We at TravelPlex feel it is important, and actually part of our job in managing corporate travel programs, to inform our clients of any industry changing events. A few months ago we alerted our clients of Delta Airlines' new restrictive “E Fares”. While these new fares offered a slight savings (roughly $30 - $50 per roundtrip ticket), they were extremely limiting in what travelers could and couldn’t do, such as change or cancel the flight(s). Also, middle row seats assignments were the norm, and other limitations are being imposed on traveler services, such as carry-on luggage not being allowed in overhead bins. Indications point towards frequent flyer points being removed from these fares as well. All of TravelPlex’s 100+ corporate clients asked that we restrict showing these fares to their travelers.

We have just been informed that starting January 1, 2017, United Airlines will be replicating Delta’s limited fares...

With the holidays quickly approaching, we at TravelPlex wanted to provide you with some tips for traveling during this season. While travel at this time of year can be stimulating, complete with excitement (that’s one of the words you can use) to see family and friends, it can also be….. challenging. Airports and roads are busier than usual, and you must remember that travel in November and December is much more different than the other 10 months.

To help you navigate your way through the holidays, travel wise, we have compiled a list of some tips to make your adventure a little easier.

As the holiday season approaches, most of us have expectations – and concerns – of the coming days. Many of us will get misty eyed thinking of the smooth, sweet and slightly spicy flavor of our first pumpkin pie of the year. Some of us will lean toward a more robust taste, and look forward to a plate heaping with turkey, dressing, gravy, varied types of potatoes, and homemade rolls.

TravelPlex would like to offer another opportunity to fill time with some fun – holiday trivia! Below are a few trivia questions that will surely impress even the smartest relative or friend. Enjoy, and may the competition begin!

If you’ve watched a news program or read a newspaper in the last few weeks, you’ve already heard about the Galaxy Note 7s cell phones being banned by all US (and most international) air carriers. The reason; the phones have been found to be explosive once they reach a specific altitude.

Last week, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration took steps to ban all Samsung Galaxy Note 7s from airplanes. The FAA has even threatened it will bring criminal charges and / or assess fines against passengers who ignore the new regulation.

The ban went into effect on Saturday, October 15.

Southwest Airlines recently announced two exciting news items that could affect your travel on the carrier. The first bit of news is about Cuba. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) recently approved Southwest Airlines to service Havana with daily nonstop service from Ft. Lauderdale and Tampa. Additionally, the carrier will launch service to Varadero and Santa Clara, Cuba later this year.

Southwest Airlines also announced the addition of new Boeing 737 MAX 8’s to its fleet. The new planes will enter the fleet in early 2017 and will have the capability to fly 300 to 500 miles further than current 737’s while using less fuel. The extended range will allow the carrier better options for trans-continental flights. The MAX 8 requires less maintenance, produces less noise and emissions than any engine in their fleet.

We would like to offer our second installment of our discussion about airline pricing. This blog is about what determines airline pricing.

To provide informational content, we offer a recently written Travel Weekly article that provides additional intel about the rationale behind airline pricing, as well as validates our previous blog, “The Why’s and How’s of Airline Pricing”.

We at TravelPlex are often asked questions about what determines airline pricing and why air prices are available one minute and gone the next. We’d like to address these questions. The first blog will be “The Why’s and How’s of Airline Pricing”. Our next blog will address “What Determines Airfares?” 

However, the first thing you need to realize is that to an airline, an empty airline seat is as worthless as a rotten piece of fruit. As airlines struggle to re-capture the days of record profits, the yield-management system that the airlines have employed for years has given way to a revenue based model. This program monitors each flight's profitability versus a mix of the flight's yield and flight's load.

Recently, people have asked questions about hotel pricing. We thought it was a good time that we reprinted a blog we did a few years ago about a local hotel General Manager that shared some industry insights with us. This person has been in the industry for the past 22 years and has climbed the hotel ranks, starting as a front-desk clerk, auditor, accountant, human resources director, and finally a General Manager. He has worked at several big-name hotel groups in St. Louis, and has recently relocated to Chicago. The move has nothing to do with the “spilling of the beans” either...

More than half of all U.S. travel loyalty points redemptions happen from April to August. This is, of course, the busy summer travel season and redemptions for this past summer were up 50 percent year-over-year as travelers took advantage of a growing U.S. economy.

