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Travel Business News - North America.

Mar 15, 2009

Little-known airlines seek niche in small markets. As major carriers cut back on service to match a drop in demand, small airlines are sometimes moving in to pick up the slack in second-tier markets. "Communities are begging us to come in," says Ed Warneck, president of Direct Air, which flies to such vacation spots as Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Sanford, Fla. Smaller cities benefit from improved air connections, but there are drawbacks, as well. Some flights operate only once a week, for instance, leaving little recourse if weather forces a cancellation. Mar 12, 2009

Travel companies are cutting back their IT development leaving the way open to mobile software companies, said Mike Atherton, ceo of Mantic Point. "The stresses in the economy seem to be working for us. Large travel brands tend not to have that many resources," he said. "Their priority list gets longer and longer but their IT development priority gets shorter. So what it means is they're more likely to partner." Mantic Point is targeting business travellers, keen to capitalise on their increased need to consolidate travel information. www.streamthru.com

www.manticpoint.com Mar 11, 2009

Travel managers and suppliers must become partners again to help the industry out of its current crisis, Kevin Maguire, president of the National Business Travel Association (NBTA) said. He said: "Suppliers and buyers used to work together in this industry. They don't anymore." He said it was part of a travel manager's job to work with suppliers to come up with realistic ideas that drive business. Mr Maguire, speaking on "The Future of Business Travel" at the Business Travel Show in London today (February 11), said the industry was going through a culture change. In a year when oil prices had gone "crazy", airlines were charging $10 for a pillow and $3 for a drink. "I am not convinced this is the way for airlines to make a profit. The survivors will be the strongest and the most productive, like Air France, Lufthansa and Delta. www.nbta.org Mar 11, 2009

Travel companies say that by the end of this year, consumers will be able to comparison shop for airfares that for the first time will include the fees airlines have been tacking on to advertised fares only after you hit the [sup.3]buy[sup.2] button. Already TripAdvisor.com and FlyingFees.com offer elementary tools for calculating fees, and advanced technology that can fold fees into fare quotes at travel agencies, online vendors and airline Web sites is likely to hit the market later this year. [sup.3]This has tremendous potential to turn air-travel shopping on its end,[sup.2] said Kyle Moore, vice president of product marketing for Sabre Travel Network. A 200 USD ticket on one airline may look like a good deal, but could ultimately be more expensive than a 250 USD ticket on another carrier if that first airline charges fees for checking baggage, transporting pets or unaccompanied minors. Even perks like seats with extra legroom, priority security-line privileges or one-day passes to an airport lounge can significantly boost the price of a ticket. Mar 10, 2009

Meeting Professionals International (MPI) has announced the slate of candidates for its 2009-2010 International Board of Directors. All MPI members will receive official notice of the slate via the website. Pending membership approval, board and executive committee member selections are effective July 1, 2009, for FY 2009-2010. The slate of officers for the executive committee includes: Chairman Elect: Eric Rozenberg, CMP, CMM, president, Ince&Tive, Brussels, Belgium; Vice Chairman of Finance: Craig Ardis, CMM, director Global Event Management, Zimmer Inc., Warsaw, Ind., U.S.; Vice Chairman: Kevin Kirby, senior director of sales, Hard Rock International, Orlando, Fla., U.S.; and Vice Chairman: Sebastien Tondeur, CEO, Corporate Division, MCI, Geneva, Switzerland. Nominees for the board of directors (three-year terms) include Chuck Bowling, executive vice president, Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, Nev., U.S.;? Paul Cunningham, president and CEO, IIMC International Information Management Corporation, Dublin, Ireland; Cindy D[sup.1]Aoust, senior vice president consolidation, Maritz Travel Company, Philadelphia, Pa., U.S.; and Chris Gasbarro, chief creative officer, C3, llc, Stratham, N.H., U.S. The nominee for the board of directors (one-year term, to fill unexpired portion of Sebastien Tondeur[sup.1]s remaining term) is Issa Jouaneh, PENG MBA, Vice President, Global Meeting Solutions, American Express, New York, N.Y., U.S. For more information, visit www.mpiweb.org. Mar 9, 2009

