Steve’s 2020 annual top 10 hotel pet peeves –

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As you know I travel a lot (except for the last 4 months). During my travels, I stay in a lot of different hotel rooms and I am able to notice a lot of things that are good, bad and ugly about hotels. Every year I update my annual list of top 10 hotel pet peeves. I hope you enjoy it; some of these are repeats from last year but too good to fall off the list. Let me know what I need to add to the list for next year.

Hotel pet peeve #1 – Telephones with 500 buttons – I want phones with zero buttons. When I pick up the phone I want to talk to a live person at the front desk. I do not want 500 buttons to push for everything from Concierge to the spa. When you are in bed and need glasses to read, the last thing you need is more small buttons. “Keep it Simple Stupid” is my new mantra. Sometimes it is easier for me to grab my iPhone and ask Siri to call the hotel front desk than using the hotel phone beside my bed. The good news is I think hotels will soon replace room phones with Alexa or Google Home so that guests can simply ask the machine for what they want. Plus this will also replace the TV remote. WOW!

Hotel pet peeve #2 – Alarm clocks with 500 buttons – The hotels just do not get it. The average person does not want to spend 30 minutes learning how to program their alarm clock so they are awakened by the sound of a babbling brook followed by the chirping of the bluebirds in the morning. They want a simple alarm clock that is easy to set and even easier to turn off. I can’t tell you the number of times I could not figure out how to shut off the bloody alarm clock. Keep it simple and make everyone happy. Luckily, in this day and age, every cell phone has an alarm clock. I have gotten so frustrated with the hotel alarm clocks I now just simply use my cell phone as my alarm. I can always count on it.

Hotel pet peeve #3 – Programmable thermostats – Once again I want a simple thermostat (that works) to tell you it is 74 degrees in BIG LETTERS and has one button to make the temperature warmer and one button to make the temperature cooler. I also want the temperature display to be backlit so it can be read at night. Is that too much to ask? Hotels this past year have done a much better job with thermostats that are easy to read and program.

Hotel pet peeve #4 – Hotel shampoo bottles with letters too small to read without glasses – Just about 10 years ago I had great eyesight. Today I have to have reading glasses to read almost anything. How come they make the shampoo bottles so hard to read that you almost have to wear glasses into the shower? I usually find that many hotels have body wash, shampoo, conditioner, and body lotion bottles. Without my glasses, I could be using body lotion for conditioner and body wash for shampoo. All they need to do is put in big letters on the bottle, SHAMPOO. This area will hopefully be changing a lot in the future as hotels move away from disposable bottles to shampoo dispensers. Let’s hope they make the letters big enough to read.

Hotel pet peeve #5 – Charging for Wi-Fi – It still burns me that some of the best hotels charge $10-$15 per day for internet access in the room. If McDonald’s can provide free Wi-Fi so can Marriott.

Hotel pet peeve #6 – Resort fees – Seems like every hotel today charges you a resort fee of $25 to $75 per day for access to the workout room, to receive a paper, and swim in the pool. Give me a break. This is simply just one way for hotels to hide additional fees so they don’t show up online. One of the Core Values of Executive Travel is “Make Mom Proud”. Hotels charging resort fees would not pass the “Make Mom Proud” test.

Hotel pet peeve #7 – Drapes that don’t close all the way – How come I always find a room where the drapes do not always close all the way so one light in the McDonald’s parking lot across the street is always shining in my eyes all night long? Speaking of drapes, they also need to keep it simple. I stayed at the Bellagio in Las Vegas once and they had automated drapes that opened and closed by remote control on the wall. The problem is it took me two days with the lighting from the strip to help me locate the button on the wall. Pro tip: Carry a clothespin or safety pin when traveling to keep the drapes closed. My friend Mailani says you can use the pants hangers with clips in the closet to substitute as a close pin to hold the curtains together.

Hotel pet peeve #8 – Housekeeping early wake up – Sometimes when I travel I figure it’s my one time a year to sleep in. I go to bed dreaming of sleeping in just like in the old days. Then I am awakened by the dreaded knock on the door at 8:01 and that sweet word, “Housekeeping”. If check out is 11 AM please don’t bother me until 10:59 AM.

Hotel pet peeve #9 – One electrical plug-in – This has been an almost universal problem for every hotel but is rapidly getting better each year. Today’s business traveler can have 2-4 devices that require recharging at night. A cell phone, iPad, notebook, laptop, and others. Why do hotels only have one plug-in at the desk? Also, I need a plug by my bed so I can charge my iPhone when I sleep and have access to it for calls and alarms. Why don’t hotels buy a 4-socket electrical extension bar at their local True Value hardware store and make all their customers happy?

