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Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio August 2000 Current Issue
August 2000 On TravelPLANNER'S PORTFOLIO:

On Travel

By Paul Grimes


BizTravel.com tells customers flights will be on time or they’ll get their money back

F light delay? They’ll pay. In May, BizTravel.com (www.biztravel.com) made some bold promises, putting its money where its mouth is. Customers who buy tickets from the online service receive varied refunds when flights are delayed or canceled, their seat assignments are not honored, their baggage is lost or they don’t get their entrées of choice in first or business class.

Examples of the policy include a refund of $100 for any flight arriving at the gate more than 30 minutes late; an hour late, $200; more than two hours late, full refund. Canceled flights also result in a complete refund. The guarantees apply only on tickets purchased for American Airlines, Continental Airlines, US Airways, British Airways and Air France flights.

“We see it as putting money into a customer service program, when many companies would put that money into advertising,” says Jodie Lapin, a spokesperson for the Internet service. Guarantees are also in place for travelers who don’t get prompt service from BizTravel.com’s customer service department, but all the money that has been paid out so far has been for flight-related inconveniences.

Lapin says the Web site has seen a five- to tenfold increase in registrants and bookings since the policy was announced.

Music to guests' ears. Forget trying to find a decent station on the bedside clock radios found at most hotels. The Digital Jukebox is among the new choices available at properties offering movies and more from Sioux Falls, S.D.-based LodgeNet Entertainment Corp. Guests have access to music from hundreds of CDs; using the remote control, they can jump from song to song or from one CD to another.

Adding to its movie offerings, LodgeNet has introduced a new Web Cinema option for viewing over the in-room TV, showcasing short films created for the Internet. The shorts’ run times range from 30 seconds to 30 minutes. Another entertainment choice is “Now That’s Comedy,” hour-long performances by well-known stand-up acts. Pricing for the various options had not been finalized as of press time. LodgeNet has exclusive contracts with Omni Hotels, Ritz-Carlton Hotels, all corporate Sheratons and many franchised properties, representing 760,000 rooms in the United States and Canada.

Step Lightly. A study released by the Surface Transportation Policy Project (www.transact.org/Reports/ms2000/default.htm) in Washington, D.C., lists the most dangerous cities for pedestrians. The report studied federal data from 1997 and 1998, calculating results based on pedestrian fatalities relative to census information on the number of people who walk to work.

Starting with the most dangerous, the top 10 places to watch where you walk are Tampa, Fla.; Atlanta; Miami; Orlando; Jacksonville, Fla.; Phoenix; West Palm Beach, Fla.; Memphis, Tenn.; Dallas, and New Orleans.

What to read. Even while sitting on a plane, many travelers like to read about voyages others have taken. Tomes like Love & Romance: True Stories of Passion on the Road, edited by Judith Babcock Wylie (Travelers’ Tales Inc., San Francisco, $17.95) are excerpted and reviewed at Travelers’ Tales (www.travelerstales.com). The archive allows new visitors to read up on old insights. All the books for sale from the site are published by Travelers’ Tales.

Do you have a tale to tell? Under “guidelines,” intrepid voyagers will find rules for submitting stories to be considered for publication in one of the company’s upcoming collections. Three titles for which Travelers’ Tales is currently soliciting anecdotes are Gift of Gardens, gardens seen through the eyes of travelers; Holy Men & Women, relating interactions, pilgrimages and unexpected encounters on the road; and Soul of Service, tales of volunteerism on the road.

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