TSA may soon take to Twit­ter

Los Angeles Times - - BUSINESS BEAT - By Hugo Martin hugo. martin@ latimes. com

The TSA may be ready to talk to you now.

The Trans­porta­tion Se­cu­rity Ad­min­is­tra­tion, fol­low­ing the lead of sev­eral ma­jor air­lines, is con­sid­er­ing a plan to re­spond di­rectly to ques­tions and com­ments from trav­el­ers, via Twit­ter.

The agency that was formed in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, ter­ror­ist at­tacks sent out a so­lic­i­ta­tion last week for a busi­ness to help the TSA cre­ate a Web­based sys­tem that lets a team of 10 em­ploy­ees re­spond to Twit­ter posts aimed at the agency. The TSA would re­ply with the han­dle @AskTSA.

“Our goal is to im­prove the trav­eler’s ex­pe­ri­ence through one- to- one con­ver­sa­tions on Twit­ter to ac­tively as­sist cus­tomers be­fore, dur­ing and af­ter their travel,” TSA spokesman Bruce An­der­son said.

Many ma­jor air­lines al­ready use so­cial media to com­mu­ni­cate di­rectly with their cus­tomers by an­swer­ing ques­tions in real time. In some cases, air­line rep­re­sen­ta­tives give trav­el­ers spe­cific in­for­ma­tion about their sit­u­a­tion.

For ex­am­ple, South­west Air­lines pas­sen­ger David Higgins posted a mes­sage on Twit­ter at 9: 49 a. m. Fri­day about miss­ing his con­nect­ing f light in Dal­las and hav­ing to sleep in Amar­illo, Texas. In less than 15 min­utes, @ South­west Air re­sponded with: “David, thanks for your pa­tience. [ Di­rect mes­sage] us your con­fir­ma­tion num­ber, and we’ll take a closer look.”

But don’t ex­pect to get the TSA to di­vulge spe­cific in­for­ma­tion about its se­cu­rity oper­a­tions.

The so­lic­i­ta­tion said that the TSA wants to in­clude in the pro­posed sys­tem a “ro­bust con­tent repos­i­tory to store pre- ap­proved con­tent, canned re­sponses and ap­proved im­ages.” Ho­tel lob­bies turn into con­cert venues

Ho­tel lob­bies are fast con­vert­ing from a place to pick up and drop off a room key to a public liv­ing room, where guests hang out to en­joy snacks, drinks and lis­ten to mu­sic.

Sev­eral small ho­tel brands, in­clud­ing Aloft, have turned their lob­bies into small con­cert venues for lo­cal and lesser- known mu­si­cal acts.

Mar­riott In­ter­na­tional, one of the world’s big­gest ho­tel com­pa­nies, is tak­ing this idea a step fur­ther by part­ner­ing with Uni­ver­sal Mu­sic Group, the world’s largest mu­sic com­pany, to ar­range per­for­mances in ho­tel lob­bies by es­tab­lished and emerg­ing mu­si­cians.

The part­ner­ship will kick off Tues­day in Lon­don, where English singer and song­writer Jessie J will per­form at the St. Pan­cras Re­nais­sance Lon­don Ho­tel.

The move is in­tended to tar­get mil­len­ni­als, who num­ber more than 75 mil­lion in the U. S. and are ex­pected to spend $ 226 mil­lion on travel this year, ac­cord­ing to a Harris Poll sur­vey.

Does that mean that your lo­cal ho­tel lobby might fea­ture a set by Uni­ver­sal Mu­sic Group’s big­gest clients, in­clud­ing Madonna, Sting, Mary J. Blige, Nicki Mi­naj and Jen­nifer Lopez?

Jen­nifer Utz, vice pres­i­dent of Buzz Mar­ket­ing and Part­ner­ship, said the artists will be matched with the ho­tel venue so that more pop­u­lar acts will play at large ho­tel con­fer­ence cen­ters while up- and- com­ing bands might play in an in­ti­mate lobby set­ting.

“It will run the gamut of artist,” she said. “We are work­ing to match them with our var­i­ous prop­er­ties.”

The good news is that all ho­tel per­for­mances will be free to guests, and, when space al­lows, to the gen­eral public, Utz said. Re­sort do­nates du­vets to char­ity

Some­where in Gu­atemala, or­phans are run­ning around wear­ing col­or­ful out­fits that may look fa­mil­iar to for­mer ho­tel guests of the Santa Bar­bara- area’s Bacara Re­sort and Spa.

That is be­cause the out­fits were made from used ho­tel du­vets do­nated by the up­scale re­sort.

The do­na­tions are another ex­am­ple of how some ho- tels are help­ing to turn their used linens, tow­els and bath­room ameni­ties into do­na­tions for the needy. A Florida or­ga­ni­za­tion, Clean the World, has dis­trib­uted more than 20 mil­lion bars of soap to poor peo­ple in 96 coun­tries by col­lect­ing and re­cy­cling used soap from ho­tels.

Bacara teamed up with Di­rect Re­lief, a med­i­cal re­lief group based in Go­leta, which trans­formed up to 400 do­nated du­vets into out­fits for chil­dren, as well as bags, blan­kets and wash­cloths.

The ho­tel had al­ready been do­nat­ing linen to the group to be made into rolls of ban­dages by a group of women known as the “Holy Rollers.”

There are un­ex­pected busi­ness con­sid­er­a­tions to such char­i­ta­ble ef­forts.

“Guests find this en­dear­ing and it cre­ates loy­alty, which helps bring guests com­ing back,” said Kath­leen Cochran, the re­sort’s man­ag­ing di­rec­tor.

Jamie McCarthy

SOME small ho­tel brands, in­clud­ing Aloft, have turned their lob­bies into con­cert venues. Above, Avril Lav­i­gne per­forms at the High­line Ball­room in 2013.

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