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February 25, 2014 Industry News

Travel Leaders Corporate: Clients Are Booking Farther Out
The number of business travelers who book domestic airline tickets 14 to 20 days in advance rose 10 percent in 2013 compared to 2012, according data released by Travel Leaders Corporate on its clients’ annual business travel bookings.

On average, clients saw domestic prices that were 19 percent lower than tickets booked less than seven days in advance.

The data also showed that the average total cost of an international business trip had reached a four-year low. Clients paid an average of $2,461 last year compared to $2,508 in 2012.

One caveat: Travel Leaders Corporate said that there’s been a formidable shift away from booking 21 days or more in advance, possibly to avoid an airline’s domestic change fee and to also obtain lower fares offered 14 days or more in advance.

“In 2013, we saw a 10 percent increase with business travelers booking airfares in the 14 to 20 day range. During the same period, the number of transactions where the client booked more than 21 days out decreased by 11 percent,” said David Holyoke, Travel Leaders Corporate president. “Business travelers are cognizant of the cost incurred when changing an airline ticket, which in some cases can be as much as $200.” (Travel Pulse, Feb. 4)

32.8 Million Americans Have Booked Travel on a Mobile Device
Hotwire.com unveiled intriguing results about mobile bookings from its third annual American Travel Behavior Survey, which was conducted online in October 2013 on behalf of Hotwire by Harris Interactive among over 2,000 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. The survey found that 18 percent of American adults who have ever booked travel, have done so using a mobile device. Additionally, the results revealed younger adults are significantly more likely to book travel on mobile devices—37 percent of adults ages 18-34 and 25 percent of adults ages 35-44.

A further breakdown of how the adults who have ever booked travel using a mobile device have done so:

  • 12% have booked travel on a smartphone (10% have booked travel on a smartphone via a web browser; 7% have booked travel on a smartphone via an app)
  • 10% have booked travel on a tablet device (8% have booked travel on a tablet device via a web browser; 3% have booked travel on a tablet device via an app)

"Mobile purchasing has become an increasingly large trend in travel, given that more than half of Americans now own smartphones*," said Henrik Kjellberg, president of the Hotwire Group. "So, I see the 18 percent as the tip of the iceberg in terms of mobile travel booking, considering players in the space are continuing to optimize their sites and products for the mobile booker."

Hotwire experienced a 60 percent year-over-year increase in mobile bookings for the first nine months of 2013. Currently, nearly 20 percent of Hotwire transactions occur on a mobile device.

Interestingly, the survey also found that 48 percent of adults report being more comfortable with eleventh hour booking (i.e., within 7 days of check-in) than they were five years ago. Moreover, 80 percent of Hotwire's bookings on a mobile phone and 70 percent on a tablet are made at the last minute (the day before or day of arrival).

"Mobile is ideal for last-minute travel bookings as many providers offer incredible discounts through easy-to-use travel apps like Hotwire's, especially on bookings made the day of arrival," Kjellberg continued. "We expect the number of mobile bookings to grow exponentially, outpacing desktop bookings in the next year or two, as more people of all ages become comfortable booking through their mobile device and making last-minute purchases."

Survey Methodology
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of Hotwire from October 8-10, 2013 among 2,020 adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact andrew.reynolds@grayling.com (Travel Industry Wire, Feb. 18) 

Economy Hotels Lead January Results
Economy hotels reported the largest gains in occupancy and revenue-per-available-room in January, according to data from STR, parent company of Hotel News Now.

The segment’s occupancy rose 4% to 45.4%; its RevPAR increased 7.5% to $23.08; and its average daily rate was up 3.3% to $50.81.

Overall, in year-over-year results, the U.S. hotel industry’s occupancy was up 2.3% to 52.2%. Its ADR rose 2.9% to $109.24, and RevPAR increased 5.3% to $57.02.

Among the chain-scale segments, the luxury segment posted the largest ADR increase, up 5.6% to $295.65, followed by the independent segment (+3.5% to $108.11).

Among the top 25 markets, Denver reported the largest occupancy increase, rising 11.4% to 64.8%. Philadelphia followed with an 11.1% increase to 57% in occupancy. Washington, D.C. (-6.6% to 49.2%) and New York (-4% to 71.4%) experienced the largest occupancy decreases for the month.

San Francisco/San Mateo was the only market to report a double-digit ADR increase, rising 11.9% to $187.21.

Four markets experienced RevPAR increases of more than 15%: San Francisco/San Mateo (+19.3% to $133.55); Philadelphia (+17.9% to $65.72); Denver (+16.5% to $64.93); and Los Angeles/Long Beach (+15.2% to $107.53).

Washington, D.C., reported the largest decrease in both ADR (-17.6% to $125.08) and RevPAR (-23% to $61.59). (Hotel News Now, Feb. 20)

U.S., Canada, Mexico to Develop ‘Trusted Traveler’ Program
Frequent travelers into and out of the United States, Canada and Mexico might soon find it easier and quicker to do so.

The Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA) and the Canadian Airports Council (CAC) today announced that the United States, Canada and Mexico will develop a North America-wide trusted traveler program, similar to the joint U.S.-Canada Nexus program and other trusted traveler programs in North America and around the world.

Trusted traveler programs provide pre-registered and qualified passengers with an improved border experience while enhancing security. According to the joint statement, the North American program will be established in 2014 and start with mutual recognition of the three countries’ NEXUS, Global Entry, SENTRI and Viajero Confiable programs.

The announcement was made during the North American Leaders’ Summit in Toluca, Mexico, between President Barack Obama, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto.

“North America’s airports commend President Obama, Prime Minister Harper and President Peña Nieto for this landmark agreement,” ACI-NA President and CEO Kevin M. Burke said in a release. “A North American trusted traveler program is an important next step in strengthening the commitment to free trade and cultural exchange among the U.S., Canada and Mexico, and streamlining entry for participating passengers will help position air travel as a competitive, attractive option for tourists in all three countries.”

Trade discussions were at the top of the agenda, including talk on how to further the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which includes a dozen countries in the Americas, Asia and the Pacific Rim.

The summit coincidentally also comes during the 20-year anniversary of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) among the three countries.

“North America’s airports have long supported the use of technology and innovative programs to improve both security and the passenger experience,” said CAC President Daniel-Robert Gooch. “A North America-wide trusted traveler program can dramatically improve the flow of frequent travelers between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico by focusing border resources where they can be most effective.” (Travel Pulse, Feb. 21)

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