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Corporate Newsletter: Issue #9

Welcome to Edge Intelligence for July 2008

Letter from the Editor

Record high fuel and oil prices in America are creating repercussions worldwide for the travel industry. Most notably for consumers, these heightened energy costs are forcing certain airlines to raise fares as well as limit or charge for baggage - see Industry News and Edge Intelligence for details on how these trends will affect your travel. Despite these recent challenges, your Executive Edge consultant will best know how to navigate these changes and secure the lowest possible cost to you and your company. For hotels, the reverse trend seems to be occurring with lower prices being offered to consumers. Business Hotel News this month centers on the latest in Sydney hotel happenings - upgrades, refurbishments and winter specials. Be sure to take advantage of these great deals and limited offers.

As always, we are pleased to have you as valued clients and we thank you for your business.

Kimberly Rosbe
Editor at Large


 
   

INDUSTRY NEWS

BUSINESS HOTEL NEWS

EVENTS AND CONFERENCES

EDGE INTELLIGENCE

   

INDUSTRY NEWS

Air Transport Association calls for end to oil speculators in US
Travel Management Companies offer lower fares than Internet
Continental announces capacity reductions
Air New Zealand responds to heightened fuel costs
Emirates expands to 22 European Destinations with upgrades abound

BUSINESS HOTEL NEWS

Featured business hotel: The Observatory Sydney
Marque Hotel in Sydney re-opens with multimillion dollar refurbishment
Fraser Suites' Winter Deal
Mirvac Upgrades in Sydney

EVENTS AND CONFERENCES

United Nations MICE initiative to consolidate environment sustainability efforts
New Q Station $18 million renovation shines
Technology Category sell out at World Travel Market

EDGE INTELLIGENCE

New Baggage regulations for American Airlines
New Baggage information for United Airlines


INDUSTRY NEWS

Air Transport Association calls for end to oil speculators in US

North America's Air Transport Association (ATA) has made an urgent plea to the United States Congress to curb excessive speculation on oil as jet fuel continues its upward trend. James May, ATA President and CEO has warned, "The impact of these unprecedented jet fuel prices on the airlines is devastating and airlines may see 2008 losses nearing $10 billion on par with the worst financial year in aviation history." He continued in a recent press conference saying, "If Congress does not act soon, this country will not have a viable airline industry."

Leading economic and commodities experts, particularly in the Democratic Party, are attributing the crisis to excessive commodities trading undertaken by market speculators which is hiking the price of crude oil. The Bush administration and official position remains that rising prices are simply a matter of growing demand and dwindling supplies. Senate Committees are now meeting to create measures to thwart the downward spiral of difficulties the airlines have been facing for months.

Travel Management Companies offer lower fares than Internet

U.S.-based fare auditing consultant firm Topaz International has just released its annual study confirming that travel management companies (TMCs) consistently deliver lower fares than any other Internet alternative. In fact, the June study revealed that for the 7th consecutive year, TMCs on average save its clients $56 per journey than if the exact same itinerary was booked on the internet. Topaz International determined that utilising TMCs versus online travel agencies such as Expedia or Travelocity was up to 95% less expensive overall.

Maureen Brady, BCD Travel's Senior Vice President of Global Business Strategy, boasted, "One of the main ways TMCs provide value is by obtaining the best prices for travelers and their corporations. As a result we invest heavily in resources such as people, training and technology to provide that service."

Top TMCs are able to offer repeatedly lower fares due to their access to global distribution systems, direct negotiating power with airlines and database of private fares not available to online travel agencies. (Executive Edge Travel & Events is one of about 30 TMCs in Australia.)

Continental announces capacity reductions

Continental Airlines is yet another US airline facing detrimental effects from the record high gas and oil prices. Both consumers and its own employees will be affected. Beginning September 3rd, Continental will reduce its domestic capacity from its hubs by a significant 11% as compared with the same quarter last year. In addition to reducing frequencies to certain markets, Continental will also discontinue service between certain cities including Houston, Washington, D.C., Cleveland and Salt Lake City to name a few. Continental is also making cuts internally with over 3,000 positions being eliminated across all levels including management positions.

