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Business Travel
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The Hottest           “More” seems to be the operative word in describing the top
                      business travel trends of 2007, whether we’re talking about
  Trends of           choice and control, comfort, efficiency, loyalty or social
                      consciousness. The “mores” in these cases have resulted
      2007            from the heightened expectations of frequent travelers and
                      how airlines, hotels and car rental companies are employing
   By Michael Roney   innovation and technology to better meet them.
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I
       n surveying the top travel trends     theme,” confirms Robert
       of the year, we’ve noticed that the   Machen, Hilton Hotels
       savviest business globe-hoppers       Corporation’s vice president
       are expertly orchestrating the        of corporate and brand
       travel options available to them.     solutions. “Whether it’s
They are building relationships within       entertainment, how I want
alliances to maximize personal prefer-       to check in, or how I want
ences and personalized services, tapping     to engage and interact with
into the latest comfort and convenience      hotels, choice and control is
offerings and leveraging technology to       the resounding theme for
save precious time and maximize pro-         us. It has driven us to give
ductivity on the road.                       more choices and options
                                             to our customers, based on
More Choice and Control                      the purpose of their travel.”
Perhaps the biggest trend of all is the         The enhanced options
increasing demand for choice and con-        in choice and control
trol, which traverses the range of per-      are generally enabled by
sonalization, comfort, efficiency and        technology. For example,
those overall higher expectations. It’s      Homewood Suites by
easy to understand: At home, people          Hilton offers advanced
want exactly what they need, when            check-in from outside the
they need it, and they expect the same       hotel up to 24 hours in
experience when they’re on the road.         advance of a stay. Gold or Diamond         this year, the extended-stay brand
    “I think the top trend we’re seeing      HHonor members can log onto                anticipates making this tool available
is the impact of ‘the iPod Effect,’ says     homewoodsuites.com or the sites for        to anyone with an HHonors profile.
Robert Radomski, vice president,             any of its family of brands, select from      Hilton also offers travelers self-
Brand Management, Extended-Stay              whatever rooms are available, and          service check-in kiosks in the lobbies of
Brands, InterContinental Hotels Group        actually get their room number. And        more than 450 of its properties, with the
(IHG). “Guests are demanding more            in April of this year, Homewood            capability to print boarding passes for
flexibility, choice and control in their     Suites by Hilton rolled out Suite Selec-   30 major airlines at more than 450
lives, and we’re seeing hotels making        tion, an Internet-based program that       properties. The kiosks are currently
changes to accommodate this higher           allows Hilton HHonors Gold and             available in its Hilton and Embassy
level of expectation. Customers now          Diamond members to view a floor            brands, and Hilton is continuing to roll
want to control all aspects of their own     plan and select a suite based on their     out the program further.
stay instead of having it programmed         personal preferences — whether they           “While it’s our desire to provide
by the hotel.”                               prefer to stay on a high floor, by an      every one of our guests with a warm
    “From a business traveler perspective,   exit, away from the elevator, by the       and friendly welcome, some just want
we’re seeing this as an overarching          lobby and much more. By the end of         to get to their room as quickly as pos-
                                                                                        sible, and they’re not willing to wait in
                                                                                        line for that welcome,” explains
The biggest trend of all is the increasing demand                                       Machen. “Now they can approach the
                                                                                        kiosk immediately, get their key, select
for choice and control, which traverses the range                                       from a variety of room types and then
of personalization, comfort, efficiency and those                                       go right up to their room.”
                                                                                           In communications and entertain-
overall higher expectations.                                                            ment, IHG’s Staybridge Suites epito-
                                                                                        mizes a major trend among hotels
                                                                                        with its “Wireless Anywhere” service
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                                               that lets guests connect with the Inter-     GPS systems and the utilization of auto-
DOWNTIME IN                                    net anytime and anywhere on hotel            mated toll payment systems,” says
                                               premises just as they would do in their      Frank Camacho, the company’s staff
                 BERLIN                        own homes. In the air, transatlantic
                                               business class flights are now rolling
                                                                                            vice president of marketing.
