Archives for the Month of March 2011 on CWRU Travel Blog

Apply Now for New AMEX T&E Card

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The Travel Office is now accepting applications from CWRU faculty and staff for the new American Express Travel and Expense Card. The T&E card is a great way to organize your university travel spend and comes with a number of features and benefits exclusive to American Express, including award-winning 24/7 customer care. Read more and download the brief application.

Airlines Respond to Soaring Fuel Costs, Japan

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Major airlines have moved aggressively to rationalize fleet use in the wake of higher jet fuel prices. With a jump of more than 60% since last summer, Delta, Continental Holdings, and Air Canada have all trimmed growth plans for the remainder of 2011.

Delta has announced a 25% reduction in flights from their Memphis hub with a corresponding 8% drop in passenger capacity there. Delta's overall U.S. domestic capacity will drop from a 2% planned increase to a 3% reduction. Transatlantic service will be cut by 4%, while a planned 13% increase to Asia will be trimmed to 4%. Revenue is expected to drop by some $150 million due to events in Japan.

Continental Holdings has announced flat capacity growth, down from an overall expected year-on-year increase of 3%. Expansion of international capacity at Continental-United will continue at 3%, but will be offset by a 3% reduction in U.S. domestic seat availability.

Air Canada has also come under increasing fuel-related pressures announcing layoffs of 600 staff across its network. Cancelled routes include Ottawa-Washington Dulles, Montreal-Washington Dulles, Calgary-Chicago, and Calgary-San Francisco.

2011 Travel Costs Up, Japan Impact Uncertain

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The negative effects of the recent global economic downturn have begun to fade for the U.S. travel industry. However this good news for battered hotel and airline companies is bad news for business and leisure travelers.

Airfares are expected to jump 20% by this summer driven by higher fuel costs, industry consolidation, smaller fleets, and a 3% jump in U.S. business travel. In January and February, CWRU airfares reached an average of $508 per trip, already a 16.5% increase from 2010.

After significant deflationary pressures in 2008-10, national hotel rates are averaging $147.30 per night in 2011. This is up 4.2% from last year and is expected to trend higher in 2012. Local Cleveland-area hotels report considerable occupancy and margin improvement for Q4 2010 with a strong 2011 expected.

One bright spot for consumers has been rental car pricing. After two years of increases spurred by shrinking fleets and industry consolidation, rates are expected to fall in 2011-12. Corporate CWRU contract rates for Enterprise Rent-a-Car and sister company National Car Rental range from $35-44/day versus a 2011 $52.60/day U.S. composite.

The great unknown is what Japan's troubles mean for the U.S. and global economies. Airlines already are seeing significant declines in passenger volume and revenue to Japan. Continental-United has reported shrinking traffic to its Tokyo-Narita hub, while Delta has suspended service to Tokyo-Haneda from Los Angeles and Detroit. American Airlines has seen a 25% drop of inbound Japan passenger volume.

Early estimates indicate a ripple effect from the Japanese disasters could shave .5 to 1% from 2011 U.S. GDP growth, dampening demand for business travel. Any decline combined with surging jet fuel costs (up 60% from summer 2010) could spark renewed airline capacity freezes and schedule reductions. The hotel industry will shadow any airline decline, especially business and conference segments that have only recently returned to profitability. For now, it's just a waiting game for travel consumers and providers before the true impact of Japan's difficulties becomes clear.

Local Hotel Partners Offer Value in 2011

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Did you know that you and your family can take advantage of CWRU local hotel discounts for leisure stays? These Cleveland-area accommodations are perfect for holiday family visits, downtown sporting events, and student graduations.

New CWRU preferred partners downtown include the Radisson-Gateway Plaza ($89/night) and the Hampton Inn ($84/night). The Wyndham ($99/night) and Hyatt Grand Arcade ($119/night), both on the RTA Healthline, have extended their 2010 CWRU rates through 2011. The Lakeside Avenue Doubletree ($89/night) has nearby access to the Shoreway and I-90.

Convenient for early flights from Hopkins, the Airport Sheraton ($82/night) recently completed a renovation of its rooms, reception area, and restaurant. The property is within walking distance of the departure terminal and also offers a free shuttle.

Two full-service hotels on Cleveland's southeast side offer CWRU special rates. The Hilton Beachwood ($99/night) and Marriott Beachwood ($119/night) are close to the new UH Ahuja Medical Center and a variety of shopping opportunities. Intersecting I-77 and I-480, the Crowne Plaza Cleveland South ($79/night) recently received a $5 million refresh and offers free valet, wireless internet, and airport shuttle.

Closer to University Circle, the Intercontinental Suites Hotel offers $99/night weekend pricing. The all-suite property on Euclid Avenue is scheduled to complete a renovation of its accommodations and restaurant by the end of April 2011.

Visit the Travel Service website for complete hotel listings and amenity information. All CWRU-negotiated rates are subject to availability and applicable taxes.

Save On Car Rentals

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Travelers during the recent U.S. economic downturn saw significant declines in hotel room rates and a slight softening of airfares in most major markets. Renting a car was a different matter. Rental agencies pushed up pricing by as much as 30 percent. Industry consolidation and shrinking fleets fueled the increase.

New agreements now give CWRU faculty and staff improved car rental savings and convenience. Use CWRU contract codes at both Enterprise Rent-a-Car® and National Car Rental® to get competitive mid-week and discounted weekend rates. A recent check of weekly rates in the Phoenix market saw University contract pricing save a minimum of $120 over non-contract pricing.

Enterprise Rent-a-Car provides convenient neighborhood locations across Cleveland, as well as in other major cities and airports. National Rental Car offers its award-winning Emerald Club® service where you can bypass the rental counter and choose your vehicle. CWRU frequent travelers may also be eligible for Emerald Club status upgrades. Contact Travel Services for more details.


American Express to Power New T&E Program

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CWRU has reached agreement with American Express® to provide credit card services for the University's Travel and Expense Card Program.

The AMEX T&E Program will be a great way for university employees to organize their travel spend while enjoying a new range of benefits and convenience simply by using their T&E card.

New and enhanced cardmember benefits include:

• audit-ready airline receipt data and hotel folio information for many major hotel chains
• convenient and intuitive online statement and transaction interfaces
• additional flexibility to use the card for personal expenses
• cost-saving international rental car insurance coverage
• global emergency assistance services including hotel check-in, medical referrals, and lost- baggage support
• worldwide emergency card replacement
• 24-hour worldwide phone support rated “best in class” by Business Traveler Magazine
• option to participate in award-winning Membership Rewards program (fee may apply)

The AMEX T&E card is a personal liability, personal pay credit card with no annual fee to the CWRU user. Reimbursement for the AMEX T&E card will occur in the same manner as the current JPMorgan Chase program. Approved travel reimbursements will be deposited directly into the bank account of your choice through HCM. These T&E deposits will be transferred by Accounts Payable via ACH within five business days of the receipt of your completed travel reimbursement information. The cardholder is responsible for full and timely payment of all card expenses.

T&E card applicants will incur no penalty to their personal credit history when applying through the CWRU Travel Services Office.

Existing T&E cardholders are being given first opportunity to transition to the AMEX T&E card. Procedures for new applicants to the program will be available soon. Watch for announcements in Case Daily or visit the Case Travel Services homepage. CWRU employees can also contact me directly at 216-368-6092 or email travel@case.edu for more information.