Is Delta Buying 49% of Virgin Atlantic?

Delta-logoDelta Air Lines is looking to become a partner in rival Virgin Atlantic according to rumors. 49% of Virgin Atlantic shares are held by Singapore Airlines and they are on the market. Delta, after digesting Northwest is looking to firm up it’s power position in transatlantic flights. A recent sponsorship agreement with the Chelsea Football Club underlines the importance that Delta is placing on the English market, one that Virgin has a significant share of.

The real key is for Delta to not tarnish the brand Branson built at Virgin. If they can be successful in keeping the brands separate while allowing both airlines to feed directly into Delta’s domestic operations it can be a very successful opportunity.

Delta is looking into buying a big stake in Virgin Atlantic, the second-biggest airline at London’s Heathrow airport. New York to London is one of the world’s most important travel routes, and Delta currently flies fewer flights to Heathrow than its main U.S. competitors, American and United.

On Monday, Singapore Airlines said it is in discussions with “interested parties” to sell its 49 percent stake in Virgin Atlantic. A person with knowledge of the talks told The Associated Press that Delta is in talks with Singapore Airlines about buying the Virgin Atlantic stake. The person requested anonymity because the talks are ongoing. The Singapore Airlines statement said the talks may or may not result in a deal. via the Washington Post

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The Southeast’s Top Twitter Accounts I Follow

Some of the Twitter Accounts we follow in the Southeast that are in the Convention and Visitors Bureau Space.

Amy Brock ? @Amy_Brock
Stephanie D Molina ? @Beaumartian
Erica Backus ? @EBee74
Melissa Yao Hille ? @melissayaohille
ColonialWilliamsburg ? @colonialwmsburg
Marla Tambellini ? @AshevilleCVB
Kelly B. Smith ? @LOWCTRYSpoiled
South Carolina ? @Discover_SC
Virginia Tourism ? @VisitVirginia
WilmingtonNC&Beaches ? @WilmingtoNCoast
Visit North Carolina ? @VisitNC
Charleston Golf ? @Charleston_Golf
Charleston Area CVB ? @ExploreCHS
Hilton Head Island ? @hiltonheadsc
Savannah Chamber ? @SavChamber
Zeek Coleman ? @ZeekColeman
CACVB Travel Council ? @CHSTrvlCouncil

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Las Vegas Deal Advisor Rocks

If you are looking to save some money on your next trip to sin city, check out The Vegas Deal Advisor. They not only offer great deals on visiting Las Vegas, they also provide the low down on where to stay and how you can save some serious money.

Oh, and they only focus on the premier Las Vegas Hotels so you do not get to Vegas and end up in a less than steller hotel miles from nowhere to save a buck. You stay at a top property and have money for all of the fun Vegas activities.

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Travel Costs For 2008 – Airlines Up 5 to 10 Percent

Air-travelThe airlines need to make money. They are facing high fuel costs so they have drastically cut back supply of seats over the past few years. Now 2008 expect to see significantly higher air travel costs.

Experts are predicting increases in air travel expenses of 5 to 10 percent with most leaning to the high end. The perk that many companies are thinking about cutting back on, first class travel.

High oil prices and tight limits on the number of seats for sale are expected to drive up air fares.
In mid-November, business fares on the 280 busiest U.S. routes were up 8 percent year-over-year, according to price tracker Harrell Associates.
The AmEx forecast foresees an annual increase next year for international business-class fares in a range of 5 percent to 10 percent. For domestic coach fares, it projects increases of 1 percent to 5 percent.
Many big employers are looking for ways to manage around the fare increases. Mona Crisp, travel manager at Dallas-based 7-Eleven, is pushing her travelers to take responsibility for saving money without necessarily reducing their travel.
7-Eleven — like nearly three-quarters of companies that responded to a National Business Travel Association survey — now provides its corporate travelers with an online booking tool that compares fares. via IndyStar.com

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Travel Costs For 2008 – Rental Cars Up Only 4 percent

Rental-carIf you do not count the increases in gasoline, renting a car will be fairly reasonable cost wise in 2008. The cost increases will be about 4 percent or less, owing mainly to the weakness in Detroit and the deals car manufacturers will be offering the large rental car companies.

Automobile renters with corporate accounts are not expected to see much of an increase as the bargaining power for the companies is still very strong. So if you are a small businessman or family looking to rent a car expect to see a modest increase in the price of a car rental when you travel.