Hotel pet peeve #10 – Using a key card in the slot to turn on electricity to a room – Many energy-friendly hotels now require that you take your hotel room card and put it into a receptacle inside the door to turn on the electricity in the room, thus saving energy when you are out of the room. This works great until you need to charge your laptop while you are away and all the electricity is turned off when you leave the room. This is why I get two keys. One for the slot and one to use to unlock the door.

Hotel pet peeve #11 – (Sorry I must add one more) – Hotel room key cards that don’t work – I don’t know how many times I have walked up to my hotel room and put the key card into the slot only to see the dreaded red light, instead of the beautiful green light. This of course only happens when you have two full bags of luggage and you are the last room down the hallway on the 21st floor at 1:00 AM in the morning, and after your flight has been delayed and you waited 60 minutes for your bags to arrive at the luggage carrousel. Surely, if we can get a spacecraft to Jupiter and Pluto, we can find an easier way to unlock a hotel room door. Why not use your phone?

Hotel pet peeve #12 (bonus) – Tissue flowers on the top of the Kleenex box in the bathroom – I am always amazed to walk into the hotel bathroom and see that housekeeping has spent time folding a flower using the top two tissues from the Kleenex box as a special design feature. The first thing I do is throw those tissues in the trash. Would I ever use a tissue that someone who just got finished cleaning the toilet folded to look like a rose petal? Thanks, Ron Cole for reminding me about this little gem.

Plus, here is a summary of all the rest of mine and many of your hotel pet peeves that you have shared with me in past years. Please let me know what you think: 

  • Early check-in fees.
  • Not enough pillows.
  • Two single beds pushed together for a queen bed that if you lie in the middle will spread apart.
  • No airport shuttles.
  • One-ply toilet paper.
  • Early check-out times.
  • Rooms not ready when you check-in.
  • Air conditioning/heating units that sound like jets taking off when they turn on.
  • Sheets tucked in so tight on the bed you can’t pull them out.
  • One-ply toilet paper
  • Getting charged for having a safe in your room whether you use it or not.
  • Light bulbs with such low wattage that you have to bring along a flashlight to read anything.
  • One-ply toilet paper.
  • Bad water pressure.
  • Showerheads that are 4-feet tall with the water hitting your belly button.
  • Walls so thin you hear everything about your neighbors.
  • Expensive minibars.
  • Small towels, hand towels, scratchy towels, thin towels, not enough towels.
  • Outrageous parking fees. Once in San Francisco, I paid more for parking than I did for the room.
  • Room doors that slam shut and rattle the walls.  How hard is it to put some pads on the doors, or a closing device, so your neighbors’ doors do not slam shut so loudly and forcefully that they could wake the dead. (Thanks to Dave Johnston)
  • No holder for the hand soap.  So you have to leave the soap on the sink counter, where it gets all slimy and slides around. (Thanks to Dave Johnston)
  • One luggage rack in a room designed for two people (Thanks to Ernie Thayer)
  • Charging for bottled water in the room (Thanks to Tony Maupin)
  • No safe (Thanks mark Schorr)

 

And lastly, one-ply toilet paper.

 




Warning! Booking a pre-paid, nonrefundable hotel room might be a disaster since as many as 8000 hotels may be closed by September –

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A hotel industry trade group recently reported (CLICK HERE) that as many as 8000 hotels may be casualties of COVID-19  as early as September if things don’t get better soon. These will not be just hotels at the bottom end of the quality chain but also 3, 4, and even 5-star hotels that will be turned back to the banks if travel does not rebound soon. With this in mind, we recommend you make any hotel reservation using a credit card and no more than 45 days in advance as a precaution against this hotel bankruptcy tsunami.  We also recommend that you also only make a room deposit and do not make a reservation for a non-refundable, pre-paid rate. Even the best hotels can go belly up in this environment and you will be left high and dry.

Calling an airline today can turn into a 3-hour nightmare – This past week I had a person tell me they were on hold for over 3 hours waiting to talk to one of the major airlines about changing their ticket. They tried 5 times and struck out every time. The current pandemic has caused hundreds of flights to be changed and canceled. We have seen some flights changed over 6 times in the last four months alone. Add to that canceled flights, rebooked flights, waiting on hold, and a host of other new requirements to fly and you have arrived at a question that must be asked. Why would you not use a professional travel advisor to make your travel reservations? I know this question is very self-serving, but I receive dozens of emails every week asking me to advise travelers on how to get them out of the mess they are in with their airline reservations. They tell me they have spent hours on the phone waiting to talk to an airline rep and even when they finally get through they are told there are no other options. Last week Executive Travel answered the phone in 7 seconds on average. We will coach you with options the airlines will never tell you about. We will search for alternate flights that will save you both time and money. The Oxford dictionary defines a masochist as a person who enjoys an activity that appears to be painful or tedious – The new COVID-19 definitions of a masochist surely might include some of the unlucky people who book directly with the airlines. Thanks for allowing me to get on my soapbox.

