June 14, 1997 in Nation/World

Naacp Plans Boycott Of Hotels But Chains That Ignored Survey Say Poll Unfair, Answers Unknown

Baltimore Sun

The NAACP called Friday for a boycott of three major hotel chains, saying they did not respond to a survey of blacks’ role in the lodging industry.

NAACP President Kweisi Mfume gave F’s to the Best Western, Holiday Inn and Westin chains. In a preliminary report on the survey in February, the NAACP gave eight chains failing grades. Five later responded and improved their standing.

Mfume said the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and three dozen black professional and fraternal groups hoped to mount a boycott of the three chains by midsummer.

He said few blacks were hotel executives, franchisees or owners of companies that supply the industry or handle its marketing and advertising.

Bill Fisher, president of the American Hotel & Motel Association, the voice of the lodging industry, called the NAACP survey “grossly unfair” because it asked questions about blacks’ roles that some chains had no way of answering.

Sue Brush, a spokeswoman for Westin, said Westin’s F grade was “meaningless” because it was not based on the chain’s record. She could not provide data on blacks’ positions in the chain.

Best Western International said it was an association of independently owned hotels. As such, the chain said, it did not have information about individual properties.

Holiday Inn Worldwide said it told the NAACP that “we do not as a matter of standard, competitive business practice provide the information sought about our operations.”

The NAACP gave grades of D or higher to all chains that responded to the survey, even those that offered scant information. Marriott, with a C-plus, got the highest grade.

Three chains - Doubletree, Choice (operators of Quality Inn, EconoLodge and other hotels) and HFS Inc. (which franchises Days Inn, Howard Johnson and others ) - were credited with developing plans to improve the position of blacks.

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