Thursday, June 10, 2010

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Hotel chiefs say group business is spurring recovery
CEOs at major hotels say group business is helping bolster the recovery and they expect it to play a larger role in the future. Christopher Nassetta, president and CEO at Hilton Worldwide, said group business had surged 7% by the end of April after being sharply down in November and December. "It's not the kind of group we're necessarily used to, and it's not necessarily altogether the groups we want longer-term: very short-window, small- and medium-sized groups, but that's where we're seeing the most momentum," Nassetta said. (6/8)
New luggage-rule database to help travelers, agents
The International Air Transport Association's new Automated Carrier Baggage Rules will offer travelers, travel agents and airline personnel information about luggage rules for various flights. "Baggage rules are becoming increasingly complex and confusing," said Giovanni Bisignani, director general and CEO at IATA. "Airlines have a variety of different rules and fees depending on the number of bags checked, class of travel, frequent-flyer status and routings. ACBR will put all of that information in one place so passengers can have a complete understanding of baggage fees before they buy their tickets -- even for complicated journeys." Travel Agent (6/8)
Customer-satisfaction ratings for airlines improve
A J.D. Power & Associates survey found the customer-satisfaction ratings of North American airlines rose 15 points from 2009 to 673 on a 1,000-point scale. The improvement comes as air fares declined, flights arrived on time more often and less luggage was lost. "There have been fewer passengers and less congestion," said Stuart Greif, general manager for global travel and hospitality at J.D. Power. "Now fares are starting to pick back up, and as more passengers return to the skies, it remains to be seen whether those gains will be short-lived or airlines can build on them." Bloomberg (6/8)
Other News
Rental-car fees at Chicago's O'Hare airport are poised to surge
Chicago Sun-Times (6/8)
Spirit Airlines outlines plan for possible pilots' strike
Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)/The Associated Press (6/8)
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Trends and Technology
Jamaica tourism director discusses violence, travel
John Lynch, director of tourism and chairman of the Jamaica Tourist Board, discusses the tourism community's efforts to counter negative perceptions that arose because of the recent violence in West Kingston. "The JTB has been proactive throughout all of this, particularly since footage of the riots was playing out on TV stations, in print, on the Internet and on social-media outlets everywhere," Lynch said. "What we sought to do was to reassure visitors that Jamaica's resort areas are far removed from what was taking place in a small section of Kingston." Travel Weekly (6/7)
Column: Oil disaster to hit travel industry hard
Columnist Richard Earls says the BP oil disaster will have much more far-reaching effects on the travel and tourism industries than most realize. "The short and long term economic effects, the loss of both recreational and commercial activity and opportunity is nearly unfathomable," Earls writes. He encourages participants in the travel industry to "demand a seat at the table of decisions that impact our existence." Leadership is needed, he argues, as he nominates the major cruise lines to step up. Travel Research Online (6/6)
Column: Airline fees frustrate corporate-travel managers
Columnist David Grossman says ancillary fees led to $7.8 billion in added revenue last year for U.S. airlines, a 40% increase from 2008. The figures indicate airlines are not about to rein in the fees and likely will introduce others. Travelers oppose the fees, while corporate-travel managers are finding them difficult to track and say they make determining the full cost of an airline ticket difficult. USA TODAY (6/8)
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Consumer Travel News

Popularity of German villagers' Passion of the Christ spreads
Once a decade, villagers in Oberammergau, Germany, recreate the Passion of the Christ to fulfill a vow made by their ancestors to stave off the plague. The popularity of the events have grown, drawing visitors from the around the world. In 1970, the event drew 530,000 spectators to the village that normally has a population of 5,300. Los Angeles Times (6/6)
Social Media & Your Business
SmartBrief is conducting a benchmark study to give you an exclusive and definitive view on the state of social media for business. Participants in our Social Media for Business reader survey will receive an overview of key research findings and have a chance to win an Amazon Kindle. Thanks in advance for your feedback.

Regulatory and Legislative

International airlines attack Germany's proposed tax on air travel
International airlines are voicing their opposition to an environmental tax on airline tickets proposed by Germany, saying Berlin is making a "cash grab." "This tax is a body blow to the weak economy and a fragile industry," an international industry representative said. "It is a kick in the teeth to travelers at a time when they can least afford it." The Times (London) (6/9) , The New York Times (free registration) (6/8) , Reuters (6/8)
Secure Flight reaches milestone with 100% matching on domestic flights
Washington announced a "major aviation security milestone" this week as TSA took over from the airlines responsibility for checking all domestic passengers against terrorist watch lists. The initiative, known as Secure Flight, is not yet complete: By the end of the year, TSA hopes to take over name-check duties for passengers arriving in the U.S. via direct flights on international airlines. Federal Computer Week (6/8)
U.S., European air authorities clash over ash
Aviation regulators from the U.S. are in disagreement with the European counterparts over the hazards of flying through ash. The Federal Aviation Administration maintains airliners should avoid ash plumes under most circumstances, while European authorities allowed airlines to resume flights once the level of ash had dropped below a certain point. The Wall Street Journal (6/8)
Other News
Macau reportedly works on casino anti-smoking proposal
Bloomberg (6/8)
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Best Practices
5 tips for requesting help
Many leaders have a hard time asking for help from co-workers because they fear it may make them appear vulnerable or weak. Beth Weissenberger argues, though, that fear is a waste of energy and urges leaders to speak up when they need assistance. Doing so will encourage open communication on the team and actually improve leadership, she writes. Bloomberg Businessweek (6/4)
Featured Content

How to Make the Most Out of Running the Family Business Shira Levine
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ASTA Spotlight
International agents: Advice on working with U.S. agents
With a goal of providing its international members greater insight into working with their counterparts in the U.S., ASTA has created Growing Your Business with U.S. Agents, a webinar giving informative advice on developing successful business relationships with U.S. travel agents. The 32-minute webinar covers tips for finding and attracting U.S. agents, information on what U.S. agents are looking for in an international travel company and a review of tools ASTA provides international members to help them reach the U.S. market. Read more on
Fraud prevention strategies -- free webinar
Fraudulent activities show no signs of slowing in 2010. Fraudsters continue to approach agents with new and creative situations that will test your firm's vulnerability. While you might think you can't be scammed, think again. This 45-minute interactive session, co-hosted by ASTA and ARC, is open to all members and will increase your fraud awareness, review ARC's credit card acceptance policy, help you develop a risk-based approach for accepting Card-Not-Present transactions and more. The goal of this webinar is to reduce, if not eliminate, your agency's vulnerability to losses associated with fraud. Register today to learn more.

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