Customers who are currently booked on flights previously scheduled after September 3rd which are affected by the capacity reductions will be contacted by Continental to make alternative arrangements.

Air New Zealand responds to heightened fuel costs

Air New Zealand has been forced to increase airfares in reaction to the continued high cost of fuel overseas. Air New Zealand CEO Rob Fyfe has said, "The airline industry faces sizable challenges in the rapidly changing economic environment... With the jet fuel remaining at very high levels it is critical we adapt our business in response including fare adjustments to recover the significantly increased operating costs."

Consumers can expect the price of international and domestic airfares from Air New Zealand to rise by an average of 4% effective after June 20th.

Emirates update

New European Destinations: Emirates now flies to 22 European destinations including Athens, Birmingham, Casablanca, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Glasgow, Hamburg, Istanbul, Larnaca, London (Gatwick and Heathrow), Mancester, Malta, Milan, Moscow, Munich, Newcastle, Nice, Paris, Rome, Venice, Vienna and Zurich.

Bvlgari Amenities: Emirates has always connoted luxury and now with the introduction of new Bvlgari amenities to its First and Business Class, the brand synergy of luxury continues.

Emirates Suites: Emirates offers private suites on 19 of its aircrafts including all the Airbus A340-500s which currently operate ex-Melbourne and Sydney as well as on the new Brisbane-Dubai service effective beginning October 2008. These ultra-lux suites cost $125,000 US each to install - comparable to the fittings for a private corporate jet. They feature electronically-controlled sliding privacy screens for maximum exclusivity, massage-enabled leather seats which convert to fully flat beds, down covers and pillows and cotton blankets, dining tables, mini-bars, built-in vanities with mirrors and the Bvlgari amenity kits.

BUSINESS HOTEL NEWS

Featured business hotel: The Observatory Sydney

The famed Observatory Hotel in the Rocks in Sydney celebrates its 15th birthday this year with a range of gifts for its guests. Their spa is offering discounted treatments including a 105 minute "Anniversary" spa treatment for $225 through Boxing Day. Special discounted dinner deals are also being offered at The Observatory's esteemed Galileo restaurant - a five course degustation dinner for $65 per person or a seven course degustation dinner for $85 per person.

Throughout 2008, reservations made for Junior and Executive Suites will attract a 15% discount when guests or agents quote 'Sweet Fifteen' at time of booking. The Observatory property has the longest serving five-star hotel general manager in Australia, with Patrick Griffin overseeing that no detail is overlooked in making guests' stays run smoothly.

The Observatory Hotel, 89-113 Kent Street, The Rocks, www.observatoryhotel.com.au

Marque Hotel in Sydney reopens with multimillion dollar refurbishment

The Marque Hotel Sydney, formerly the Country Comfort Central, has completed a multimillion dollar refurbishment this month with the opening of its function and conference facilities. The hotel has undergone an upgrade of all rooms and public areas as well as an extensive addition for its events and conferences spaces. Most unique, The Marque has named its function rooms after famous Australian actors - Jackman, Rush, Collette, Blanchett and Kidman. The facilities offer the latest technology including drop-down screens, centralised AV and PA systems, ADSL internet connection and built-in data projectors. The guest rooms are also state-of-the-art with features such as iPod docking stations, 52-inch LCD televisions, cordless phones and rain showers.

Fraser Suites' Winter Deal

Fraser Suites in Sydney is currently offering a winter special rate of $229 in a studio suite. The rate is available until July 31st and also includes full buffet breakfast for two and use of the property's extensive leisure facilities.

Fraser Suites Sydney is one of the city's newest five-star, all-suites hotels with 201 suites with options ranging from studios to two bedroom suites and two-level duplex penthouses. The leisure facilities include a huge fitness centre with a 20-metre lap pool, spa and sauna. The conference facilities are equally impressive and feature natural light, interactive AV systems, flexible meeting spaces and serviced offices. Corporate clientele now accounts for 35-40 percent of Monday to Friday guests.

