Meetings & Conventions: Newsline
COMPANIES BEMOAN CLAMPDOWN ON NONREFUNDABLE
TICKETSAirlines’ Latest Rule: “Use It or Lose It”
Will the new ticket policy "cripple" hopes for travel
he airlines have once again proved they are
an industry that moves in lockstep. On Aug. 27, Arlington,
Va.-based US Airways gave notice that, among sweeping changes,
nonrefundable tickets not used at the specified departure time
would be worthless.
The airline was immediately criticized by the Radnor, Pa.-based
Business Travel Coalition as an attempt to drive business travelers
back to refundable tickets, which cost, on average, about three
times as much as nonrefundable fares, according to findings by
Kevin Mitchell, chairman of the BTC, warned that the policy will
backfire on the airline by alienating its business customers and
forcing them to shift to low-fare airlines.
But by the end of the following week, American, Continental,
Delta and United had adopted similar policies.
Such a match is not without precedent. When Delta ended base
commissions for travel agents this past March, other carriers
Suzanne Fletcher, director of travel and meetings at
Weyerhaeuser in Federal Way, Wash., and the aviation committee
chair for the National Business Travel Association, predicts the
changes will have a major impact on firms like hers that purchased
volumes of nonrefundables expecting they could receive credits.
For its part, US Airways said it simply adopted the same policy
found at Broadway shows: If you miss the event, the ticket is not
good for the next day.
But Mitchell noted that unlike airlines, theaters neither
overbook nor resell seats. Show-ticket holders also have the option
of reselling their seats if they can’t make it.
Bruce Tepper, vice president of the San Francisco-based travel
consulting firm Joselyn, Tepper & Associates Inc., doubts the
new policies will impact business travel as severely as the current
hassle factor or the slow economy.
Mitchell, however, says the policies “will cripple any hope of a
rebound in business travel demand in 2002 or 2003.”
Sheila Kittle, vice president of corporate travel at Raymond
James Financial in St. Petersburg, Fla., has already begun
analyzing when it is worth buying unrestricted tickets. “It’s
definitely changing the way we do business,” she said.
• BRUCE MYINT
What Association Executives
The gender gap in earnings grows in relation to size
of organization, according to a 2001 compensation survey.
Individual membership association
Total staff size:
2 or fewer
3 to 5
6 to 10
11 to 20
21 to 50
51 to 100
More than 100
Total annual budget:
$300,000 or less
$300,001 to $500,000
$500,001 to $750,000
$750,001 to $1 million
$1,000,001 to $2.5 million
$2,500,001 to $5 million
$5,000,001 to $10 million
$10,000,001 to $15 million
More than $15 million
American Society of Association Executives
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