Friday, December 20, 2013

Value City Suggestions for 2014 Groups

At the end of each year, Meetings Focus Magazine conducts a trends survey focusing on industry growth and performance for the prior year and expectations for the year to come. Responses from 600 meeting planners predicted a “temperate climate” in 2014. You can read the full report which covers everything from meeting planner demographics and career satisfaction to causes in job function changes and individual challenges faced here:

Perhaps the most interesting portion of the article is data and analysis provided by Bobby Bowers, Senior Vice President of Smith Travel Research (STR) about the state of the industry. Bowers summarizes: “It seems like consumer confidence is continuing to edge up a bit, but business confidence is a little sluggish with the shutdown and healthcare.”

According to Bowers, the luxury segment, which was the hardest hit, has returned to the peak performance levels seen in 2008. Bowers states “If you look at the nominal—not factored in for inflation—RevPAR [Revenue per Available Room] rate, we’re pretty much back to where we were, but if you factor in inflation we’re about a year off.”

Bowers expects that occupancy rates, which have been steadily climbing in the last two years, will hold firm causing ADR (Average Daily Rate) increases of 5.4% for high-end luxury properties and about 4.6% for upscale properties.

Suggestions for 2014 values? Bowers suggests the middle of the country, away from coastal areas, like Detroit, Minneapolis and Cincinnati. “…they haven’t seen the rate growth of markets like San Francisco and Miami,” he says. Planners might also find great values in markets where new construction will increase city room counts by at least 2%: Orlando, Houston, Long Beach, Seattle, Washington, D.C., and Miami. Even better values can be found in Denver (4.5% increase) and Nashville (over 3% increase).  New York, New York will see a 12.2% increase, although NYC can hardly be considered a ‘value’ city.

Friday, December 13, 2013

2014 Hotel Openings to Watch

No matter what your group is looking for, they are sure to love these new construction and reflagged hotels opening in 2014!

Streamsong Resort - Streamsong, Florida
Opening January 2014

Renaissance Denver Downtown - Denver, Colorado
Opening February 2014

The Westin Cleveland Downtown - Cleveland, Ohio
Opening April 2014

Le Meridien Chicago - Oakbrook, Illinois
Opening April 2014
(No Photo Available... Yet)

Le Meridien Charlotte - Charlotte, North Carolina
Opening April 2014
(No Photo Available... Yet)

Marriott Marquis - Washington, DC
Opening May 2014

Great Wolf Lodge New England - Fitchburg, Massachusetts
Opening Second Quarter 2014

JW Marriott Houston Downtown - Houston, Texas
Opening June 2014

Four Seasons Resort at Walt Disney World Resort - Lake Buena Vista, Florida
Opening Third Quarter 2014

Delano Last Vegas - Las Vegas, Nevada
Opening Third Quarter 2014
(No Photo Available... Yet)

Hotel Monaco - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Opening Fourth Quarter 2014
(No Photo Available... Yet)

The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage - Rancho Mirage, California
Opening 2014

The Westin Jekyll Island - Jekyll Island, Georgia
Opening December 2014

Pearl Hotel - San Antonio, Texas
Opening 2014
(No Photo Available... Yet)

The Westin San Jose - San Jose, California
Opening December 2014

Friday, December 6, 2013

Top Ten National Park Hotels to Visit This Winter

Looking for great get-away ideas this winter? Whether you want to enjoy the winter sports outdoors or escape the cold weather, you'll love this top ten list of national park hotels from The Active Times:

1. The Ahwahnee Hotel - Yosemite National Park

2. Volcano House - Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Volcano House Exterior at Night

3. Hotel Terra, Jackson Hole, WY

4. Kennicott Glacier Lodge, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

Kennicott Glacier Lodge and Mount Blackburn

5. The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, CO

6. Sorrel River Ranch, Moab, UT

7. Old Faithful Inn, Yellowstone National Park

8. Paradise Inn, Mount Rainier National Park

9. Many Glacier Hotel, Glacier National Park

10. Furnace Creek Resort, Death Valley, CA

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving Air Travel Update

With storms brewing across the country on the two biggest travel days of the year, there's probably no better time to review airline delay/cancellation policies and tips.

More than 5,500 flights were delayed today as of 7:15PM Eastern; Philadelphia, Boston, New York City and Atlanta suffered the worst disruptions of all major airports, as expected. Although there are very few weather problems on the West Coast, flight delays in the countries biggest airports are problematic across the country because of tight schedules for airliners and flight crews.  Despite these delays, travelers did not experience the meltdown that many feared.

Thursday is expected to see more cancellations and delays.  What should you do if your flight is delayed or cancelled? What are the airlines' responsibilities if your flight is delayed or cancelled?


  • Make sure you're signed up for flight alerts! The sooner you know, the better off you are. Most airlines can text your cell phone or send you an email.
  • Even still, pay close attention to the weather and check the status of your flight. Also check if the airline has enacted a flexible rebooking policy as many do in bad weather.
  • If you're already at the airport and experience a delay or cancellation, get in the line for a service agent but also try calling the airline's reservation department from your cell phone. Sometimes the wait for the call center is shorter than the help desk.
  • Desperate times call for desperate measures- if you can be flexible on your arrival and return airport location you may be better off than never making it for the Thanksgiving feast.
Airline Policies:

  • The airlines only obligation to passengers with cancelled and delayed flights is providing a ticket, free of charge, on the next available flight.
  • If your flight is cancelled and you have an alternative mode of transportation or if you'll miss out on the turkey and want to cancel the trip altogether (we hope it doesn't come to this!), you are entitled to a refund for all unused portions of the itinerary.
  • Contrary to popular belief, the airline is not obligated to compensate you for food or lodging in the event of a delay or cancellation. Many airlines will offer this for their own errors like mechanical issues, however, when weather is the issue you're unlikely to be compensated. Always ask, just in case! Even though it may be sunny and clear in your departure and arrival cities, with storms in the North East and South are likely to blame if you're delayed or cancelled.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Texting and Making Cell Phone Calls in the Air Could Soon be Reality

If you were excited to find out that you will likely be able to use your personal electronic devices during takeoff and landing on all airlines before the end of the year, just you wait.  You might even want to sit down for this one.

The Federal Communications Commission has a new plan to allow cell phone calls, texting and other mobile services while above 10,000 feet! The goal is to give passengers the same communication access they have with other modes of travel.

If the new proposal is approved, it will be up to the individual airlines to equip their planes with a special antenna approved by the Federal Aviation Administration and allow cell phone use in the air.

Studies show passengers are split as to whether in-flight phone calls will have a positive or negative impact on the travel experience.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Unbelievable Underwater Hotel Room

Zanzibar's Manta Resort has an all-new, totally-original hotel room. Its UNDERWATER! The "room" is actual a four-bedroom, three-level villa and according to the resort, its a rare gem few people ever get to see (in person that is).  Check out these stunning photos to see what we're missing!

All photos courtesy of the resort's website.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Update: Electronic Devices Now Allowed Under 10,000 ft. on JetBlue, Delta, US Airways and American Airlines Flights

As a follow up to our post last week, here is an update on the use of personal electronic devices during flights while above AND BELOW 10,000 ft:

The FAA has approved JetBlue, Delta, US Airways and American Airlines to allow electronic devices at all times during their flights. All three airlines have implemented their new procedures lifting the 10,000 ft restriction.

United Airlines applied Wednesday for the policy change. It is expected that most airlines will have approval by the end of the year.