MEMBERS of the National Rifle Association (NRA), America’s powerful gun lobby, can earn valuable discounts at Best Western and Wyndham hotels—just as, for example, an American Automobile Association member might save 10% at Hyatt hotels. Now anti-gun activists are targeting Best Western and Wyndham for their support of the NRA, as Hugo Martin of the Los Angeles Times recently reported:
Global advocacy site Avaaz.org has urged its followers to go on Facebook and sound off against Best Western International and Wyndham Hotel Group for affiliating with the NRA. (Avaaz means “voice” in several European, Middle Eastern and Asian languages.)
This is one of those situations where no one is behaving particularly badly, and the hotel chains just face a tough choice. Avaaz is entitled to push Wyndham and Best Western to disassociate themselves from the NRA, and Wyndham and Best Western are free to refuse. The hotels essentially have to decide what makes the most sense for them business-wise: sticking with the NRA or annoying and potentially alienating anti-NRA customers. Either decision could have major negative repercussions: NRA members are passionate gun-rights advocates, and could launch a boycott of the hotel chains if their discounts are cut off. But the backlash against the NRA in the wake of the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut has also been fierce, and Avaaz members shouldn’t be underestimated. (My colleague at the Lexington blog wrote an especially brilliant post on the issues raised by that tragedy.)
In this particular case, the best course of action for the hotels may be to stick with their original policies. They made a promise to NRA members about discounts; they should keep it. In the future, they can reconsider whether the NRA is the best potential discount partner for their business. Maybe it is—but surely, in the wake of Avaaz’s petition, it’s worth some more thought.
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