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Marriott International Continues to Expand Across North America

by Lux Joseph 28. January 2015

Commercial Medical Escorts has entered into its Caribbean and Canadian travel season. While we transport patients worldwide throughout the year, we definitely can identify and see trends in the different destinations throughout the year. It is very common for our office to move several patients a week back to different parts of Canada including Ontario, Albert, Quebec, and British Colombia.  When our escorts typically overnight in Canada one of the major hotel brands that is commonly use is the Delta hotels. However, a recent agreement with a major US hotel chain means changes among upscale hotels in Canada.

 

Throughout Canada, the Delta brand has a total of 38 hotels. Marriott International saw Canada as a breakthrough in a market which they do not 100% dominate. When individuals stay at hotels throughout Canada, Marriott International is not the first hotel that comes to mind. However Delta, is a brand that is recognized throughout the Canadian market and Marriott saw that as an opportunity for brand success.    This major acquisition will increase Marriott International hotel count to 120 in all of Canada. Delta Hotels currently has approximately 10,000 rooms. This acquisition will make Marriott International the largest full-service hotel company in the country.

 

Throughout the last decade we have observed a variety of large acquisitions within the hospitality industry. The airline industry being one of the biggest players in acquisition has demonstrated the positive and negative effects that it has on consumers.  Marriott has been aggressively seeking acquisitions to improve its expansion throughout the world. Many companies that expand too quickly find themselves unable to meet their demand, but that doesn’t seem like the future for Marriott. Marriott International has been expanding aggressively so that they can maintain a strong presence in attractive regions throughout the world. Other recent acquisitions include acquiring Protea Hospitality Holdings in Africa and Moxy Hotels in Italy.

 

When selecting hotels for our escorts to stay in, we consider a variety of things similar to things consumers should consider when making their own hotel reservations. The Internet has become a great resource for individuals, but it isn’t always the most accurate. With today’s technology, hotel pictures can also be deceiving or embellished to look better than they really are. We strongly encourage you to utilize Trip Advisor to read up to date reviews or consult a travel advisor. Marriott is a well-known brand, but as you enter into different countries American brand hotels are not always available. Be smart, research your destination and ensure the hotel meets your needs, but is also in a safe area.


JetBlue Gives You Less

by Lux Joseph 16. December 2014

Jetblue Airlines and Southwest airlines appear to be the only two US Carriers that still allow passengers to travel with one checked bag free of charge. For travelers, this is a luxury considering every other airline charges a fee for a checked bag and those rates van vary among carriers. But is Jetblue shifting their philosophy and joining the reins of their competitors by adding baggage fees to their products?
 
JetBlue Airways recently made the decision to charge for checked bags in the upcoming quarter after pressure from analysts advising them to align their fees with their competitors. When we asked our travel agent how he thinks this will affect passengers he stated, A lot of individuals still look to JetBlue and Southwest because of the first bag checked for free however, that is primarily your travelers who dont travel frequently. Most individuals who travel frequently have status with one or more of the airlines, or have a credit card that pays for the first checked bag to ultimately it will not affect them. The decision to charge for bag fees was not a single decision made by JetBlue Airways. This shift comes with other changes including fare structures, legroom in economy class, and plane configuration.
 
As mentioned earlier, these decisions were driven by a Wall Street viewpoint to increase the maximum revenue potential for JetBlue Airways. In regards to checked bags, JetBlue plans to introduce a fare structure that will be three tiered based on the number of bags the guest has. Similar to other airline programs, the higher fares offer more flexibility and increased number of frequent flier points to be earned. Just a small increase for the airline will drive approximately 65 million in additional revenue for 2015.
 
