Meeting Planners Are Experimenting With New Tactics to Avoid Last-Minute Registrations

Meeting Planners Are Experimenting With New Tactics to Avoid Last-Minute Registrations

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Skift

Attendees line up to enter the the Skift Global Forum in New York City October 9, 2014. More conferences and events are confronting issues with last-minute attendee registration. Skift

Skift Take: Event overload is causing attendees to register later than ever, and early-bird discounts are so yesterday. It’s time for planners to get innovative.

— Deanna Ting

Meeting and event planners are increasingly having to deal with last-minute attendees: those individuals who, regardless of the amount of lead time given, wait until the 11th hour to confirm their attendance.

The result is a domino effect. Planners end up confirming numbers with venues later and later, often forcing the managers at those venues to scramble to accommodate the latecomers without sacrificing service.

“It’s a problem that we all face,” said Dana Ellis, president of Ellis International. “It’s been going on for a long time, and it may be getting a little bit worse. The main problem is we’re all in so much competition for people’s time, and there are a lot of events every single day. People are really busy and have to pick and choose what they can attend, and may not know their schedule, so they wait to register at the last minute.”

Another factor in late registrations might be changing traveler behavior in that consumers are getting used to doing many things last-minute, including booking a hotel on the day of a trip.

Ellis added that her instinct and 25 years’ experience tell her that many people simply don’t know if they’ll be able to take time away from work, and don’t want to over-commit until they know their workload.

Mahoganey Jones, owner of Event Specialists in Brampton, Ontario, Canada, said she has definitely seen an increase in the problem, and also attributed it to event overload.

“Not only are people going to events in their own industry, they are starting to realize there are ancillary events that may benefit them as well,” said Jones.

One incentive traditionally used to encourage registration — an early-bird discount — can sometimes actually discourage it, according to Jones.

“Everyone is taught that we need an early-bird [incentive] to entice people to register, but planners don’t hold firm to those discounts,” Jones said. “If there is a conference happening in six months, early bird goes four months. What would entice me today to register when I know I have four more months to get the discount, and I know that every year they extend it to the month before?”

The reality is that attendees often wait until past the deadline to register, often up until days before the event. Knowing this, Ellis said that planners have to use their expertise to put in the food-and-beverage guarantee, knowing that number may not be the actual count on the day.

“It’s not a guess. You have to use your knowledge to come up with the closest answer to where you are going to land in terms of numbers,” said Ellis. Venues will extend deadlines as much as they are able, but they have to order food and staff appropriately, so they can only push the deadlines so far. We either can’t extend the deadline to attendees as much as we would like, or put a guarantee of a number we haven’t achieved, and then work on our end to sell the additional seats.”

Waiting for those numbers are catering managers who understand the pressures on the planners, but also have their own logistics to consider.

Cheron Rubenstein, catering sales manager at Lancer Hospitality gives corporate clients a seven-day deadline, but concedes that changes made two to three days before an event are pretty typical.

“This happens a lot, and what many clients do not realize is that on our end we’ve scheduled staff and ordered food.” Rubenstein said. “We don’t want to tell a client they can’t add that extra 25 people, but if the numbers increase and it’s a dramatic change, that can change the staffing for the event, which can lead to the service not being as good or the way we had intended; and in some cases, we simply may not have enough food. It’s a Catch-22 because, although last-minute changes and increases in attendance can be challenging logistically, we want to do everything in our power to accommodate our clients.”

What then, can planners do to mitigate the problem? One tactic might be to make last-minute registrations expensive or inconvenient, but its effectiveness depends on the market, according to Ellis.

“If the company is paying for the registration and they only have a certain amount of money budgeted, they will go for early bird every time because they need to maintain their budget for their company,” said Ellis, adding that late registrations have more to do with time than money. Instead, she uses other enticements, such as offering gift certificates or an autographed book from the speaker.

Jones thinks part of the problem is that people are bored with the same old model. She cited the pop-up event as an example of an innovation that generates excitement and buzz, and gets early registrations.

“It seems to be taking everyone by storm, people sign up before the event even happens because they want to be the first in the gate,” said Jones. “If you are on a list, you are going to find out where it happens and when. If you can create an exclusive opportunity and make people want to sign up, you have to give them reasons to sign up early.”

She has translated this strategy to corporate events with a tactic she calls “closing the loop.” It means continuing the conversation after an event via monthly blogs and webinars, thus creating community, awareness, and buzz throughout the year.

