Starwood to Build 5 New Hotels in Nigeria

fourpointsStarwood Group is expanding its presence in Nigeria with plans to open five new hotels across the country before 2017 ends. Starwood will collaborate with partners in the country for funding the projects which should add 5 new Starwood properties with over 700 new hotel rooms. Nigeria and greater Africa present an important and significant opportunity for Starwood growth in its mid-market brands, especially Four Points by Sheraton. The new hotels will include 146-rooms Four Points by Sheraton Ikot Ekpene, Four Points by Sheraton Benin City, Four Points by Sheraton Ibadan, Four Points by Sheraton Ikeja and Le Meridien Ikoyi Towers, expected to offer 340-rooms beside 125 choice apartments. http://businessdayonline.com/2014/07/starwood-targets-five-new-hotels-in-nigeria-by-2017/#.U9Z-R6N0zcs

 

 

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Delays in U.S. Visa Approvals

clockApplicants around the globe were unable to visit the U.S. the past few days and some even forfeited non-refundable airline tickets. The US Bureau of Consular Affairs has technical problems with its passport and visa system worldwide. The database, known as the Consular Consolidated Database (CCD), houses over 100 million visa applications and 75 million photographs. It usually processes some 35,000 new visa cases every day. The system reportedly crashed following scheduled maintenance early last week. Service has since been restored in a limited capacity. The downtime backlogged the processing of tens of thousands of visas and passports. http://www.eturbonews.com/48465/need-us-visa-dont-plan-getting-it-yet

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Delta to Introduce Free Entertainment on Domestic Flights

deltaDelta Air Lines will offer free entertainment options on all domestic aircraft via Delta Studio. Starting Aug. 1 all Delta customers, on flights longer than 1.5 hours will have access to a selection of free entertainment options at their seat or through their smart devices.  Delta is the only U.S. carrier to offer personal, on-demand entertainment at every seat on all long-haul international flights. With more than 900 domestic and international aircraft equipped with in-flight Wi-Fi, Delta operates the world’s largest fleet of Internet connected aircraft available to more than 400,000 customers on over 4,000 flights daily. http://www.travelagentcentral.com/airline-entertainment/delta-debut-free-entertainment-all-domestic-flights-47114

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JetBlue Considering Bag Fees

luggageJetBlue Airways may begin charging for the 1st checked bag as part of a new fare structure it is considering for next year. JetBlue could group fare classes with services and begin bundling fees to capture a significant source of revenue. These are very complex changes for JetBlue and they want to navigate the fees so customers perceive value. Bag fees are one of the most profitable optional fees for major airlines which scored $31.5 billion globally in ancillary fees last year, up 11% from the $28.1 billion earned in 2012, up more than 1,200% from 2007, when ancillary fees were first introduced.

http://www.travelpulse.com/news/airlines/jetblue-considering-charging-for-first-checked-bag.html

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Virgin America announces IPO filing

virginVirgin America has announced that it intends to go public to fund future growth. The airline has filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, but has not yet announced the number of shares or the share price range. The filing included an offering size of $115 million, which is a placeholder used to calculate fees. A vehicle owned by Virgin America’s employees will sell 1.75 million of the shares in the offering. Virgin America flies to large business-orientated cities in the US and smaller vacation destinations like Fort Lauderdale and Palm Springs. A Bloomberg index of U.S. airline stocks is up 36% so far this year.  http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-07-28/virgin-america-files-for-proposed-u-s-initial-public-offering.html

 

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3 REASONS TO PACK LIGHT – YOUR TICKET TO ENJOYING THE JOURNEY

3reasonsTraveling for business or leisure take one carry-on bag and love it.

1.  Invest in a high-quality, durable, rolling carry-on.
•   Bag must fit in the overhead bins on all carriers
•   No more than 45 inches total in length+width+height
•   Must weigh <40 lbs packed – Can you easily lift it over your head?
•   Must have well placed, high-quality wheels & hardware

2.  Select only items appropriate for the journey and destination.
•   Drawbacks of taking too much stuff – backaches, juggling and lost stuff.
•   Stop lugging items you hope to wear and wish to use, but never do.
•   Whether for business or leisure, pack for comfort and simplicity.
•   Fit everything you need in 1 carry-on without overstuffing.
•   Save room in your bag for a few souvenirs from your journey.

3.  Carry–on        Roll-off        and        Go!

•   Save $$$ – no checked bag fees.
•   Save precious time – no waiting at luggage carousels after your flight.
•   Lower stress – no lost bags.
•   Exit the airport and be on your way in record time!
•   Hotels have irons available and laundry service.
•   Every relative or friend who will host you has the same.
•   If you forgot an item, buy it at your destination.

And packing light is good for you and the environment!

