Expert on Web travel sites visits
An expert in battles that pit government bodies against online travel sites, such as Expedia and Travelocity, spoke to local hoteliers last week.
Shawn McBurney, senior vice president of governmental affairs at the American Hotel and Lodging Association, brought members of the Charleston Area Hospitality Association up to date on the issue. Locally, both the city of Charleston and the town of Mount Pleasant have filed lawsuits against Internet booking services, cases that the courts have consolidated.
Both direct hotel bookings and reservations made through Internet sites could charge the a traveler $110 for a room, but the website might only pay $80 for the room, while the hotel includes 10 percent tax on a $100 base rate. That means that a city gets $10 from the hotel but only $8 from the website.
McBurney said a municipality’s success in suing the companies depends on how local ordinances are written. Columbus, Ga., won a case against the online bookers, but the companies responded by delisting the city.
When New York City tried to strong-arm the websites, they sued the city.
“They couldn’t delist New York City,” McBurney said.
The local battles are set to take the stage this summer.
Kiawah Island Resort and Wild Dunes Resort took the first and second rankings, respectively, in Tennis Resorts Online’s list of the best in the country. South Carolina courts take five of the top 25 spots that include places as far-flung as Austria and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Jacob Fuhr became the new manager and sommelier at Peninsula Grill, the Forbes Four Star and AAA Four Diamond restaurant inside Planters Inn at Market and Meeting streets. Fuhr will handle operations and continue to develop the wine program at the restaurant. Most recently he was general manager and sommelier at The Ocean Room at The Sanctuary Hotel on Kiawah Island.
Reach Allyson Bird at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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