More fun…at the gates

Airports are the gates to a country (so are ports but that’s for another article). Hotels as well, they provide tourists a taste of locals’ regard for the weary traveler. Having had good experiences of the place and people, they will plan to come back and/or tell others about it. These others tell more people about the place and people. And so on.

How do we endeavor to make life good and easy for travelers at least in the limited time they are with us? There are some new things happening at these gates across the globe which are reported on the Net:

1. Print at home luggage tags

Spanish airline Iberia just launched MyBagTag, a tool that allows fliers to enter their bag’s weight and print tags at home. When you get to the airport, you just hand over your luggage for staff to double check weight and ensure the tag is properly affixed. Then you can be on your way. The airline is testing the program in Spain with plans to roll out the program on international routes soon.

2. Healthier children’s meals in hotels

Hyatt has launched a For Kids, By Kids Family Cook-Off recipe contest, challenging young chefs to come up with tasty, nutritious breakfast options for the chance to win a free vacation. JW Marriott has partnered with nutritionist Keri Glassman to create a new JW Kids Menu. Fairmont’s menu upgrade is also designed to encourage kids to expand their food horizons, including fresher local ingredients. And at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, kids get a three-course menu some adults would drool over courtesy of megawatt culinary star Alice Waters with pots of herbs brought to the table for kids to snip.

3. Hotel rooms controlled via smart phone apps

Whitbread, the UK’s largest hotel group, by the end of next summer, plans to open the high-tech hub by Premier Inn in London. You’ll be able to to book a room, check-in, pre-select the room’s lighting, temperature and what’s playing on the TV or stereo upon arrival and pre-order breakfast all via smartphone app.

4. Killing time in airports

Website Skyscanner asked more than 10,000 fliers what would help the time pass faster. Number one on their wishlist? A movie theater. That’s good news for Hong Kong International Airport, which just opened an IMAX and Singapore’s Changhi with its cinema. Other desired perks? Sleeping pods, a library, park, vanity area, children’s play area, pool, gym, man-made beach and bikes.

5. Instructions on friendliness toward tourists

Paris is one of the world’s most visited cities. They hope to keep it that way by addressing the city’s reputation for rudeness. French tourism officials have released a six page booklet, “Do You Speak Touriste?” with friendly phrases in eight languages, tips about how to address different cultures and information on spending habits. Among the info? Americans like to have prices confirmed, Italians appreciate a firm handshake, Brits prefer to be addressed by their first name, Chinese like to shop and Brazilians like evening excursions. The tourism office is distributing the book to workers in tourist areas throughout the city and in Versailles.

Interestingly, though, in the U.S., hotels more than the airlines were better able to satisfy customers. Maybe, it’s because hotels are grounded?

Airlines continue to feel the wrath of frustrated fliers, ranking above only cable and internet customers for low customer satisfaction. Fliers were least satisfied with things like seat comfort and in-flight food, beverages and entertainment. The good news for travelers? Hotels fared much better with an average industry score of 77. Marriott held the number one spot followed by Hilton.

More at Zagat.

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