Along with the fare structure change, JetBlue is reconfiguring their airplanes to add additional seats. This is another attempt to add additional revenue to their sales portfolio. However, this will affect the customer experience with a decrease in seat pitch. JetBlues current seat pitch is 34.7 inches. However after the planes new configuration the seat pitch will decrease to 33.1. The average traveler may be disgruntled by this change, but JetBlue will still lead the industry with the largest seat pitch. On the A320s the increased number of seats will go to 165 whereas they could have increased it to 180. JetBlue believes in the customer experience, but also realizes its place in the industry. In the USA alone we have seen the number of major domestic carriers decrease year over year due to bankruptcy and mergers. JetBlue is attempting to find a medium between making the numbers profitable, and also meeting the needs of their customers.
 
When JetBlue Airways first introduced these changes, the first thought from consumers was negative, but that is because the change hasnt been fully processed by the traveler. They have decreased the seat pitch, but they are still ahead of all their competitors. They are beginning to charge for bags, but they still will have fares that include a first bag checked for free. JetBlue is leaving the decision up to the customer as to whether they add a fee to their flight or choose a fare in which it is included. These fares are scheduled to begin in early 2015.
 
Southwest will soon reign as the only USA carrier to include the first checked bag free of charge. While Southwest may see this as an opportunity to acquire a share of JetBlues customer’s who oppose the fee; it will be interesting to see if these changes actually shift customers to look at Southwest as their new carrier of choice. When travelers look for an airline ticket there are a variety of factors that are considered including fare cost, baggage fees, destinations, seat comfort, in-flight entertainment, etc. A small change like this may not mean a loss of business for JetBlue, but instead, additional revenue that was sitting on table.
 

 

Commercial Medical Escorts Urges Online Travelers ‘Think Before You Click’

by Lux Joseph 18. September 2014

Despite media hype pitting travel agents against the Internet, travel agents continue to embrace the Web as a valuable source of travel information and encourage their clients to take advantage of it. However, Joseph McNamara, President of Sky Cap Corp advises consumers to exercise caution before buying travel products online.

"Buying travel on the Internet is not for everyone," says McNamara. "Consumers have to know what to ask and when to ask it or they could end up wasting hundreds of dollars and countless hours on a trip that fails to meet their expectations."

As part of its continuing mission to provide useful travel information for its clients, Sky Cap Corp addresses many of the common concerns and questions consumers face when considering buying travel online.

Should consumers use the Internet to plan a trip? "Absolutely," said McNamara "But the key word here is ‘plan’. The Internet is a great source of information about destinations, hotels, attractions, local transportation and weather and more. However, the Internet often doesn’t provide the detail and depth travelers need to prepare a complete itinerary." Travelers should always consult a professional travel agency such as Sky Cap Corp before making any travel purchase. This is one of the reasons why Commercial Medical Escorts is so successful with travel arrangements for our patients.

Do consumers get the lowest airfare from a travel Web site? Not always. Most "bargains" sold on the Internet are usually for limited times and are highly restricted, forcing some travelers to change their itineraries to include a "red-eye" flight or layovers. Some sites that allow consumers to perform a search for the lowest price don’t include discounted consolidator air tickets. While other Internet sites do offer these tickets, traditional travel agencies offer the same discounts, in addition to valuable customer service and expertise.

Are tour prices cheaper online? Usually, no. Although many wholesale tour operators maintain Web sites, they don’t offer discounts there. Sky Cap Corp can help clients choose the tour that’s right for them and in most cases save the client as much money if not more.

Is the Internet a good source for hotel discounts? Although several hotel chains offer discounts on their Web sites, duplicate promotions are usually available offline. Hotel discounters have sites as well, but the best deals usually come from chain-sponsored promotions and parallel deals offered through your local travel agent. These experienced travel agents can also help clients find hotels at locations most convenient for them.

Other common consumer concerns about buying travel online include issues of security, cancellations and customer service. It is particularly important for those planning trips involving groups, young children and the disabled to seek the help of a travel agent. In addition, today’s consumers are increasingly seeking unique, customized trips that often require the assistance of a skilled travel professional.

"The bottom line is that smart travelers know their time, money and travel dreams are too important to be left floating in cyber-space," said McNamara. "And the customer satisfaction that comes with a travel agents’ hard work, expertise and quality service will never go out of style. We are there for our clients before, during and after their trip."


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