Category: Travel stocks & business

No way to get to the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics without getting ripped off?

Very interesting article here about the tickets being sold in North America (and other places) for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. Apparently they all get sold by one man, Sead Dizdarevic. As a result he gets to name his own price and make sure that tickets bring in extra profit when they are sold as part of a package:

“It not only has a direct impact on the price of tickets, it has a direct impact on availability,” said Houston attorney Jim Moriarty. Dizdarevic’s pricey travel packages, he said, turn the Olympics into “a playground for the rich and powerful.”

Now I don’t expect Olympic tickets to be cheap, but this seems contrary to the Olympic spirit if you ask me. Is giving one guy a monopoly and letting him gouge everyone who wants to go to the Olympics going to help?

“to build a peaceful and better world in the Olympic Spirit which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play – Olympic Spirit strives to inspire and motivate the youth of the world to be the best they can be through educational and entertaining interactive challenges. Olympic Spirit seeks to instill and develop the values and ideals of Olympism in those who visit and to promote tolerance and understanding in these increasingly troubled time in which we live, to make our world a more peaceful place.”

Most people don’t seem to think so and while I’ve only read this one article it doesn’t seem like the Olympic spirit to me either. I agree with this guy:

“In effect, CoSport and Jet Set have a monopoly on legally valid tickets,” says Moriarty, the Houston lawyer, who researched Olympic ticketing after getting scammed by another agency for Beijing tickets. “And what they seek to do is screw the consumers by bundling housing and tickets together to get more than what the housing is worth, and what the tickets are worth, because without them, you don’t go.”

In response, Dizdarevic said he’s only doing Olympic business the way it has always been done. The system that gives him total control of Olympic travel for the U.S., he argues, was designed by Olympic leaders, not him. He sees himself simply as one of many “exclusive” service providers for the Olympics.

The Galactic Suite Space Resort and Virgin Galactic have customers lined up but do they have enough?

According to this article, Virgin Galactic has 300 customers lined up. The Galactic Suite Space Resort has 43 reservations.

Considering that The Galactic Suite Space Resort, the first “space hotel” only takes 4 guests at a time I guess 43 reservations is pretty good. Then again, the start-up costs must be pretty significant. I suppose the $4.4 million you pay for a 3 night stay in the space hotel must go a long way to covering those costs though.

Is it worth 4.4 million dollars. Maybe if you have it:

During their stay, guests would see the sun rise 15 times a day and travel around the world every 80 minutes. They would wear Velcro suits so they can crawl around their pod rooms by sticking themselves to the walls like Spiderman.

Plus you get 8 weeks training on a tropical island…

Luxury hotels like Four Seasons San Francisco in serious trouble?

This news (if the link doesn’t work, just search Bloomberg news for “hotel” – that’s actually what I had to do after following the Google link – not sure what’s going on there) is very surprising to me. I knew the economy would hurt the travel industry and I’ve known it has been hurting the travel industry, but this is a shocker:

A $90 million loan secured by the Four Seasons San Francisco, a 277-room, five-star property, is 90 days delinquent and foreclosure proceedings have begun, according to Realpoint. A notice of default has been filed, according to Bloomberg data.

Apparently the luxury hotels really are hurting because some of them borrowed a lot of money before luxury travel took its big hit.

This article talks about the AIG effect, which they say has had a profound effect that is starting to fade:

“Resort communities have been demonized,” Loews Hotels CEO Jonathan Tisch complained during a recent interview at the company’s 790-room hotel in Miami Beach.

For South Florida’s hotel industry, the “AIG effect” distinguishes this recession from past ones, with meeting bookings dropping farther and resisting a rebound, industry watchers said.

“Nobody could have forecast the weakness in group bookings”, said Scott Berman, a hotel analyst in Miami and head of PricewaterhouseCoopers’ hospitality division. “I use the word unprecedented.”

And for good measure, we have some travel deals including spa hotels…

Spas, economic recovery hopes & signs

A few days ago, at the bottom of this blog entry, I linked to an article that talked about how going to a local spa might be a good vacation idea for a troubling economy.

So today when I saw this article the title seemed all wrong: “What will signal consumers are back? Check the spa.”

Well, I thought, more spending at the spa might just mean the economy is still in trouble so people are opting for cheap vacations that include local spas.

Now in that article there is a brief reference to resort spas – I think I can agree that when resort spas start seeing more more business than consumers are spending again. That means economic recovery since the US economy is driven on consumer spending.

Some of the other signs they mention:

Diners will order big pancake breakfasts again. Business suits will sell briskly. So will name-brand luggage, gym memberships and pricey jeans. Spas will sell more facials and massages.

Anyway, it’s an interesting article, not really about travel, but the economy and the travel industry we like to talk about are certainly related.

