News Briefs, Week of May 9, 2016

IHG to make discount rates available in GDS

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), which just launched a program that offers rate discounts to customers who book direct, said it plans to enable travel agents to book the lower rates, which will be available in GDSs. "Over the coming weeks, we are working to ensure that Your Rate by IHG Rewards Club is available in the GDS, as we know this is a critical booking channel for our travel partners," an IHG spokeswoman said. IHG said direct bookers and travel agents will receive rate discounts of between 2% and 6%. All IHG brands are participating except for Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants and IHG's hotels on military bases.

Carnival sets higher tips for suite guests
Carnival Cruise Line for the first time will ask guests to pay a higher daily gratuity if they stay in suites. Carnival is suggesting a $13.95 per person daily tip for suite guests, up from the $12 that all passengers currently pay. The new suite-level gratuity is being introduced with bookings from Sept. 1. Carnival is also raising its suggested gratuity for nonsuite guests to $12.95. Carnival had been the only major cruise line to make no distinction between the two types of accommodations in setting gratuities.

Int'l premium economy coming to Delta in '17
Delta will introduce an international premium economy cabin in mid-2017, when the airline takes delivery of its first Airbus A350s. The airline subsequently plans to add international premium economy on its Boeing 777s. Delta said the product will be different and better than Economy Plus, its coach seats that offer more legroom. The carrier hasn't revealed any details about the seat or the service.

Study: Agent bookings save time and money
Consumers who use travel agents report that agents save them an average of $452 per trip and four hours in travel planning, according to preliminary results of a study released by ASTA. The independent study, which was funded by Carnival Corp., also found that in the past 12 months, 23% of travelers booked through agents, the largest share for travel agents in the past three years. The full study will be made available by ASTA by May 30.

Norwegian signs deal to boost WiFi speed
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings reached an agreement with satellite provider EMC that will significantly improve internet service and speed. Bandwidth and technology upgrades will be installed fleetwide before the end of June, Norwegian said. The result will be a quadrupling of the bandwidth on 23 ships operated by Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

Princess to introduce Club Class in Dec.
Princess Cruises said it will convert some of its mini-suites to an upgraded Club Class by adding a package of amenities, including an exclusive area within the main dining room. The service debuts in December on select ships, with the balance receiving it in 2017, Princess said.

Spanish Court to open at former Breezes site
The former Breezes Montego Bay will be reborn as the Spanish Court Hotel Montego Bay. The 120-room property is slated to open in summer 2017, following a total renovation. It has been vacant since October 2009 when SuperClubs did not renew its lease.

Friends & Colleagues

Caroline Johnson has joined CLIA as senior vice president, membership operations. Johnson has worked with CLIA for the last four months as a contractor. Before that, she served as senior director, marketing and communications, at Meetings Professional International. Johnson will oversee the membership department, including the member services, professional development, events, membership and trade marketing teams. She will be responsible for all marketing and communications directed toward CLIA's travel agency and agent members. • • • Pleasant Holidays appointed Steven Hattem as the company's senior director of sales. Hattem most recently was senior vice president, America and head of global cruise at Traveltek and prior to that served as managing director at Somax Travel Industry. He also held positions at Amadeus North America, World Travel Holdings, Leaders and Oceania Cruises. • • • Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection has hired Jeremy Reitman to serve as the chief marketing officer. Reitman joins Uniworld from the Australian online distribution company, where he served as CEO. He will oversee online and offline marketing with a focus on enhancing the digital products and services Uniworld delivers worldwide. Reitman begins the job May 11. • • • Port of New Orleans president and CEO Gary LaGrange will retire at the end of his current contract in April 2017. The board of commissioners is expected to name Brandy Christian, the Port's current COO, to succeed LaGrange. A 40-year veteran of the maritime industry, LaGrange has served as president and CEO of the port since 2001. It was under his leadership that the port was reopened less than two weeks after Hurricane Katrina hit the city in 2005.


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