Council #19 Hotel Update – May 2023
Recent Hotel Changes
San Francisco: It was recently announced that we will be moving to downtown San Francisco for our longer layovers. The hotel chosen can be found in the hotel hotline (the name has been excluded from this communication for safety/security reasons). This is a 4-star hotel and is considered a level 7 (Superior, First Class) on the Travel Weekly rating board which we use for determination for our layovers. Out of the hotels inspected, this was the top AFA Choice. It is within walking distance to may dining establishments and shopping, as well as many tourist opportunities. AFA also liked this hotel because in addition to a downtown location, each room has a coffee maker and refrigerator, and there is a microwave for use onsite (although these items are not contractual). This hotel houses many other airline crews so has experience with what we require. We hope you enjoy it. Please make sure to submit BOTH positive and negative feedback via the crew care link, or via the link on you IMD.
The Seattle committee has received some concerns about the locations of some of our hotels in regard to crime and homelessness. In todays world, there is an increase to homeless populations in most cities across the globe, we also see it in some of the suburban areas. This is something we have to deal with. It is important to keep safety in mind when out and about. Always check with the front desk to find out if there are areas to avoid. When venturing out, leave the paper sleeve your room key comes in at the hotel (the room number is usually written on this), that way if you drop your key, your room number will not be obvious to whoever picks it up. If you are going out at night and are concerned, use the buddy system. AFA, ALPA, Alaska and API research crime in the areas and we often bring corporate security on our site inspections so we can get their input as well, but its important to keep safety in mind when you are out and about. If you have any issues come up or have safety concerns, please submit them on Crew Care.
Our Relationship with API
We often get questions about what our relationship with API is and what exactly they do for us. Simply put, API manages our contracts with our hotel and transportation vendors. They also manage the communication between Alaska and those vendors. Alaska is their largest account, and we have an account manager who is assigned only to us. In addition, API has employees who are dedicated 100% to our operation. There is an API representative who now has a desk in the HUB building, so our schedulers and operations team have a direct contact on property. There is also one remote person strictly dedicated to Alaska Airlines.
It is important to remember that API does not make decisions on what hotels our crews will be staying in. This decision is made by Alaska Airlines with input from both AFA and ALPA. Once a decision is made, API negotiates the terms and then manages the contract for Alaska.
When a crew member files a Crew Care report, it is automatically sent to API, Alaska Management, the AFA Hotel Committee Members and the ALPA Hotel Committee Members. Once received, API then takes the concerns (or compliments) and sends them to the property or transportation committee in the report and awaits their reply. If it was a compliment that was sent in, it simply goes to that property/transportation company and the matter is closed. If you are writing about a specific employee, the property/transportation company will recognize them on the compliments given or will take action with any concerns reported. Once API hears back from the property/transportation company about your concerns, they will update the report you filed with their responses. Most of the reports received are similar, so it may feel like you are getting “cookie cutter” responses, however, EACH AND EVERY report is followed up on. If you have more information or want to reply, once the matter is “closed”, you can go back into your initial report and follow up. To do so, simply go back to the list of feedback in your account and click on the feedback ID number and it will open the report, then at the bottom of that page you can leave additional feedback/information and it will reopen your ticket. The people that respond to our feedback respond for multiple airlines, so it may take a couple of days to hear back, but they work hard to get the information needed as quickly as possible. Please remember, they also are at the mercy of the property/transportation vendor and how long it takes them to respond.
Thank you so much for using Crew Care, it is so important!
Crew Care and New Resources Coming
Your hotel committee is in the process of testing a new tool that is coming to Crew Care that will help you closely monitor hotel assignments, van times, feedback, and more. Please stay tuned for information coming about this exciting resource. Also, we will be in the base the morning of June 6th to show it off!
Upcoming Hotel Site Inspections and Site Inspections Process
Site inspections are common when a contract comes up for renewal. Sometimes a current hotel is not interested in continuing the relationship, the hotel no longer meets the contractual language, or we are simply re-assessing the market to see what other properties have become available. We have site inspections coming up in the following markets:
Have you been curious about the site inspection process? Have you always thought that the final determination is money? Here is a little bit of information on how the hotel selection process works.
