Ray Nagin Special Pricing For Houston Evacuees – Just A Joke

This piece of shit really needs to be taken out of office. Since his disgraceful management of Katrina to the still unfinished rebuilding of New Orleans to this money grubbing and heartless scam on the people of Houston, who gave to the victims of Katrina…. The Nagin special… Give us your money…

Mary Jane Bernard arrived at the Best Western French Quarter Hotel on Rampart Street on Friday morning with what she thought was a simple request.

“When we got there, we asked for the Ray Nagin special, ” said Bernard, a Baytown, Texas, resident who was evacuating in advance of Hurricane Ike with her sister. What she got, though, was a perplexed front desk worker and the opportunity to star in a scene replayed at least a few times Friday.

In a news conference Thursday afternoon, Mayor Ray Nagin had encouraged Texas evacuees to book hotel rooms in New Orleans by requesting the “Mayor Ray Nagin special rate.”

The offer was designed, the mayor said, “to say to our friends in Houston and Texas that we want to take care of you, since you have taken care of us, ” according to a transcript of his remarks. Thousands of New Orleanians evacuated to Texas shelters and hotels because of Hurricane Katrina.

Trouble is, as Bernard found out, the special rate doesn’t exist.

In fact, it is against federal anti-trust laws for hotels to collectively agree upon rates. It also is impractical to set a flat rate citywide because hotels vary in size and services, said Stephen Perry, president of the New Orleans Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Association.

Perry said he and Nagin had discussed those issues before the news conference and that the mayor’s comment was meant to direct guests to ask for a hotel’s “best rate.”

“What the mayor was trying to say . . . was to ask for the very best rate at the hotel, ” Perry said. “We have very good late-summer rates right now.”

Calling it the “Nagin special rate” was the mayor’s attempt to lighten the mood, Perry said.

Nagin spokeswoman Ceeon Quiett did not reply to e-mail seeking comment.

Evacuee not laughing

The humor was lost on Bernard, who said she was told that the mayor was only kidding when she called City Hall on Friday to inquire about why the Best Western wasn’t offering Nagin’s special.

“The woman I spoke to said he was just saying that in jest and that I was taking it too seriously, ” Bernard said. “For them to say we’re taking things too seriously is just unconscionable. It’s not a joking matter when you’re running for your life just like the people here did three years ago.”

The mayor’s comments and ensuing calls from potential guests requesting the special rate caused the Greater New Orleans Hotel & Lodging Association to issue a harried e-mail to hotels urging them “in the spirit of cooperation” to make any appropriate accommodation they could to callers requesting Nagin’s rate.

“While there is, of course, neither a mandate nor a law to give ‘special rates’ to evacuees in this instance, we know that you recognize the impact of any major hurricane on its citizens, and the necessity of evacuation to a safe place, ” the association’s president and executive director wrote in a joint statement sent to 101 hotel properties.

Some hotels have offered up discounted rates as a result.

The Astor Crowne Plaza is offering an $89 rate, down from the current going rate of $129, to Houston-area evacuees, said Don Zimmer, the hotel’s director of sales and marketing. The hotel’s sales team has also been reaching out to corporate clients in Houston in the hope of booking a few groups.

Those efforts have netted one group, Zimmer said. But the Astor hasn’t turned up any business from individuals looking for rooms.

“If anything we’ve experienced cancellations from groups that were scheduled that were concerned about New Orleans’ close (proximity) to Texas, ” Zimmer said.

‘Few and far between’

The Hilton-New Orleans Airport also has not had many calls from Ike evacuees.

“It’s been steady, not an overwhelming amount, ” said Kenneth Jackson, director of front office operations. People asking for the Nagin rate have been “few and far between, ” Jackson said.

No one has asked for the discount at the Hilton Garden Inn-Kenner, front desk clerk Sarah Williamson said.

“We were advised that he had made that comment, ” Williamson said. “But we’re offering the standard rate.”

The Sheraton New Orleans and two other Starwood properties in downtown New Orleans also haven’t booked much evacuee business, the properties’ general manager, Bill McCreary, said. But he said that might change if people drive into the city without having booked reservations in advance. The Sheraton is offering rooms for $119 to evacuees, the same price available online at Hotels.com.

“That’s a very low rate considering the fact that we’ve got a convention in town, ” McCreary said. “This is a good season for getting good discounts in the city.”

Bernard said she was able to secure the Best Western’s best rate: $89 per night and $27 for parking. But the episode has left her cold.

“We came here because Mayor Nagin said there were 10,000 rooms and we thought we’d be treated in a reciprocal manner as the New Orleans evacuees were in Houston, ” Bernard said. “It’s absolutely not about the money; it’s about the way we were treated.”

. . . . . . .

Jaquetta White can be reached at jwhite@timespicayune.com or 504.826.3494.

Advertisements

4 Responses

  1. I live in Houston and this pissed me off…I MEAN REALLY pissed me off. After our mayor (bad ass Bill White) opened up our city to the Katrina evacuees that “Run Away Ray” hadn’t provided enough transportation to, this is what we get for cleaning up his mess and opening our homes to the people of New Orleans that he left utterly screwed???

    For the record Bill White went to different apt complexes in Galveston (not even his city) after he heard several apartment residents couldn’t leave and ordered Houston’s METRO to bus them out. In case Ray’s wondering, that’s how a REAL civil leader works.

    Rest assured, Nagin best not show his face in Houston or he’ll be treated to a Columbian necktie, and if you know Texans you know that’s no idle threat. We’ll leave him swingin like a windsock.

  2. lolz… very funny… you cheer my days

  3. “The Sheraton is offering rooms for $119 to evacuees, the same price available online at Hotels.com.

    “That’s a very low rate considering the fact that we’ve got a convention in town, ” McCreary said”

    Are you KIDDING ME??? Houston’s mayor never treated evacuees with this kind of disdain and indifference much less it’s people. Make note New Orleans, next time you evacuate, you are NOT welcome here.

  4. Well I wouldn\’t go that far…

    \”The Astor Crowne Plaza is offering an $89 rate, down from the current going rate of $129, to Houston-area evacuees, said Don Zimmer, the hotel’s director of sales and marketing. The hotel’s sales team has also been reaching out to corporate clients in Houston in the hope of booking a few groups.\”

    so it\’s really not everyone. That being said, I think \”Run Away Ray\” needs to have his trachea ripped out and be given an acid enema through it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: