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NAACP Urges Hotel Boycott

June 30, 1998

BALTIMORE (AP) _ The NAACP is urging people to boycott three national hotel chains that the civil rights group says have poor track records in minority hiring and business development.

In a survey released Monday, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People ranked Best Western International Inc., Adam’s Mark Hotels and Omni Hotels Corp. at the bottom of a 14-chain list, earning grades of D+, D and D-, respectively.

``Hotels that receive a D will not receive NAACP business dollars,″ said Kweisi Mfume, president of the Baltimore-based organization. ``And we will take every opportunity to inform consumers of our decision and urge them to make similar choices.″

The NAACP ranked hotel chains in five areas: the percentage of black employees, franchise owners and vendors, the percentage of advertising dollars going to minority media, and the percentage of donations going to black charities. The rankings were based on information the chains themselves supplied.

In each case, the percentage needed to get an ``A″ was 14 percent. Ten to 13.9 percent rated a ``B,″ 6 to 9.9 percent was a ``C″ and anything less than 6 percent was a ``D.″ Failure to report rated an ``F.″ Blacks make up 13 percent of the U.S. population.

Cendant Corp., the parent company of Days Inn, Howard Johnson and TravelLodge, was at the top of the list with a B rating, followed by Promus Hotel Corp., the parent company of Doubletree, Embassy and Hampton, with a B-.

Marriott International Inc., Westin and Choice received grades of C+; Holiday Inn, Wyndham, Radisson and Hilton earned Cs; and Hyatt and ITT Sheraton were given C-s.

Best Western, which has 3,400 hotels in 77 countries, said it was unfairly penalized because it was unable to provide all the information the NAACP had requested.

``We have never had a disagreement with the NAACP or its objectives and goals. But our problem is, we feel the survey is comparing apples and oranges,″ said Skip Boyer, a spokesman for Best Western.

Best Western is an association of independently owned hotels, and its headquarters doesn’t have access to information about individual properties and their operations, Boyer said.

Michelle Bennett, a spokeswoman for Omni, said the 42-hotel chain didn’t provide all the information the NAACP had asked for because Omni is privately held and some of the requested information was proprietary.

Both companies received failing grades on the NAACP report card last year, but they were minimally affected by a boycott, Boyer and Bennett said.

The lodging industry takes in about $80 billion a year, with blacks contributing an estimated $4.6 billion, said NAACP spokeswoman Jeanne Hitchcock.

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