TSA regulations 3-1-1 for items permitted in carry-on luggage, http://www.tsa.gov

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Top 5 Reasons Why Your Business Needs a Travel Management Company (TMC)

TMC1.) 24-Hour Service Cancelled flights, sudden illness, or any type of travel related emergencies require a person who can help, not a voicemail.  A TMC’s 24-hour call desk can serve as a god send to book you hotel in whatever city you’re in.  Don’t stand in line or use your carry-on bag as a pillow for an unpleasant night’s sleep in the airport.  Omega has a wholly owned call center global network to increase your worldwide efficiency.

2.) Negotiated Supplier Discounts A TMC can help recoup fees lost due to unbundled pricing. As airlines move toward a la carte ancillary services, a TMC can assist you with value-added services such as complementary amenities that waive fees for seat assignments, second luggage fees, meals and other intangible services.  With an extensive network of hotel and airline vendors and experienced agents, a TMC like Omega can help reduce costs and take the hassle out of booking your business travel.

3.) Travel Policy Consultation To avoid inadvertently paying for higher fares for flights, hotels, and rental cars, it’s important to have a travel policy that establishes guidelines for your employees that will be supported by upper management.  A Travel Policy that is successfully implemented will positively impact your bottom-line results.  Booking with a TMC ensures that the traveler won’t lose money if he or she cancels because most TMCs can track unused tickets for up to one year and also have the ability to void tickets online.

4.) Risk Management Duty of Care Looking for a way to track your staff on-the-road? Our risk management program alerts your mobile workforce to potential hazards and offers 24-hour assistance from anywhere in the world.  A TMC can provide worldwide travel security tracking, including threat alerts and instant communication with your domestic and international travelers.  Omega has tools that can create customized reporting that can provide powerful data

5.) Management Reporting TMCs are able to capture travel volume that allows for travel administrators and procurement managers drill down and find out where the money is going and how it is being spent.  Management reports also provide powerful data that can be used when negotiating for better rates with air, hotel and car vendors.  Gathering data, setting goals, and benchmarking that data is crucial to your business travel program’s success.

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Posted in Industry News

A Little Wit Goes a Long Way

villageIn a piece for Worldhum.com, travel writer Katie Krueger describes going to a village market in Senegal and attempting to buy peanuts from an old woman who was selling them by the bagful. Krueger greeted the woman in the indigenous Wolof language, and tried to bargain for the best price, Senegal-style, by engaging the vendor in small talk. Krueger even told the woman her adopted Senegalese name, Kuuma N’dour, which identified her as one of the Sereer, one of the dozens of ethnic groups in the African nation.

“What a terrible name,” the woman responded. “You must be very stupid.”

Krueger asked the woman her name, and she responded, identifying herself as a member of the Joola, a tribe whose members are considered cousins of the Sereer.

“Joola?” Krueger replied. “You are selfish and love to eat rice, you pig.”

“I like rice? I don’t think so,” the vendor shot back. “You are my slave, and I know you spend all day eating peanuts.”

At that point, the vendor and everyone in the crowd began to laugh, as did a relieved Krueger. By local custom, she explains, the Joola and the Seerer are “joking cousins,” who greet each other by flinging insults. Ultimately, the woman not only sold her the peanuts for half price, but also invited her to dinner at her home.

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Posted in International

(World’s) 10 Best Airport Terminals

Airport TerminalAccording to Business Insider, Skytrax has released the results of its annual World Airport Awards based on 12.85 million customer nominations across 110 nationalities and included 410 airports worldwide. It incorporated passenger satisfaction across nearly 40 categories, including service and shopping and security and immigration. Click to find out if any of the airports in the U.S. made the list.

Singapore’s Changi Airport took the top spot in the World Airport Awards because it’s designed to literally alleviate the stress of travel, and offers passengers the opportunity to enjoy lots of greenery, an outdoor pool, and a butterfly garden. The airport sees 46.5 million visitors each year and scored high points for security, immigration processing, leisure options, and cleanliness. Other cities that made the top 10 list included Munich Airport, Vancouver International, and Hong Kong International.  No U.S. airports made it within the top 10 best airports. Read the full story on Business Insider.

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Posted in Airline News, Destination, International

Carnival Cruise Lines to Ban Balcony Smoking

Carnival CruiseThe “fun ships” are becoming healthier too: Carnival Cruise Lines announced this week that, starting October 9th, it will ban smoking on stateroom balconies, joining an ever growing fleet of companies restricting where guests can light up. Cigarettes will still be permitted in designated areas—such as certain nightclubs, casino areas, and several outdoor decks.

According to Carnival’s official statement, the shift comes in response to the “preferences of a majority of our guests.” It also brings Carnival in line with its sister companies Cunard and P&O, which updated their policies last August. Other brands owned by the Carnival Corporation, such as Seabourn and Holland America, still permit balcony smoking. The healthier trend is picking up speed among nearly every major cruise line, which has prohibited smoking on private balconies since 2006.

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Posted in Cruise