»»Negotiated Airfares and Hotel Rates for 2011 in the US Predicted to Increase

Corporate travel agencies and travel consultants predict negotiated airfares and hotel rates for 2011 in the United States will increase significantly.
The New York Times quoted Craig Banikowski, president and chief executive of the National Business Travel Association, as saying: “we will see airlines and hotels wield more negotiating power. Many travel buyers are already experiencing stricter contract terms and requirements, and we expect this to result in smaller corporate discounts going forward”.

Carlson Wagonlit Travel forecasts increases of 3 to 5 percent on domestic coach tickets and 4 to 6 percent on business-class fares on long-haul international flights.

As a way to contain air travel costs, business travel advisers are suggesting companies to require employees to buy advance purchase fares sold to the public.
Stewart Harvey, client management director at Hogg Robinson Group, says: “Our advice to clients is to use their domestic corporate rate as a default position, but to be open to the lower fare on the day of booking as well”.

Coming to hotel prices, the average corporate hotel rate is predicted to rise about 4 percent in 2011.
According to Bjorn Hanson, divisional dean of the Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management at New York University , negotiated rates could increase significantly more than 4 percent in popular business travel destinations, up to as high as 20 percent in New York, where demand has remained strong. (source)

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»»Large Majority of Fliers Angry About Pat-down Procedures – Poll Reveals

A new poll on airport security checkpoint procedures revealed that 57% of adult fliers in the U.S. are bothered or angry about thorough pat-downs.

Also, the poll conducted by USA TODAY/Gallup released yesterday reveals that a large percentage of passengers interviewed — 42% — said they are angry or bothered by full body scanning machines.

Passenger rights advocate Kate Hanni of FlyersRights.org says that more travelers would oppose the scanning machines if pat-downs were not the only alternative.

The poll conducted Nov. 19-21 was based on telephone interviews of 757 American fliers who have flown at least twice in the past year (source).

Last week a similar poll conducted by CBS News had revealed that a large majority of Americans — 81% — approve the use of body-imaging scanners at airports (read story).

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»»Marriott Offers Free Gold Elite Status for 90 Days

Marriott is offering free Gold Elite status for 90 days with Marriott Rewards programme. A simple registration is required for those are already Marriott Rewards members.

If you’re not yet a member, enrol into Marriott Rewards programme and be automatically registered to enjoy instant Gold Elite status for 90 days. Then, stay 8 nights at any of over 3,400 hotels worldwide, as a Gold Elite member within 90 days of joining and enjoy Gold Elite status until February 2012.

As a Gold Elite member, you will benefit from: Room Upgrade, Guaranteed Lounge Access/Free Continental Breakfast, Guaranteed Room Type, Free Internet Access , Exclusive Offers, 25% Bonus on Marriott Rewards Base Points, Ultimate Reservation Guarantee, Priority Late Checkout.

Marriott also is offering15% discount on the “Stay for Breakfast” rate at participating hotels in China and Hong Kong between November 22, 2010 and February 28, 2011. Check-in on a Friday or Saturday, minimum 2 nights. Details of the promotion are available at http://www.joinmarriottrewards.com/hsbc/en/ .

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»»Healthy Food Options Increasing at U.S. Airports

Airports in the U.S. have increased the options of how and where to buy healthy food.
A report by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) — 2010 Airport Food Review — shows that 82% of restaurants located in the 18 largest airports offer at least one healthy option. This figure was around 57% ten years ago.

However the study says that at some airports, including Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Chicago O’Hare International Airport — near the bottom of the list of the airports reviewed in 2010 — healthful choices are still difficult to find.

Detroit, San Francisco, and Houston Bush scored the highest in percentage of restaurants with healthy options. 2010 Airport Food Review shows that Miami International Airport’s restaurants have been busy adding healthier options this year.

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»»Smoking Restrictions in Airports in the US – CDC Study

According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) seven of the 29 large-hub airports in the US still allow smoking in certain indoor locations. The large-hub airports that are not smoke-free indoors, according to the CDC’s report, include: Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, Denver, Las Vegas, Charlotte, Washington Dulles and Salt Lake City. An airport was defined as smoke-free indoors when smoking by anyone was prohibited at all times, in all indoor areas of the airport.

The study found that none of the 29 large-hubs completely prohibited smoking on all airport property with a majority of airports reported having specifically designated smoking areas outdoors in 2010 (79%) and/or prohibiting smoking within a minimum distance of entryways (69%). The 29 airports categorized as large-hub in 2010 accounted for approximately 70% of total passenger boardings in the United States in 2009.

CDC says that millions of people who travel through and work at these airports are unnecessarily exposed to secondhand smoke.
Secondhand smoke (SHS) exposure causes disease in both nonsmoking adults and children, including cancer, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases with an estimated 46,000 heart disease deaths and 3,400 lung cancer deaths among U.S. nonsmoking adults annually.

CDC says that eliminating smoking at airports is the only way to fully eliminate exposure for people who pass into and through airports as that enclosed and ventilated smoking rooms are not effective in eliminating SHS exposure. Also CDC cites a study by the California Air Resources Board which found nicotine concentrations adjacent to outdoor smoking areas at airports can be as high as those in some smokers’ homes. (Details of the CDC study’s findings can be found here).

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