This is what the travel industry is doing for the election

What the travel industry doing for the election

What’s the travel industry doing for the election? For business battered by the pandemic and left without government aid, you’d be surprised.

They’re supporting the election in big and small ways.

“Our goal is to try and make the process a bit easier,” says Sarosh Mistry, chair of Sodexo North America, a food service company. “We’re doing it in the ways that we know how and encourage everyone to do their part and make their voices heard in this election.”

It’s a man-bites-dog story during the final days of the most contentious election campaign in recent memory. An industry spurned by government is handing out free coffee, masks, meals, and opening its doors to citizens who want to vote. But like everyone else in this bitter election cycle, it also has an agenda.

What the travel industry is doing for the election

What makes efforts like these so improbable? The government hasn’t exactly supported the travel industry lately. (Now it knows how travelers feel.) Whether it’s airlines, travel agents or hotels, the industry has asked for — but not received — adequate help during the pandemic. Among the hardest-hit sectors are hotels, which face devastating job losses without federal assistance.

“Millions of jobs and the livelihoods of people who have built their small business for decades are just withering away because our leaders in Washington are prioritizing politics over people,” Chip Rogers, president of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, said after negotiations stalled for aid to help the hotel industry.

Still, the hospitality industry is stepping up. It’s responding to the election in ways that might surprise you.

They’re giving away coffee and masks at the polls

Some of the hospitality industry’s support efforts are small but operating on a massive scale. For example, Sodexo’s Centerplate team, which handles catering at large sportiing event, is lending a hand at facilities in Louisville, Ky., Indianapolis, New Orleans and San Diego. If you happen to be voting at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville or the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, you’ll find Centerplate employees running the facilities — and pouring free coffee for poll workers. Sodexo is also donating 50,000 masks to volunteers in Arizona.

“We’re going to be supporting several cities and providing everything from food and beverages to safe and clean facilities,” says Mistry.

Why is Sodexo responding to the election by supporting it? Because the outcome will affect the company and its workers — and because it’s the right thing to do.

“Sodexo has more than 160,000 people at 13,000 sites in all 50 U.S. states,” says Mistry. “The outcome of this election will affect our workforce, clients and communities where we serve and operate.”

What else is the travel industry doing for the election? How about free rental cars

What else is the travel industry doing for the election? How about giving away free cars?  For voters who are having trouble getting to the polls to cast their ballots, Hertz is offering to help this year. Free Day On Election Day is a promotion to help citizens in communities across the nation get to the polls. If you reserve a car for at least two days and pick up on Nov. 2 or 3, you get one day free.

“We want to make it easier for people to exercise their right to vote,” says Laura Smith, executive vice president of global marketing and customer experience at Hertz. “Especially those who need safe and reliable transportation. We’re happy to provide local and convenient mobility options to the communities we serve on Election Day.”

For Hertz, this is a pretty big deal. It’s operating under bankruptcy protection. Giving away rental cars is a sacrifice –although it’s getting some revenue from it.

They’re turning into polling stations

Hotels are also helping during the election. For example, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants has teamed up with the Civic Alliance, a nonpartisan network of more than 400 member companies that are championing civic engagement with their employees. IIt’s offering flexible “civic hours” and back-up child and elder care to make it easier for employees to vote. Kimpton properties in Denver and Nashville will be serving free meals to poll workers. Also, the rooftop at Kimpton La Peer Hotel in West Hollywood will be a polling station for early voting and Election Day.

In Los Angeles, the historic Hotel Figueroa will also serve as an official polling place from Oct. 30 to Nov. 3. It’s a civic-minded property with deep roots in the community as a hotel originally founded, financed and operated entirely by women, for women.

Some hotels that have been closed during the pandemic are reopening to help on Nov. 3. The Omni Shoreham in Washington D.C.’s third ward will open as an early voting location. The hotel has a rich political history, and a spokesperson said it’s happy to support Washingtonians as they fulfill their civic duty.

They’re serving election-themed meals (with benefits)

In Washington, two restaurants run by Amy Brandwein — Centrolina and Piccolina — are closing on Election Day to let employees vote. But before they do, Brandwein is also offering guests an Election Night Kit for Two ($150) with all proceeds dedicated to staff members’ paid leave on Election Day. The five-course meal includes Brandwein’s signature spinach and fontina lasagne and wood-roasted branzino. It comes with instructions to easily heat and assemble at home.