That’s according to Connections, a company helping brands create white label loyalty programs with travel clients such as American Airlines, Marriott International, and Royal Caribbean International. The data is based on Connections’ internal analysis of 2.2 million U.S. travel loyalty program members that were part of co-branded card programs from December 2014 to June 2016. 

Three reward points discussions broken down below highlight consumer redemption behavior online and through call centers:

If you are one of those travelers who have been on the edge of your seat waiting for the merger between Marriott and Starwood to finally formalize, well, your wait is over.

As expected, there were changes in the two chains' frequent guest reward programs. Members are eligible to transfer points at a 3-to-1 ratio (three Marriott Rewards points equal one SPG Starpoint). Starwood and Marriott guests will have their current status matched in the combined company’s loyalty program.

If you travel for business – or even stay at hotels for vacation – you’ve probably witnessed a vast difference in the hotel experience within the past five years or so. Long gone is room service, replaced by food and drink kiosks in the lobby. Reward programs are modified as often as you change the oil in your car, and customer service? Well, hotels have followed the airlines' blueprint of customer service, and you know what dark alley that’s heading toward.

In order to expand the brands' offerings, both on new-build properties and renovated, older hotel chains have chased the traveler dollar and reduced the services and amenities provided. That is, until 2016. A recent traveler study has found that hotels are shifting their focus back to the service element.

We at TravelPlex have been closely monitoring the Marriott – Starwood merger, wondering what effects this could have on our corporate clients. Ms. Kathy Stirmlinger, TravelPlex’s Director of Hotel Operations, was recently quoted as saying, “Marriott’s acquisition of the Starwood Group will have a larger consequence on companies with hotel spend north of half a million dollars. These companies will feel the squeeze and the impact when negotiating larger contracts more so than those with a smaller hotel spend. Ms. Stirmlinger added, “Companies who have the capabilities – and savvy – to shift room nights to other hotel brands will ultimately win this game.”

Our Memorable City for this newsletter is Raleigh-Durham. Or, more correctly, our “cities” this month. While many who are not familiar with the area confuse the two as one city, this is not the case. Just as many people confuse Budapest one city straddling the Danube, they are in fact two, distinct cities (and by the way, as I was recently reminded, it is pronounced Buda – Pesh).

So, to honor two distinct cities, separated by 24 miles, we shall address each one and the tourist sites of each.

For years, TravelPlex have been assisting our clients with their preferred hotel negotiations. As industry technology has progressed, we have kept an eye on the emerging tools available that can assist with our client’s hotel needs.  

This past year, Ms. Kathy Stirmlinger, TravelPlex’s Director of Hotel Operations, has identified new technology now available to us in order to simplify the hotel negotiation process.  

TravelPlex is proud to announce that we will launch RFP-Finder in the coming months. This tool will help us unite corporate travel buyers with hotels to efficiently solicit, negotiate, finalize and audit their corporate transient hotel programs.

Every quarter TravelPlex reviews and monitors frequent traveler programs. For the last few years, the same vendors have maintained the #1 rankings in their perspective industry. Southwest Airlines replaced American Airlines three years ago and has not relinquished its dominance. National has ousted Hertz as the top rental car company in both customer service and frequent renter program.

But, what has been a given for the last 10 quarters has now changed. Marriott was the hotel brand offering great service, competitive prices (in its category) and a very friendly frequent guest program. However, when Marriott purchased Starwood last November, whispers were loud in the industry that the marriage of the two frequent guest programs could be messy and not as smooth of a transition as some were predicting, including those at the hotel companies. Apparently, the experts got this one right. 

Roughly 10 years ago, finding entertainment on domestic flights was limited to playing computer games or cards; listening to the elderly grandmother next to you talking about her incredible grandchildren; or counting down the seconds before you remind the six-year-old with the need to practice their soccer kick on your back seat that they need to stop it – now!

Frontier Airlines began the move to provide inflight entertainment – I mean REAL inflight entertainment in 2005.  They realized this was a nice money maker and offered something other carriers did not. A break from the monotony of flying. However, it wasn’t long before other airlines saw in-flight entertainment as a revenue stream...