“Then, it’s not a surprise when your event comes up, because people are already part of the movement. If you’re being a little proactive, your numbers are a little more consistent and you are better able to anticipate what’s going to happen. I find that’s a huge help in understanding where people drop off and where they pick up momentum,” said Jones.

If all else fails and you suddenly have 50 last-minute attendees, Jones suggests including a hybrid element to the event.

“Instead of adding them in person, consider adding to you’re A/V [audio-visual] and stream it live. That way, you’re not increasing food and beverage costs or room capacities that you’ve already set,” Jones said.

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September 20, 2017 at 03:02PM

News: Ryanair seeks to process most passenger cancellation claims by Friday

News: Ryanair seeks to process most passenger cancellation claims by Friday

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Ryanair today has offered passengers an update on its progress at working through the cancellation of 2,100 of its 103,000 flights over the next six weeks.

The low-cost carrier has revealed it expects to have re-accommodated over 175,000 customers on other Ryanair flights – over 55 per cent of affected customers.

All 315,000 customers affected have now received an email advising them of their flight changes and offering alternative flights, refunds and EU261 notices.

By the end of today, more than 63,000 flight refunds will have been processed, Ryanair said, returning money to 20 per cent of affected customers.

Ryanair spokesman Kenny Jacobs said: “We apologise sincerely to each and every one of the 315,000 customers whose original flights were cancelled over a six week period in September and October, while we work to resolve this short term rostering failure.

“We have taken on extra customer service teams to speed up the rate at which we accommodate and action alternative flight requests or refund applications.

“We expect to have the vast majority of these completed by the end of this week.

“The vast majority of these requests are being dealt with online, but as our call centres and chat lines are extremely busy, we ask affected customers to bear with us as we do everything we can to respond to their requests and try to resolve any problems we have created for them, for which we again sincerely apologise.”

Ryanair expects to have processed over 300,000 alternative routings or refunds for customers – over 95 per cent of affected customers – by the end of this week.

The carrier earlier published the complete list of flights to be cancelled before the end of October.

Around 50 flights a day will be suspended from schedules as the low-cost carrier seeks to meet holiday requirements for pilots before the end of the year.

However, this only represents two per cent of planned departures, with Ryanair still offering around 2,450 flights a day.

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary said: “While over 98 per cent of our customers will not be affected by these cancellations over the next six weeks, we apologise unreservedly to those customers whose travel will be disrupted, and assure them that we have done our utmost to try to ensure that we can re-accommodate most of them on alternative flights on the same or next day.”

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September 20, 2017 at 02:49PM

Air New Zealand Cancelling $944 Mistake Business-Class Tickets

Air New Zealand Cancelling $944 Mistake Business-Class Tickets

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Sometimes mistake fares really are too good to be true. Case in point: Air New Zealand’s most recent mistake fare from Australia to Los Angeles for $944 round-trip in business class.

We let you know about the incredible deal on Sunday, but now, readers who booked the ticket are getting cancellation emails from the OTA from which they booked. Simply put, Air New Zealand isn’t honoring its mistake fare. As always, when you come across an incredible deal that’s likely a mistake fare, it’s never a good idea to book non-refundable plans (i.e. a hotel reservation you can’t cancel). While you may think that just because you entered your credit card information and got the confirmation screen, your trip isn’t official until you receive a confirmation email.

While Air New Zealand not honoring this business-class mistake fare is a huge bummer for those who thought they were able to take advantage, it’s completely legal for the carrier not to honor the tickets. In 2015, the Department of Transportation established a new policy that allows airlines to cancel mistake fares under certain circumstances and as long as they offer specific protections to the consumer.

The protections include that the airline must demonstrate that it was a mistake fare, as well as reimburse all customers who purchased the fare for any reasonable, actual and verifiable out-of-pocket expenses that were made in reliance upon the ticket purchase, as well as refunding the price of the ticket itself. If you made any purchases that were reliant upon the ticket, Air New Zealand is required by law to reimburse you for them. Contact the carrier before taking the issue to the DOT. There tends to be a lot of back-and-forth with these refunds, which is why it’s recommended not to make any non-refundable plans in the first place.

