News Clips for Corporate Travel Management: May 2012

  1. First Starbucks stores on board Intercity trains

    Sadly not in the UK though.

    In an exciting new experience for Swiss rail travellers, during the first half of 2013, SBB and Starbucks plan to launch travelling Starbucks stores on board two SBB Intercity trains between St. Gallen and Geneva.

    SBB is constantly improving the on-board restaurant service in order to increase the attractiveness of railway travel. The pilot project, taking place on two Intercity trains travelling between St. Gallen and Geneva, will offer customers a unique way to spend their journey in the first ever Starbucks store on wheels.

    The pilot project will convert the current on-board bistro and restaurant facilities of two 'IC 2000' bi-level trains into Starbucks stores. The design has been jointly developed by Starbucks and SBB in order to deliver customers a Starbucks store which fits inside a double-decker train. Travelers will be able to enjoy their favourite Starbucks drinks in the store on-board.

    SBB's subsidiary Elvetino remains in charge of operating the on-board restaurants and has been closely involved in the project.

    Source: BusinessTravelNews - full story

  2. Barcelo UK becomes Puma Hotels Collection

    Spanish chain Barcelo Hotels has terminated the lease on its portfolio of British properties, which have been relaunched under the Puma Hotels Collection portfolio.

    The group has 21 four-star properties in England, Scotland and Wales, including Billesley Manor in Stratford-Upon-Avon.

    Barcelo took on the lease for the portfolio in September 2007, before which they were owned by Puma Hotels and operated under Puma's Paramount Hotels brand. Control of the hotels has now been transferred back to Puma following an agreement that was reached earlier this month.

    Puma had originally intended to revive the Paramount brand, but the properties will now operate under the Puma Hotels Collection.

    Across its portfolio, Puma Hotels Collection has around 20,000 square metres of conference and meeting space, and from May 1 will offer guests free wifi throughout the hotel.

    Barcelo still operates more than 142 hotels across 16 countries around the world.

    Source: Business Traveller online - full report by Lucy Douglas

  3. Flybe promotes European hubs over LHR

    Flybe is to base two aircraft at East Midlands and add five new routes from the airport, including Amsterdam and Paris.

    The other new routes, which will launch this winter, are Edinburgh, Glasgow and Jersey. Flybe currently operates only to Belfast City from East Midlands.

    The airline said the expansion underlined its commitment to serving the UK regions with 'high-frequency, punctual and great value air services'.

    It added that the new Amsterdam and Paris Charles de Gaulle routes would offer passengers from the East Midlands access to worldwide destinations from two of Europe's biggest hubs, providing 'a viable and popular long-haul alternative to London Heathrow'.

    Flybe is Europe's biggest regional airline with 196 routes serving 17 countries from 93 departure points, 35 in the UK and in 58 Europe.

    East Midlands, meanwhile, is the biggest base for bmibaby, which is facing an uncertain future since the acquisition of parent bmi by International Airlines Group.

    bmibaby serves 28 destinations from East Midlands, including all six of Flybe's routes.

  4. Formula One Hertz

    The Hertz Corporation has announced that the famous McLaren MP4-12C sports car is now available for hire for the first time ever.

    The vehicle will be offered exclusively by Hertz and Premiere Velocity in the UK. With the 12C, customers will be able to experience McLaren's Formula 1 technology for the first time in a road car.

    The McLaren MP4-12C has been designed and developed by a world-class team of engineers and test drivers to set new standards in performance for the road. The 12C features a 3.8-litre V8 twin turbo engine, which produces 592hp and 600Nm torque.

    The McLaren Airbrake and McLaren Brake Steer support 12C dynamics and bespoke ProActive Chassis Control suspension and SSG transmission deliver ultimate track times and supreme comfort on the road.

    The McLaren retails at £212,000. Hertz customers can experience this luxury by hiring the supercar from rates starting at £1,134.30 for a single day mid-week.

    The rates reduce to £906.30 per day for rentals lasting over 28 days.

    Source: Business Travel News - details

  5. MS-UK & ACTE-Global Corporate Travel & Expense Management Forum

    We are delighted to announce that 100% of Delegates spaces have already been sold for our 23rd Corporate Travel & Expense Management Forum, on Wednesday 15th May in the Lion Suite of the elegant 5 star City Grange Hotel.

