Barnett on Business Travel for 2002

chris December 19: New Year's Resolutions for Hard-Times Travel
Travel's down cycle hasn't hit bottom yet and won't until at least the fourth quarter of 2003. Until then, travelers should resolve now to sidestep steep prices, dodge costly "services" and get a fair return on investment for travel time and dollars spent. I have some other resolutions that should be easy to keep next year.

December 5: United's Impersonal Touch
United Airlines is dancing around the edge of bankruptcy and burning through millions of dollars every day, but Chris Barnett thinks United chief executive Glenn Tilton may have an even bigger problem: travelers who fault United as big, bureaucratic and impersonal. He's got the depressing tale of at least one former United loyalist who's lost that loving feeling for the nation's second-largest carrier.

November 14: Turning Back the Clock at Historic Hotels
Many business travelers are joining vacationers and returning to historical hotels and inns. Not just for their preserved ambiance, Old World traditions and architectural charm. But for all that plus high-speed Internet access, a PC workstation off the lobby, two-line telephones, in-room CDs, VCRs and DVDs, a fitness room and other modern conveniences and gizmos demanded by road warriors.

November 7: Very Long Stays at Very Short Rates
InTown Suites, a chain of extended-stay hotels in 21 states, woos business travelers with a home away from home for about the cost of dinner for two at Denny's. "What you get is an extremely clean and safe new room," says the company's founder and chief executive. "We're not laden with amenities you don't want or that you're unwilling to pay for. You want a pool? We've got a bathtub."

October 24: Searching for the Soul of Southwest Airlines
Southwest Airlines has recently added coast-to-coast nonstops and more new flights and new cities are on the way. But fares are inching up, on-time performance is dropping and the cabin attendants' well-rehearsed comedy routines have been toned down. Has Southwest gone corporate? I fly the nation's leading low-fare carrier and check on Southwest's soul.

October 3: Sheraton's Service Promise Is Savvy Marketing
Credit Sheraton Hotels for being the first full-service chain to pay up when a guest has a problem. Ads for the Sheraton Service Promise vow to give an instant discount, Starwood Preferred Guest points, even a free night "if you're not entirely satisfied." That's savvy marketing at a time when travelers yearn for comfort and long for a sympathetic ear.

September 19: Wireless Woes
Despite a near-certain rebellion by business travelers and a drumbeat of denials by airlines, don't be shocked if laptop computers and wireless E-mail gadgets are outlawed late next year on many commercial flights, not just on takeoffs and landings.

August 29: Will Hometown Heroes Kimpton and Alaska Air Make Good?
We all root for hometown heroes but when they spread their wings and leave the nest, we wonder if they're getting too big for their britches. Seattle's Alaska Airlines and San Francisco's Kimpton Hotel Group are two local stars that have gone national. In their quest for growth in tough times, have they made the quantum leap or lost their luster?

August 8: The Legroom Space Race
Here's the pitch on seat pitch in coach: Your personal comfort and legroom on a particular airline vary by aircraft--and even by the row you're flying on any specific flight. Here are all the details on where--and how--to get the most room in coach.

July 25: Who'll Help Us When We Hunker Down?
Most business travelers don't travel in sultanesque splendor anymore. So now is the time for hard-pressed airlines, hotels, car-rental firms and restaurants to court their loyalists with hospitality. After all, don't strangers sharing a foxhole supposedly stay buddies for life?

July 11: The Best Perk? More Room in Coach on American Airlines
For less than the cost of a Greyhound bus ticket, I just flew roundtrip from San Francisco to Chicago on American Airlines and enjoyed stretch-out legroom without being in an exit row. Plus, there was workspace to keep my laptop humming for four hours.

June 27: Defining and Redefining the Luxe Hotel Life
I recently attended a conclave of luxury hoteliers. Surprisingly, the theme was neither how they could squeeze more dollars out of guests nor how to cleverly cut corners that travelers will never spot. Read all about it.

June 13: Fighting Fat Fees for Basic Hotel Services
The hotel industry has recently imposed egregious, non-negotiable extra fees for basic hotel services. Travelers must look closely for hidden fees and ask questions about the fees that are in plain sight.

May 30: Hotel Life at Battery Park After Ground Zero
Nearly nine months after terrorists leveled the World Trade Center, and on the day recovery work at Ground Zero officially came to an end, it's business almost as usual in the heart of New York's Financial District. I visit two hotels in nearby Battery Park City.

May 23: JetBlue Airways is Pleasant, Profitable and Nearly Perfect
I've been hearing impossibly good things about JetBlue Airways. So I checked them out myself. And now I'm saying impossibly good things about the two-year-old airline!

May 2: Why Don't Hotels Know the Way in San Jose?
Logic dictates that San Jose, the soul of the Silicon Valley, would be festooned with high-tech hotels wired with every electronic comfort imaginable. Wrong. Shockingly wrong.

April 18: The Best Tips and Tactics for Life on the Road Now
Now that I get to airports early, I've been talking to ticket and gate agents and consulting other savvy frequent flyers. Here are their time- and hassle-saving tips and tactics for surviving life on the road right now.

April 11: Coping With Life on the Road by the Bay
I asked Bay Area business travelers how they’re coping with recent security restrictions. Most said they're trying to beat the clock and all insist that productivity on the road is now prized more than pampering.

April 4: What Have They Done for Us Lately?
Brainstorming brilliant ideas for pampering travelers has never been the travel industry's strength. Airlines and hotels have been innovative in the past, but now you have to ask: What have they done for us lately?

March 21: Oakland Airport: A Better Way to the Bay
Headed to San Francisco or San Jose? Opting for Oakland Airport will save time, frustration and a staggering amount of money on transcontinental and regional flights. Oakland is the Bay Area's hottest airport, yet it still manages to maintain its Mayberry RFD atmosphere.

March 14: Aer Lingus: Airline Service the Irish Way
Travelers hungry for low fares and high standards of hospitable service should think of booking an Aer Lingus flight soon and not because St. Patrick's Day is March 17.

February 21: Airline Clubs Are No Longer a Luxury
A few years ago, airport clubs were favored by privileged travelers who might sip a snifter of gratis cognac and catch up on their novels or their sleep before takeoff. They were far from the clamoring crowds. Today, it is the clubs that are SRO in many U.S. airports and it's the lucky traveler who can snag an empty workstation.

February 14: Courting Travelers Creatively in Hard Times
We all expect hotels to give us more than just a cheap room rate. We want thoughtful, helpful fresh ideas to keep us coming back. Here's how some hotels are responding.

January 31: Be Flexible. Fly Cheaper.
Any traveler who misses the 7- or 14-day advance-purchase cutoffs for a discount fare usually gets stiffed for a full-price ticket, even in the back of the bus. But there's no reason to be financially gored. Flexible travelers have lots of money-saving options and, these days, you have to be flexible.

January 17: What to Expect in 2002
Reams have been written on how travel has changed since September 11, but what should travelers expect to get in 2002? Travel industry pros sum up this year's outlook in five words: great deals, responsive customer service.

January 10: The Suite Life at a Suite Price
Mention the word “suite” and most travelers think of an expensive hotel room with a separate bedroom, plush soaps, no homey charm and rates starting at $300 a day. But I recently checked into Homewood Suites by Hilton for $129 a night and this may be one of America’s best travel buys.

Copyright 2001-2009 by Chris Barnett. All rights reserved.