Remember the old question, will the economy hurt the travel industry? Well we’ve seen that it has even though there was some doubt.

A few articles for you on flying comfortably and cruise stocks

This article talks about flying business class cheap on Openskies, an airline I had never heard of. Seems like a good one to be aware of though.

If you don’t get to fly business class cheap, this article talks about flying more comfortably in coach. Having flown a number of 14 hour flights in coach, I think I’ve picked up a few things. Eye covers, good headphones, extra pillows, emergency exit seats if possible, asking at the gate if they can reseat you so you have empty seats around you….

Here’s an interesting one if you’re looking to invest in stock. I’m no expert but I don’t feel that it’s an especially good time to get in the market overall. Maybe some cruise stocks are good deals now – I have no idea. But some companies want to sweeten their stock by offering onboard credit for a cruise when you buy some stock.

And this vacation idea – a few months in Rome studying Italian and I’m sure enjoying Italy during study breaks.- is exactly the kind of thing I wish I did more often.

Travel marketing: discounts, business changes, & Leonardo DiCaprio wanted to be a travel agent

This article tells us that it’s not too late to get a travel deal this winter. In addition to travel deals (including a bunch of luxury cruises toward the end of the article) they talk about changing business strategies:

Meanwhile, some industry giants are changing the way they do business. Liberty Travel, the travel agency chain based in Ramsey, N.J., recently began promising not just to match but also to outdo competitors’ prices by $10 per adult and $5 per child if a customer finds a less expensive airfare, travel package, cruise or tour quote – a pledge the company is calling its Price Beat Guarantee. And the Globus brands, which include Globus, Cosmos, Monograms and Avalon Waterways, have done away with single supplements, typically $550, on 11 new vacations to Europe to give solo travelers an incentive to book those trips.

Very good news for solo travelers.

Speaking of changing business tactics, how about this prediction: no more free travel brochures. It’s a UK article but other countries would likely follow suit.

And how’s this for a tourism marketing slogan: “experience the city the Obamas enjoy.” Apparently the Illinois Bureau of Tourism plans to launch a three-day getaway promotion featuring Barack Obama sites…

And this may not be related to anything, but did you know that Leonardo DiCaprio wanted to be a travel agent when he was a kid?

Finally, about a year ago, I wrote about Korean Air and Asiana flight attendants. The most recent comment (left just a few hours ago) cracked me up:

I flew Korean Airlines from Tokyo to LA today and I was smitten by the beautiful Korean Airline Attendants. They ARE SO BEAUTIFUL and SO ATTENTIVE that I thought I was in heaven….

Thanks for the laugh International traveler.

Expedia stock down as travel industry suffers

Well the economy is definitely hurting the travel industry, and Expedia’s earnings are down as a result. This article adds a few interesting bits of information:

Future bookings suggest the market will keep contracting (Chief Financial Officer Michael Adler).

It’s a difficult environment…. Any predictions about its depth or duration would be foolish (Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi).

Expedia expects air fares to increase in 2009, the first time the industry has seen higher ticket prices during a recession (Chief Financial Officer Michael Adler).

Are profits and stock prices more important than offering employees health insurance?

This story made it to Yahoo’s front page for a bit. Seems Disney is trying to save money by making more of its employees unable to get health insurance. If you ask me the Disney execs making millions are the ones who should be going to jail but as usual it’s the poor people who suffer. Protest because you want health insurance from a huge company that makes tons of money, go to jail.

By the way, here’s a stock market guy claiming that Disney is doing such great business that the US can’t possibly be in a recession. So Disney is making enough money to pay its employees. The financial data is here if you’re used to looking at stock info.

My parents wanted to go to Disney with my wife and I this winter. I really can’t see myself going to Disney until this labor dispute is resolved. I wonder if that resolution will end with more foreign workers in Disney hotels and fewer Americans with health insurance.

Have you ever shipped luggage instead of checking it when you fly?

A few business are doing pretty well for themselves by delivering luggage for flyers. Apparently people are willing to pay what seems like fairly big money to me in order to avoid the hassle of flying with their luggage:

Rates vary depending on the weight, distance and speed of the delivery. For example, sending a large bag (65 pounds) from New York City to San Francisco with a pickup date in five days would cost $149 through Luggage Forward.

To expand its services among everyday travelers, Luggage Forward last year introduced a seven-day “economy” option that typically costs less than $100 for a bag one way.

New resort / water park business strategy

I start classes tomorrow and have to make sure syllabuses are ready and everything so let me leave you with a short one for now.

This article is interesting because they talk to the owner of a new water park about business strategy. It’s a 100 million dollar plus deal so no direct benefit to most of us, but since some of our readers have or are interested in starting a travel business I thought it was interesting.

It’s also a resort / water park I may want to visit…