Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio September
By Sarah J.F. Braley
PRINT YOUR OWN...VALET PARK AND FLY
New technology will allow travelers to print out tickets and
boarding passes from the Web
Tickets in hand. Two Web sites that deal
primarily in the printing of postage off the Internet are getting
into the airline-ticketing business. When E-Stamp (www.estamp.com) and Stamps.com (www.stamps.com) work
out the technology, travelers will be able to print ticketing
information from their own printers, or send the information to
such devices as smart cards, PDAs and cell phones.
E-Stamp is working with Atraxis Group, a technology subsidiary
of SAirGroup, which owns Swissair; plans are to conduct a trial of
the service at the end of this year.
Stamps.com has created its own subsidiary, EncrypTix, with
investments from such powerhouses as The Walt Disney Company, Sabre
Holdings, American Express Travel Related Services Co. and
GetThere. Consumers will not go directly to the EncrypTix site.
EncrypTix, whose launch also is targeted for the end of this year,
will provide the secure documents through its partners.
Curbside key drop. Valet parking at the airport
might sound extravagant, but you will never miss the long-term
parking excursion. Those who use AviStar (www.avistarparking.com) drive
to an off-site area where the car is parked; a shuttle takes flyers
to the terminal. On the return, they are picked up at the terminal
and taken to AviStar, where their car is waiting.
This saves travelers the trouble of driving aimlessly around a
lot, looking for a space, and then searching for the car a few days
later, dragging bags off the bus and lugging them up and down the
aisles. Also, valet parking is safer: You never have to be alone in
the lot at night.
The service is available at Newark, JFK, LaGuardia, Bradley
(Hartford, Conn.), Philadelphia and Chicago. AviStar also has
alliances with similar services at 10 other U.S. airports. Prices
vary by region; at press time, day rates were $7.33 in
Philadelphia, $14.88 at LaGuardia, $12.08 at JFK and $12.95 at
Newark. This is compared to long-term parking costs of $14 at
Philadelphia, $12 at Newark and $8 at JFK. Avistar has packages
available for both corporate and leisure travelers.
Big brother in the icebox. To help hotels
monitor minibar sales, France-based Bartech is offering a wired
refrigerator. The E-Fridge is hooked up to a central computer that
records guest consumption, automatically posting purchases to the
room bill. Upon check-in, the computer unlocks the minibar, locking
it again at check-out.
Each item is controlled by such sensors as magnets, infrared
beams and microswitches. A 20- to 45-second billing delay allows a
guest to put that Snickers bar back in the refrigerator if he
changes his mind. After that, the charge is automatic, so guests
can no longer eat the candy bar then replace it with a new one
purchased for a fraction of the price. The E-Fridge currently
monitors inventory in such properties as the Hotel Nikko San
Francisco, and Florida’s Boca Raton Club and Resort.
Log on in the lobby. Hilton Hotels Corp. and
eKiosk.com are deploying Internet kiosks in the lobbies of all
Hilton and Doubletree hotels in North America. The use of the
high-speed stations, which are connected via either T-1 or DSL
lines, will be free for the first 10 minutes, 25 cents per minute
Doctor, doctor. Need to find an
English-speaking physician while abroad? Contact the nearest U.S.
consulate or embassy for a list of recommended doctors, as well as
hospitals, pharmacies and medical evacuation services. Several
organizations such as the following offer emergency coverage for
travelers: International Association for Medical Assistance to
International SOS (www.internationalsos.com) and
Worldwide Assistance Services Inc. (www.worldwideassistance.com).
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