July 2016

The United States has been surpassed as the world's largest business travel market by China. China's travel spend continues to grow every year. In 2015, China's travel spend reached $291.2 billion, compared to the United States' travel spend of $290.2 billion.
"Despite a relative slowdown, China's business travel market remains one of the fastest growing in the world," said Michael W. McCormick, GBTA executive director and COO.  "China surpassing the United States in business travel spending marks a major inflection point and truly demonstrates the global nature of today's economy."
Although only 5% of China's business travel spend is international trips, U.S.-based hotels have been heavily spending to accommodate those travelers. Hotels such as Hilton and Starwood have made changes to provide Chinese-speaking employees, traditional Chinese breakfast items, as well as a tea kettle and slippers in each room.
In 2016 and 2017, there is a predicted annual growth rate in China of 10%. The United States travel spend is predicted to rise by 2% this year. The United States and China travel spending gap is predicted to grow bigger every year. 

Business 101: Making your Trip Meaningfulseat

Make sure you have a refined message. First and foremost, whether you're managing a relationship or presenting a new product or service, you're most likely on the road to sell something. The people you're engaging with are probably overwhelmed with pitches of one kind or another, so it's vitally important to make sure the message you're delivering is short, easy to understand, and impactful.

Be exceptionally clear in articulating the story of what your product does and the value it brings. Make sure to keep things catchy and entertaining. Remember that you only have a 30 second window to catch someone's attention, so make it count.

Be memorable. Here's the thing about business meetings -- they tend to be sort of boring, especially if you have back-to-back meetings. People and pitches blend together and it's easy to become just another face in the crowd. That's a huge problem. It's simple -- be memorable.

Behave yourself. Business travel tends to bring out interesting behavior in people, especially after hours. After all, things like conferences and trade shows are generally held in exciting locations where drinks often flow freely. The fact that people are outside of the office tends to form a perfect storm of debauchery.
Source: Entrepreneur
On June 23rd, Britain voted in favor of exiting the European Union (Brexit) by a 52% to 48% vote.  There are many pros and cons to the UK leaving the union, but how will this affect the U.S. and our Business Travel?
Traveling to the UK has become more cost efficient since the Brexit. The British pound has fallen to a 31-year low against the dollar. Even though the dollar is not stronger than the pound, American travelers are able to spend more for a dollar than ever before.
Travelers will pay less for hotels, meals, shopping and other purchases when traveling to Europe or Britain. Everything will be about 10% cheaper than the current price.
With the less-favorable exchange rates, predictions show fewer travelers will visit the U.S. from Europe and Britain. Expect airfare prices from the U.S. to Europe or Britain to drastically decrease. The day after the Brexit vote, some airlines reduced round-trip flights from the U.S. to Britain for $500.
The Brexit vote could result in future problems.  Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, were included in the vote to exit the EU.  Northern Ireland is leaving the EU, but Ireland is part of Europe. Travel between, Ireland and Northern Ireland might require passport control. Scotland overwhelmingly voted against leaving the EU. If Scotland chooses to remain in the EU and become a separate country, travelers will also go through border controls to show their passport between London and Edinburgh. There is discussion of nationalist parties in France, the Netherlands and other countries pushing their own exit as well.
Source: USA Today

Industry Snippetssnippets
New Avis App.... COMING SOON -  Avis Now is an app that will be coming to market the end of this year. Avis has created an app that gives you control from your smart phone. Accepting or declining your rental is easy from the app. Exchange your car at no cost and choose your rental car with real-time access to the lot. Avis Now makes it easy to turn on lights, unlock the vehicle or lock the vehicle all from your phone. To view all the app's features, click here.
Marriott and Starwood Merger - The merger between Marriott and Starwood is expected to be finalized this summer  (pending anti-trust clearance from China), which is probably too late to affect the 2017 Hotel RFP season, but could have a significant impact on next years' negotiations. 
Marriott has been vocal about reducing corporate pricing agreements in the past and in 2015, they declined to bid on 18% of the RFPs sent to them. Time will tell if the Starwood properties follow suit or keep their own goals when it comes to corporate pricing. A major benefit of the merger is the ability to combine the volume for Marriott and Starwood properties in hopes of obtaining or increasing chain-wide discounts. 
Traveling to Cuba - Eight U.S airlines won government approval for direct flights to Cuba, with the first flights scheduled in September.  The Department of Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has issued general licences for 12 categories of authorized U.S. travel to Cuba.  Those who meet these qualifications do not need to apply for a specific license from OFAC to travel to Cuba. In addition, travel vendors will collect a Certificate of Compliance from each traveler prior to issuing any travel reservations. Lastly, be aware that U.S. Credit and Debit cards do not currently work in Cuba, so travelers must bring enough cash to last the whole trip. U.S. Dollars can be exchanged into Cuban currency at the airport, hotels, or exchange houses. There is usually a 10% charge on exchanging U.S. dollars.
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