Amtrak Business Travel News

Business travel increases, Amtrak asks for Money

Corporations Kick Off 2013 By Booking More Travel

Corporations started off the new year by booking more travel, according to Pegasus Solutions, a major processor of electronic hotel transactions.

January booking gains surged nearly 8% for the global hotel market, according to Pegasus. Rates increased 2.1% over the year before. In North America, corporate bookings increased 5.4% over 2012 and rates grew 2.3%.

Cayman Marriott

Business travel showed its biggest improvements outside North America; reservations for all other regions combined passed 2012 by 11.2%, according to Pegasus. (Source: Pegasus press release).

Hotels Should See Strong Revenues and Profits This Year

Despite fears about sequestration, the U.S. hotel industry should continue to see strong gains in both revenue and profits, according to the monthly edition of Hotel Horizons, produced by PKF Hospitality Research.

It projects a 6.1% increase in revenue per available room and a 10.2% boost on bottom-line net operating income. Although uncertainty about sequestration has tempered economic growth, it has not shut down lodging demand, according to R. Mark Woodworth, president of PKF-HR. It expects occupancy rates to increase by 1% and average daily rates to rise by 5%. (Source: PKF-HR press release).

Car and Rail

Amtrak Seeks More Federal Money for Investment, 17% Less for Operating Support

Amtrak is asking for more federal capital investment to improve and expand inter city passenger rail for fiscal year 2014, but is asking for 17% less in federal operating support.

Last year it covered 88% of its operating costs with ticket sales and other non-federal sources of income, up from 85% the preceding year. It is asking for more federal capital investment just over $2 billion to improve and expand inter city passenger rail. (Source: Amtrak press release).

Spotlight On…
Business Travel Sentiment

The Global Business Travel Association’s 2013 Industry Pulse for U.S. business travel buyers finds buyers are optimistic about travel in 2013 but bracing themselves for higher costs.

  • They expect prices to increase from 4.6% for domestic economy airfare to $492 per trip to 8.3% for international economy fares to $1,318 per trip.
  • They expect hotel rates to rise 3.7 % or $161 for domestic hotels and 8% or $297 for international hotels per night.
  • Most travel managers expect higher rates (65%) and airline fees (60%) will drive higher spending.
  • Two in five (42%) expect more trips to drive increased spending and 33% expect to spend more because they’re putting more travelers on the road.

Source: GBTA press release

Hotel Revenue growing and Amtrak looking at 220 mph

Hotel lobby at Palace resort in Mexico

Hotel Revenue and Occupancy Keep Growing

Hotel consulting group TravelClick says that North American hotels should continue to see occupancy and rates grow, although rates are going up faster than occupancy levels. Occupancies are up 2% over a year ago, while average daily rate (ADR) is up nearly 5%.

Group travel is driving occupancy increases; it is up 2%. Leisure demand is up 3.9%, while business demand is down 2.5%

Separately, Pegasus Solutions, the biggest processor of hotel electronic transactions, said that leisure travel continued to outpace 2011 in the fourth quarter of 2012. And corporate bookings rose to match those of December 2011, something that happened in only three other months in 2012, according to Pegasus.

It projects continued growth in both leisure and business bookings.
(Source: Travel Click, Pegasus press releases)

Amtrak Looking 220 mph Trains in Northeast, California

Amtrak and the California High-Speed Rail Authority are looking for proven High Speed Rail trains that are in service now that could travel at speeds of up to 220 mph. It would operate these trains in the Northeast Corridor and in California’s developing High Speed Rail corridor.

California has set a goal of three-hour train trips between Los Angeles and San Francisco by 2029. The system would eventually extend to Sacramento and San Diego, covering 800 miles.

Amtrak wants to add to its high-speed Acela service on the Northeast Corridor, which has seen record-setting ridership over the last decade.
(Source: Amtrak press release)

Spotlight On…
Rosier Business Travel Outlook

Business travel spending slowed at the end of 2012, mostly because companies postponed investment decisions while they awaited the outcome of the presidential elections and resolution of the fiscal cliff crisis, according to the Global Business Travel Association’s BTI Index, a business travel index.

But the forecast for this year is more positive, with one caveat: that economic and political uncertainty continue to ease.

  • U.S. business travel spending is expected to increase 4.6% to $266.7 billion in 2013
  • Trip volume will decrease slightly by 1.1% to 431.8 million person trips
  • International outbound travel spending will increase 5.9%
  • Group travel spending will increase 5.2%
  • Price inflation will be modest, meaning companies will spend more real dollars on business trips.

