solid foundation in place, including an equal employment opportunity policy and spousal and partner benefits, but we also acknowledge that there’s more work to be done. We are proud of our public commitment to LGBT issues, including our ongoing relationships with the Human Rights Campaign, International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association, National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Out and Equal Workplace Advocates and Reaching Out MBA. For example, we were a platinum sponsor of the HRC National Dinner this year. We are also building out our LGBT employee group, and our director of PR for our Hilton Hotels and Resorts brand was selected as a 2011 ‘Tastemaker’ by Out.

HRC’s complete report including the scoring criteria is available online.

READ:

American Airlines press release

Caesars press release

Choice Hotels press release

Hyatt press release

Marriott press release

MGM Resorts press release

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