The NAACP on Wednesday called for a boycott of Holiday Inn, Best Western and other leading hotel chains, assailing the lodging industry’s record in the hiring and promotion of African Americans.
The boycott is the first step in a broader effort to maximize black buying power in corporate America, NAACP President Kweisi Mfume said.
“African Americans spend more than $4 billion annually on travel and lodging, with much of this going to the lodging industry,” Mfume said. “The lodging industry has an abysmal record of including African Americans in all aspects of its operations.”
Mfume urged people “to immediately exercise personal responsibility and use our consumer guide” when planning business trips and vacations. Without prompting, he added: “A selective boycott--yes. It means exactly that. Punish, quite frankly, our enemies.”
Some hotel representatives defended their records on hiring African Americans and said they are not enemies of the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People. A majority of the 10 targeted chains had declined to cooperate with the group’s survey of black employees and managers.
Holiday Inn spokesman Craig Smith said the refusal to give detailed information about hotel operations had nothing to do with a lack of commitment to equal opportunity.
“We support the work and spirit of the NAACP but politely declined to give them that data,” Smith said. “We don’t provide data on our operations to anyone.”
“We have a good story to tell,” said Anne Curtis of Choice Hotels International.
“The NAACP is hurting people they say they want to help,” said Ann Rhodes of Doubletree Hotels Inc.
Mfume said the call for a boycott was supported by 55 primarily black organizations with a membership of more than 9 million, including the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, the National Urban League and the National Council of Negro Women.
Sixteen national companies were sent a four-page questionnaire seeking general information such as number of properties, number of rooms and number of black employees in executive, managerial and professional positions. It also asked whether the companies used minority advertising outlets and black firms as vendors and whether the companies supported charities that serve the black community.
Of the 16 companies, none answered the entire survey and just six received passing grades.
Marriott International and Hilton Hotels each received a C, the highest grade awarded; Hyatt Hotels, Adam’s Mark Hotels and Ritz-Carlton Hotel were graded C-, and HFS, operator of Days Inns, got a D.
Ten firms with lower grades were targeted by the boycott.
Two of them, ITT (the operator of Sheraton) and Promus Hotel (which runs the Embassy Suites chain), answered some questions but withheld information dealing with employment and property ownership. Each received a D-.
Mfume said seven firms notified the NAACP that they would not participate: Westin Hotels, Best Western International, Radisson Hospitality Worldwide, Renaissance Hotels and Resorts, Choice Hotels International, Holiday Inn Worldwide and Omni Hotels. All got Fs.