Hotel & Car Rental News May 2011

Hotels

Royal Sonesta in New Orleans

Summer Prospects Are Looking Up For U.S. Hotels
U.S. hotels should see occupancy and rates increase modestly this summer, according to STR, a major hotel consulting company. STR predicts that occupancies will increase 1.7 to 66.7% and average daily rates will increase 4.1% to $103.01.

Demand should recover in earnest this summer, according to STR, but rising fuel costs could dampen that. (Source: STR press release).

U.S Hotel Occupancies Up 6.1% in Spring
The U.S. hotel industry is building momentum. March occupancy and rate numbers were up 6.1% and 3.8% respectively, according to STR. That’s a sign of an ongoing recovery, according to the hospitality consulting company.

Major markets showing rate increases are San Francisco, up 12%, Oahu, up 9 concerns that there is enhanced potential for anti-American violence in the wake of bin Laden’s death are behind the State Department’s worldwide travel alert. percent, New Orleans, up 8.9% and Chicago, up 7% (Source: STR).

Car Rental

Hertz Repositions Fun Cars and Green Collection
Hertz has renamed two of its collections. The Fun Collection is now the Adrenaline Collection, which features muscle cars such as the Camaro SS, the Mustang GT Premium and the Challenger RT. All will come with free Sirius XM radio.

The Green Collection is now the Green Travel Collection and is made up entirely of hybrid, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and electric vehicles (EVs). By the end of the year, Hertz expects to have hundreds of EVs on the road. (Source: Hertz press release).

New High for Business Travel

Business travel hit a post-recession high at the end of the last quarter of 2010, according to the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA). The GBTA Business Travel Index (BTI) is at its highest level since the recession began in 2008.

This is good news for the economy, since GBTA Foundation research shows that increasing business travel spending is a leading indicator of future job growth. Stronger economic growth and the expectation of slightly higher prices drove the BTI higher.

  • The GBTA revised the index upward from 108 for Q4 2010 to 112, its highest since Q3 2008
  • That represent $1.9 billion more in business travel spending than originally forecast
  • For the year, total U.S. spending on business travel grew 3.2 percent
  • Business travel spending for 2011 is now expected to be up 6.9 percent for the year, up from the original 5% forecast
  • Travel costs are starting to increase, going up 2.5% in 2010 and projected to increase by 2 to 4% this year.
Source: GBTA press release.

Hotel Recovery, WiFi on Amtrak, Hertz Add Volts, Business travel

Amtrak

Hotels

Slow Hotel Recovery Keeps Rates Flat in U.S.
The U.S. hotel industry ended 2010 with occupancy increasing, but with average daily rates staying flat, the latter being good news for budget-conscious business travelers.

While the number of people booking hotel rooms matched or sometimes even exceeded pre-recession levels, rates stayed flat because people were booking later and group business has yet to return. However, that probably will change in the second half of 2011, according to STR, a major hotel research company. (Source: STR press release).

Car Rental and Rail

Amtrak Offers Free Wi-Fi on Cascades Trains
Passengers on Amtrak Cascades routes traveling between Vancouver, B.C., and Eugene, Ore., can now use Amtrak Connect Wi-Fi Service. More than 838,000 travelers rode Amtrak Cascades in 2010.

Wi-Fi service on Amtrak Cascades trains is during the introductory period, after which the policy will be reviewed based on customer demand and system performance. Amtrak also offers free Wi-Fi on all Acela trains and is considering adding it on other routes. (Source: Amtrak press release).

Enterprise, Hertz Add Volts to Fleets
Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Hertz have added Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric vehicles to their fleets. Hertz rented its first Volt in Manhattan; Enterprise rented its first Volt in southern California. Enterprise has been installing charger stations at select locations in Southern California. (Source: Enterprise, Hertz press releases).

Business Travel

Business travel spending, a key indicator for the overall health of the U.S. economy, is expected to grow this year, according to the latest Business Travel Quarterly Outlook - U.S., according to the National Business Travel Association Foundation.

  • Overall business travel spending should increase by 5% in 2011
  • It grew an estimated 2.3% in 2010, after plummeting 14.1% in 2009
  • International travel should surge by 16.9%, driven by exports
  • Group business spending, which is recovering slowly, should increase 3.2 percent
  • Total trips for 2011 are projected to be 109.9 million, 8.6 percent higher than in 2010.
Source: NBTA press release

Business travel news Hotels & Car rental performance

Business meeting

Hotels

More Than a Place to Sleep
You care about the quality of your hotel because it´s not just the place you lay your head at night but a workspace, according to a new Deloitte survey of business travelers. Roughly two-thirds of respondents agreed that they often work in their room (68%) and that they expect a lot more from a hotel than just a clean room and comfortable bed (65%).