The National Business Travel Association (NBTA) claimed victory for the corporate travel industry, local Idaho businesses and rental car consumers in the defeat of legislation in Idaho that would have burdened car rental customers with a 6 percent statewide tax increase. This discriminatory tax proposal, which would have targeted rental car customers to fund transportation infrastructure projects within Idaho, was eradicated by the Idaho State Legislature House Transportation and Defense Committee in an 11-3 vote. In efforts to defeat the proposal, NBTA last month spoke with legislators in Idaho and submitted a letter of opposition to the committee, calling it [sup.3]especially bad for Idaho companies who already inject millions of dollars into the state economy with their rental car spending.[sup.2] www.nbta.org. Mar 9, 2009

TRAVDEX Connect is the place where buyers, sellers and industry leaders discuss the impact of technology on the travel industry with their peers and other contributors. The site features syndicated feeds from leading travel industry bloggers focused on technology, e-commerce and m-commerce, as well as video interviews with top executives from global travel technology firms and leaders from the travel, tourism and hospitality industry. TRAVDEX Connect utilizes a suite of open-source platforms including WordPress, Google Friend Connect, YouTube, Flickr and other applications. TRAVDEX Connect encourages dialogue on the most pressing topics related to travel technology leading up to TRAVDEX, the trade show for travel technology, which debuts May 5 to 7, 2010, at the Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta. For more information, visit www.travdexconnect.com. Mar 9, 2009

AirPlus International

AirPlus International, a global provider of corporate travel payment solutions, has released two independent study findings that confirm the mindset of corporate travel is changing in this difficult economic climate. In the first study, The Wirefrom AirPlus, over 84 percent of corporate travel managers on both sides of the Atlantic state they already have or are in the midst of re-evaluating their current travel policy. The second set of data sheds more light on the differences between the Americans and Europeans, with the Europeans deploying more cost-saving measures to their travel and only 2 percent stating they[sup.1]ve stopped altogether, while 19 percent of Americans stated they[sup.1]ve cut back on travel full stop. www.airpluscommunity.com. Mar 9, 2009

American Express

American Express Business Travel said it helped clients globally realize more than $2 billion in travel and expense savings in 2008. Demand for proven savings and a need for greater cost control methods factored favorably in the company[sup.1]s overall business performance last year, despite the uncertainty and turmoil in the economy. New business acquired reached $3.4 billion and global customer wins increased 172 percent compared to 2007, with a global retention rate of 98 percent. The North America Middle-Market client segment experienced a 63 percent year-over-year growth increase, while Advisory Services achieved a 33 percent annual growth rate, globally, in consultative sales. www.americanexpress.com. Mar 13, 2009

California

To entice new and repeat travelers from Germany, one of California[sup.1]s top overseas markets, the California Travel & Tourism Commission has expanded its web site, www.visitcalifornia.de, to give them the inside scoop on how to experience the California lifestyle during their visit. The California Travel & Tourism Commission (CTTC) is a non-profit organization with a mission to develop and maintain marketing programs - in partnership with the state's travel industry - that keep California top-of-mind as a premier travel destination. According to the CTTC, travel and tourism expenditures total US$96.7 billion annually in California, support jobs for 924,100 Californians, and generate US$5.8 billion in state and local tax revenues. For more information about the CTTC and for a free California Visitor[sup.1]s Guide, go to www.VisitCalifornia.com. Mar 16, 2009

Delta Air Lines, Delta Vacations

Delta Air Lines is transferring the operations and management of Delta Vacations in the US and Canada to MLT Vacations, effective July 6. MLT Vacations became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Delta following the airline's merger with Northwest Airlines in October 2008. MLT Vacations currently manages multiple package vacation brands, including NWA WorldVacations. Delta Vacations will continue to be managed by Travel Impressions, a wholly-owned subsidiary of American Express, until the transition date of July 6. Customers who have previously booked a Delta vacation package through Travel Impressions will not be affected by this change. Mar 9, 2009

Hawaii

Hawaii's lieutenant governor and some in the state's tourism industry aren't laughing over a "Saturday Night Live" skit they fear could deter people from visiting the islands. The four-minute skit, an exaggerated portrayal of how annoying and frustrating it can be to deal with tourists, depicts a pair of disgruntled locals who sing and dance for mainland visitors.Hawaii Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona said he's worried the skit might hurt the state's biggest industry and plans to send a letter in protest to Lorne Michaels, the NBC program's executive producer. Mar 13, 2009

