Survey of hotel habits – good and bad

Wolcott Hotel Elevator Buttons

Expedia just released the results of its 2015 Hotel Etiquette Study, which asked 1,022 Americans to share tidbits about their behavior at hotels and to evaluate the behavior of other hotel guests.

67 percent said parents who let their kids run wild are the most aggravating hotel guests, 64 percent said “Hallway Hellraisers” were the most irritating, while 54 percent of Americans complained about guests who berate hotel staff over minor inconveniences.

Survey respondents were also asked about some of the things they did in hotel rooms, such as hoarding toiletries, smoking, sneaking in extra guests and taking home hotel property, but I was most intrigued by the section on tipping.

According to the survey, 51 percent of Americans tip the hotel housekeeper, but 27 percent do not tip hotel employees at all.

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Airport Trading Cards: Season 2


In September 2014, airports in the United States and Canada introduced a line of collectible airport trading cards featuring iconic terminal images on one side and geographic information, facts, figures and historical information on the back.

Trading Card OIA MCO Card Layout.cdr

MCO trading card back

There are now more than 60 airports with their own trading cards and this week Lambert-St. Louis International, one of the project’s launch airports, helped kick off the second year of the program by introducing a new version of its card.


The trading cards are free for the asking and many airports have a stash of them at information booths inside the terminals.

The website for the North American Airport Trading Cards series has images of the cards in the series and a map showing where those airports are located.

Here’s a current list of participating airports:

Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport (Illinois)
Airlake Airport (Minnesota)
Allegheny County Airport (Pennsylvania)
Anoka County-Blaine Airport (Minnesota)
Asheville Regional Airport (North Carolina)
Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (Texas)
Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport (Louisiana)
Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (Toronto)
Bolton Field Airport (Ohio)
Boston Logan International Airport (Massachusetts)
Calgary International Airport (Calgary)
Cecil Airport (Florida)
Charlotte Douglas International Airport (North Carolina)
Chicago Midway (Illinois)
Chicago O’Hare (Illinois)
Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (Ohio)
Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (Ohio)
Crystal Airport (Minnesota)
Dane County Regional Airport (Wisconsin)
Detroit Metropolitan Airport (Detroit)
Edmonton International Airport (Alberta)
El Paso International Airport (Texas)
Elmira-Corning Regional Airport (New York)
Fairbanks International Airport (Alaska)
Flying Cloud Airport (Minnesota)
Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport (Florida)
Fort McMurray International Airport (Alberta)
General Mitchell International Airport (Wisconsin)
George Bush Intercontinental Airport (Texas)
Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport (South Carolina)
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (Georgia)
Indianapolis International Airport (Indiana)
Jacksonville International Airport (Florida)
John Wayne Airport (California)
Kelowna International Airport (British Columbia)
Lake Elmo Airport (Minnesota)
Lambert-St. Louis International Airport (Missouri)
Long Beach Airport (California)
Manchester–Boston Regional Airport (New Hampshire)
Mineta San José International Airport (California)
Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (Minnesota)
Nashville International Airport (Tennessee)
Orlando International Airport (Florida)
Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport (Ontario)
Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (Arizona)
Piedmont Triad International Airport (North Carolina)
Pittsburgh International Airport (Pennsylvania)
Port Columbus International Airport (Ohio)
Prince George International Airport (British Columbia)
Raleigh-Durham International Airport (North Carolina)
Regina International Airport (Saskatchewan)
Rickenbacker International Airport (Ohio)
St. Paul Downtown Airport (Minnesota)
Salt Lake City International Airport (Utah)
San Antonio International Airport (Texas)
San Diego International Airport (California)
Sarasota Bradenton International Airport (Florida)
Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport (Georgia)
Southwest Florida International Airport (Florida)
Stinson Municipal Airport (Texas)
Tampa International Airport (Florida)
Toronto Pearson International Airport (Ontario)
William P. Hobby Airport (Texas)
Winnipeg Richardson International Airport (Manitoba)

Dallas Love Field trading card

MSP trading card

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Crowdfunding comes to hotels

I’ve been keeping an eye on Yotel ever since my short stay inside one of the hotel brand’s tiny short-stay “cabins” at London’s Heathrow Airport.

So I was especially interested in working on this story for CNBC about how crowdfunding is being incorporated into the fundraising plan for a Yotel to be built in San Francisco:

Yotel Room mockup, June 2010Designed by Rockwell group, NY

The online money-raising craze that made possible both the Pebble smartwatch and the Oculus Rift virtual reality system is now becoming a trend in the hotel hospitality industry.

