Apr102009

Hotel and Airline Articles I’ve Read Lately

Coach Air Travelers to Pay for Premium-class Excess?

Joe Brancatelli has a great read from the Washington Post on the long term outlook for air travel.  He predicts the economics of premium cabin extreme makeovers these past few years will result in higher economy class fares for the leisure traveler coming soon as the profitable premium-class flyers dwindle.

 

When it comes to hotels the Early Bird gets Hosed

Sarah Nassauer had a piece in the Wall Street Journal March 31, “Travelers find it pays to wait for late deals”.  The article cites data from Travelocity’s senior editor, Genevieve Shaw Brown, indicating hotel guests received average room rates 20% lower within 30 days of travel compared to reservations made more than 60 days before travel.

My observations for San Francisco over the past year show the lowest rates typically occur between 7 and 14 days prior to travel for upscale San Francisco hotels.

 

Cool Hotel Websites

Adam Kirby, associate editor of Hotelsmag.com, had a visually stimulating piece “Web Designers Name Favorite Hotel Sites”.  I liked seeing what designers like in a web site.

I really do intend to put LoyaltyTraveler.com back online this year and I was looking for ideas.  The capital Catch-22 for a small business is you need money to make money. I’ve been in short supply.

 

Europe Hotel Rates Decline but Brits are Still Too Broke

The Telegraph, a British paper had an April 6 article by Charles Starmer-Smith “European Hotels Cut Rates” showing the steep decline in European hotel rates of 10% to 25% since November 2008. The impact of the Sterling’s value dropping 20% against the Euro during the same period means hotel rooms are still more expensive for Brits traveling to the continent.

 

Hawaii Hotel Rates Near Record Decline

USA Today published a piece by Jaymes Song, AP writer, “Hawaii Hotels have worst February in 18 Years”.  Hawaii had its worst hotel room occupancy for February in 18 years since Gulf War # 1. Apparently February is normally the busiest month of the year in Hawaii. Occupancy varies across the islands with Oahu doing the best at 78% and the Big Island Hawaii down to 64%.  Rates were down across the board, but after several years of huge annual increases the hotel rates are still no bargain. The average daily rate is still $187 per night after a 12% decline over the past year. 

Hotels are crying about revenue, but at Hawaii RevPar $140 in this downturn compared to $74 in late 2001, I say that still looks like some impressive growth – something like 10% per year average since 2001. I am not a hotel economist so perhaps the data is worse than it appears to me.

 

Does Priceline help the local economy?

Tom Belden had a piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer, “Winging It: Bad business climate means good hotel rates”. This article cites PKF Hospitality Research saying the decline in hotel profits, about 30% in 2009, will be the greatest one year decline since the 1930s. Interesting that the article mentions hotel stays as a frugal and civic minded way to help your local community. In the end the writer books a $65 Priceline stay at the Sheraton City Center. 

As Loyalty Traveler I advocate local hotel stays as a frugal and civic minded staycation strategy to reach elite status that pays off on the real out-of-town vacations.  But I advocate booking through the hotel’s website.  

Does Priceline help the local economy? I guess so, since the hotel guest will likely spend money at businesses in the vicinity of the hotel.  A direct booking with the hotel probably helps more.

 

Tim Winship  – Commandeering  the campaign for more frequent flier awards, temporarily at least

Survey finds no improvement in frequent flyer awards” – Tim Winship

548 people have spoken to Smarter Travel and Frequentflier.com. Award tickets to Europe are easier to get these days. 

Apparently the frequent flier programs are lining up the miles for paying customers with all the ongoing double and triple elite miles offers. When it comes time to spend your miles earned from all those flights that made you an Executive-1KChairman-Platinum elite flyer, the airlines are still being stingy.

Tim thinks the airline’s are missing a great opportunity for customer relations by holding back award seat inventory in this economic climate.

 

Kimpton Hotels Had a Birthday and I missed it

Last week was a bad time to miss out on emails. I missed the Kimpton Hotels $81 sale .  The basic deal was $81 per night for a two-night stay at nearly any Kimpton. Reservations were accepted from Thursday April 2 to Sunday, April 6, 3pm Pacific time. By Saturday, April 4, two days into the sale there were few properties left.  There were still some rooms at three or four San Francisco Kimptons when I finally saw the Kimpton sale.  

 

Hilton HHonors announced their HHonors second quarter promotion for 1,000 points per night.

www.hiltonhhonors.com/1000bonuspoints The offer runs from April 13 to June 30 and registration is required.

 

On a Personal Note:

The past two weeks I have seen project deadlines, relative visitors, and the flu – first for K and then for me.

We did work in a stay at the Hyatt Highlands Inn in Carmel and had another wonderful visit in our wannabe home away from home where the mountains meet the sea. The irony was our stay in the Carmel Highlands was the only day with fog for the entire week. 

K started chemotherapy this week for her rectal cancer and I feel like I acquired “chemo brain”.  

Really – it is a published side effect of mental fog for cancer patients (and based on my experience chemo brain is contagious like the flu). Perhaps this week, now that the fog has temporarily lifted, I will get back to writing on hotel loyalty program developments.

Sunset View from Highlands Drive (above Hyatt), Carmel Highlands, California

Sunset view from Highlands Drive (above Hyatt Highlands Inn), Carmel, California

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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