Meetings & Conventions: Newsline
CORPORATE SEMINARS AIM
TO EASE TRAVELERS’ FEARSAirlines Pay House Calls to Businesses
A Delta pilot and a flight attendant talk with Invesco CFO David
hile air travel woes
seem to be easing, the major carriers are continuing their
aggressive program to woo back business travelers sometimes face to
In the months following Sept. 11, American Airlines, Continental
Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and US Airways, among
others, all held seminars with their corporate clients to talk
about security changes and to assuage lingering travel fears.
“Our format has officers giving a 10-minute overview of changes,
then opening it up for questions and answers,” said Houston-based
Continental regional sales manager Joe Pizzitola. “Earlier on, we
were reassuring clients. Now they want facts, such as what is the
Continental held 219 seminars at corporate headquarters around
the United States to drum up sales in the last quarter of 2001.
Another 233 functions are planned for the first quarter of 2002,
according to Pizzitola.
Similarly, Delta has 1,174 volunteer speakers meeting with 6,840
corporate workers to answer questions about the carrier’s new
policies, said a spokesperson.
For the airlines, the effort is expected to pay for itself by
bolstering sales. Business travel represents about 43 percent of
the airline industry’s consumer base, said Chris Tarry, an airline
analyst with Commerz Bank in London. But even more crucial is how
much business travelers pay for their tickets often several times
more than leisure travelers.
A Rosenbluth International branch in Boston has run three forums
for corporate clients, said Michelle Borelli, account manager for
the travel agency. “We have airline representatives talk about
their processes before Sept. 11, and how they’ve done a complete
turnaround since,” said Borelli.
Clients were growing more comfortable with the notion of flying
by early December, said Borelli. “We are likely to see leisure
traffic come back first,” said Tarry. “Business travel is more
dependent on the economy.”
As leisure travel fares returned to near-normal levels in
December, Continental, among other carriers, extended deadlines on
business fare sales well into 2002. Its “Back to Business” program
offered up to 50 percent off on tickets purchased 21 days in
An October survey by the International Air Transport Association
of more than 1,000 business travelers found 36 percent expected
business travel budgets to fall due to the Sept. 11 attacks.
However, 57 percent expected normalcy to return within six
• BRIAN ORSAK
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