    The Agenda for the day is"The Changing Face of Travel Management and Procurement".
    Session 1: Compliance or free for all? The burning question
    Session 2: Rising taxation in a static market - have you got a handle on it?
    Session 3: RFP - R.I.P.?
    Session 4: The 'Buyer Speakeasy'

    Full details of theses sessions can be seen on our website

    Pictures and videos of previous Corporate Travel & Expense Management Forums

    As soon as our Spring Forum ends our Planning Committee will be working hard on our Autumn event which is scheduled for 27th September or 3rd October 2012 - make sure you do not miss this event - make a diary note now!

  6. Bye Bye Bmibaby

    Bmibaby will be grounded from September, with some routes being stopped as early as next month, new owner IAG announced on the 3rd May.

    The move by British Airways' parent will affect almost 500 staff.

    IAG said it was still willing to sell the East Midlands-based budget airline, but it said recently it didn't expect to find a buyer for the carrier which is losing £25m a year.

    IAG acquired bmibaby along with bmi from Lufthansa, but while bmi is being integrated into BA's mainstream operations, BA has no desire to run the budget airline.

    BA said it is more optimistic of being able to sell Aberdeen-based Regional, which it also acquired with bmi from Lufthansa.

    Services to Belfast and from East Midlands to Amsterdam, Paris, Geneva, Nice, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Newquay, and from Birmingham to Knock and Amsterdam, will stop on June 11.

    The airline is still selling summer flights from East Midlands and Birmingham, but there will be no further flights from September 20.

    Source: Travelmole more details

  7. Plugging Bmibaby's gap

    Airlines Monarch and Ryanair have swooped to bridge the gap left by the grounding of bmibaby.

    Monarch is launching a new base at East Midlands Airport to plug the gap left by the grounding of bmibaby. It will also offer additional flights from Birmingham.

    Monarch will launch new flights to key leisure destinations across the Mediterranean, including to Malaga, Alicante, Palma and Faro in Portugal from the Midlands in late summer.

    In addition, it will expand its operations from Birmingham by adding more flights to Malaga, Alicante, Faro Rome and Palma plus a new route to Barcelona.

    Ryanair is offering packages to passengers who had bookings from Belfast and Birmingham airports cancelled, with rescue fares of £29.99 to corresponding Ryanair served airports like Derry, Dublin and East Midlands.

    Ryanair says it's been working with IAG, BMI's new owners, to facilitate bmibaby passengers on the following routes.

    Derry to/from: Alicante, Birmingham, Faro, Glasgow and London
    Dublin to/from: Alicante, Birmingham, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Eindhoven, Faro, Glasgow, Ibiza, London, Malaga and Palma.
    East Midland to/from: Knock
    Passengers can book on these flights until 20 May, for travel from 11 June - 27 October 2012.

    Source: Travelmole - full story by Diane Evans and Linsey McNeill

  8. Mövenpick- ing up business in China

    A Chinese name and logo, a new Shanghai executive team, a website in Mandarin, three new hotels under development and a record number of Chinese consumers embracing Swiss products are paving the way for success in China for Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts.

    In China Mövenpick will be known as Rui Xiang, which means "brings you enjoyment and luck with Swiss quality". This name and logo were created in collaboration with brand specialists Interbrand and developed following extensive customer research in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou.

    However, the new name is just one aspect of the upmarket Swiss hospitality company's Chinese preparations. A Mandarin website has been launched to enable easy access to Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts for Chinese speaking guests and a Vice President Development, Sunny Li, has been appointed to steer further expansion in China. The new Shanghai office for Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts has also appointed a Director of Global Sales and a Director of Technical Systems Services.

    Already Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts has three projects under development in China: the 300-room Mövenpick Hotel Jiading, Shanghai, the 380-room Mövenpick Resort & Spa, Phoenix Island, Sanya, both opening next year and the Mövenpick Hotel & State Guest House Chifeng, Inner Mongolia, opening in 2015.

