Making Hotels More Hospitable

Article excerpt

You can influence how you're served when away from home

African Americans spend $4 billion on travel each year according to the NAACP, but do we get that value in the quality of service we receive? If not, how can we get better treatment?

"African American travelers need to be aware of who they are doing business with," says Valerie C. Ferguson, the first African American chairperson of the American Hotel & Motel Association, an industry trade organization representing more than 12,000 member hotels, motels and resorts in the U.S. "If a hotel has made a point of employing blacks in upper management, uses black suppliers and has black franchises, that means you're doing business with a company that cares about your business, and it will trickle down into the services you receive," she explains.

Ferguson, who's also regional vice president and managing director of the new Loews Philadelphia Hotel, says that black consumers should have the highest expectations. "When you walk in and see what kind of ambiance that hotel offers, that's what you should expect." She says this holds true whether you're talking about a roadside inn or a five-star property.

Ferguson offers more advice on getting good service:

* Listen closely to the accommodations as they're described and the rate you're quoted so that you can ensure the hotel keeps its word. If you want a specific kind of bed, make sure you request it and receive a guarantee that it will be available when you arrive. …