Further, almost four out of five respondents felt that the high0seed internet (79%) and free parking (77%) were important amenities to them when staying a a hotel for business. (Source: Deloitte press release).

U.S. Hotels Projected to End Year With Rates an Occupancies Up
The U.S. hotel industry is projected to end 2010 with increases in two of the three key performance measurements, according to STR’s forecast update. STR projects 2010 occupancy will increase 5.3% to 57.4%; average daily rates are expected to end the year virtually flat with a .1% decrease to $97.92.

Supply is expected to grow 2.0% during 2010 and demand is projected to increase 7.4%. Mark Lomanno, president of STR, said that 2010 has been a better year than anyone expected in January. In 2011, StR is project increases in all three key performance metrics. Occupancy is expected to rise 1.6% to 58.3%; ADR should increase 3.9% to $101.73. (Source: STR press release).

Car Rental and Rail

Car Rental Customers Are Happier
Overall customer satisfaction with rental cars has returned to pre-recession levels after declining to lower levels during the past two years, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2010 North America Rental Car Satisfaction Study. Each of the rental car companies included in the study has improved in2010, compared with 2009.

Car rental companies quickly improved operations as the market returned and that helped reverse the negative impact of budget cuts and deferred investments had during the downturn, according to Stuart Greif, vice president of J.D. Power´s travel practice. Enterprise ranked highest in customer satisfaction for the seventh year in a row, followed by National and then Hertz. (Source: J.D. Powers press release).

Southwest Airlines won the annual Zagat airline survey for having the best check-in, luggage policy, timeliness, value and website. Continental Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Virgin America and Singapore Airlines also were major winners.

The survey also asked travelers—who took an average of 17.4 flights in 2010-about their likes and dislikes. Eight thousand frequent travelers responded to the survey questionnaire, which was posted on Zagat´s website.

  • Forty-five percent said that they try to avoid flying airlines that charge fees for checking bags.
  • Forty-two percent said that their loyalty club status means that they don´t have to pay those fees.
  • When choosing a flight, direct route were most important (65%), price as a close second (55%)
  • Time of day and seat comfort were also important to travels.
Source: Zagat press release

Lodging Forecast and Car Rental

travel forecast

Hotels

Demand May Be Up, But Hotel Rates Stay Low
Hotels occupancy rates are improving, according to PKF Hospitality Research, which says rates will increase 3.4 percent this year. Despite the increase, PKF expects average daily room rates to drop 1.6 percent—on average, you’ll be spending less on your rooms.

When the hotel business emerges from a recession, price increases lag growth in demand, according to PKF. However, PricewatershouseCoopers projects that room rates will start to increase in 2011, after two years of declines. (Source: PKF Hotel Horizons, PCW Lodging Forecast).

Car Rental

Hertz, Avis Continue Vying to Acquire Dollar Thrifty
Hertz and Avis, who are vying with each other to buy Dollar Thrifty, are both seeking antitrust approval for their proposed deals. Avis said that acquiring Dollar Thrifty would help it compete more effectively against Enterprise, the biggest player in the industry.

Hertz saying that it should face fewer hurdles than rival Avis, because Avis’ low-cost brand, Budget Rent A Car, competes directly with Dollar Thrifty. Hertz has also filed papers with the Securities and Exchange Commission on the matter. (Source: Hertz and Avis).

Avis Promotes Its EPA Certified Green Fleet
Avis said that its 2010 line-up is 62 percent SmartWay Certified, that is, they meet U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) environmental standards for air pollution and green house gas emission.

Nearly 100 percent of its subcompact, compact and intermediate vehicles are SmartWay certified. (Source: Avis press release).

Consumer satisfaction with hotels and car rental companies is up slightly, but down sharply for airlines, according to the quarterly Market Metrix Hospitality Index.

  • Guest satisfaction with hotels is up .4 to 83.3
  • Consumer satisfaction with car rental companies is up .8 to 79.2
  • Passenger satisfaction is down three points to 75.7, the biggest fall since 9/11.
  • Top companies were JetBlue, Enterprise, Ritz-Carlton, Hyatt Place, Red Lion and Microtel

Source: Market Metrix press release

Hotel Industry Recovery Looks Stronger

Hilton Garden Inn Hotel

Volcano´s Impact on Hotels Balances Out
The Iceland volcano´s impact on European hotels wasn´t all bad, according to Trust International, a major hotel reservations company.

Cancellations increased to a peak on Monday, April 19, to reach more than 50 percent over normal levels. But new reservations also curved upward by more than 25 percent, suggesting travelers were postponing rather than canceling trips altogether.

Hotels witnessed increased levels of guests extending their stays and walk-in bookings as travelers booked hotels after their flights were cancelled, which helped mitigate the effect of the cancellations.

Richard Wiegmann, manager director of Trust International, said that the international hotel industry is in recovery and the outlook for the rest of the year remains promising. (Source Travel Trust press release).