    Source: BreakingTravelNews - full story

  9. E-RFP Eruption: Shifting Meeting Sourcing Strategies As Online Leads Swamp Hoteliers

    Rare are the times when hoteliers are frustrated by too much demand, but a tsunami of electronic meeting requests for proposals, many including dozens of properties and triggered by the rise of a few third-party RFP applications, has left properties struggling to keep up and demanding changes. It also leaves meeting buyers searching for strategies to separate their e-RFPs from the pack.

    The e-RFP explosion largely is a result of growing popularity for the mechanisms offered by meetings technology companies Cvent and StarCite, among others, and the use of those tools by large meetings-management and site-selection third parties. Users of those tools have the option not only to ask more than 100 questions of a potential meeting site, but also to forward that request to dozens of venues. The result is a far higher number of leads for properties, but much lower closing rates.

    E-RFPs Marriott International received in 2011 increased by 44 percent from a year earlier and now comprise about half of all leads, but when compared to the closure ratio for the leads that they don't receive between traditional voice and email, it's 50 percent less than traditional sources.

    Methods hotels are employing to address the e-RFP wave vary, from some shuffling of internal resources to the development of technology designed to automatically respond to questions with no human intervention.

    The whole question of RFP management is on the Agenda for MS-UK & ACTE's Forum on the 15th May, we shall reporting the outcome of that debate next month.

    Source: BTN - comprehensive report by Chris Davis

  10. Business travel fares on the rise

    The global economic downturn has affected the hotel and the aviation industry severely. As a result, most of the airlines and hotels dropped their rates and many hotels were shut down.

    However, with the recovery of the situation, the scenario is undergoing a change.

    According to the data collected from the Business Travel Monitor (BTM) by the American Express Business Travel, there will be a steady rise in the business travel fare and rates, since the power of determining the price rate will rest on the hands of the owners of both the international and domestic airlines and the domestic hotels.

    The Global Advisory Services has already forecasted that the business travellers worldwide will witness an average increase of more than 7% in the corporate rates for 2012.

    Source: Hotel and Resort Insider - full report

  11. Avis launches App for Android devices

    Building upon its track record of innovation in the car rental industry, Avis Car Rental has launched a mobile application for devices running on Google's Android mobile platform, making Avis the first in the industry to have applications on all four major mobile platforms.

    Available for free download at Google Play, the new application allows travellers to use their Android smartphones to make real-time reservations for rentals at Avis neighbourhood and airport locations throughout the United States and Canada.

    The Avis Android application also lets renters modify, view or cancel existing reservations, access past rental information and receipts, and store profile information, such as their name, contact information and rental preferences.

    The Avis Android application extends Avis' mobile capabilities for travelers on-the-go. In 2007, the Company unveiled the industry's first online booking tool for Internet-enabled portable devices through an optimized version of designed for mobile phones.

    Since then, Avis has launched mobile applications for BlackBerry, iPhone and Microsoft Windows Phone 7 devices.

    Source: Breaking Travel News - full story

  12. Fresh Veg in the Air

    Last month Virgin Airways announced that the carrier will begin a trial period where it will provide fresh herbs and vegetables from a specifically designed vegetable patch in the galley of all aircraft for Upper Class passengers.

    However, the idea will be to roll the campaign out to all passengers if the trial is successful.

    The idea behind this initiative came from Virgin Atlantic's continued pursuit to provide its customers with the finest and freshest food and drink offering in the sky.

    Simon Soni, head of in-flight services commented: "It is a logical next step for five star air travel.

    "With it being such a simple concept, the sky is the limit!"

    In Upper Class, fresh herbs will be used to complement drinks and cocktails from the bar area including thyme for Bloody Mary's and fresh mint for Mojitos, Pimms and tea.

    The vegetable offering will complement the in-flight meal with availability of vegetable depending on your destination.

    Carrots, baby new potatoes and spinach will be available on flights returning to the UK.

    Miniature pumpkins and sweet potatoes will be grown on transatlantic flights to the USA, while Tokyo routes will have the choice of okura (okra) or shiitake mushrooms.

    Following the success of this initiative, Virgin Atlantic plan to roll the idea out to all routes including the Caribbean, Africa, India, Australia and Dubai.

    To guarantee the success of this initiative, all Upper Class cabin crew will attend a one day horticultural lesson at the Royal Horticultural Society.

    At this point I believe that it is worthwhile pointing out that the Press release was dated 1st April!

    Source: Breaking Travel News - full story

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