»»Major Airlines Require Travel Sites To Sell Their Optional Services

Last December two major airlines have stripped their fares from some travel sites. American Airlines stopped to list its flights on Orbitz, Delta did the same with CheapOAir.com, OneTravel.com, and BookIt.com.

With this move arlines are aiming to cut costs, to build brand loyalty and increase their ability to sell the ever-growing array of optional services they offer for a fee.

USA Today quoted Cory Garner, American’s director of distribution strategy, as saying: “It used to be we only sold fares, but now we’re selling much more. We’re interested in exposing not just our fares but optional services through these channels.”

American wants Orbitz to switch to a technology system that informs fliers about their optional services.
Orbitz says: “We will continue to seek an arrangement with American Airlines to distribute American’s tickets on Orbitz.com and Orbitz for Business.”

However, by stopping to list its flights on travel sites, airlines will not allow fliers to quickly compare fares making it harder for them to find the best deal.

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»»Will Airlines Follow AA’s Ticket Distribution System?

American Airlines‘ decision to discontinue displaying and selling fares through Orbitz will make airfare shopping harder. Travelers will have to search American website separately when using Orbitz.

If the new American’s distribution system proves to be successful, other airlines could follow. As part of an effort to save money, they would stop giving their ticket inventory to other sites such as Orbitz.
That would make things a bit more difficult for business travelers in terms of comparison shopping.

As American tickets for travel already purchased through Orbitz remain valid — but changes must now be made through American Airlines reservations — tickets, fares and schedules are available online through American’s own website ther online travel agencies such as Priceline and meta search engines such as Bing Travel or Kayak.

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»»Hotel Rates and Airfares Close to Pre-recession Levels

Hotel rates and airfares are close to returning to pre-recession levels, a report released by American Express Business Travel said.

The report — 2010 third quarter Business Travel Monitor (BTM) North America by the corporate travel arm of American Express — reveals a distinct shift from a buyers’ market to a suppliers’ market with pricing power shifting into the hands of suppliers.
The study shows that domestic airfares are up 6% and international airfares are up 8% in year-over-year in the third quarter of 2010. Domestic hotel rates are up 3% for the third quarter of 2010, compared to the same period last year.

Year-Over-Year Average Domestic Airfare Paid
Increased 6%

Q3 2007 — $231
Q3 2008 – $253
Q3 2009 – $215
Q3 2010 – $228

Year-Over-Year Average Internat. Airfare Paid
Increased 8%:

Q3 2007 — $1,853
Q3 2008 – $2,010
Q3 2009 – $1,638
Q3 2010 – $1,781

Year-Over-Year Average Domestic Hotel Booked Rates Paid

Q3 2007 – $146
Q3 2008 – $147
Q3 2009 – $144
Q3 2010 – $148

Year-Over-Year Average Internat. Hotel Booked
Rates Paid:

Q3 2007 – $256
Q3 2008 – $266
Q3 2009 – $239
Q3 2010 – $238

– U.S. Cities with Highest Year-Over-Year Hotel Rate Increases –

– New York: $318 – $348 = + 10%
– New Orleans: $138 – $145 = + 5%
– Washington D.C.: $249 – $262 = + 5%
– Las Vegas: $119 – $124 = + 4%
– San Francisco: $208 – $216 = + 4%

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»»New Study Compares Corporate Travel Policies In Europe and North America

A study released today on corporate travel policies in Europe reveals that there are a lot of similarities between the travel policies in North America and Europe.
The study released by NBTA Foundation — research arm of the National Business Travel Association — and Egencia — corporate travel arm of Expedia — is based on best practices and insights from 383 European travel buyers located in over 20 European countries.

According to the survey, 87% of European companies say they are in the process of reviewing their travel policies to reduce costs; that figure is 84% in North America.
In Europe, 70% of companies that have reviewed polices during the recent economic downturn, have restricted their authorisation of business class; in North America that figure is 67%.

According to the study, 70% of European companies require that all travel be booked through a single designated Travel Management Company. Designating one or more Travel Management Companies through whom to consolidate all travel purchases is a key recommendation from the study to help enforcement and realise savings.

However the survey also reveals most of companies in Europe need to enforce their travel policies. 51% of respondents say either lack written policies or regard them only as guidelines as opposed to mandates or rules (vs. 38% in North America). And when it comes to policy violations, 64% — same for Europe and North America — report only reprimands with no other consequences.

Among the key practices to reduce costs identified by the study is buying non-refundable tickets. 52% of companies require travelers to accept non-refundable tickets when they are available.

The complete Corporate Travel Policy: Benchmarking and Insight can be found at http://egencia.com/daily/home/mktg/2010_eu_nbta_policy/default_uk.asp .

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»»American Express Business Travel Launches Universal aXcess

American Express Business Travel launched a new service for corporate travelers called universal aXcess.
Universal aXcess provides corporations with a consolidated multi-market, multi-platform, online and offline integrated service platform allowing travelers to access their service channel of choice: online tools, travel consultation and agent support, as well as on- the-go mobility tools for itinerary management and emergency services.

With universal aXcess companies are able to consolidate their travel servicing through a global center.

The new consolidated service platform provides travelers with a single telephone number from their home country that can be used for all of their travel servicing needs.
Travelers will be connected to a central team with visibility into their company’s corporate policies and preferred supplier agreements to their own personal travel preferences and itineraries. And, while on-the-go, travelers have access to telephonic and online support, emergency services and a new mobility offering.

A new American Express survey which polled more than 1,000 business travelers in the U.S., UK, Germany, France, Spain, Sweden, Japan, China, Hong Kong and Australia, reveals that 81% of business travelers feel that it doesn’t matter where in the world their travel agent is sitting, as long as the agent has access to their existing travel itinerary and is able to help make changes.
Also, the study showed that more than one half of business travelers surveyed feel services by an experienced and knowledgeable travel agent, and their travel agent having access to the most advanced technology to be most important service they can receive.

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