Or, of course, there’s always the chance that Air New Zealand could reverse its decision. In July, Qatar Airways published mistake fares in business class for $555 round-trip. In the aftermath, there was some confusion about whether the airline would honor the fares. But in the end, it canceled some but ended up reinstating others. There’s no guarantee how Air New Zealand will handle this situation, but if you’re unclear whether your ticket is canceled or not, check your reservation on the airline’s website to see if it’s still active.

H/T: One Mile at a Time

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September 20, 2017 at 02:15PM

Travel Agents Are Increasingly Using Global Distribution Systems to Book Hotels

Travel Agents Are Increasingly Using Global Distribution Systems to Book Hotels

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This Feb. 1, 2010, file photo, shows The Westin Philadelphia hotel in Philadelphia. Matt Rourke / Associated Press

Skift Take: Agents may be placing more hotel bookings through global distribution systems, but the fact remains that hotels would like to move away from expensive distribution channels like these.

— Andrew Sheivachman

While the role of global distribution system (GDS) companies is shifting in a dynamic marketplace, they remain useful for travel agents around the world.

TravelClick and Phoenix Marketing International polled more than 900 travel agents using Sabre, Amadeus, and Travelport in 52 countries on their use of global distribution system platforms. Half of those surveyed said they are using a global distribution system more than they did two years ago, leading to an increase in the amount of hotel bookings placed on the platform.

Hotels pay a fee of about 20 percent on a booking when they sell a room on a global distribution platform, leading many to look for other distribution solutions like encouraging travelers to book direct online or using online booking sites.

TravelClick provide revenue management solutions along with a booking engine and other reservations technology to hotels, and has a stake in the issues discussed in this research: it helps hotels manage their presence on a variety of distribution platforms.

“It’s clear from both the research and our data that global travel agents rely on the GDS as an essential operating system for conducting hotel research and booking reservations,” said John Hach, senior industry analyst at TravelClick. “This study is also consistent with our business intelligence data, which shows that GDS hotel bookings and average daily rates that are generated through travel agents are on the rise. All of this further proves that hoteliers have ample opportunity to generate incremental revenue and maximize revenue per available room through the power of the GDS.”

When it comes to these hotel bookings, 63 percent of those polled indicated they tend to book away from hotels that don’t offer the best rate on global distribution system channels. More than two-in-three (70 percent) said they will book the best deal they find regardless of the advertising content the systems push them. Sixty-nine percent of agents polled said they’re aware of promotional text from global distribution systems, a four percent increase from 2015.

Interestingly, 46 percent of agents surveyed said they are booking alternative accommodations less now because they aren’t available on global distribution systems (Airbnb may quietly be looking to solve this problem.) It could also be that agents don’t make any commission on sites like Airbnb and Homeaway, so don’t have the incentive to book them for clients.

“Travel agents cited a strong preference to book lodging directly through the GDS systems and not on Airbnb or other alternative lodging websites,” said Hach. “Keeping this in mind, hoteliers have access to a proven and growing hotel booking audience to help them effectively compete within the sharing economy.”

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September 20, 2017 at 02:05PM

Learning to Love Dill, Russia’s Ubiquitous Herb

Learning to Love Dill, Russia’s Ubiquitous Herb

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When I first travelled to Russia, on a summer program in college, I had
very little grasp of practical Russian vocabulary. In school, I’d spent
two years studying the language, but the curriculum had focussed on
grammar, taught through modified excerpts of nineteenth-century
literature. While I could recite a verse of Pushkin and challenge
someone to a duel, I did not yet know how to ask for food at a store or
restaurant. During my first moments in Russia, on a dusty bus from the
Kazan airport, as road signs in Cyrillic whipped by, I remember flipping
through a sheaf of everyday words I’d printed in an increasing panic.
That’s when I learned the word for dill—ukrop—from Leslie, our program
director, whose bright, Midwestern geniality belied the difficult task
she had: largely, convincing underage American college students not to
drink vodka. She laughed, then, that I didn’t know the word. “Ukrop,”
she said. “You’ll see.”

Later that day, I met my host family: Asya, brittle, bottle-blond, and
nervous; her grim, taciturn husband, Seryozha; and Asya’s mother,
Indira, who smoked ultrathin cigarettes, one after another. That
afternoon, we piled into their rusty Soviet-era sedan and headed out of
the city to the family’s dacha—another word to write in my little
black notebook. The whole city was bordered by forest, a mix of rugged
oak and slender birch (in Russia, I would learn, oak trees are a symbol
for men; birches for women). There were lakes, too, some feeding off
tributaries of the Volga River, scattered like coins between the trees.
We began unloading groceries from the trunk as soon as we arrived:
potatoes, meat for shashlyk (barbecue), beer. At dinnertime, we
roasted potatoes over a primitive grill, and I was handed one, singeing
my palm, along with a stalk of dill. “Bite one, then the other,” Asya
said. So I did, and Russia came into focus around me with each grassy,
acidic bite.

