All posts in Motels

A random sampling of NYC hotels showed 1/3 didn’t change sheets between guests

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

In an investigation airing on Tuesday, September 13th, “Inside Edition” puts hotels to the test – the program came up with a unique way to find out whether you may be sleeping on dirty sheets – and the results might make you think twice before getting under the covers.

 

The program booked rooms at nine different hotels and each time sprayed a harmless and washable fluorescent paint onto the bed sheet, using a stencil that reads, “I Slept Here.” The paint is invisible to the naked eye – you can only see what’s on the sheets by turning on an ultra-violet light.

At The Candlewood Inn & Suites in Manhattan, “Inside Edition” checked out leaving the dirty sheets with the invisible message. But were the sheets changed? The next day, “Inside Edition” booked the exact same room – but under a different name. When they examined the sheets under the UV light, shockingly, the same message – ‘I Slept Here’ – appeared. The sheets hadn’t been changed between guests.

Read the full story here to learn how management reacted and check your local listings to tune in on Tuesday, September 13th to watch the report.

Peer-to-Peer Rental vs. Home Swapping – One on One with Jim Pickell, Pres., Homeexchange.com

While peer to peer rentals have been attracting a lot of attention lately, the first sharing economy startup for travelers, HomeExchange.com, is experiencing renewed interest and a tremendous growth surge by offering a zero cost option to travelers. ExpertFlyer goes One-on-One with Jim Pickell, president of HomeExchange.com, the first, largest and fastest growing online home exchange club in the world.

We’ve been covering the sharing economy quite a bit recently with the soaring popularity of Airbnb, Flipkey, Uber and Lyft, to mention a few.  Your service is similar to Airbnb, but very different at the same time.  Give us a quick overview of the service.

Soaring popularity sounds about right! Last year, the sharing economy was everywhere, from the proliferation of ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft, as you’ve mentioned, and more. HomeExchange.com belongs to the “sharing economy” in that it is a peer-to-peer service—the concept is you stay in my home, and I stay in yours. But in that exchange, there’s a simple and important distinction that sets us apart from other companies: there is no monetary exchange between our members. We’re 100% exchanges, not rentals. Continue reading →

goSeek.com hopes to shake-up the monopoly in online booking

ExpertFlyer goes One-on-One with Clem Bason, former president of Hotwire.com and current head of freshman hotel metasearch engine, goSeek.com, to learn how they’re overcoming the online booking monopoly with hidden deals and extras that consumers haven’t been effectively accessing before.

You have about one year under your belt as a freshman hotel deal metasearch engine. Talk about goSeek’s niche and how your first year has been?

goSeek was born out of two observations.  The first is that consumers are searching a large and ever-increasing number of sites before actually booking, seeking the best value.  Years ago they were visiting other sites 20 times before making a purchase.  Today the number is likely 30+.  Yet these same people are saying – even after all that searching – that they are not satisfied with the value of their travel purchase.  In fact, over half are dissatisfied.  They have a visceral sense that there is a better price out there.  And I can tell you that there most certainly is.  I can take a recent hotel purchase from just about anyone and find a better price.  There are hidden discounts out there everywhere.  You just have to know where to look.  Most folks don’t. Continue reading →

“Did you know…People lose $5B worth of personal effects each year?”

It’s one thing to forget your car keys on a table in a local cafe, but quite another when you leave behind a smartphone on an airplane or a laptop in your hotel room.  According to Brian Colodny, president and CFO of Chargerback, a software company specializing in reuniting lost items with their owners, only about one-third of lost items make it back to their owners.

Think about it.  How many times have you left behind a pair of earrings on a nightstand, a bag of souvenirs on a tour bus or a cellphone charger plugged into the wall of your hotel room?  Oftentimes, people don’t even bother trying to get the items back, particularly if they are lost at an international location.  But why must the burden of retrieval land on the backs of guests, flyers, cruisers, etc.? Because  what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas!

In our interview, Brian Colodny suggests that many hotels maintain a policy that prioritizes discretion and protecting the privacy of guests.  Afterall, there is a small portion of hotel patrons who may wish to keep their visits on the “QT” for a number of reasons. That said, protecting guests’ privacy may trump returning lost items and potentially calling attention to a hotel visit that may or may not have been authorized by a spouse or significant other.

Cumulatively, somewhere in the neighborhood of $5 billion worth of items are lost every year by Americans. A sizeable portion of these incidents happen while traveling. So, what happens to the billions of dollars worth of unclaimed lost items?  Colodny says, in the case of larger, established hotel properties, items are typically donated to charities or given to salvage companies.

Colodny formed his company back in 2010 after he left behind a cell phone charger in a hotel, which, at the time, cost about $60. Frustrated by the inefficiency and lack of coordination at the hotel in accommodating his efforts to locate and retrieve his lost property, he decided to do something about it, and formed Chargerback.

Chargerback works with airlines, hotel chains, sports venues and a host of other companies where people congregate, travel through or visit, enabling them to log found items via a software application, while providing owners of lost items an easy path to finding their property if it was left behind at a partnering company’s location.

Watch our interview with Brian and checkout their website — you never know what you might find.

“Did you know…Expedia plans to buy HomeAway for $3.9B?”

BIG NEWS in the sharing economy for travelers: Expedia has agreed to buy HomeAway for $3.9 billion. According to the New York Times, HomeAway also plans to change its business model to charge travelers a fee, based on a sliding scale. Up until now, HomeAway generated revenue by charging property owners to list their rentals. HomeAway also plans to lower commission rates for these pay-per-booking customers.

No big surprise that travel booking giant, Expedia, is looking to get in on the soaring popularity of vacation and short-term rentals. In a 2015 Barclays report, it’s estimated that home rental platform Airbnb books around 37 million night stays, which could increase to as many as 129 million by 2016.  But what are some caveats for home owners looking to cash in on the trend? We recently talked to Rob Stephens of Avalara MyLodge Tax, a financial and tax expert in the home rental space, to  learn what property owners need to do to comply and minimize their tax risk with the IRS. Watch our interview here.

Do you think this acquisition bodes well for vacation rental owners and lodgers?