Welcome to the April 2007 issue of "Smart Traveler". The newsletter with tips and information to help make your traveling smoother.
Fido and Fluffy! Welcome to the islands
For years, visitors who wanted to bring their pets to Hawaii faced
a four-month quarantine for the animals — and they had to pay for
But the rules changed in 2003, making it easier to avoid quarantine
as long as other requirements are met to ensure that the animals are
free of rabies.
As a result, arrivals of cats and dogs to the islands are up more
than 30 percent in three years, and hotels are responding to the
trend by offering amenities for traveling pets.
Nearly 9,000 dogs and cats arrived in Hawaii last fiscal year, up
from about 7,650 in 2005 and just over 6,800 in 2004, according to
the state Department of Agriculture. Already more than 5,600 have
come to the islands in the first seven months of this fiscal year,
while just 311 went through the 120-day quarantine.
The Sheraton Princess Kaiulani in Waikiki and Four Seasons Resort
Maui allow small pets to attract visitors to their upscale hotels.
Several bed and breakfasts, vacation homes and the Harbor Shores
Apartment Hotel in Aiea welcome pets.
At W Honolulu in Diamond Head, cats and dogs under 40 pounds are
welcome. Owners pay an extra $25 a day at the W plus a $100 cleaning
fee at the end of their visit.
Upon arrival, they get special water bowls, pet-size beds and
goodie bags packed with a rawhide treat or chew toy.
"It makes the experience for pets just like it is for humans," said
general manager Lyle Takeuchi.
eases change policies
Fickle fliers, you're in luck.
Northwest Airlines announced on April 18th that it is cutting the
fee to change a non-refundable ticket on the day of departure from
$100 to $25.
now, NWA would only let you change your ticket for $25 if the new
flight was within three hours of your old flight. Otherwise, it was
an onerous $100.
The NWA option, called “Fly Now, ” is better than flying standby,
because it confirms you on the flight.
In this era of packed planes and bumped passengers, it’s better to
have a confirmed seat. But the new policy should also benefit NWA
because it will encourage passengers to confirm changes rather than
It applies to those holding non-refundable tickets, for flights
within the continental U.S., Canada or Alaska.
Here's the link for more information:
It's about time. Change fees have been getting out of hand.
to complain when something goes
wrong at your hotel
Get Me the Manager!
Problems often occur on hotel stays: no hot water, no heat or
air-conditioning, filthy rooms, overcharges or other problems.
Successful complaining is a skill that can be acquired. Just follow
these easy steps the next time something goes terribly wrong.
• How to Prevent "Bad Luck"
Stay at the best hotel you or your company can afford.
Inexpensive lodging can often mean slow check-in, hard-to-find
staff, dirty rooms, faulty plumbing and just about anything else you
want to avoid. When an airplane is delayed, first-class passengers
are stuck waiting along with the cheap seat guys in coach. With
hotels, more money almost always means better service. And if they
do make a mistake, it is easier to get it fixed when you are paying
the big bucks.
• Be loyal
You may change jobs and spouses with abandon, but be true to your
chosen hotel in cities where you travel frequently. Get to know the
staff. When disaster strikes, the familiar face usually gets the
best treatment. Familiarity also means that you will know the best
rooms to ask for. Write nice notes to the General Manager when you
have received good treatment -- mention staff names. These letters
are usually posted behind the front desk -- the place where you will
be complaining the next time something goes wrong.
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU DO HAVE A PROBLEM
• Is it really worth your time?
Business travelers are often stressed out and tired. Little problems
can loom large. Is the problem really worth complaining about, or
are you trying to avoid finishing the presentation for tomorrow
• Know what you want
If you've decided it must be handled now, decide what you want. A
new room? A discount? Hotel frequent travel points? What will make
you feel properly compensated for the problem at hand.
