November 01, 2000
Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio November 2000 Current Issue
November 2000 On TravelPLANNER'S PORTFOLIO:

On Travel

By Sarah J.F. Braley


Coming soon: Innovative ways for flyers to buy and sell

Travel site explosion. As if there weren’t already plenty of places to buy an airline ticket on the Web, at least half a dozen more are on the way. Each has a new tactic with which to wheedle into the online traveler’s heart. Two entries that have attracted a lot of attention are Orbitz and FairAir.

Orbitz ( represents an online alliance between American, Continental, Delta, Northwest and United airlines. The site is designed to help travelers find and reserve the best available fares. It went into beta-test mode last month, allowing consumers to try out the search element. The booking beta test begins in February, to be expanded in April to include car, hotel, cruise and package reservations. For now, the launch is scheduled for June 2001.

Coming in February, FairAir ( will offer flyers a marketplace to sell or transfer tickets and to buy their way onto sold-out flights. The Web site’s five current airline partners represent about 15 percent of the domestic market; their identities will be revealed at the launch.

What’s “risi e bisi”? It’s rice and beans, a Venetian dish, as described in World Food Italy ($12.95), one of 10 food guides in the Oakland, Calif.-based Lonely Planet’s new series “for people who live to eat, drink and travel.” The book covers such topics as the food culture of the country, regional variations, etiquette and wine. For the menu-impaired, it also has a culinary dictionary to help travelers tell the difference between ossi di morti (hard crunchy biscuits in the Lombardia region) and ossobuco (veal shanks).

The other nine books in the series cover France, Ireland, Mexico, Morocco, New Orleans, Spain, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam, with more to come.

Going wild. Ready to take that much-needed vacation? To find a great escape, try’s Eco-Trip Finder on its Green Travel pages ( Other features are articles like “Nature Tours: An Ecotourism Primer” and packing lists for specific tours. Trip categories include budget, couples, cultural, family, seniors and solo. A few of the many activities offered are biking, bird-watching, diving, horseback riding, safaris, sea kayaking and trekking.

Stressed out. Travel delays this past summer reached all-time highs, sending outraged passengers in search of a place to vent. TNS Intersearch, a Horsham, Pa.-based survey firm, provided one such outlet by interviewing 1,000 people about what part of the travel experience caused them the most stress. Topping the chart was waiting in line, cited by 50 percent of the respondents. Rounding out the top five were flight or train delays (42 percent), bad weather (40 percent), cancellations (37 percent) and overbooked planes (33 percent). Respondents were not as bothered by having to pack (21 percent) and having to carry their bags around (20 percent).

Beam me in. By mid-2001, the Charles Hotel in Cambridge, Mass., will offer 44 of its 293 rooms as “Wireless Rooms of the Future.” A Palm Pilot interface, run by Salt Lake City-based Suite Technology System Network (, is the base technology behind the concept. Using Palms equipped with infrared sensors, guests will be able to perform a number of functions. Upon arriving, for example, their room number will be beamed to the device, allowing them to trigger the door’s locking mechanism. The interface also will enable them to check in and settle their bills electronically. Other enhancements being considered are the ability to adjust room temperature, control the radio and more. The system is expected to be available throughout the hotel by the end of 2001.

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