In 2012, the GBTA estimated that U.S. business travel spending grew 1.6% to $254.9 billion, while trips decreased 1.9% to 436.5 million person trips.
(Source: Global Business Travel Association BTI Outlook)

Business travel News: Hotel Outlook Avis, Amtrak Survey

Business travel for hotels car Avis Amtrak survey.

First Quarter Outlook for Hotels is Bullish

The hotel industry should see a strong first quarter, according to the Hotel Industry Leading Indicators. Seven of the forward looking indicators of business activity that comprise the HIL were positive in November. They included hotel worker hours, hotel profitability, foreign demand, yield curve, oil prices, housing activity and vacation travel.

Two indicators were negative or zero: the jobs market and new orders. "Although we are still in an unhealthy jobs market, US consumers, lower energy costs and a reviving housing sector are working together to build strength back to the demand for hotels," said Ms. Simos Sogard, CEO of e-forecasting.com, an economic research and consulting firm which produces the HIL. (Source: e-forecasting press release).

Avis Gets Into the Car-Sharing Market

Avis will buy Zipcar, the top car-sharing business. It has more than 760,000 members and operates in 20 cities and in more than 300 college campuses in North America and the U.K. Other car rental companies are already in the car-sharing business: Hertz with its OnDemand division and Enterprise´s CarShare unit. (Source: industry press releases).

Amtrak Introduces New Tier to Loyalty Program

Amtrak has introduced a new tier, Select Executive, to Amtrak Guest Rewards, its loyalty program. It is for members who earn 20,000 or more tier qualifying points in a calendar year. It´s designed to give higher recognition to Amtrak´s most frequent travelers with bonus points, special offers and special perks and services. (Source: Amtrak press release).

Spotlight On…
CFOs Business Travel Outlook

A Survey of 200 US CFOS and senior finance executives finds them optimistic about their own prospects but concerned about sluggish economic growth in the U.S. and in key regions around the world, including the U.K. and Europe. Three in five senior finance executives are prioritizing investments in growth and that includes business travel.

  • 61% anticipate spending the same or more on business travel
  • The most important reason for travel is to build new business, 37% and to retain current business 35%.
  • At the same time, most senior finance executives 64% do not expect corporate travel policies to loosen this year as companies continue to maintain a disciplined approach to controlling spending.

Source: press release

PKF is Bullish On Hotels, news report on High Speed Rail

Bar at the Maritim Park Hotel, Mannheim Germany

Bar at the Maritim Park Hotel

PKF is Bullish On Hotels Despite Economic Gloom
Hotel demand growth over the past two years has been surprisingly strong, according to PKF Hospitality Reseach, which is forecasting that room revenue for hotels will grow 7.2 percent this year, more optimisitc than forecasts earlier in the year.

The reason for this optimism, PKF says, is that 91 percent of the people in the workforce have jobs, the unemployment rate among educated workers, who make up the largest majority of the travelling public, is under 5 percent and corporate profits are soaring to new highs. All these factors are why the hotel inudstry has seen a growth in demand despite the weak economy.

Demand is growing faster than the supply of hotel rooms is growing. PKF says this means hoteliers can start to raise rates—average daily rates thus far have lagged other major indicators for hotels. (Source: PKF press release).

Rail

New Try to Expand High-Speed Rail
A new report says that high-speed rail can work in the U.S. but that it will take a fresh appraoch that focuses on public-private partnerships that supplement state and federal funding with private funding. It woud mean prioritizing high-speed rail in areas such as California, where work on a high-speed line is moving forward, and the northeast, where the Acela already competes well with airlines.

The recommendations are in a report by the Lincoln Institute, which has worked on high-speed rail internationally for decades. It points to the example set by Asian and European countries whose trains go 185 mph or faster.

It recommends putting high speed stations in city centers with lots of connections to buses, subways and commuter rail. (Source: Lincoln Institute press release).

Global corporate travel booking grew by more than 10.2% in August 2011 over August 2010, accroding to Pegasus Solutions, a global hotel reservation processing company. August improved over July, when the pace of growth flagged in the face of mounting financial market tensions.

Pegasus noted other trends showing that companies are trying shave travel costs but not eliminate travel.

  • Length of stay is growing very slowly, increasing from 2.2 nights in August 2010 to 2.21 nights in August 2011.
  • Booking lead times are increasing gradually, from 17.44 days out in 2010 to 17.79 in 2011.
  • South America showed the greatest revenue growth—30.3% year over year.
  • North American and Europe reported 13.6% and 15.2% revenue growth, as those markets grappled with the impact of Hurricane Irene and concerns about the debt crisis in Greece and other European countries.