The American Express Global Business Travel Forecast projects an increase in rental car rates next year of 4 percent or less.
Prices for airport car rentals “are a function of the number of people getting off of airplanes,” says consultant Neil Abrams, who advises companies on rental-car contract negotiations. “And as long as airline deplanements continue to rise . . . there will be some ability to raise” rates.
The National Business Travel Association forecasts a larger 2008 increase in rental car costs than does AmEx: 5 percent to 7 percent. But AmEx takes into account off-airport rentals, while NBTA does not.
Abrams and the NBTA expect the average rental rates paid by big corporations that can negotiate high-volume discounts with rental-car companies to rise only a bit, if at all.
To the extent that big corporations succeed in getting volume discounts, small companies and entrepreneurial business travelers will bear the brunt of rental-car companies’ expected revenue increases.
Gasoline prices also are likely to increase total spending on rental cars. via  IndyStar.com.

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Top 10 Places to See Christmas Lights

Fantasyinlights

USA Today has the top 10 places to view Christmas Lights across the United States this year.

The top 10 are:

And I want to add one more to the list, Callaway Gardens just south of Atlanta has an amazing show called Fantasy in Lights.

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Travel Costs For 2008 – Hotels Up 5 to 6 Percent

HotelIf you are traveling in the coming year expect to see costs go up. The combination of a strong economy and inflationary pressures will push the cost of travel up in every facet.

Hotels will see an increase over the rate of inflation but of all the major categories will go up the least in terms of year over year increases. As a matter of fact, the rise in hotel rates will be the lowest since 2003.

Business travelers continue to show an affinity for upscale, luxury hotels like Ritz-Carlton and Four Seasons. And a large number of road warriors continue to find their way to midpriced chains like Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn Express.
In response, proprietors of those two kinds of hotel properties can be expected to raise their prices more than any other hotel types in 2008, according to PKF Hospitality Research.
PKF predicts the average room rate in the U.S. will go up about 5.3 percent, to just over $109 a night. But rates in the luxury segment will rise 6.6 percent to an average of nearly $309 a night. Midmarket hotels lacking formal food and beverage operations are forecast to bump up their prices 6 percent to $92 a night.
The American Express Business Travel Forecast paints a similar picture for hotel price increases next year: up 4 percent to 6 percent in the midmarket segment; up 5 percent to 7 percent in the higher-priced segments of the market. via IndyStar.com.

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Cruise and Land Travel Passport Rules Extended

In response to heavy lobbying and a system that has not been certified, the passport requirements that were to go into effect at the end of next year have pushed it back a year. This will allow the systems to be set up properly, and give the lobbyists another year to spread their money all over Washington to the politicians.

The extension was added to the appropriations bill for the Department of Homeland Security.
Congress originally set Jan. 1, 2008, as the date that all travelers entering the United States from other countries in the Western hemisphere would be required to have a passport. The Department of Homeland Security proposed moving up that deadline to Jan. 8, 2007, for cruise ship and airplane passengers.
Now Congress has pushed back the passport deadline for land and sea travel to June 1, 2009. Passports or other secure documents could be required earlier than this date if the government makes a lower-cost identification option available and installs the technology to read these cards at entry points.
Congress didn’t change the passport deadline for air travel. Airlines already ask passengers for passports for international travel, even in the Western hemisphere, so the new requirement won’t disrupt air travel, according to the Travel Industry Association of America.  via the Dayton Business Journal

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Holland America will add cell phone capability in March 2007

Holland America will add cell phone capability in March 2007.

HOLLAND AMERICA LINE will outfit all its ships with cell phone capability by March 2007, the line said; the service is currently available on the Volendam. The technology allows passengers to make and receive calls and send text messages on their own cell phones or personal digital assistants while onboard and be charged international roaming fees. The line partnered with SeaMobile, which provides the same service on ships for Silversea Cruises, Oceania Cruises and Crystal Cruises.

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StatefarmState Farm has gotten approval from the state insurance regulators to raise the policy premiums 50 percent in Florida. The scary part is that State Farm was asking for a 79 percent increase and had to settle for the 50 percent bump. The rates will effect new and current customers.

The rates, more than a $1,000 increase on a $2,000 premium, are effective Aug. 15 for new customers and Nov. 15 on renewals. State Farm Florida first sought an average 79 percent increase when it asked for higher rates in May, but the company withdrew that request earlier this month.

State Farm officials have said they sought the rate increase to enable the company to continue to underwrite coverage in the state. Other companies also have sought rate increases.

Allstate Floridian has pursued a different strategy, dropping Florida customers to reduce its risk from hurricane damage. Allstate has plans to drop 350,000 home policies. In March, the company had 529,000 Florida homeowners’ policies.

Nationwide has a pending request to increase rates by 71 percent on the 261,000 policies it has in Florida. via The Quad-City Times Newspaper

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