January 12, 2005

As part of the simplified fare structure rolled out by Delta Air Lines last week, the carrier terminated the Delta Meeting Network program, which offered group fare discounts of up to 10 percent. Delta's new low fares were quickly matched by the other legacy airlines -- American, Continental, Northwest, United and US Airways -- on competing routes. To date, American Airlines has been the most aggressive in mirroring Delta's across-the-board price restructuring. "It's an opportunity to help the business traveler come back to the major airlines they've been avoiding for the last couple of years," said Helane Becker, airline analyst with the Benchmark Co., a consultancy in New York City. "But it will herald more bankruptcies in the short term. There are a number of carriers that may not make it, like US Airways."

Passkey, the online group-housing company, has launched a companion product called GroupLink to further integrate the online reservations it takes with hotels' property management systems. Before now, Passkey-enabled properties had to schedule a download of reservations into their systems, usually at the cutoff date. "You just did it once," said Bruce Small, director of sales information systems for Hyatt Hotels Corp., which is testing GroupLink at its New Orleans property. Now, reservations can be downloaded on an ongoing basis, whether on a regular schedule or in real time. GroupLink will allow hotels to bypass paid distribution systems such as Pegasus, said Greg Pesik, president and CEO of Passkey, depending on where a property's main base of information resides.

Meeting Professionals International and the Professional Convention Management Association introduced a new Multicultural Toolkit for their chapters during PCMA's Annual Meeting this week in Hawaii. The Conference in San Diego later this month, was created by members of MPIÕs Multicultural Initiative Committee and the Joint PCMA/Foundation Diversity Task Force. "It's an important issue that was on the plate at both organizations," said David Kushner, CMP, CAE, president and CEO of PCMA.

The 25-acre, $1 billion Grand Ko Olina Resort, Hotel & Spa will be built on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, the Oahu Visitors Bureau announced Jan. 7. Part of the 642-acre Ko Olina Resort & Marina, which already includes the 387-room JW Marriott Ihilani Resort & Spa, the property will break ground at the end of this year. It will have approximately 1,000 rooms, as well as an entertainment area of restaurants and shops, numerous pools, lagoons and meeting space. No opening date has been announced.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts announced on Jan. 5 that it will open its first resort in Taiwan. The 180-room Sheraton Yilan Resort will break ground soon and will open in June 2006 with eight restaurants, a spa, 14,000 square feet of meeting space, eight dining outlets and mountain views.

Hyatt Hotels Corp. and Woodbine Development Corp. have finalized plans for the 491-room Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa, to be built adjacent to the 1,100-acre McKinney Roughs Nature Park, just 20 minutes from the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in Texas. The property, to open in 2006, will have more than 50,000 square feet of meeting space, a golf course and a full-service spa, and will offer recreation such as canoeing, kayaking, rafting, fishing, hiking and riding.

Reed Travel Exhibitions has named Debbie Jackson, formerly the company's global meetings industry director, as exhibition director for the Luxury Travel Market (ILTM). Reed has acquired 100 percent of ILTM, the international trade show for the luxury travel sector held each December in Cannes, France. ILTM was launched in 2001 by three former employees of RTE with Reed owning 25 percent.