Mirvac Upgrades in Sydney

Mirvac Hotels and Resorts is undertaking refurbishment of several of its Sydney properties. The Citigate Sebel Sydney will be experiencing a complete transformation with a $10 million dollar rehaul and will be renamed The Sebel Surry Hills when the upgrade is completed this month. In honour of its opening, the hotel is offering the low rate of $149 per night for a deluxe room.

Mirvac is also renovating The Citigate Central in Sydney as well as refurbishing The Sebel Parramatta. For both properties, Mirvac is offering special packages including accommodation, full buffet breakfast for two, complimentary car parking and noon checkout from $200 per night.

Quay Grand Suites at East Circular Quay has also undergone soft refurbishment.

EVENTS AND CONFERENCES

United Nations MICE initiative to consolidate environment sustainability efforts

On the United Nations World Environmental Day June 5th, the Green Meetings Industry in coordination with VisitDenmark launched an initiative aimed to consolidate the worldwide environmental sustainability efforts of the meetings industry entitled "Meeting the Future." Today, the greatest single challenge facing the Global Meetings Industry is how to entrench sustainability standards within its industry. So far, however, the Meetings Industry has attempted to tackle these issues on a case by case basis - from event to event, conference to conference. Although individual efforts are valiant, there needs to be a consolidated focus to ensure a significant global change in direction.

"Meeting the Future" is an initiative to bring together the meetings industry leadership to create a unified, integrated global response to climate change and present their position at the next UN Climate Change Conference held in Copenhagen in December 2009. Invitations to engage in this process will be going out to within the month.

New Q Station $18 million renovation shines

Sydney's former Quarantine Station near Manly located in the Sydney Harbour National Park has recently undergone an $18 million restoration and offers a unique venue for conference organisers seeking an alternative to the traditional hotel. Q Station boasts spectacular views from its 82 rooms and 7 conference rooms as well as a restaurant near the beach. Unique Venues, the hotels and venues division of DMS Destination Marketing Services, has been appointed the conference sales representative for the historic property. Unique Venues aims to establish Q Station as a Sydney icon for the conference and event industry. (Speak with Jane, our Conference and Events Manager with interested queries.)

Technology category sell out at World Travel Market

Three months ahead of deadline, the technology sector for the upcoming World Travel Market has already sold out. The technology sell out reflects the growing emphasis and importance on the travel industry's continual efforts to achieve the latest standard of service for its customers.

This year's WTM is set to take place from November 10-13th at Excel London and will feature a host of new technology exhibitors including online marketing and search engine companies, e-business solution providers, online hotel reservation systems and travel agent software solutions developers. Fiona Jeffery, WTM Chairman, adds, "With an in-depth series of conferences and seminars planned this year on new technology developments and other IT advances, businesses will learn what will help them succeed online and on the move."

EDGE INTELLIGENCE

New Baggage Allowances for American Airlines

Due to efforts to curb rising energy consumption and costs, American Airlines is asking their customers to travel light or face new checked baggage fees. Customers who purchased domestic economy class tickets May 12 through June 14, 2008, may check one bag for free and check a second bag for $25 each way. For all customers who purchased domestic economy tickets on or after June 15th will be charged $15 each way for the first checked bag and $25 each way for the second checked bag.

Exceptions to this policy include customers who purchase First or Business Class tickets, AAdvantage Executive Platinum, AAdvantage Gold members as well as customers who purchase full-fare tickets in Economy Class. Advice? Travel light everyone.

New Baggage Information for United Airlines

For travel within the 50 United States, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Canada, United Airlines has recently added baggage fees for Economy travel. If you are traveling on or after August 18th, 2008 on an Economy ticket or Economy award ticket purchased on or after June 13th, a $15 service fee will apply for your first checked bag. Worse, a $25 fee will apply for a second checked bag.

You are exempt from these fees for checking your first two bags if you are a United First or United Business Class passenger, a Global Services, Mileage Plus, Premier Executive, Premier or Premier Associate member, a Star Alliance Gold or Silver member or military personnel traveling on orders.

 
   
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