Tracking Airfares to Capture Savings
by Fred Gebhart
Tracking Airfares to Capture Savings

Capturing Airfare Savings
Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT) has teamed up with Yapta, the developer of FareIQ, to offer TMCs a way to capture savings when airfares drop. FareIQ tracks airfares to take advantage of lower prices. Once companies sign up for the program, CWT agents will re-ticket existing reservations if the fare adjustment is within policy for the client travel program, is appropriate for the traveler and results in net savings after any rebooking fees. WWE, a global integrated media organization, found that rebooking could save money on about 8% of trips during a three-month pilot program and reduce total air spend by about 2%. A broader CWT pilot found that 11.5% of air itineraries qualified for savings with an overall savings of more than 3 on total air spend.

U.S. Domestic Airfares Up
Airfares are up, but the degree of pain depends on supply and demand, according to a USA TODAY analysis of fares and traffic at the U.S.’s 100 busiest airports. While domestic airfares have risen an average of 6.5% since the beginning of 2005, cities that have lost service have seen much greater increases. The average price out of Cincinnati, which has seen 80% of its air service evaporate since 2005, is up 26%. Salt Lake City tickets are up an average of 18% over the past eight years as the seat count fell by 21%. On the other end of the spectrum,  Charlotte, San Francisco and Denver, which have seen an increase in seat capacity, showed an 18% decline in average fares.

Location Key to Hotels’ Success
Price, service and brand count, but location trumps everything else when it comes to choosing a business hotel. That’s the message from a recent survey of 8,500 travelers by Expedia and Egencia. More than half of respondents, 53%, said location is the single most important factor in hotel choice. Price, at 44%, and travel time, at 42%, were the next most important factors. The emphasis on location means travel programs that fail to factor location into preferred hotel selections may be creating compliance problems.

Supersonic Travel (Might) Make a Comeback
Supersonic travel is on the way back. Boeing, NASA and Gulfstream have joined forces on “Son of Concorde,” a program to zip travelers from there to there at about 2,500 mph, double the speed of the original Concorde which went out of service a decade ago. That translates into a four-hour flight from London to Sydney, about 20% faster than the current flying time. Aerion Corp. is developing a supersonic business jet to carry up to 12 passengers at 1,200 mph, almost double the cruising speed of the current generation of 747s. That would cut the current seven-hour New York to Paris flight to about three hours.  The most optimistic projections have commercial supersonic flights taking off early in the next decade if developers can figure out how to reduce noise to acceptable levels. Supersonic flight generates sonic booms that prompted many jurisdictions to ban commercial supersonic flights over land areas.

Hotels Tap into Health and Wellness Trend
Hotels are becoming  aware of health and wellness as important factors in hotel selection. Nearly two-thirds, 65%, of respondents in the Global Business Travel Association “2013 European Business Traveler Well-Being Study” said maintaining a healthy diet while traveling is important. Forty-six percent said staying with their current exercise regimens was a priority while on the road. The survey confirms that hotels that have revised menus and added exercise options are on the right track. Wyndham offers rooms equipped with exercise equipment and complimentary workout clothing at some of its properties. InterContinental created Even, a health and wellness brand that features rooms with weight benches that doubles as luggage racks and coat racks that transform into pull-up bars. It’s expected that other hotel brands will weigh in with similar offerings.

TSA Screening Challenged
Behavioral screening by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is a waste of time, effort and money, according to a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report. GAO said there is no evidence that TSA’s SPOT program (Screening of Passengers by Observational Techniques) has any impact on travel security. SPOT calls for TSA agents to talk with individuals judged to be suspicious to assess any risk they may present. TSA administrator John Pistole told the House Homeland Security Committee that SPOT has helped reduce wait times at airport checkpoints. The ranking Democratic and Republic members of the committee said the concept behind SPOT seems promising, but TSA must produce evidence that it’s effective if funding is to continue.

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