TOURISM MATTERS: Partnerships and private sector lethargy
REGULAR READERS WOULD KNOW that I am a strong advocate of fostering smart partnerships. Almost always they achieve a win-win situation for all involved and frequently make things happen that may not have if the individual entities did not fully cooperate to achieve a bigger picture objective.
JetBlue, as a minority partner, plans to join MCR Development and the New York and New Jersey Port Authority to transform the former iconic Trans World Airlines (TWA) Flight Centre into a 505-room boutique hotel. From JetBlue’s perspective, it appears to be a marriage made in heaven, providing rooms for aircrew (its own and others), and transiting passengers requiring overnight accommodation. There is also the tremendous proximity advantage of being adjacent to their Terminal 5 and the only hotel located within the JFK airport compound.
While few can doubt the success of JetBlue, MCR Development LLC is no stranger to the hospitality business as the seventh largest hotel owner/operator in the United States with an impressive US$2 billion portfolio of 87 premium branded hotels totalling more than 10 000 rooms across 23 states, including the beautifully restored historic New York landmark High Line property.
Many of their hotels carry Marriott or Hilton’s various brands, so this again could play a substantial part in the marketing of this particular airport location.
Sadly, the Finnish-born American architect Eero Saarinen, never witnessed the official opening of the TWA Flight Centre in May 1962, having tragically died of a brain tumour at age 51, the year before. It was, though, considered one of his greatest works, even evoking its own unique style called “neofuturistic”.
As I understand it, the former TWA Airlines check-in will become the check-in for the new hotel during a quoted US$265 million transformation, which will also include 40 000 square feet of meeting space. A 10 000 square feet observation deck and a museum dedicated to the TWA Jet Age. Scheduled completion is slated for 2018.
Changing the subject, I sometimes wonder about certain elements of our private sector. You would think at a time of great challenges, services and suppliers would be biting your hands off for business to ensure viability and to maintain employment. Our 2016 re-DISCOVER lunch voucher will shortly be printed and to ensure total transparency for the sponsors, we put the specification and requirement out to solicit quotes.
Bearing in mind this one job will attract a five figure invoice amount, we approached leading colour printers. One responded within two days, the second within four days, the third we are still waiting for a response and the others didn’t even acknowledge our email. And in our experience, this is not an isolated occasion. We frequently battle with all sorts of other suppliers to meet promised delivery dates.
Telecommunications remains one of our biggest headaches, including incredibly slow internet speeds, frequent disruptions and loss of service. I urge every manager of Flow to become a customer for a day and personally witness the level of frustration.
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