• Don't be greedy
It's not likely that you will get a free room because someone forgot
to put mints on your pillow -- believe me, I know people who have
asked. It is fair to ask for a new room if you have been
inconvenienced by faulty plumbing, a dirty linen, etc. Most business
travelers are less concerned with a discount for poor service --
after all the company is footing the bill, unless it is your
company. Many ask for extra frequent travel points for their
account. You should too.
• Be quick
If you've decided that the situation must be addressed, go to the
front desk immediately. Ask for the Front Desk Manager or the Rooms
Exec. The assistant behind the counter may try to solve your problem
-- give them a chance. Empowerment is a buzz word in the hotel
industry today -- many front line staff people can solve your
problem quickly. If they can't , then...
• Escalate, escalate, escalate
The Rooms Exec (usually second in command at the hotel) can solve
many issues. They do most of the day-to-day work at the hotel. Even
if you end up dealing with the General Manager, the Rooms Exec will
most likely execute the solution, so don't alienate him or her.
• Don't be a jerk
You may have every reason in the world to be angry, but keep your
cool. Hotel employees have a great deal of discretion in handling
problem situations. No one will go the extra mile to help out a
raving idiot. Be nice, you'll end up with a better room, and maybe
even a fruit basket. If you are a jerk, you will get the "standard"
response. And your "jerk status" will be documented in your
permanent hotel record -- for everyone to see the next time you have
• Be concise, don't embellish
Just deal with the basic issue and what you want as compensation. If
you mention every little problem that has arisen since you entered
the hotel, you'll sound like a whiner. The real problem will get
• Be honest
Remember, everybody is wired now. Don't say that you are a top-tier
program member is you're not (they check). Just be specific and
• Say "thank you"!
If the problem has been resolved to your satisfaction, thank
everyone involved and drop a note to the General Manager naming the
individuals who helped. This will stand you in good stead the next
time something happens (and something always happens).
IF YOU ARE STILL NOT SATISFIED, TAKE NAMES
Write down all the pertinent information about your problem, dates,
room number, staff names, etc. while it is fresh in your mind.
• Put it in writing
Send an email and a letter to the appropriate hotel executives. Most
hotel web sites now have specific areas to file email complaints.
Embassy Suites even has a special email address --
email@example.com . Remember the rules: clear, calm,
concise and tell them what you want for compensation. Hotels handle
complaints from their web sites ahead of other online services.
• CC the World
Be sure to copy the hotel company president, as well as the regional
executives that your hotel manager reports to. The hotel senior
officers are often inundated with complaint letters and the
information gets forwarded to a complaint department where standard
policy is enforced. Your hotel General Manager usually reports to a
regional officer who determines his or her fate. This person does
not always have a large staff and they are very interested in
learning about the service at "their" hotels. Let them know about
your problem. You can locate their name by calling the company
It's a great feeling when you finally get your problem resolved.
Just don't waste a lot of precious time complaining ineffectively.
recent cruise ship disaster near Santorini, Greece, is a reminder to
pull out your ear buds and actually listen at the next
safety briefing on a ship or plane. While both cruise ships and
airplanes have strong safety records, things can go awry -- and you
need to know what to do, where to go, what to bring. Don't wait for
an emergency to discuss your family plan of action in case you get
hurry, don't panic.
you're near your cabin, grab your life jacket. If not, go directly
to your muster station.
medications, your glasses, cellphone, identification, room key and
credit cards, and a jacket. Wear shoes.
the attendants' directions.
the oxygen mask drops, put it on yourself before you try to help
children or someone else.
the number of rows between you and the nearest exit; if the cabin
gets smoky, you'll need to ''feel'' your way out.
your cellphone and wallet handy; if evacuation is required, you
won't be able to snag them from the overhead locker.
you first get to your room, locate the nearest exit; study the floor
plan on the back of your room door.
a robe and shoes handy; you don't want to end up in the street
barefoot or naked.
glasses, medications, room key, car keys and your wallet together in
case you need to make a dash.
take the elevator.
Remember: Without a travel agent you're on
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