I had eaten dill before I visited Russia, of course—it features heavily
in the Ashkenazi cuisine that my religious Jewish family prepared for
the Sabbath and holidays. Kosher dill pickles, fermented in garlicky
herby brine, rather than vinegar—and called kosher because they were
popularized, if not invented, by Jewish immigrants to the U.S. at the
turn of the twentieth century—were staples of Jewish appetizing shops
and delis before they took over supermarket shelves. There was whitefish
salad, with dill and parsley mixed in, a perpetual delight crowded into
the fridge, to be smeared onto bagels and crackers. Forshmak, a
Baltic-style pickled herring beloved of the older crowd, was served at
synagogue, sometimes garnished with a little fresh dill. Every week,
there was dill in the pouch of cheesecloth lowered into our chicken
soup.

But, as with so many things—weather, curse words, wild dogs—the old
country upped the ante. It would be difficult to overstate the ubiquity
of dill in Russian cooking. The root of ukrop comes from the
verb kropit’—to sprinkle—and, sure enough, it’s sprinkled everywhere,
with slightly crazed abandon. In Russia, I ate lard laced with dill on
black bread, dill entwined in the crevices between potato dumplings. I
ate at Soviet-era stolovayas—gray little cafeterias, with cabbage
shchi and fish cakes, garnished with shaggy dill stalks. The way I
grew into dill was a bit like growing into Russia itself; the
fundamental strangeness of the place lessened with each taste of the
odorous, astringent herb. I grew to love the most unlikely dishes,
like pechenkovy tortik—a kind of mille-feuille of liver crêpes, topped
with crumbled egg yolk and the familiar green frills. I took the
overnight train to Kiev, ate a meat pastry from a street stand, and
curled up in sweaty agony for days afterward. A doctor who served the
Jewish community came to my house and gave me Georgian mineral water and
activated charcoal. Eventually, I felt well enough to greedily slurp
down solyanka—slick red soup with cold cuts, olives, and dill.

Dill is a hardy plant, suitable for the inhospitable Russian clime—not
for nothing is it called “dill weed”—and will cast up a riot of fronds
in the humblest kitchen garden, where it emits a sweet, herbaceous
smell. (The experimental Silver Age poet Vladimir Ivanovich Narbut wrote
of the hound Cerberus, in despair, burying his face in the plant,
“dragging honey from the dill.”) When I moved to Ukraine, in 2012, I
lived on the outskirts of Kiev, in a dingy post-Soviet apartment bloc
across the Dnieper River from the center of town, but just a quick walk
from the train station. An underpass leading from the apartment building
to the metro served as a place for merchants to sell their wares. In the
warm months, old women sold mushrooms and gooseberries; in the winter,
when commuters lingered underground and braced themselves to walk into
the chill, the venders added handfuls of quail eggs, sold loose, and
dried dill flowers spread like yellow lace in front of them.

In Ukraine, I often felt as if I were walking through legends made real.
I visited the grave of the Ba’al Shem Tov, the progenitor of Hasidism,
and the shrine of Rabbi Nachman, in Uman. In Odessa, I walked where the
great Hebrew poets had walked, under the catalpa trees. When I visited
my grandfather’s remote village, in the far west of the country, the old
women there showed me the shuttered building that had once been a
synagogue, and the pitted path toward it that my grandfather had taken
in his youth. They showed me the woods where the Nazis shot the Jews,
and they gave me apples. For the long, rutted road back, I bought a
goose-meat loaf shot through with dill, and too much salt.

In Russia today, dill has been sprinkled far beyond the bounds of
traditional cuisine, and has made its way into increasingly unlikely
places. It has become a potato-chip flavor, a hamburger topping, a
garnish for pizza. So profligate is its use that Shaun Walker, the
herb-aggrieved
Moscow correspondent for the Guardian, maintains a Facebook group
called “DillWatch” to monitor “inappropriate” Russian deployments of
the
herb
—in
sushi, fajitas, even meringues. One Facebook user revealed that his
movie-theater popcorn had come with a packet of dill seasoning; another
posted a picture of a lemon, inexplicably served in a green, hairy coat.
Dill has even played its own small, strange role in the ongoing conflict
between Ukraine and Russia. In response to pro-Russian separatists using
ukrop” as a slur for Ukrainians, a Ukrainian paramilitary group
adopted it as a name, going into battle with green patches depicting
dill in full flower sewn onto their fatigues.

I have been living back in New York for several years now, but with a
new attunement to the echoes of Eastern European culture in my American
Jewish milieu—the Hasidic sects named for Ukrainian towns, the city
streets along which my émigré forebears once dragged their pickle
barrels. The connections are nowhere more readily apparent than at the
dinner table. This week, the High Holidays begin with Rosh Hashanah,
with its surfeit of culinary symbols: honey for a sweet new year, a fish
head for good luck, carrots because the Yiddish word for the vegetable,
meren, shares a root with the word for “plenty.” Most of these symbols
are linked to hopes for the future, but for me the holiday is also an
occasion to honor a recent part of my past. Preparing the Rosh Hashanah
meal, I’ll drop stalks of dill straight into the chicken soup, letting
it ease out into the golden, marbled broth.

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September 20, 2017 at 02:02PM

Why Is Congress Conducting its Russia Investigation in Secret?

Why Is Congress Conducting its Russia Investigation in Secret?

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Most of the witnesses being interviewed by the Senate and House
committees investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 election have
been granted a remarkable courtesy. The norm in Washington is for
testimony to be conducted before cameras in a public setting, where
congressmen and senators compete for attention and interrogate witnesses
in the hopes of achieving a viral “gotcha” moment. But in recent weeks,
several figures central to the investigation, including Jared Kushner
and Donald Trump, Jr., have been allowed to sit for interviews behind
closed doors.

The closed-door interview has become the unfortunate new norm, in which
the public is denied insight into an important investigation. Roger
Stone, Trump’s longtime on-again, off-again adviser, who is scheduled to
testify before the House Intelligence Committee next week, requested a
public hearing but was told it would be closed. The private
conversations seem to be the product of a bipartisan agreement:
Democrats get the witnesses they want, and Republicans are able to reduce
the anti-Trump spectacle of the hearings. But what is lost is the
transparency Americans have come to expect from congressional
investigations going back decades—Watergate, Iran-Contra, the various
Clinton scandals, the 9/11 Commission. The investigation by the special
counsel, Robert Mueller, will remain behind closed doors and
confidential until its conclusion, as is common of probes into potential
criminal conduct. But the various congressional committees are looking
at the broader implications of Russia’s attack on our democracy, an
inquiry that cries out for open testimony as a way to inform the public.

Unlike the aggressive congressional investigations of Watergate and
Iran-Contra, today’s private interviews have afforded witnesses in the
Russia investigation with a unique opportunity. Both Kushner and Trump,
Jr., released long public statements that were not subject to tough
cross-examination in public by members of the committee. The statements
have become increasingly fatuous and more like press releases. Kushner’s
statement was filled with pabulum about a life and career dedicated to quiet
public service.

“First in my business and now in public service, I have worked on
achieving goals, and have left it to others to work on media and public
perception,” Kushner said, clearly trying to shape public perception.
His statement strayed far away from the pertinent questions of
collusion. “Donald Trump had the right vision for America and delivered
his message perfectly,” Kushner wrote of his father-in-law. “The results
speak for themselves.”

Trump, Jr.,’s
statement actually included fewer Trump-like boasts about the greatness of the
campaign and the size of Trump’s victory. (Though he did note that his
father “was fortunate to prevail in New Hampshire, South Carolina,
Nevada, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts and many other
states.”) But after Trump, Jr.,’s private testimony, congressional
investigators were reportedly frustrated with some gaps in the
chronology of events in his public statement. In an arrangement that
favors witnesses, rules have barred members of the committee from
discussing the interviews, but witnesses are free to release
increasingly bold pre-testimony statements brimming with posturing and
spin.

After Trump, Jr., the Senate Intelligence Committee decided that it had
had enough of witnesses releasing long, self-serving statements before
they went behind closed doors for a private grilling. Richard Burr, the
chairman of the committee, and Mark Warner, the ranking member, demanded
that witnesses refrain from making any public comments.

The first test of that new rule came on Tuesday. Michael Cohen, Trump’s
longtime lawyer at the Trump Organization, was scheduled for a
closed-door interview before members and staff of Burr and Warner’s
committee. Cohen is of interest to investigators because he was the man
behind the attempt in 2015 and 2016 to build a Trump tower in Moscow,
at the time that Trump was running for President and denying any connections to
Russia. Taking his cues from Kushner and Trump, Jr., Cohen released his
thousand word opening
statement to the press before he met with investigators.

Taking a meandering, conspiratorial, and combative tone, Cohen denied
any wrongdoing and attacked the author of the infamous Trump dossier,
which mentioned Cohen repeatedly and included an unfounded allegation
that he met with Russians to discuss the election on a surreptitious
trip to Prague. “Let me tell you where I was on the day the dossier said
I was in Prague,” Cohen wrote. “I was in Los Angeles with my son who
dreams of playing division 1 baseball next year at a prestigious
university like USC.”

The statement was filled with even more hyperbole, grievance, and spin
than those of the previous witnesses, with other references to Cohen’s
wife and children, and the requisite paean to Trumpism being under
siege. “Many Trump-supporting Americans are also paying this cost,” he
said, suggesting he was being targeted because of his support for Trump.
“Like the twelve-year-old child in Missouri who was beaten up for
wearing a Make America Great Again hat.”

Soon after Cohen arrived on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, he slipped behind
closed doors to begin his testimony. Unexpectedly, he left about an hour
later. Burr and Warner were so aggravated by his violation of their ban
on pre-testimony spin that they cancelled Cohen’s appearance.

“We were disappointed that Mr. Cohen decided to pre-empt today’s
interview by releasing a public statement prior to his engagement with
Committee staff,” the senators said in a statement. “As a result, we
declined to move forward with today’s interview.” They added, “The
Committee expects witnesses in this investigation to work in good faith
with the Senate.”

Cohen is scheduled to return to the committee late next month. The
testimony will be done in public—the way it should be.

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September 20, 2017 at 01:53PM

News: St. Petersburg prepares for World Travel Awards Europe Gala Ceremony

News: St. Petersburg prepares for World Travel Awards Europe Gala Ceremony

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With just ten days to go until St. Petersburg welcomes the World Travel Awards Europe Gala Ceremony, the travel industry’s leading awards programme is delighted to unveil the latest details of the event.

Aleksandr Malich and Marina Kim – two of the most sought after hosts on Russian Television – will compere the awards show which will take place at the Marble Hall, Russian Museum of Ethnography, on Saturday September 30th.

Entertainment will be provided by Russian theatre company, Hand Made, whose choreography of the hands is nothing short of a creative marvel, and Bis-Quit.

An acclaimed instrumental ensemble, Bis-Quit are on a mission to make their audiences look at well-known pieces and Russian music culture alike, in a new light.

Mezzo-soprano Ekaterina Sergeeva, soprano Karina Chepurnova and tenor Alexander Trofimov complete the stellar entertainment line-up.

Speaking ahead of World Travel Awards Europe Gala Ceremony, WTA president Graham Cooke said: “It will be an absolute pleasure for World Travel Awards to visit Russia for the very first time.

“St. Petersburg is one of the most famous cities in the world and this is a fantastic opportunity for the city to take its rightful place as a top rank tourism destination.”

The official after party will be held in the ballroom at the luxurious five-star Hotel Astoria.

St. Petersburg Committee for Tourism Development chairman, Andrey Mushkarev, added: “We will be honoured to host the leading European tourism industry professionals in St. Petersburg.

“We are confident this event will be one of the best in the history of the World Travel Awards and we are pleased to invite everyone to the Europe Gala Ceremony in St. Petersburg, a city that is the pride not only of Russia and Europe, but of the whole world.”

World Travel Awards was established in 1993 to acknowledge, reward and celebrate excellence across all sectors of the tourism industry.

Today, the World Travel Awards brand is recognised globally as the ultimate hallmark of quality, with winners setting the benchmark to which all others aspire.

Each year, World Travel Awards covers the globe with a series of regional gala ceremonies staged to recognise and celebrate individual and collective success within each key geographical region.

World Travel Awards Gala Ceremonies are widely regarded as the best networking opportunities in the travel industry, attended by government and industry leaders, luminaries and international print and broadcast media.

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September 20, 2017 at 01:29PM

News: Gran Hotel Miramar reveals new Botanical Spa by Sisley

News: Gran Hotel Miramar reveals new Botanical Spa by Sisley

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Following its recent €65 million overhaul, Malaga’s brand new grand dame, Gran Hotel Miramar, can now invite guests to enter into a world of senses at its exclusive new Botanical Spa by Sisley.

A holistic haven dedicated to sensory wellbeing, the new spa harmoniously blends natural plant-based products with Moorish traditions to create a calming oasis in the heart of the ancient Andalucían city.

Spread across two floors, the Botanical Spa provides a tranquil environment inspired by the storied hotel’s historic glamour and grace, offering an array of wellness services that include a thermal circuit; six body and aesthetic treatment cabins; Finnish sauna, Turkish hammam; ice fountain; Jacuzzi; a sensations shower pool; relaxation area with hot stone loungers; and a VIP treatment room complete with Champagne and fresh juice.

The Botanical Spa’s comprehensive menu features a collection of results-driven facials and body treatments from international luxury beauty brand, Sisley.

The prestigious Sisley brand is the benchmark in Phyto-Cosmetology, sourcing and utilising the most effective natural plant extracts to achieve the best skincare results.

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September 20, 2017 at 01:21PM

5 Things You Need to Know About Delta SkyMiles

5 Things You Need to Know About Delta SkyMiles

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On the list of perplexing loyalty programs, Delta SkyMiles sits at the top. Continual surprise changes and opaque policies are frustrating and leave loyal passengers feeling defeated. With plenty of confusing/unwritten rules complicating matters further, SkyMiles is a loyalty currency that can one day be near worthless and the next, invaluable.

Despite a rather turbulent loyalty program, Delta’s in-flight experience is arguably the best among US carriers — leaving you unsure about whether you should collect as many SkyMiles as possible or avoid the program entirely. Today, I’ll tell you five things you need to know about Delta SkyMiles to hopefully help you solidify your plan for the airline.

1.There’s No Published Award Chart

We don’t know how many miles an award flight on Delta is supposed to cost. In February of 2015, Delta removed award charts from its website without notification, and they have not (and by all accounts will not) return. If you’d like to save miles for an award flight in the future, you need to search your intended route on a multitude of dates in order to estimate the approximate range of miles required.

The second point to make on the lack of published award charts is just how vast a range of SkyMiles can be required for the same route. Domestic flights that are 9,000 miles one day can be 2.5x as many miles the next. Look at the two-week variance in price for a short Washington Reagan (DCA) – Atlanta (ATL) route:

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When it comes to international routes and specifically premium cabins, the variance can be even more significant, like with this Atlanta (ATL) to Seoul (ICN) one-way Delta One cabin award search:

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Availability with award programs is always a challenge, but without set prices these significant price variances end up forcing you to plan your trip schedule around availability, rather than SkyMiles rewarding you with your desired schedule.

Finally, with no fixed prices, last-minute SkyMiles award tickets function like revenue tickets: They’re significantly more expensive. This is a major detractor to collecting SkyMiles compared to other legacy carrier miles. If I need a last-minute ticket, I no longer bother even searching with SkyMiles. In this Atlanta (ATL) to Charleston (CHS) example, close-in award tickets are more than three times as expensive compared to booking more than three weeks out — typical for Delta:

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2. Adding Segments Can Lower Your Award Ticket Price

Counterintuitively, in order to pay less miles for a Delta award ticket, you sometimes need to fly more. This is a result of Delta taking advantage of little/no competition on routes from its hubs. Try to avoid starting domestic award search on Delta.com from Atlanta (ATL), Detroit (DTW) or Minneapolis (MSP). Award tickets will usually be much higher due to no competition — especially when you’re hoping to fly in first class. Here’s a search from DTW to San Francisco (SFO) in first class one-way:

When you shift your origin to Chicago (ORD), which happens to be served by plenty of other carriers, the prices drop in half with many itineraries on these days connecting in Detroit:

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On September 27, Delta flight 1658 from Detroit to San Francisco will cost you 65,000 SkyMiles in first class:

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If on the same day you begin your itinerary in Chicago, you can take the very same flight for half the price:

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This principle seems to apply for all Delta hubs. If you live somewhere that allows you to have a choice of airports to depart from, be sure to compare all your options and look to use SkyMiles on routes also operated by Delta competitors.

