Sunday, March 16, 2014

FL310, Speaking on Business (Travel)

I've noticed an uptick in Business Travel as of late, and the "Millennials" (travelers 18 to 30 years of age) are leading the charge. I've taken the liberty of doing a few diggings through several very recent surveys and have come up with several conclusions...

Nearly 40 percent of Travel Leaders Group's ( business-focused travel agents indicated that their clients will be travelling more in 2014 than they did last year and just shy of another 40 percent said client bookings will be about the same as in 2013, according to results of the consortium's top business travel trends survey.  Conducted this past fall, the survey results are based on responses from 424 TLG owners, managers, and front line travel experts throughout he United States who identified tat 50 percent or more of their portfolio consists of business travel clients.  The findings are fairly consistent with the same survey result I had seen the year before in a year-over-year comparison.

The survey also revealed that delayed flights are the top concern for business travelers, and found that there is an ever-growing demand for Wi-Fi in-flight and virtually everywhere else.  Well over half (59.7 percent) of agents surveyed indicate in-flight Wi-Fi as either "very important" or "an absolute must have" for their business travel clients.  Only 1.2 percent indicate it is "not at all important" for their clients when flying.  When asked, "How vital is it for our business travel clients to have access to Wi-Fi in their hotel room?"  more than nine out of 10 agents (95.1 percent) state it is either an "absolute necessity"  or "very vital". and Egencia's Future of Travel Study, one I have been perusing for a few years now, showed the vast difference in travel habits between younger and older businesspeople.  The study encompasses a wide range of participants including 8,535 travelers in 24 countries (most of whom I book travel for at Egencia).

An observation I've made from this study is that Millennials (18 to 30 year olds) have a great fondness for mixing business with pleasure.  Better than 6 out of 10 are likely to extend a business trip into a vacation, compared to about half of 31-year olds to 45 year-olds and just over a third of older travelers.

While the general consensus across all age groups is "a hotel's location is the most important factor", Millennials take it a bit further.  More often than not, a vibrant downtown space is where young professionals seek to be.  They seek to engage the environment around them and look for more than just the office or a cramped hotel room.  They want to be where life happens.

One group whose overall business travel numbers are trending slightly downwards is the LGBT community.  According to Egencia's Annual LGBT Travel Survey, released this past November, 27 percent of gay men reported an increase in this category, compared to 29 percent the previous year, while the decrease went up from 30 to 36 percent.  Among lesbians, however, reports of an increase rose from 25 to 26 percent while decreases dropped from 33 to 32 percent.

and that's FL310's take on Business Travel.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

We don't need no stinkin' miles!

Apparently hot on the heels of my last entry regarding Elite Status, I get an email from Delta Air Lines regarding changes to their award winning SkyMiles program taking effect in 2015.  Needless to say, I flipped my lid over the changes, and from what I keep hearing from my Delta loyal clients, they did too.  Let me explain, these updates change the very fundamental core of the SkyMiles program, to the point where miles don't matter anymore, at least, no where near the importance they once had, although Delta claim the accrual for Elite members does not change.

As I said above, miles for all Delta flights will now be earned based on ticket price versus actual flown mileage as well as your current SkyMiles status.  So, if you end up paying more for your ticket, you shall be rewarded as such, with up to 75,000 per ticket.  Also, any existing miles, as well as new miles, will not expire.  What irks me is, folks who have the Delta SkyMiles American Express ea more miles per dollar through this,but at least now it only applies to SkyTeam purchases with the card.

Delta says all this came about because of feedback from their most frequent fliers. Upon reading further through the changes, I can believe this claim, what with no blackout dates, supposedly more award seats available, new one-way award possibilities, as well as something borrowed from the likes of Virgin America and jetBlue, the ability to pay with miles AND cash, and comparison shop the three options of payment, like you can with United or Alaska.

After goofing around with the new system for a while and sampling various city pairs, fares, and options, one neat feature is the new award calendar, which will bring up fares and mileage options in a matrix of dates.

As far as earning Medallion Elite status, the requirements stay the same.  So you still need 25,000 Elite Qualifying Miles (EQM's) and $2,500 Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQD's) to hit Silver Medallion status, 50,000 EQM's and $5,000 for Gold Medallion, and so on and so forth.  For flights purchased in foreign currencies, the currency will be converted to U.S. Dollars based on IATA's 5-day currency exchange rate at time of ticketing.  Then, the same mileage earn rates per USD will occur.

What's not known is how travel on SkyTeam and partner airlines will be accrued.  More details are supposed to come out later on this year.

That is about all I have for now, more news on this as Delta releases it.  But as far as I'm concerned, the days of a cheap mileage run to hit the next level of Status is over.  I myself have already jumped ship and am now giving my loyalty in the sky to American and Virgin America.