In this space this week we take a moment to share some rants and raves about recent events, accomplishments and failures. They deserve recognition -- but we don't always mean that in a good way.
For starters, boo to ARC, which has raised the stakes in what might be called the debit memo wars with agents. As we understand it, ARC now regards a credit card chargeback as the equivalent of an improperly reported or unreported sale, which can trigger a default declaration if not promptly attended to. Most sensible agency managers do promptly attend to these matters, but as Travel Weekly columnist Mark Pestronk explained it in two recent columns, ARC has given itself the authority to declare an agency in default over one debit memo in such cases. That's a little harsh, even for ARC.
Kudos to MainStay Suites, a Choice extended stay brand, for a refreshing new advertising theme: "Hotels for real life." Working with Arnold Worldwide, Choice's ad agency, MainStay has come up with what we think is a winning ad.
The ad depicts a hotel guest, in his shorts, rooting around the in-suite refrigerator, looking for a snack in the middle of the night. Who hasn't been there, done that?
Chris Kornmayer, the brand's senior director of marketing and strategy, says the idea was to come up with a campaign that was a little different from what other hotels are doing in their ads: showing "nice stuff, beauty shots, lobby shots."
We like it. It's a reminder that when it's 3 a.m. and you're padding around in your shorts looking for a snack, you're not thinking "lifestyle."
We're tempted to boo the European Commission for coming up with technical standards to accommodate mobile phone usage on European airlines. Under this plan, airlines wishing to offer the service would have, in effect, a local "cell" on the airplane, which would relay transmissions to and from the ground in a manner that would not interfere with the aircraft.
That's good news for those travelers who want mobile phone service at 30,000 feet and good news for airlines seeking new revenue sources, but it's the worst sort of bad news for flyers who dread the idea of the constant yammering that could result. Until the airlines can figure out a way to match Amtrak's "quiet car," a zone where no phones are allowed, we're still on the fence with this one. Call it a shrug.
Boo to British Airways and the BAA, operator of London's Heathrow and its famously malfunctioning new Terminal 5. They've embarrassed the Queen and given us another primer -- one we didn't need -- on how not to launch a new airport terminal. It's not been a good year for "the world's favourite airline." We hope it manages to do something right, soon.
Kudos to Priceline on its 10th anniversary. At first we just didn't know what to make of the William Shatner thing, but it's working for both of them.
Sandals deserves kudos for rounding out its product line with a new brand for budget-minded travelers, Grand Pineapple. But we're shrugging over the name. We love pineapples, actually, but they make us think of Hawaii rather than the Caribbean.
Maybe we'll get over it.