First, there are a few things that “trigger” a hotel site inspection. These can include, but are not limited to:
· A new market Alaska is going to serve.
· A market whose contract is expiring, and the property is no longer interested in our business.
· A market whose contract is expiring, and the property is significantly raising their rates.
· A property that has fallen below our minimum hotel standards.
· A property that receives a larger than normal amount of feedback that needs addressing.
When an inspection is announced, API gets right to work. They reach out to ALL properties (after removing the ones that they know right away do not meet our contractual requirements) in that area to see if they are interested in our business. At this point, there is no dollar value attached, simply a request to see if they are interested. If they are, they will submit their reply with prices, hotel amenities, etc. API will determine which on the list meet our contractual requirements and remove the remainder. From an outside perspective, it’s easy to think that there are many properties in a particular city so it should not be hard to find a long list of interested properties, but not all hotels want crew business. Let’s take Miami as an example. Think about how many hotels are in the Miami area. API was able to get proposals from 90 properties in the Miami area (excluding airport areas). Out of those 90, 13 of them replied that crew did not align with their overall strategy, 10 said they didn’t want our business even if we paid the highest rack rate, 4 could not accommodate our arrival/departure times, 4 were not willing to accept our minimum requirements for placement per our contract, 11 could not accommodate the number of rooms we needed or were at the maximum number of crews they allow, and 3 were in the middle of heavy renovations. Out of the 90, we were able to look at 8 (this included 2 by the airport for irregular operations or short layovers), the remaining 37 didn’t even reply to the opportunity of crew business. This is well before nightly rates, etc. are even talked about. It is important to know this is sometimes what we are up against in today’s hotel environment, in certain markets.
Once the site inspection list is complete, API arranges the tours/visits. Our API Account Manager travels to the sites along with a member of Alaska Management (from the hotel team), 1 ALPA Hotel Committee Chair and 1 AFA Hotel Committee Chair. There are on occasion additional management staff present as well. For example, if it’s a new destination, or a destination that has safety concerns, a member from the Alaska Airlines security team will come along to check out the area and property. Also, there are sometimes members from the Inflight accounting team present so they can better understand what we as crew look for in a property and why certain things are so important to us, this way they are not just deciding based on a dollar amount. Once we arrive on site, we conduct back-to-back inspections of the different properties. We meet with hotel management and ask questions about their processes (check in, cleaning, etc.). We also check several things on property including, but not limited to:
· HVAC vents and cleanliness
· Water pressure
· Black out shade effectiveness
· Bed comfort
· Amenities in the room (safe, ironing board/iron, refrigerator, luggage rack, door locks, etc.)
· Food options
· Amenities in the hotel vicinity
· Hotel security and access (are there cameras, elevator key card access, etc.)
· And so much more (too much to list)
We do the above at each property we visit. At the end of site sections, both AFA and ALPA will send in their reports to management. It will include our recommended hotel, our acceptable hotels, and our unacceptable hotels. From that list, Alaska will then go to API and ask them to see what they can negotiate with the properties. This is when dollars and amenities come into play. They will negotiate our crew discounts/amenities as well as the rate Alaska will pay. Once that process is complete, Alaska will make the decision on the property. Obviously, it is nice when AFA and ALPA have the same thoughts on the properties visited, as we have a little more “pull” but that does not always happen. Financials are not always the determining factor. For example, in Miami (as used in the above example), our current hotel was chosen by AFA, however it was quite a bit more expensive than the other acceptable hotels. Alaska decided that the location of the current hotel and the amenities (gym, pool, dining, room comfort, etc.) outweighed the financial savings.
It is once again important to remember that API does not choose our hotels, they only manage our contracts.
As always, we advocate hard for the best hotels we can possibly secure. We always appreciate your feedback; we take it to heart and use all feedback when making our recommendations on crew layover hotels. If you have questions that do not warrant a Crew Care, you can reach the Seattle Hotel Chairperson at email@example.com.
Your Seattle Hotel Committee