Hawaii

Hawaii stocks were mostly up Tuesday as Wall Street soared on news that Citigroup was profitable in the first two months of 2009. Hawaii stocks seeing gains include Hawaiian Holdings Inc., parent company of Hawaiian Airlines, up 15.1% to 3.19 USD. Mar 10, 2009

Jamaica

The Jamaica Tourist Board is reporting a strong start in tourism arrivals for 2009, with 148,886 total stopover arrivals for January representing an increase of 4.2 percent over the same period in 2008. For the first month of this year, Jamaica welcomed 80,190 visitors from the United States and just under 40,000 visitors from Canada. Despite the economic downturn, it is worthy of note that the Canadian market experienced witnessed a 37.7 percent increase over January 2008. Preliminary figures for February 2009 also reflect this growth trend, showing an increase of 1.3 percent. The preliminary figures for the first week of March show a 12.9 percent increase over the corresponding period last year. Last year, Jamaica experienced a 3.9 percent growth in stopover arrivals, with a total of 1,769,271 visitors. Of that number 1,150,942 came from the United States, Jamaica[sup.1]s primary source market. www.visitjamaica.com. Mar 11, 2009

Marriott Hotels

Marriott International reported a $10m ([euro]7.8m) loss from continuing operations for the last three months of 2008. The figure compares with a $236m ([euro]183.3m) surplus for the same quarter in 2007. The group, which has 3,100 properties worldwide, said it expected the business environment to remain "unpredictable" and was unable to give guidance for 2009. Marriott said adjusted income for the three months to the end of December was $121m ([euro]94m), a drop of 49% compared with the same period in 2007. www.marriott.com Mar 13, 2009

Points International

Points International Ltd. ([sup.3]Points[sup.2]) - - the world[sup.1]s leading loyalty reward solutions provider and owner of the Points.com portal - today announced results for the fourth quarter and full year ended December 31, 2008. Total revenue was a record $21.7 million USD for the fourth quarter of 2008. Points grew revenue 49% over the $14.5 million USD reported in the fourth quarter of 2007, and over the $20.4 million USD reported in the third quarter of 2008. Principal revenue, a key financial indicator for the Company, rose sharply both year over year and sequentially. For the fourth quarter of 2008, principal revenue totaled $19.7 million USD, an increase of 71% over $11.5 million USD in the same period last year, and up from $18.3 million USD in the third quarter of 2008. Commission revenue was $1.8 million USD, down from $2.7 million USDreported in the same period of last year and $1.9 million USD in the third quarter of 2008. Interest revenue was $216,000 USD, a decrease from $261,000 USD reported in the same period last year and up slightly from $208,000 USD in the third quarter of 2008. Mar 11, 2009

TravCom

TravCom has become the first travel management accounting company to provide a direct system interface for eCommission Solutions[sup.1] ECS Kalypso fully integrated commission consolidation, segment capture, tracking, dunning, recovery and reporting program. ECS Kalypso[sup.1]s proprietary software will be integrated with the TravCom CS back office accounting and management system to capture automatically booked and manually booked hotels, cars and other non-ARC segments. Effectively capturing the data enables travel management companies to boost their commission recoveries, reduce retrieval time and enhance data integrity. Some customers using ECS Kalypso report increases of more than 40 percent for commission recovery. Plus, the detailed data analysis on bookings dramatically strengthens the travel agency position for future negotiations with vendors while enhancing the data integrity of their travel management reports. The addition of the Kalypso software will complement the more than 60 reports and features already built into the TravCom CS system. For more information, visit www.travcom.com. Mar 12, 2009

TRX

TRX, Inc. announced the renewal of its contract with the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) for the third year of the five-year agreement. TRX was awarded the contract renewal based on its proven success delivering commercial data aggregation services and Web-based reporting tools to the GSA. The five-year agreement is renewed annually based on TRX[sup.1]s previous year[sup.1]s performance. The TRX data intelligence solution provides the ability to capture and aggregate comprehensive travel data into actionable reports every federal agency can utilize. The solution provides transparency into travel spending, policy compliance, and regulatory report generation, such as premium class travel. The GSA is currently using the TRX tool to consolidate travel data from multiple travel agencies and is expected to include data from the E-Gov Travel Services (ETS), travel cards, and direct travel suppliers in the near future. www.trx.com. Mar 10, 2009

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Date:Mar 16, 2009
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