If you think getting ahold of an airline today is a nightmare you ain’t seen nothing yet! – Almost every airline has just recently announced they are preparing to cut their staffing by as much as 50% starting in October. This means even fewer customer service reps will be able to help you when you cry for help with a canceled or changed flight. One more big reason that your next trip should be reserved using a friendly professional travel advisor.

Marriott and Hyatt now require masks for guests – Now that almost all the airlines require masks to fly the hotels are getting in on the action. Marriott and Hyatt say that guests are now required to wear masks in the public areas of the hotels. I think Hilton is just around the corner to be the next domino to fall.

Will American, Alaska, and JetBlue all merge into one jumbo airline? – The scuttlebutt on the street is that these three airlines might consider a three-way marriage as a result of COVID-19. On the surface to the average person this might make sense, however, airline mergers are very complicated and expensive to pull off, plus they are extremely political. I don’t think any of these airlines have the money or time it takes to make a three-way merger happen. CLICK HERE to read more.

People who changed their travel plans from this spring/summer to this fall are now moving their travel to 2021 – It appears from many vacation travelers we talk to that had originally booked trips this spring/summer and moved them to this fall in hopes that the virus would calm down are now moving their vacations to next year in the hopes that a vaccine will show up soon. One thing I do know is there is an amazing amount of pent up demand as people want to get out and about and see the world again. Whenever that time arrives, I hope you will think of your friendly travel advisors at Executive Travel and give us a call at 402-435-8888.

 

 




Blocking middle seats on airplanes would increase airfares by $87 –

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Delta and Southwest Airlines are both saying they will block middle seats through the month of September as added protection from COVID-19 for people who fly this summer. Other major airlines like United and American Airlines say that is a publicity stunt as even when middle seats are blocked you are still just inches away from people in front and back of you as well as less than two feet away from others in the same row. Several weeks ago IATA, and airline trade group, said that if middle seats were blocked by government order, the break-even ticket price on North American flights would increase by an average of $87.  I think everyone would prefer to have an empty seat next to them when they fly for comfort reasons alone. I also think the empty seat is a very positive psychological reinforcement for travelers. This big question is, are travelers willing to pay more for that extra space? I think business travelers who are spending the company money to travel will pay the extra costs of higher airfares. A family of four, however, may continue to look for the lowest prices. CLICK HERE for a great article about middle seats.

Airlines trying to sell miles like a used car salesman on the last day of the month – I have been getting all these emails from the airlines offering “double miles” for buying airline miles. The question becomes, “Are these a good deal”. The answer is MAYBE. Here is how I do the math. Today I received an email offering for me to buy 175,000 miles for $3062.50. If I redeem this at 25,000 miles for a free saver domestic ticket I am paying $437 for a roundtrip domestic ticket. Not bad but what happens if I can’t find a saver fare for 25,000 miles and have to use 50,000 miles for the ticket. Suddenly I have paid $874 for that ticket. Not a good deal. However, if you can use those miles and find an international business class saver ticket to Europe for 120,000 miles you have probably saved a couple of thousand dollars. Bottom line is that I really don’t think this is a great time to pay for airline miles as so much is up in the air right now with schedules, prices, etc.

Reopening the travel industry reminds me of watching Whack-A-Mole – Every week the travel industry gets more and more frustrating as the COVID-19 virus raises its ugly head again. In June things looked better as restaurants and hotels began opening while at the same time others closed. One week an airline adds flights, the next week they drop flights. Disneyworld announces opening, then delays, then opens again. It all reminds me of watching a video of the old carnival game Whack-A-Mole and how every time you think the virus is under control that it pops up its ugly head again. Watch this video and tell me it doesn’t feel like what you see on the news every night.

Southwest announces $49 OW airfare sale – The airlines have a lot of empty seats in August and they want to fill them up fast. Southwest is joining other airlines in offering an airfare sale to get you out of town. The new domestic airfare sale offers fares as low as $49 – $179 one-way. In order to get the lowest prices, you must book your travel by August 13, for travel from August 11 to December 17 domestically. You might have to be flexible with your travel dates to get the lowest fares. Call one of our friendly travel advisors at 402-435-8888 to help you find the perfect get-a-way.

In two weeks I am un-officially not able to travel outside of the U.S. as my passport expires in 6 months – As many people know most countries will not allow you to enter their country if you have a passport with less than 6 months left before expiration. I have circled July 27 on my calendar as that is six months prior to the date my passport officially expires on January 27, 2021. While the State Department has stated reissuing passports again there is reportedly a 2-3 month backlog of passports waiting to be processed. I feel almost naked not being able to travel internationally. However, currently, Europe won’t let Americans travel there and China and many other parts of the world are closed so I guess my anxiety is probably misplaced.

