This Week’s Travel News: News you need to know

Watch What You Tweet: Hotels Are Watching You, Airport Security: Free Flow For Liquid Rules, and Canucks Just Wanna Earn Points

Watch What You Tweet: Hotels Are Watching You
Are you one of the millions of travellers who review hotels following your stay, offering bouquets or brickbats when deserved? If you are, it may be prudent not to reveal too much personal information. According to travel columnist Christopher Elliott, hotels are tracking down who you are, especially if you’re reviewing them anonymously. Industry consultant John Baird says some hoteliers are going to great lengths to deduce a guest’s identity and either contact them directly or note the guest’s review in their guest database. Elliott says guests who write a positive review might receive a reward from the hotel — a gift basket, perhaps, or a discount on a future stay. But those who criticize a property could receive a concerned e-mail from the general manager asking them to reconsider their comments. Some fear their comments could be used against them by marking them as a ‘problem guest.’ Baird points out that most hotels want the information for the right reasons: either to say thanks for a nice review or to reach out to a negative guest to patch things up. Just in case though, Elliott recommends not using your real name, avoiding posting your geographical location and ensuring your online handle doesn’t give away your identity.

Airport Security: Free Flow For Liquid Rules
While travellers are sick and tired of security screening rules, it seems like security authorities are too. Reports from the U.S. suggest strict rules on liquids in air travellers’ baggage are no longer being enthusiastically enforced. “The Transportation Security Administration’s unpopular restrictions on liquids, gels and aerosols in carry-on luggage are history,” MSNBC columnist and travel ombudsman Christopher Elliott wrote recently. There have been no official pronouncements, but Elliott says extensive feedback from readers indicates the TSA has all but stopped screening carry-on bags for liquids. “(Readers) say transportation security officers no longer ask them to remove lotions, shampoos and even water bottles from their luggage, and overlook all manner of liquids packed in their carry-ons during screening,” Elliott writes. According to the TSA, however, nothing has changed. “The policy continues to be enforced, although it is important to note that we empower our workforce with discretion,” a spokesperson told Elliott. Several Canadian frequent travellers canvassed by TakeOffeh report little change in the way rules are being enforced here, although some have also seen incidents when officials displayed ‘discretion.’

Canucks Just Wanna Earn Points
According to a 2009 study, the average Canadian household uses nine different loyalty programs – 50 per cent more than our American neighbours. In a recent Globe and Mail article Bert Archer suggests the phenomenon may stem from our history as “an immigrant nation of bargain hunters averse to debt and big on nest eggs.” He points to Canadian Tire money launched 50 years ago – nearly 90% of those bills still find their way back to the store. Best Western’s Dorothy Dowling told TakeOffeh “Canadians are the biggest point junkies in the world.” While Best Western operates 4,000 hotels in some 80 countries, the 1 million Canadian members of their reward program make up a disproportionate 10% of the global total. “Loyalty has become even more important than in the past,” says Dowling. “We had double-digit growth in all measures last year. Membership was up 25% and our members cashed in 32% more reward nights than the year before.” Dowling says reward aficionados have grown quite savvy in understanding the relative currency of reward points, especially we frugal Canadians.

Porter Airlines IPO Now Boarding At Gate 3
When an initial public offering (IPO) is put forward there are two audiences. One is the retail investor – average folks buying stocks. The other is the institutional investor – organizations which pool money and invest it. In the case of Porter Airlines, currently preparing for its IPO coming-out party, the Globe and Mail likens retail investors to those passengers who line up early to get their seat on a flight, and institutional investors to those who hang out in the bar until the last boarding call. Retail investors are excited about investing in Porter, attracted by the airline’s positive reputation and ‘underdog’ status. But institutional investors are taking a different tack, hanging back while hoping to pressure Porter to issue the offering at the low-end of the projected $6-$7 per share price. They hope to exploit a weak market to get their piece of Porter at the best possible price. It remains to be seen which way the pendulum will swing, but many of the comments on the Globe article were cynical, including one from ‘pilotguy,’ who wrote: “Best way to make a hundred bucks in the airline biz? Start with $1000…”

By: Bruce Parkinson
Bruce Parkinson is a travel industry journalist and regular contributor to Takeoffeh.com as well as sister company, OpenJaw.com

Photo Credits:laflor, sjlocke, Pgiam, flyporter.com




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