U.S. Hotel Industry Recovery Looks Stronger Than expected
The U.S. hotel industry should do better than initially expected this year, with occupancy increasing by 1.9 percent to 55.8 percent, according to Smith Travel Research.

Next year, STR says occupancy will increase 1.9 percent to a still relatively low 56.8 percent and average daily rates will increase 3.5 percent. The industry won´t be back to levels of 2007 or 2008, but the industry should see 2 good years in a row, said Mark Lomanno, President of STR. (Source: STR press release).

Car & Rail

Avis Tries to Block Hertz-Thrifty Deal
A suitor may throw a wrench into Hertz´ plans to buy Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group.

Avis Budget Group told the Dollar Thrifty board that it is prepared to make a substantially higher offer, saying that Avis had several times expressed interest in acquiring Thrifty.

Avis said that the heads of the two companies had had a date to discuss the matter, but Thrifty canceled it when it announced the Hertz deal.

Acquiring Thrifty would move up Hertz by about 300 domestic corporate locations and 1,250 international franchises. (Source: Hertz and Avis press releases).

Airline Security Vs. Privacy

A recent study found Americans are willing to put up with some loss of privacy in return for greater air security.

  • 93 percent said they are willing to sacrifice some privacy.
  • 65 percent said they would put with full electronic scans
  • 57 percent would go through biometric security checks such as iris scans or fingerprints
  • 72 percent said they would provide personal data in advance

Source: Unisys Security Index press release.

Hotel and Car Rental April Update

Hotel Prices Fall 12 Percent Worldwide
 Hotel prices are falling, according to Hotels.com’s Hotel Price Index. Rates for hotels in December 2008 were more than one tenth lower than they had been a year earlier and just one percent above their level in January 2004.

 Empress Hotel
North American rates fell the most, down 12 percent in the fourth quarter of  2008.
(Source: HPI, STR Global press releases).

Omni Hotels Offers Triple Miles with American, United
 Omni Hotels is offering members of its Select Guest program the opportunity to earn unlimited triple miles in the American AAdvantage and United Mileage Plus programs.

Guest Select members also get complimentary Wifi, morning beverages, pressing,  newspapers and online check-in and express checkout. To take advantage of the triple miles offer, visit SelectGuestProgram/ .
(Source: Omni Hotels).

Car Rental

Hertz Offers Summer Specials
 Hertz is offering 50 percent off weekend rentals through June 30 at participating airports in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. It’s also offering a Weekender, that includes an attractive rate, free child’s seat, no drop-off fee for one-way rentals and up to three days of Hertz NeverLost service. (Source: Hertz).

Travel Back Lash

Concerned by public perception of meetings and events as frivolous, some corporations are opting to meet in places that may look like a bargain but actually cost more.

An Association of Corporate Travel Executives survey of business managers found companies are factoring political correctness into their calculations.

  1. Sixty percent would avoid a “resort” destination like Las Vegas even if the resort city were a better deal than a non-leisure destination.
  2. Thirty-eight percent said public perception is now a key factor in choosing a meeting site.
  3. Sixty-two percent said it would take a dramatic increase in their own business or an increase in projects that required meetings for them to increase the number of meetings and conferences they attend.

Source: Association of Corporate Travel Executives 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)

Car Rental: January 2007

Golfing in Italy

Avis Reportedly to Introduce WiFi
Autonet Mobile is reportedly going to supply Avis Rent-A-Car with WiFi hotspot technology for rental vehicles that will cost customers $10.95 a day to use. Avis has not yet officially announced the agreement but says it will issue a statement soon.

The technology is a portable router device that will retail for $399 plus $49 a month for those who buy it outright, Autonet Mobile said.

The company unveiled its system at the CES International 2007 conference in Las Vegas this week, calling it “the first always-on broadband Internet service for cars.

It plugs into a vehicle’s power supply and hooks up notebook computers and PDAs to high-speed Internet. Autonet’s WiFi is expected to work in all major cities and 95 percent of the rest of the United States, the company said.

It added that the service is meant for passengers to use, not drivers, unless they’re parked.

Hertz Expands PlatePass
Hertz has expanded PlatePass, an electronic toll payment system that allows renters to bypass back-ups at cash toll lanes, first introduced in the New York metropolitan area, Boston, Atlantic City, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

The PlatePass program enables customers to utilize “E-Z Pass” lanes through rentals of E-Z Pass toll tags.

E-Z Pass is accepted on major toll roads throughout the Northeast corridor, from Virginia to Maine, including the Chesapeake Expressway in Virginia, the Pennsylvania Turnpike, New Jersey’s Garden State Parkway and New Jersey Turnpike; the New York State Thruway, all toll bridges and tunnels into Manhattan, the Massachusetts Turnpike, the Maine Turnpike and the Illinois Tollway.