by Vincent Alonzo | June 08, 2017
Hack Your Way out of LaGuardia

From flight crews calling in police to strong-arm passengers off of planes to inappropriate pat downs at security checkpoints, the airline industry's lack of respect for passengers seems to be getting worse. As a man, I'm pretty much spared that last indignity, but almost every time I'm in an airport I see a female traveler practically being publicly molested by a TSA security "professional" doing a pat down. There isn't anything I can do about that, but as fellow travelers I think we all should try to look out for each other where we can in this current climate. 

So in that spirit, here's a tip for all meeting attendees and planners who are flying into Terminal B at New York's LaGuardia Airport. As anyone who has recently flown into the terminal will tell you, the massive multi-year construction project currently going on at LaGuardia has made it almost impossible to get a cab (it's such a mess that Uber can't get in at all). And the airport personnel seem perfectly content to just let the chaos happen without so much as an information stand to let people know what's going on or tell them that the massive line they see outside the terminal is the line they have to stand on to get into a cab in two-and-a-half hours. 

I've stood on that line numerous times but returning from a trip after the recent Memorial Day weekend I overheard something from a fellow traveler in the taxi queue that inspired me to think of a great hack to get around the line. About a half hour into the wait she said to no one in particular: "Is it like this at all the terminals?" That's when the light bulb lit in my head. Terminal D at LaGuardia still has its taxi lot intact. It hasn't been steam-shoveled into a pit like all the others. So here's what you do to avoid that long line at Terminal B. As soon as you get outside the terminal go to the area where the airport shuttle picks up. Get on the shuttle, take it to Terminal C, and after a short walk of a couple hundred feet to Terminal D you'll get a cab in no time.

My work is done. 

Horse-d'oeuvres? 


In 1815 there was a massive volcanic eruption on the Indonesian island of Java that spewed volcanic ash around the planet, blocking the sun for months. By 1817 that lack of sun caused a mini famine in Southwest Germany and the population ate all of the horses just to survive. Which created another problem: how to get around when you've just consumed your main provider of transportation? That's when Baron von Drais created the "Laufmaschine," or running machine, which came to be recognized as the first bicycle.

Two hundred years later, tourism leaders from the region held a luncheon in New York, celebrating the anniversary of the bicycle with new offers to explore the whole Black Forest region. Christine Schoenhuber, marketing director of Baden-Wurttemberg, told us about the SchwarzwaldCard. The card can be purchased to provide free entry and discounts into 140 attractions throughout the region. It is valid for any three days of the year and is sure to save groups money. 

The Black Forest is easy to discover by bus and train - and with the KONUS guest card, it is free. The card is handed out to tourists upon arrival and offers free travel on all local buses and trains in the entire region. Groups can use their KONUS cards to visit the Schwetzingen Palace and Garden - the place where meat loaf was invented. 

One can only wonder: Was there a connection between the need to eat horsemeat and the invention of ground beef?

Aloha Spirits

Next time you bring a group to Maui, make sure they sample some of the more unique libations the island offers. Such as Ocean Vodka, made from sugar cane instead of potatoes. Groups might also try the island's own brands of rum (Hana Bay and Whalers Bay) made from pineapples rather than sugar. What did you you expect? They're using all the sugar cane to make vodka! 

John White, the Ka'anapali Beach Hotel's, sales and marketing director, was in my office recently giving me the lowdown on some of these innovative uses of the island's natural resources when he filled me in on some of the more interesting developments at the property. 

There's a newly renovated ballroom that now features high-tech lighting and a tremendous outdoor lawn overlooking the ocean. But the highlight is their new immersive program, Star Hikes and Stargazing. Attendees can enjoy night hikes and stargazing while storytelling beneath the stars. Special hikes can also be timed to full and monthly moons and other celestial occurrences. And of course nothing helps a group enjoy the activity of seeing stars better than a good, stiff drink. 

Resort Dog

No, it's not that overly amorous playboy at the hotel pool swim-up bar. 

We're talking man's best friend who's there to make your hotel stay healthier. 

Chris Bielski, director of sales and marketing, Fort Lauderdale Marriott Harbor Beach, visited my office telling me about the property's recent renovation of all guest rooms, which includes improved furnishings, fixtures, flooring, and "cool-toned décor" like natural woods and "sea-life inspired artwork." The lobby has also received a transformation, with new art installations, an indoor greenery, and new furnishings.

Then he told me about the newest staff member, Sandy, the hotel therapy dog. The Marriott Harbor Beach recently debuted Sandy, a one year-old black Labrador retriever and therapy dog in-training. Sandy is often spotted walking around the property's lobby, meeting spaces, and beach, greeting guests and corporate meeting attendees who come through the door. Sandy's owner says when she brings her to the lobby up to 15 people stop her in a matter of minutes to pet her and say they miss their dog while traveling.

Meet Ya at the Movies

I'm a big movie buff, so from time to time I'll offer a write-up of an old movie that is either about meetings or has a meeting as part of its plot. Let's start off with D.O.A., a 1950 film noir staring Edmund O'Brien as an accountant and notary public who has only 24 hours to find the murderer who slipped him a mickey that is slowly poisoning him to death.

The meeting angle comes at the beginning of the film. O'Brien's character checks into a San Francisco hotel that's hosting an annual sales convention. His room is opposite the hospitality suite of an exhibitor at the show, and he wastes no time in crashing the party of salespeople and buyers. He's kind of on the make, so he tags along with a group of male and female attendees to a nightclub where he takes the drink that seals his fate.

The interesting thing about how the meeting is depicted in the film is the role of the female attendees. They're all influential buyers of whatever product is created by the industry that's hosting the meeting (it's never clearly stated). Now this movie was made in 1950. By that point the postwar economic boom was in full swing, and according to popular history: men were solidly back in the workforce, most women were married and cloistered in the suburbs, and those who weren't were relegated to menial jobs or secretarial work. The female meeting attendees depicted in this film are successful with important jobs. 

It points out just how much popular history is like the tip of an iceberg -- there's a whole other part of any history that is left out. The great thing about old movies is that sometimes they will bring a little more of that iceberg to the surface, often without even trying to. This wasn't a movie about the role of women in the workplace in 1950; it was about a guy dying from slow poison trying to find his killer. But the matter-of-fact way it presents the status of female attendees documents how there were a lot of women holding influential jobs in the workplace, earning good livings, and indirectly laying part of the groundwork for the women's movement to come in the 1960s and '70s. And in this film, those women were doing all that at a meeting.