                                                                                               Hertz’s NeverLost GPS system
                                               out extensive entertainment options.         boasts features such as preprogrammed
                                               British Airways (BA), for example,           destinations, including over 80,000
                                               features over 200 channels of on-            hotels, 100,000 gas stations and
                                               demand video on select routes. Now           480,000 restaurants; AAA ratings of
                                               that’s choice!                               numerous hotels, restaurants and local



                                               Top-notch comfort and service is expected

G
       ermany’s largest city is known for
       its worldly sophistication, tumul-      among business travelers these days.
       tuous history, lively nightlife and
numerous sites of cultural and historic
interest.
    Airport Transportation: The main
                                               Greater Efficiency While in                  attractions; directories of popular leisure
international airport, Tegel, is about five
                                               Transit                                      and business destinations in more than
miles northwest of the city. Taxis cost        Technology-enabled choice and control        100 markets; simple shortcuts to previ-
about €18; the bus is €3 for the 20- to        extends to trains, planes and automo-        ous destinations and Hertz airport
30-minute ride. The smaller Schönefeld         biles, making getting from Point A to        return; and 24/7 technical support.
airport is located 15 miles southeast of       Point B more efficient than ever, notwith-   Hertz also offers its customers PlatePass
the city center, providing European and        standing airport security checkpoints.       for highway tolls, an electronic toll pay-
charter flight service. Travel time is about   Lufthansa allows elite club members          ment system that allows renters to
45 to 60 minutes to the center of Berlin,
                                               holding e-tickets to check in with a         bypass cash toll lanes and use E-ZPass,
with the taxi fare running €25 to €28.
                                               mobile phone while they’re on the way to     Fast Pass and other popular systems on
From Schönefeld you can also take the
S-Bahn train for about €2.                     the airport, sending back a confirmation     major toll roads throughout the North-
                                               with the deadline for pickup of boarding     east corridor from Virginia to Maine, as
     Good Eats: Berlin’s cuisine used to
be somewhat provincial, with boulette          pass, departure gate, boarding time and      well as in Florida and Houston, Tex.
(fried meatballs) its best-known traditional   seat number. Passengers can then pick up
dish. You can still sample local special-      their boarding passes at any Quick           A Higher Level of Comfort
ties at places such as Die Berliner            Check-in machine or check-in counter.        Top-notch comfort and service is
Republik (www.die-berliner-republik.de)           Like Lufthansa and other major air-       expected among business travelers
at Schiffbauerdamm 8 in the central Mitte      lines, British Airways offers automated      these days. “With the rise in business
district (call 30-30 87 22 93); or if high     check-in kiosks in its U.K. airports and     travel over the past three or four years,
cuisine is more to your liking, try the duck
                                               at select airports in North America,         we’ve seen a lot of capital dollars put
served with black pepper sauce and veg-
etable rolls at Restaurant Maxwell, also in    including JFK. Customers can also            into hotels, all up and down the spec-
the Mitte district at Bergstrasse 22 (call     check in at www.ba.com, provide the          trum, from luxury to limited service
30-2807-121).                                  necessary passport details, select seats     properties and extended-stay hotels as
   Kicking Back: You shouldn’t miss the        and print their boarding passes at           well,” says Radomski.
