Hotel rewards and Car Rentals news

Riu Resort Cancun Mexico
Hotel Occupancy Rates Drop, Putting Pressure on Room rates
There’s more room at the inn for U.S. travelers, with the U.S. hotel industry finishing 2009 with an occupancy rate that was 4.2 percent lower than at the end of 2007, according to hotel consulting company STR.

The industry saw a decent start to the year, but became extremely negative during the past four months. Although occupancies fell, average daily room rtes actually increased by 2.4 percent. STR says the hotel industry will stay at this level for the next few months, but will see some improvements in the second half of the year.

Only two cities saw occupancy go up—New Orleans 8.6% and Houston 2.6%. Rates actually went up in many major cities, including Houston 9.4%, Denver (6.3 percent), San Francisco (5.4 percent). Ultimately, however, declining occupancies are going to put considerable pressure on hotels to lower their room rates, according to Lodging Econometrics, which covers hotels.
(Source: STR Global press, Lodging Econometrics press release)
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Starwood, Hilton Add Bonuses to Loyalty Programs
Starwood is celebrating the tenth anniversary of its Starwood Preferred Guest
program and Hilton is kicking off the 22nd year of Hilton’s HHonors loyalty program. Both are offering bonuses until spring. Starwood is offering members 10,000 bonus Starpoints for every 10 nights stayed now through April 30. Hilton HHonors, whose members can earn points and miles for the same say is offering double base points at the more than 2,400 participating Hilton family hotels through April 6. Register for the program at HiltonHHonors.com/globaldoublepoints.com
(Source: Hilton, Starwood press releases).

Car Rental Avis Budget Introduces Satellite TV in cars You can keep backseat drivers occupied with ATT CruiseCast, a new satellite television service that brings news, family, sports, comedy and music channels to the back seat of your car. Starting later this year, the service will cost $8.95 per day or $62.65 per week. It stores p to there minutes of content so obstructions such as overpasses or tall buildings will not interrupt a program. Channels include MSNBC, CNN Mobile Live, the Disney Channel, Comedy Central and many others.
(Source: Avis Budget press release)
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Expense Management in Tough Times

A recent travel study of Fortune 500 companies and their expense management practices found one of the most effective strategies—and the least expensive to implement—was holding employees accountable for their corporate spending. There were three simple ways,

  1. Communicate: make sure employees know what a company’s spending policies are.
  2. Educate: tell employees the financial implications, for both employees and the company, for disregarding those policies.
  3. Enforce: offer carrots and sticks to encourage employees to adhere to policy.

Source: press release

Travel reviews by JD Power and IBM

Hotels

Hospitality Industry Confronts Impact of Economic Downturn
Occupancy and revPAR levels for U.S. hotels continue to decline through the first week of November (latest available data) though ten top markets posted brisk growth in occupancy levels, room rates and revPAR through October.

Hotels in the United Kingdom as well as in Europe overall registered revPAR declines based on sliding occupancy levels.

The hotel construction pipeline grew 28% worldwide at the mid-year point (latest available data) although signs point to a developing fall-off and in the U.S., the number of guestrooms under
construction decreased by 5% in October.
Car Rental
Car Rental Customer Satisfaction Continues to Decline Customer satisfaction with renting cars at airports has declined considerably for a second consecutive year, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2008 Rental Car Satisfaction Study.
Avis rent a car
The study looks at six factors: costs and fees, pick-up process, rental car, return process, reservation process and shuttle bus/van.

Overall satisfaction declines significantly from 750 points on a 1,000-point scale in 2007 to 734 in 2008. Staffing and operational cuts are hurting service, according to the study. Enterprise ranked highest for the fifth year in a row, followed by Hertz and Alamo. (Source: J.D. Power press release).

Avis Budget Ups Rates $3 Per Day
Avis Budget Group said it is upping its retail car rental rates by $3 per day and $20 per week at all airport and selected off-airport locations.

The company said the rate increase was a response to escalating costs affecting the car rental industry. Hertz raised its rates in the U.S. and Europe at the end of October. (Source: Avis Budget Press release)

High Lights

Airline baggage fees bug air travelers the most, but many consider general cabin ticket prices and fuel surcharge reasonable, according to a survey by the IBM Institute of Business Value.

  • Seventy-eight percent of travelers consider airline baggage fees the biggest rip-off.
  • Seventy-six percent considered additional charges to redeem miles another major rip-off.
  • But 70 percent called general cabin ticket prices reasonable.
  • Half considered fuel surcharges valid.
  • Fifty-eight percent prefer to pay the lowest possible ticket price, sacrificing all amenities, including food.

(Source: IBM press release)

Hotel Car & Record Airfare Updates for Sept 2008

Hotels

Sheraton Opens at JFK
The Sheraton JFK Hotel, a new build, has opened at New York´s John F. Kennedy International Airport. The 150-room hotel is a full-service hotel with meeting facilities, complimentary shuttle service to and from the airport, a restaurant, indoor pool, business center, fitness center and Club floor. (Source: Starwood Hotels Resorts press release).

Marriott Raleigh City Center Opens The 400-room Raleigh Marriott City Center has opened next to the new 500,000-square-foot Raleigh Convention Center. The 16-story hotel is attached to the convention center and has more than 15,000 square feet of meeting space, a business center, swimming pool and fitness center. It has two Italian restaurants and a 1,400 square foot Starbucks. (Source: Marriott press release).
Cars
Avis and Budget Offer Flicks to Go
Avis Rent A Car and Budget Rent A Car are introducing Flicks-To-Go, portable DVD players that attach
to the back of a car’s headrest. They include a choice of speakers for multiple viewers or two high-quality headphones which customers can keep. (Source: Avis press release).
Record Airfares
If it feels as though you’re paying more for airfare, there´s a reason. The latest Business Travel Monitor reports that domestic and international airfares hit record levels in the second quarter of 2008. The good new is that companies can save money by emphasizing travel policy compliance.

Among the study’s findings:

  • The average one-way domestic fare was $260, up $24 from the same period last year, a 10 percent increase, and up $27 from the first quarter, a 12 percent increase.
  • The average one-way international fare hit its highest level since the inception of the Business Travel Monitor in 1999. These fares increased 11 percent over the same period last year, averaging $1,080.
  • The percentage of international business class tickets dropped to their lowest level since 2004. Increases in the percentage of tickets purchased for the back of the plane indicate that travelers are trading down.

(Source: press release).