Did you know that in a normal year the airlines handle over 43 billion bags and 1,300,000 are lost and never claimed? – Turns out that bags that go unclaimed for 90 days are then sold by the airlines to a company in Scottsburo, Alabama who has an exclusive contract with the airlines to buy the lost luggage and sell it to anyone. Over 7000 items arrive each day into the 50,000 square foot showroom that is just about 140 miles northwest of Atlanta. CLICK HERE to read a great article about where your lost luggage probably ended up.

Here is an easy to use dashboard that shows what each country is requiring for COVID-19 travelers –  This dashboard is provided by IATA and contains a country-by-country listing of COVID-19-related public health requirements that passengers and airline crew need to follow. Obviously these rules are changing daily and you will always need to check with your friendly travel advisor before you travel anywhere.  CLICK HERE for the dashboard.

 




States and even cities are putting in their own travel rules that are confusing and frustrating travelers –

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It seems like every state and many big cities are all putting in their own travel restrictions that are causing confusion and frustration for people traveling for business and pleasure. I was looking at an article on USA Today CLICK HERE that shows all the state restrictions and was surprised that even my state of Nebraska has self-quarantine rules for international travelers. Now cities like Chicago CLICK HERE are identifying high COVID-19 states and preventing them from flying to the city without testing or a 14-day self-quarantine. Obviously, these new restrictions are making the travel industry very frustrated as the hoped-for slow rebound in travel is being pushed later and later into the year. The airlines are adding thousands of flights in August with the hope that things will settle down. I think we will know about how fast the travel industry will rebound when we learn in the coming weeks what will happen with the back to school plans.

Getting a Global Entry pass is a mess – The U.S. Customs and Border Protection has extended the temporary closure of Trusted Traveler Program enrollment centers until at least August 10th, 2020. Basically the last four months travelers have not been able to join the Global Entry program and TSA Pre-Check programs that allow for expedited security line access at airports. Having TSA pre-Check and Global Entry are very valuable for frequent travelers who can save hours of time not standing in line at airports if they have these two valuable passes. Let’s hope the government gets these enrollment centers open soon so when travel does come back, travelers can enjoy these outstanding programs.

It soon may be cheaper to buy a used airplane than a used car – The airlines have parked thousands of airplanes around the world and the airlines say that many of those planes will be retired permanently. Some of these planes are 30 years old and need to be retired but some of the planes are actually in great shape but are being retired as they are too big to fill with the limited number of passengers projected now and into the future. I can imagine that most retired aircraft will be stripped of their electronic gear and seats and then sent to the metal scrap yard.  Several decades ago we bought 3 rows of seats and put them in our front lobby. They made great conversation pieces as school children would come in to experience their first flight. CLICK HERE to see samples of all the airplane seats for sale.

United Airlines will need a “Whale of a sale” to fill the 25,000 flights they are adding in August – United Airlines is betting that passenger traffic will start rebounding next month and is adding a whopping 25,000 new flights to their schedule that month. Even with the new flights, they will still be operating at only 48% of their pre-COVID capacity. American Airlines is also adding thousands of flights in July and is even more bullish as it will be operating at about 55% of pre-COVID capacity. Southwest Airlines is quietly adding new flights to cities where Delta Air Lines is pulling down service. It would appear that Delta’s strategy is the most bearish of all the major airlines. It will be interesting to see if that conservative plan will preserve the cash needed to make it through this financial tsunami. P.S. United is offering a super duper airfare sale to try to fill some seats. Book travel by Thursday, July 9 for travel by December 17 and you can find flights as low as $99 one way with no change feesCLICK HERE to see the big United sale.

Here are the four major domestic airlines that block selling the middle seats – Alaska, Delta, JetBlue, and Southwest Airlines are the four major airlines that continue to block the selling of middle seats in the near future. They are betting that with the slow recovery of air travel that they can offer the few people flying something of value. American and United are communicating with passengers when flights are full so people can reschedule however they will continue to try to sell middle seats to try to pull out of the financial hole that COVID-19 has left them with. Here is a nice article that shares all the airline social distancing guidelines. CLICK HERE.

Travel advisors are the big winners from COVID-19 – The world has changed and travel has now gotten a lot more complicated. If you are planning to travel wouldn’t it be smart to use the professional coaching that a professional travel advisor provides? Let us be your coach to find not only the best pricing and schedules but also safety alerts, security, face masks, passport processing, city, state, and country entry requirements, etc. Your friendly travel advisor is now the easiest way to make sure your trip goes smoothly. If you are investing hundreds if not thousands in travel for business or personal travel the best safety net you have is a professional travel advisor. Feel free to call one of our friendly travel advisors today at 402-435-8888.

 




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