open-air East Side Gallery, Mühlenstrasse,     home or in the office up to 24 hours            “You’re seeing granite counter-
Berlin-Friedrichshain, along the longest       before departure.                            tops, Egyptian cotton sheets and bath
and best-preserved portion of the Berlin          Car rental companies such as Hertz        amenities in hotels that were tradi-
Wall, featuring over 100 paintings by          have also gotten into the act, using tech-   tionally considered ‘budget.’ You see
artists from all over the world.               nology to enable more efficiency.“Some       much richer-looking décor packages;
                                               of the trends we’re seeing in business       you see the traditional mid-scale
                                               travel include the increased use of in-car   hotels taking on an appearance that
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                                               has previously been defined by the           hot and cold snacks and more
DOWNTIME IN                                    upscale segment. So the bar is being         throughout the flight, while its innova-
                                               raised throughout the industry. That         tive Sleeper Service between London
             LONDON                            has created a certain expectation for
                                               guests, so while there still is a limited-
                                                                                            Heathrow and selected cities in eastern
                                                                                            North America and the Middle East
                                               service category in the lower-priced         gives travelers the maximum time to
                                               properties, guests are not going to sac-     rest during the flight. This includes full
                                               rifice too much in terms of design and       meals available in the lounges on both
                                               quality when you go to those hotels.”        ends of the trip, so that once you’re on


                                               Extended stay is now the fastest-growing hotel
                                               segment in the U.S., with an increase in proper-

O
      ne of the most desirable (and
      expensive) cities in the world,          ties of more than 17% in the past five years.
      London now rivals New York as a
world financial center, and is also a
superb destination for the best in enter-          This enhanced comfort extends to in-     the plane, you can go straight to sleep
tainment, cuisine and history.                 room entertainment options. For exam-        in a 180-degree fully flat bed.
                                               ple, Hilton Hotels has launched home            Those same lounges also feature
   Airport Transportation: The Heathrow
Express offers high-speed, nonstop             theater-like Sight+Sound Rooms™ at           quiet rooms with reclining chairs, bath-
service to London’s Paddington station         two of its hotels, including 25 guest        rooms with showers, as well as full
for around £13, while a cab to central         rooms at the Hilton Chicago O’Hare           office workstations and services. “What
London will cost somewhere between             International Airport and 30 guest           we’ve created in our business class is
£35 and £50.                                   rooms at the Hilton San Francisco. Fea-      really an end-to-end experience for the
   Good Eats: The days of poor cuisine         turing a wide-screen, high-definition tel-   traveler to customize, whether that’s the
choices in Britain are long over, of course,   evision, a digital surround-sound system     ability to work or sleep in-flight or just
and there’s no better proof than the           and an easy-to-use connectivity panel for    relax,” notes BA’s Director of Relation-
eponymous restaurant Tom Aikens (43            music, videos, games and laptops, this       ship Marketing Peter Schinasi.
Elystan Street), which is regarded as one
                                               premium room option lets guests con-            Lufthansa has also been updating its
of the best you’ll find on any continent.
Located in chic Knightsbridge, this is high    nect, watch and experience their favorite    lounges and terminals around the
French cuisine with a creative twist (call     forms of entertainment.                      globe. “Business lounges with showers
020-7584-2003).                                    “Going forward, high-speed Inter-        just don’t cut it anymore for premium
    Kicking Back: From Giacometti to           net and wireless is now expected, and        flyers internationally,” states Don
Matisse to Picasso, Warhol and emerging        we’re going to see a trend toward flat-      Bunkenburg, director of corporate sales
world-class artists, you’ll find the full      screen TVs,” predicts Radomski. “But         and regions for the airline. “First-class
breadth of modern art at the dramatic          more than that, people increasingly          travelers are making use of separate air
Tate Modern, creatively located in the         bring their entertainment with them.         terminals reserved exclusively for their
former Bankside Power Station in               Consumers want the freedom to bring          use by the airlines.” In August 2007,
Southwark. The best way to get there is
                                               any and all content in and play it back      Lufthansa opened the Munich version
by foot over the Thames via the pedestrian-
only Millennium Bridge.                        in the rooms.”                               of its popular First Class Terminal in
                                                   And the airlines are certainly doing     Frankfurt, bustling with personal assis-
                                               their part in addressing higher expec-       tants over two floors, integrated pass-
                                               tations in comfort. BA is overhauling        port and security controls, more than
                                               its Club World business class product,       40 vintage Armagnac brandies, a cigar
                                               including all aspects of the journey,        lounge and more.