They’re getting into the election spirit

Some companies in the travel industry are going all-out to support the election. Bunkhouse Hotels, which owns several hotels and motels in Texas, has introduced a number of voting resources in the hopes of encouraging its guests to vote. The company has launched an election-themed website with information about checking your voter registration status, information about candidates, and how to vote.

Bunkhouse set up voter registration booths in September and October at its Austin coffee shops and at its recently reopened Hotel Havana in San Antonio. It even introduced special retail items at the Austin Motel, including what it calls the Election Collection of yard signs, bumper stickers, and tote bags that benefit the League of Women Voters.

But will supporting the election make a difference?

Will the things the travel industry is doing for the election make a difference? It remains unclear how efforts to get out the vote will help. Hope for more federal aid is fading as Election Day approaches. Many of these efforts target urban areas and voters, offering free meals, reduced-rate transportation, or conveniently located polling places. That could attract more voters — and in a close election, it could make a difference in the outcome.

Will civic participation by travel companies directly benefit hotels or car rental companies? In my conversations with these companies, none of the executives said they hoped for an immediate dividend. Offering free rides to the polling booth won’t rescue a car rental company from bankruptcy.

But if there’s a new administration after Election Day, then the travel industry’s efforts to get out the vote could reap some dividends in the long term. Democrats may offer a more generous aid package to airlines or hotels, rewarding them for their civic-mindedness.

Posted in Smart Consumer Tagged , , , , ,

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can’t. He’s the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes weekly columns for King Features Syndicate, USA Today, and the Washington Post. If you have a consumer problem you can’t solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter.

Underwritten by

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Global Rescue

Global Rescue is the world’s leading provider of medical, security, evacuation and travel risk management services. Founded in 2004, Global Rescue has exclusive relationships with the Johns Hopkins Emergency Medicine Division of Special Operations and Elite Medical Group. Global Rescue provides best-in-class services that identify, monitor and respond to client medical and security crises. Learn more about Global Rescue.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Generali Global Assistance

Generali Global Assistance has been a leading provider of travel insurance and other assistance services for more than 25 years. We offer a full suite of innovative, vertically integrated travel insurance and emergency services. Generali Global Assistance is part of The Europ Assistance (EA) Group, who pioneered the travel assistance industry in 1963 and continues to be the leader in providing real-time assistance anywhere in the world, delivering on our motto – You Live, We Care.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Seven Corners

Seven Corners has helped customers all over the world with travel difficulties, big and small. As one of the few remaining privately owned travel insurance companies, Seven Corners provides insurance plans and 24/7 travel assistance services to more than a million people each year. Because we’re privately held, we can focus on the customer without the constraints that larger companies have. Visit Seven Corners to learn more.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Sodexo North America

Sodexo North America Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 80 countries. Sodexo is a leading provider of integrated food, facilities management and other services that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life for millions of customers in corporate, education, healthcare, senior living, sports and leisure, government and other environments daily. Learn more at Sodexoinsights.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelex Insurance Services

Travelex Insurance Services is a leading travel insurance provider in the United States with over 55 years combined industry expertise of helping people dream, explore and travel with confidence. We offer comprehensive travel insurance plans with optional upgrades allowing travelers to customize the plans to fit their needs. Compare plans, get a quote and buy online at Travelexinsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Insuremyrentalcar.com

An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at  Mediacomcable.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Arch RoamRight

Arch RoamRight is one of the fastest growing, most-highly rated travel insurance companies in the United States. Travel advisors love working with us, and travelers feel protected with our trip cancellation and travel medical insurance coverage. We also make it easy to file a claim online with our fast, paperless claims website. Learn more about RoamRight travel insurance.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

VisitorsCoverage is one of the world’s most trusted providers of travel insurance for millions of global travelers in over 175 countries. Working with top-rated travel insurance partner providers, VisitorsCoverage’s award-winning search, compare and purchase technology simplifies the travel insurance process and finds the best deals for the coverage you need to explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at VisitorsCoverage.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. Elliott.org readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by TravelInsurance.com

TravelInsurance.com makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at  TravelInsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on  Squaremouth.com to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International, SinglesCruise.com, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Generali Global Assistance

Generali Global Assistance has been a leading provider of travel insurance and other assistance services for more than 25 years. We offer a full suite of innovative, vertically integrated travel insurance and emergency services. Generali Global Assistance is part of The Europ Assistance (EA) Group, who pioneered the travel assistance industry in 1963 and continues to be the leader in providing real-time assistance anywhere in the world, delivering on our motto – You Live, We Care.

%d bloggers like this: