Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Don't Get Caught in a Bad Hotel... Or How Culinary Can Use New Tools to Fight Station

Take a look at what SF Pride at Work is doing...

This thing is quickly going viral, and just in time to catch tourists like moi considering our San Francisco PRIDE plans... Including hotel reservations. Paul Hogarth explains more on the value of this new kind of "viral video protest" at Beyond Chron (an excellent SF blog):

The video was fun, but how do we know it will be effective at getting people to boycott the Westin St. Francis?

A friend responded with this point: “It will be seen by a lot more people than your average - ‘what do we want and when do we want it’ protest - because as much as I am pro union and will support boycotts, I don’t forward info on every single boycott because seriously, nobody would read my reports if I did. I saw the YouTube video and then saw that the Palace Hotel was part of the boycott list and canceled my reservations for tea at the Garden Room. I probably would not have found out about the boycott if it wasn’t entertaining enough to go viral, and I definitely wouldn’t have posted it in my [Facebook] status and then five of my friends probably wouldn’t have posted in theirs …”

In the 21st Century, people spend a lot of time online – and a huge amount on Facebook, talking to their friends and procrastinating. A fun YouTube video can go viral, because you’re reaching people where they’re at – and it’s easy for them to post it on their page.

As far as getting “bang for your buck,” Pride at Work hit a home run. They didn’t have to mobilize a huge number of people, the whole action took 5 minutes and nobody got arrested. How many times can you say that – and get that amount of media coverage?

Could Pride at Work have done a similar direct action without YouTube or Facebook? Of course, but no one would have seen it – unless they happened to be in the Westin St. Francis at the time, or activists were lucky to get reporters present – never a sure thing.

And while onlookers in the hotel appeared supportive (activists handed out flyers during the flashmob about the hotel boycott), it can be difficult convincing an apolitical tourist who already paid for their room to check out of the hotel in solidarity. By broadcasting it on YouTube and generating a viral campaign, more will hear about it and not stay there.

How very, very true. And you know what? It applies very much to LAS VEGAS, too!

Think about it. The Fertittas are trying hard to prevent "an inconvenient bankruptcy" from toppling their gaming empire, while Boyd Gaming is licking its chops to grab as many Station properties as possible when "PropCo" (amd maybe even a bit of "OpCo"?) goes to the auction house. Both companies are notorious for being anti-union, and Culinary 226 so far has had no luck at organizing any casinos run by either company.

Culinary now has an active organizing campaign running, but all I've seen from it so far are two RTC bus stop ads: one at Green Valley Parkway & the 215, and one at St. Rose Parkway & Paseo Verde. Oh, and apparently there's a YouTube page that I didn't even know about until five minutes ago.

Now I'm sure there's plenty of negotiating going on inside, and there's probably more to come. Culinary has earned its reputation as a true Nevada political power player for good reason.

However I just think there's even more they can do, especially when it comes to winning in the court of public opinion... And getting the public to choose union hotels over anti-union hotels when staying here in Vegas. [I'm sure MGM Mirage, Harrah's, and Wynn would really appreciate this as well. ;-) ]

I'm wondering how involved Sleep With the Right People and Pride at Work are with the Station fight. If they aren't yet, I hope Culinary reaches out to them. There are millions of LGBTQ tourists who come to Vegas each year, and they should know to "sleep with the right people". Oh yes, and Culinary should know about these new tricks they should put up their sleeve so they can reach out to millions more Vegas visitors and let them know where to go (and where not to go).

All those tourists "voting with their dollars and their feet" would really get Station and Boyd to pay attention.

1 comment:

  1. I have to say at this point culinary so powerful i don't really care. Stations have long held a reputation as a pretty good place to work for in the past and that, more than any political factor, probably is why their drives there have always failed.

    Hotel workers have been protesting outside various hotels in SF for almost a year now. There's almost a fatigue over the whole thing and I doubt it can work well in Vegas since the entrances of outlet hotels are much further from the sidewalk. In "real cities" from before the 50s where they didn't build around car culture, these demonstrations are literally a step outside.

    I'm always most on the lookout for what provides the best service, and union and non-union seem to make no difference.