                                               both on the ground and in the air. Its          And there has been a major increase
                                               new in-flight Club Kitchen offers            in private jet travel as a means of
                                               wraps, sandwiches, beverages, healthy        avoiding airport delays and hassles
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altogether. For example, Lufthansa’s         tions in the early evening.                   since 2000. It’s no wonder, since loyalty
Private Jet service from Europe has              Notes Radomski, “At Staybridge we         programs help road warriors earn spe-
grown 400% since its launch in 2005.         have a great room with a fireplace, and       cial perks such as upgraded rooms or
Lufthansa and SWISS offer a fleet of         we’ve created something called a ‘gath-       special airline lounges and services, all
private jets, which can be booked indi-      ering table’ — a bar-like table with stools   while building personal profiles that lead
vidually at short notice to more than        around it, which becomes a central point      to more personalized and efficient travel
1,000 destinations in Europe and the         for getting together. This is something       experiences.
Russian Federation. This service offers      that guests are receptive to, because the         “The more the customer tells us
first-class travel on regularly scheduled    types of travelers who stay at extended-      about himself or herself, the more
long-haul flights from all Lufthansa         stay properties — independent contrac-        equipped we are to respond in a person-
gateways throughout North America            tors and long-term stayers — are so used      alized way. It’s those capabilities that we
to Frankfurt, Munich or Zurich, and          to meeting new people, they’ll strike up      are really focused on behind the scenes,”
then whisks you by limousine from            conversations easily, so these kinds of       states BA’s Schinasi. “If we know you’re
that plane to your private jet, which        features in our hotels just lead to an        a frequent traveler to Heathrow, for
takes you the rest of the way.               overall better experience for the guests.     example, we can tell you about new
                                                 “We constantly and consistently           products and services we’re installing
Using Extended-Stay                          strive to create new methods, programs        there, special offers on certain flights, as
Properties                                   and tools that ultimately provide our         well as enable you to get the type of
Extended stay is now the fastest-            guests with the most enjoyable experi-        meal you want on a flight.”
growing hotel segment in the U.S., with      ence possible,” notes Rebecca Wyatt,              Loyalty programs are becoming
an increase in properties of more than       Homewood Suites senior vice president.        more flexible in the way they allow
17% in the past five years, according to     “Given that the majority of our guests        members to earn and redeem credits.
Smith Travel Research. “Companies            stay an average of 14 nights and have         Hilton’s HHonors provides three ways
have gone through a lot of downsizing,       very different needs than most travelers,     in which members accumulate both
letting go of in-house talent that they      new services such as Suite Selection are      hotel points and airline miles each time
recognized as valuable, yet they never-      allowing our guests to take more own-         they stay at a participating hotel, a ben-
theless thought they could get a better      ership of their travel decisions.”            efit the company calls Double Dipping®.
quality of talent by using specialists,”                                                   The program also includes “reverse con-
notes Radomski. “What this did is put        The Benefits of Loyalty                       version,” exchanging miles for points,
a lot of specialized people out of corpo-    Sticking with one hotel group, airline or     while IHG also allows you to earn
rate staff jobs and into a situation where   car rental agency continues to be a           airline miles instead of hotel points —
they became independent contractors.         major trend among frequent travelers,         all valuable perks in the current environ-
That, coupled with the continued surge       with IHG’s Priority Club leading the          ment of full planes and highly competi-
in IT and telecom, has added to the          industry with more than 300% growth           tive seat awards. Meanwhile, IHG’s
demand for extended stay. These
people travel to provide their services
to companies, requiring them to stay
for weeks, months and sometimes years
during the course of a project.”
