Tuesday, September 7, 2010

An airfare sale, a serious lawsuits and the end of a career for Steven Slater

Lots of interesting bits of news coming out of this long weekend. In no particular order, here's what caught my eye:

JetBlue Throws a Seriously Good Sale
Which can't be said for all JetBlue sales. But this one, which debuted today and is open for bookings until end of day Sept 9th (for travel Sept 15-Dec 5 with holiday blackouts), has some fares that are lower than train rates and possibly cheaper than taking the bus. I'm speaking of JetBlue's fab fares between NYC, Washington, DC and Boston, which start at just $39. The rates between the Big Apple and such key foliage destinations as Burlington, VT and Portland, ME are also darn sweet.

Beyond the east coast are good savings to the Caribbean, various Floridian gateways, and JetBlue's airports in California. For complete info, click here.

He Said, It Said
In more JetBlue news, word came out over the holiday weekend that beer-swilling, slide-slipping steward Steven Slater had been canned. His lawyer huffily contradicted the first reports, saying Slater had quit. Whatever. He leaves his jobs with thousands raised by supporters for his legal defence fund on Facebook.com. I'm predicting a stint on Dancing with the Stars next.

TripAdvisor embroiled in a lawsuit
A coalition of 120 British and US hotels is threatening TripAdvisor with a lawsuit for defamation. The hotels claim, through a company called KwikChex (which manages the online reputation of a number of businesses) that though the site allows hoteliers to respond to complaints, it doesn't go far enough in deleting outright falsehoods and damaging statements. According to tnooz.com if TripAdvisor doesn't respond to these complaints, KwikChex will bring a case in a US court. tnooz also reports that more hotels may be joining in the lawsuit.

As a travel writer, I've talked with a LOT of hoteliers about TripAdvisor. Some complain about the extra work it takes to monitor the site and respond to posters there. They've intimated that they'd rather be spending the time attending to their current clients. Some have bragged to me about how they've gamed the system, posting false reviews to promote their property. And though none has ever admitted this to me, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that some hotels may be posting false statements to hurt a competitor. Its a rough time for hotels, many of which have very low occupancy rates right now. Playing dirty? I'm sure some have.

The question I guess comes down to: can a site as massive as TripAdvisor adequately monitor its content, to ensure that the opinions expressed are real ones, and not just marketing? And will they be able to make sure that outright falsehoods, ones that could potentially push a hotel out of business, don't appear on the site? It'll be interesting to watch where this all leads.

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