Yesterday's news of a thwarted terrorist plot to blow up planes enroute from the U.K. to the U.S. was unsettling to all Americans, but especially to those of us in the hospitality business. One wonders if this event could be the tipping point in which travelers, particularly frequent business travelers, finally begin to curtail airline travel because the hassles are just too great. I travel a lot each year, mostly to hotel industry events but also to visit hotels and hotel companies and, of course, for pleasure. I could probably cancel 10 percent of those trips and still get my job doneÃ¢€”not as effectively, but adequately.
If the rest of the business community feels the same and acts accordingly, the effects on the hotel business will be substantial. Some travelers may choose to drive instead of fly, while others, believe it or not, may decide to take trains or buses. A lot of airline business will just disappear, along with the hotel roomnights it represents.
Hotels need to do what they can to help their guests through this difficult period. Omni Hotels has the right idea: Today, the Texas-based chain announced that it will provide guests with complimentary amenity itemsÃ¢€”everything from toothpaste and sunscreen to women's cosmetics and contact lens solutionsÃ¢€”to make it easier for guests to continue to travel. Even selling these items at reasonable cost is another way hotels can encourage people to keep traveling.
Travel bounced back fairly quickly following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. We must not be complacent and believe that every incident, such as the one yesterday, will produce the same results.