    To address this trend, IHG offers
Staybridge and Candlewood suites,
while Hilton’s brand is Homewood
Suites. Beyond their spacious suites and
home-like amenities, these types of
hotels generally offer an on-site conven-
ience store, exercise facilities and guest
laundries. Guests can also enjoy compli-
mentary hot breakfasts and guest recep-
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                                            Greater Social Awareness                       worthy causes. The Hilton HHonors®
                                            Finally, frequent business travelers are       Giving Back Program and IHG’s
                                            showing a lot of social consciousness,         Room for Hope support a wide range
                                            focusing on “green” travel options             of charities such as UNICEF, Big
                                            while donating loyalty credits to sup-         Brothers Big Sisters, and the American
                                            port charities.                                Red Cross; while Lufthansa’s Miles-to-
                                                “They’re increasingly becoming             Help program funds its employee-
                                            concerned with the environment,”               founded Help Alliance, supporting
                                            notes Camacho. Hertz expanded its              orphanages, education facilities and
                                            “Green Collection” of vehicles in June         homeless children in third-world coun-
                                            of this year with a $68 million invest-        tries; and BA’s program for North
                                            ment in 3,400 reservable Toyota Prius          America allows members to transfer
                                            hybrids, 100 of which have been desig-         miles to several charities.
                                            nated for the company’s Manhattan
                                            fleet. The Prius has been designated           Expectation, Competition and
                                            a “SmartWay Elite” vehicle by the              Technology
                                            EPA, the organization’s highest honor.         Customer expectation, competition
Priority Club Rewards features a            More than 64% (268,000 cars) of the            and technology are truly combining
groundbreaking “Any Hotel, Anywhere”        company’s rental fleet now achieves            to power the business travel trends
reward that allows members to use           28 mpg or greater fuel efficiency, with        of 2007.
points to stay at other hotels, including   42.4% reaching 34 mpg or greater.                 “In a post 9/11 world, there’s a cer-
boutiques and competitors.                      “While hybrid vehicles have only           tain amount of stress among travelers,”
   Travelers are leveraging alliances and   recently become available to car rental        Machen states. “Along with our part-
partnerships among travel providers,        companies, Hertz has created a collec-         ners in the travel industry, we share a
making a huge difference in convenience     tion of cars, in addition to the Prius, that   common travel ecosystem, if you will,
and convertibility of earned award          are easy on the wallet and friendly to         and for us it is important to recognize
points. For example, they can earn miles    the environment,” Camacho explains.            that with anything we can do to de-
on BA by staying at Hilton, Marriott        “These cars are all make and model             stress a guest’s life through technology
and Sheraton hotels; renting through        reservable, so travelers can be assured        or innovation, we’re collectively better.
Avis, Alamo and National; and ordering      that the car they reserve is the car they      So that’s an overriding trend as well.
wines through the BA Wine Club.             actually rent.”                                We hope to drive even more innova-
Lufthansa’s Miles & More program,               “Business travelers increasingly want      tion to de-stress travelers’ lives.”
shared with its partner airlines, main-     to fly with environmentally conscious
tains exchange arrangements with            airlines, and travel managers are giving
Hertz, Hilton, IHG, Starwood and            preference to those airlines and travel         WEB DIRECTORY
numerous other travel service providers,    companies with a strong sustainability          British Airways
while Hertz also allows frequent cus-       focus,” adds Lufthansa’s Bunkenburg.            www.ba.com
tomers to convert points to miles in the    “We fit right in with the most environ-
frequent flyer programs of 11 other         mentally friendly aircraft on order, such       Hertz
major airlines and Amtrak, as well as       as the new A380, and a climate protec-
                                                                                            www.hertz.com
with Marriott Rewards and IHG’s             tion program with MyClimate.org,                Hilton HHonors®
Priority Club Rewards.                      which we just launched, and a dedicated         www.hiltonhhonors.com
   Business travelers are also making       ‘green team’ at our headquarters doing
use of major credit cards tied to loyalty   environmental research and develop-
                                                                                            InterContinental Hotels
                                                                                            Group/Priority Club Rewards
programs, most of which not only earn       ment work.”
                                                                                            www.ihg.com
points or miles per dollar spent, but           Reward points aren’t always spent
can open the door to bonus earning          on personal perks and luxuries, as              Lufthansa
opportunities.                              business travelers send their credits to        www.lufthansa.com

				
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