Crowdfunding is being used to help raise funds to transform a historic building in San Francisco’s gentrifying Mid-Market neighborhood into a hip, high-tech YOTEL-branded hotel.

In a joint venture with a Kuwaiti real estate company named AQARAT, New York-based real estate investment firm, Synapse Development Group is spearheading the redevelopment of 1095 Market Street.

If all goes according to plan, the antiquated office building will soon become a 203-room hotel. It will be the city’s first hotel partly financed via crowdfunding and will be located just blocks from the headquarters of tech heavyweights Uber and Twitter.

“We thought crowdfunding a small portion [10 to 15 percent] of the equity on this deal would fit with the ethos of the neighborhood, given the demographic of the young, millennial, tech-heavy crowd that is there day-to-day,” said Justin Palmer, Synapse’s CEO.

“It’s a good way to encourage local buy-in on the project,” said Palmer. “These people can reap investment benefits as owners and also actually visit the property, go to the restaurant, the roof top bar and get owners’ discounts on room rates.”

Synapse isn’t the first company to crowdfund a hotel, however. In 2014, the Hard Rock Hotel in Palm Springs used the platform to raise $1.5 million to help refinance and renovate the property. For a minimum investment of $10,000, individuals became equity owners and received a package of VIP guest perks.

Real estate crowdfunding site RealCrowd is hosting the YOTEL San Francisco offering, which is open to accredited investors. In addition to equity ownership, investors are being offered Kickstarter-type perks, such as t-shirts, annual parties and personalized perks at investment tiers starting at a minimum of $25,000.

“They’re trying to marry the concepts from the last generation of crowdfunding, when you were just a supporter to being also an owner,” said Mitch Roschelle, partner and real estate advisory leader at PwC, “but there are a lot of complicated security laws you need to deal with.”

A lot of those security laws are still quite new, dating back to the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, which was signed into law in April 2012. That eased some fundraising and advertising restrictions for small companies.

With real estate crowdfunding growing globally, from $1 billion in 2014 to a projected $2.5 billion in 2015, Roschelle thinks it’s a growing trend — and one that makes sense for hotels.

“A lot of crowdfunding has been in the intellectual property space, for movies and start-up businesses,” said Roschelle. “It was inevitable that crowdfunding would make its way to properties where investors could visit or even stay at the very place they funded.”

According to Crowdnetic, which tracks crowd financing, since September 2013 there have been over 300 securities-based crowdfunded real estate development and investments offerings out of 6,260. Twelve of those have been for hotel properties.

Of that number, “10 … have been successful, and I would not be surprised if the early successful hotel offerings spurred other hotel and lodging properties to come on board with this still-new capital-formation tool,” said Janet Rosenblum, Crowdnetic’s director of research.

Synapse’s YOTEL underscores how the real estate industry is grappling with major changes in how to build and finance projects.

“With technology and the regulatory changes, there’s been a transformational shift in how people manage their money,” said Adam Hooper, co-founder and CEO of RealCrowd, “We’re still building a stadium and I don’t even know if the game has started yet.”

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Souvenir Sunday at the Crazy Horse Memorial

Crazy Horse face

The Crazy Horse Memorial, in the Black Hills of South Dakota, is a giant mountain carving begun in 1948 by Korczak Ziolkowski as a tribute to the Lakota leader.

Here’s what Ziolkowski had in mind:

Crazy Horse statue_edited

Ziolkowski’s plan was to create a carving 641 feet long and 563 feet high, but that’s a really big project and there’s no telling when – or if – his family or the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation will ever get the project done.

So far, only Crazy Horse’s head has been completed, but at 87 feet, 6 inches, that in it itself is pretty darn impressive and more than one million visitors stop by each year to take a look at that and to visit the impressive on-site museums dedicated to Native American art and culture.

crazy horse face_edited

Work on the mountain sculpture is moving forward and among the souvenirs visitors can take home are rocks:

Crazy Horse rocks

To make sure those souvenir rocks make it onto the airplane and back to your home, though, the memorial has a helpful sign to remind you to put the rocks in your checked luggage. And then, presumably, on a scale…

Crazy Horse rocks in luggage

(Photos by Harriet Baskas)

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Airlines offer Hurricane Joaquin fee waivers


As Hurricane Joaquin continues to swirl, some airlines are offering waivers on cancellation and change fees to customers who want to adjust their flight plans.

Right now, some travel alerts just mention flights to or from the Bahamas; others reach beyond that. As always, check with your airline for the most recent policy updates.

American Airlines

Dela Air Lines

Jet Blue

Southwest Airlines

Hurricane image


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