3. It Cost More Miles to Fly Partners

In April of this year, again without warning, Delta increased the SkyMiles required to book partner-operated award flights. It now costs more SkyMiles to fly partner carriers rather than Delta on routes originating from the US. Delta One from New York to London costs 70,000 miles at its lowest price. The same route now costs 85,000 miles on Virgin Atlantic-operated routes.

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You’ll see the same incremental prices on Aerolineas Argentinas, Aeromexico, China Airlines, China Eastern, Korean Airlines and Virgin Australia flights originating from the US on routes that Delta also flies. When the change was originally announced, you could add a Delta-operated domestic segment on the itinerary and it would qualify for the lower pricing, but that loophole has since been closed.

As for why Delta decided to penalize members for flying partner airlines, and roll it out with no notice and no announcement, we’ll probably never know.

4. You Can Book Delta Comfort+ With Miles

Unique to Delta is the ability to book main cabin seats with extra legroom, priority boarding, free alcohol on flights over 250 miles and dedicated overhead bin space with miles. From the award search booking screen you can redeem extra miles for Comfort+ tickets and not have to worry about paying cash for more desirable economy seats.

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Of course, there’s no award chart to let you know how many more miles you’ll need to pay, and again the variance in range for required miles to get a more comfortable economy experience is vast. In the above example, it’s only 4,000 more miles for the three hour Atlanta-Denver flight but for a transcon JFK-LAX it almost doubles the price of the ticket:

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Whether this presents a good value or not is highly subjective depending on how much you value a few extra inches of legroom and how many miles you have in your account. Here’s a typical example of how many miles Comfort+ will cost you for a long-haul international route (the US to Tokyo):

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I personally wouldn’t fork over the extra 35,000 SkyMiles for long-haul international economy Comfort+, mainly because that’s more miles than United or American require to fly in business for the same route. However, I know many people who do whatever they can to be a little more comfortable for the long flights while avoiding having to pay cash.

5. You Can Earn Elite Status Without Ever Flying

Delta SkyMiles is the only program I’m aware of that still lets you earn top-tier status only through credit card spending. If you have all four Delta co-branded cards issued by American Express that earn Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs), over the course of two years, you could put enough spend on the four cards to earn Delta Diamond status. Here are the four cards and the MQMs they allow you to earn:

If you can put $220,000 in spend across the cards over the course of a year, you’ll earn 100,000 MQMs and the Medallion Qualifying Dollar (MQD) requirement will be waived. This means you’ll earn Platinum status (75,000 MQMs) in year one and roll over 25,000 MQMs to year two. If you again spend $220,000 across all four cards in year two, you’ll again earn 100,000 MQMs which, in addition to your 25,000 rollover MQMs, will give you 125,000 MQMs and thus Delta Diamond status. This strategy assumes Delta will continue with the MQD waiver and allow you to earn all the way up to Diamond status without flying.

Bottom Line

On one hand, it’s tough to pass up only paying 8,000-10,000 miles for domestic tickets and having the chance to book Delta One suites on the new A350 for 80,000 miles from Seoul to Atlanta. On the other hand, Delta’s President Glen Hauenstein doesn’t want people to use miles to fly for free, and I have a hard time trusting a program whose leadership is against award flights and that’s known for routinely making unannounced devaluations. Personally, I’ll continue to keep a stash of American Express Membership Rewards points earmarked for transfers to Delta, but I won’t be spending on Delta co-branded credit cards or crediting paid flights to the program.

What is your plan for collecting SkyMiles going forward?

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September 20, 2017 at 01:15PM

News: New marketing leadership for Hilton London Metropole

News: New marketing leadership for Hilton London Metropole

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Hilton London Metropole has announced Laura Feetham’s appointment as marketing and public relations manager.

Feetham has extensive experience in digital and content marketing, branding, design and campaign management.

She has worked in agency and client-side roles in both the UK and Australia, and led integrated marketing, social media and PR campaigns as well as developing new brand identities.

A keen explorer, Feetham has visited most of the world’s continents through her travels around Australia, New Zealand, South East Asia, South America and Canada.

On accepting the new role at Hilton London Metropole, Feetham, said: “I am very excited to be joining the professional and experienced team at Hilton London Metropole, and to being a part of one of the world’s most recognisable hotel brands.

“I look forward to bringing my experience to the role and helping to drive the hotel’s continued success.”

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September 20, 2017 at 01:09PM