Source: The Pegasus View report

Build travel business, Hotel Recovery

Hilton Garden Inn


Hotel Industry Appears to Start Recovery
If you’ve been enjoying low rates and easy availability at your favorite hotels, the market is beginning to tighten, but not by much. U.S. hotel occupancy and rates are starting to edge up. In year-over-year measurements, the industry’s occupancy was up 5.8% to 47.7%.

Average daily rates ended the month with a 2.8% increase to $96.64. Demand is strong and room rates are edging up slightly, with the higher end of the market outpacing moderately priced hotels, according to Smith Travel Research. The hotel research and consulting company expects this trend to continue over the next several months, (Source: STR press release).

Luxury Hotels Keep Their Customers Happiest
Value does not mean cheap when it comes to hotels. Even though economy guests say that price is the most important element in their choices, economy hotels received the lowest value scores (79.2) in the 2010 Market Metrix Hospitality Index released last month.

Luxury hotels received the top scores for delivering value (83.5). Hotel loyalty programs also played a bigger role for guests in choosing a hotel than in 2009. (Source: Market Metrix press release).

Car and Rail

Amtrak to Add More Free Wi-Fi to Trains This Year
Amtrak plans to expand its on-board free Wi-Fi this year. It plans to install AmtrakConnect on more trains in the Northeast Corridor and on more West Coast trains. It has also completed building a dedicated wireless network that improves connectivity and delivers a high-speed signal to trains traveling through New York City tunnels.

Amtrak also plans on upgrading its system to 4G to increase available bandwidth. Free Wi-Fi is already available on Acela Express trains between Washington, D.C. and Boston and on Amtrak Cascades trains. (Source: Amtrak press release).

How Travel Helps Build Your Business

Hitting the road is good for your company’s bottom line, according to an Global Business Travel Association study. The study found that companies overlook how travel can give them a competitive edge. Among its findings:

  • Every dollar strategically spent on business travel delivers $20 in additional gross profit.
  • To get that return requires spending an average of 4 percent more on travel—or about $70 per employee.
  • Industries that could benefit from more business travel spending: banking, finance, retail, and pharmaceuticals.

Source: Global Business Travel 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

Hotel & Car Rental Updates; March

Hotels

Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Opens in Downtown Boston
InterContinental Hotels Group is opening a 72-room Holiday Inn Express Hotel and Suites in downtown Boston. The hotel is expected to open this summer after a $2 million renovation to a historic 100-year-old building.
Coffee in Europe
It is on Friend Street, directly across from the TD Banknorth Garden, and within walking distance to Boston’s famed historical attractions, including Fanueil Hall, Boston Commons, Beacon Hill and the Old North Church.
(Source: InterContinental press release)

Car Rental

Hertz NeverLost Launches Online Trip Planning
The Hertz NeverLost in-car navigation system has added a new feature: Online Trip Planning. It means you can plan your trips online from your home or office by going to www.neverlost.com , then save it on a USB storage device and then insert it into the Hertz NeverLost system.

Online Trip Planning incorporates information from the Yellow Pages, establishments along highway corridors, city guides and other information.
(Source: Hertz press release)

Amtrak Updates

Amtrak Institutes New Security Procedures
Amtrak is deploying its new specialized Amtrak Mobile Security Team to patrol stations and trains and randomly inspect passenger baggage. The Mobile Security Team supplements ongoing patrols already in place.

The Mobile Security Team’s squads may consist of armed specialized Amtrak police, explosives detecting K-9 units and armed counter-terrorism special agents in tactical uniforms.

They will screen passengers, randomly inspect baggage and patrol stations. These squads also may sweep through trains using K-9 units.
(Source: Amtrak press release)

Spot Light

E-Commerce Customer Satisfaction
A University of Michigan report finds that customer satisfaction with the e-commerce industry has improved, with one exception: online travel. The American Customer Satisfaction Index found that, in aggregate, online travel was down 1.3 percent to 75. Expedia (78) and Travelocity (74) both dropped 1.3 percent. Orbitz registered the only gain (+1.4 to 75). The reasons, according to the study: Big online travel agencies are seeing stiff competition from supplier

  • sites such as hotels and airlines as well as from online search engines like Kayak
    or Sidestep
  • The pool of people booking online is not increasing. In fact, a Forrester Research report says that nine percent fewer people booked online in 2007 than it 2005. The industry is losing shoppers, although those who do shop online are spending more money.
  • That means that, to get new customers, online players have to woo them from their competitors. Customer service is the way to do that, but online travel agencies also have to compete on the low prices that supplier sites and search engines promise consumers.

(Source: University of Michigan press release)