. The Lobby Becomes a Hobby | Meetings & Conventions

The Lobby Becomes a Hobby

Preventing and coping with lost luggage...JetBlue’s bill of rights...Rezidor clears the air

Lobby Party

Tired of CNN for company while on the road? Westin Hotels & Resorts’ new Unwind program is intended to get frequent travelers out of their rooms and into the lobbies of its 129 properties for some fun. The complimentary program was designed to give guests an insight into the local tastes, sights and sounds of Westin’s destinations worldwide. More importantly, its aim is to encourage guests to socialize and combat the loneliness many travelers experience on the road. (According to a Westin study, as reported in M&C in February, 34 percent of frequent travelers feel lonely when away from home.)

Among the lobby festivities offered: a lesson in mixing a perfect Bellini, paired with a sampling of traditional Italian foods at the Westin Excelsior, Venice; tastings and lessons on the history of tapas and Spanish wines at the Westin La Quinta Golf Resort, Marbella, Spain; traditional bagpiping and Scotch whisky-tasting at the Westin Turnberry Resort, Ayrshire, Scotland; rotating art exhibits at the Westin Long Beach (Calif.); a candle-lighting ceremony, tai chi, watercolor painting, and treats prepared with Chinese fruits and herbs at the Westin Beijing, Financial Street; and instruction in whipping up a perfect batch of guacamole at the Westin La Paloma Resort and Spa in Tucson, Ariz.

Less Lost Luggage

Lost luggage is one of the most frustrating aspects of air travel. While travelers have little control over their bags once they’re checked, there are some ways they can mitigate luggage delay or loss, according to travel services giant American Express.

Label them. Put your name on the inside and outside of bags. Place a copy of your trip itinerary inside bags, so airlines can track you down and arrange for delivery once the bag is found.

Snap them. Take a picture of your bags before you travel; it’s much easier to show airline claims personnel a photo, rather than describe what it looks like.

Ship them. Send luggage, sports equipment, strollers, etc., directly to your destination. A number of consumer luggage-delivery services will pick up your bags ahead of time and have them waiting for you upon arrival at your hotel. Among such services are
Luggage Express (www.usxpluggageexpress.com);
Luggage Forward (www.luggageforward.com);
Sky-Cap International (www.skycapinternational.com) and
Virtual Bellhop (www.virtualbellhop.com).

Carry them. Pack essential toiletries, medicines and a day’s worth of clothes in your carry-on bag; in the event your bags are lost, you won’t have to rush immediately around an unknown city trying to replace essentials.

JetBlue and You

JetBlue Airways announced a new customer “bill of rights” designed to win back passengers after a weeklong operational collapse following the Feb. 14 ice storm on the East Coast. The airline promises to deplane travelers if an aircraft has been ground-delayed for five hours and to notify flyers of delays and cancellations in the future. Vouchers will be provided to compensate JetBlue customers for delays longer than 30 minutes. The carrier also is forming a customer advisory council and reviewing its operations.

Cleaner Stays

The Rezidor Hotel Group, which operates Radisson SAS Hotels & Resorts, Regent Hotels & Resorts, Park Inns, and Country Inns & Suites in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, is partnering with The CarbonNeutral Co., a carbon offset and climate consulting business, to improve the environment. Through the program, Rezidor’s guests can donate points they earn through the company’s loyalty program to offset greenhouse gas emissions caused by their travels and hotel stay.

In turn, Rezidor is donating to emission-reducing projects in India, Jamaica and the United States.