Regular readers of this column will know 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 if the individual entities did not fully co-operate to achieve a big picture objective.
JetBlue as a minority partner, plan to join MCR Development and the New York and New Jersey Port Authority to transform the former iconic TWA Flight Center into a 505 room ‘boutique’ hotel. From JetBlue’s perspective, it appears to be a marriage made in heaven, providing rooms for air crew (the airlines own and others), transiting passengers requiring overnight accommodation and the proximity advantage of being adjacent to their Terminal 5 – the only hotel located actually 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 7th largest hotel owner-operator in the USA with an impressive US$2 billion portfolio of 87 premium-branded hotels totalling over 10,000 rooms, across 23 states, including the beautifully restored historic New York City landmark High Line property. Many of their hotels carry Marriott or Hilton 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 Center in May 1962 having tragically died of a brain tumor at the tender age of 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 Trans World 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 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 a number of the leading colour printers on Barbados. Our tried and tested one responded within two days, the second within four, the third we are still waiting and the other two didn’t even acknowledge our email.
And in our experience this is not an isolated occasion. We frequently battle with all kinds of other suppliers to meet promised delivery dates. Telecommunications are still one of our biggest headaches, incredibly slow internet speeds, frequent disruptions and loss of service with perhaps the ultimate time wasting award going to Cable and Wireless, Lime, Flow or whatever name they eventually decide on, for the unilateral migration of email from Caribsurf. I urge every manager in that organisation to become a customer for a day and personally witness the level of frustration.
If only some of those millions spent on re-branding would have instead been invested in improving customer service.