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THE BRIEFING FOR NOV. 3 - NOV. 17, 2011
By Joe Brancatelli

· Airfares Don't Rise Because You're Not Flying
· Hyatt Adds Hotels in Vietnam and Abu Dhabi
· Hertz and National Battle for Elite Renters
· WiFi and Sunglasses and Fishy Spas, Oh My!
· American AAdvantage Adds Kingfisher Airlines
· Starwood Opens an Aloft in London's Docklands
· Rally Round the Hotel Flag, Boys. But Which Flag?


One More Time: Airfares Aren't Rising Because You're Not Flying
The supposed "experts" who repeatedly insist that airfares will skyrocket because airlines continue to slash capacity still don't get it. Airfares will not (and are not) rising because you're not flying. Supply doesn't affect pricing anywhere near as much as demand does. After all, no matter how much they cut the number of seats they fly, the airlines can't raise prices if you're not buying tickets. This week is a perfect example. After legacy airlines failed to push through a $4-$10 roundtrip raise last week, US Airways tried again today (November 3) and Delta Air Lines promptly matched. But no other legacy carriers did, JetBlue Airways hasn't matched and Southwest and its AirTran subsidiary have launched fare sales. So there's virtually no chance that this week's fare increase will stick. And if you want to know why, consider October's traffic numbers, which started dribbling out today. Delta said its passenger traffic in October fell 3.8 percent compared to October, 2010. American's domestic traffic in October was down 1.8 percent and its international numbers were flat. US Airways said its October traffic dropped 1.5 percent on mainland flights and 5.1 percent on US Airways Express service.

Hyatt Adds Two Hotels in Exotic Locations
You might not use the two newest Hyatt properties for business travel, but they make attractive Gold Passport award destinations. In Southeast Asia, the 200-room Hyatt Regency Da Nang is located on the beach about 15 minutes from Da Nang International Airport in Vietnam. (For all you Vietnam vets, Da Nang International is what you think it is, the old Da Nang Air Base.) And in the Middle East, Hyatt has opened the 306-room Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi is the capital of the United Arab Emirates. … A 142-room Courtyard by Marriott has opened in Oceanside, California, not far from Camp Pendleton. … Starwood has opened a 252-room Aloft hotel in the Docklands area of London. It's next to the Excel Convention Centre. … A former Four Points by Sheraton has been converted to a DoubleTree by Hilton in Cary, North Carolina. And the former 150-room Hyatt Place in Birmingham, Alabama, has become a Marriott SpringHill Suites.

Hertz and National Battle for Elite Renters With Status Matches
Hertz and National are battling it out for elite car renters and both firms are offering a status match in their respective plans aimed at frequent business renters. As is often the case these days, National is making much the better pitch and being much more transparent about what it'll match. Surf to its status match page and you'll clearly see what you get: Emerald Club Executive status if you're currently Avis Preferred First or Hertz #1 Gold Star and Executive Elite status if you're Avis President's or Chairman's Club or Hertz President's Circle. The Hertz status match page tells you what it's offering--Five Star or President's Circle--but not which National or Avis level you need to have in order to get Hertz status. … The American AAdvantage program has a new partner: Kingfisher Airlines, a private Indian carrier that flies around the subcontinent and to/from London. … Amtrak Guest Rewards is working to forge a link with the new United MileagePlus program. In the meantime, however, December 31 is the deadline for transferring Guest Rewards points to Continental's existing OnePass program.

WiFi and Sunglasses and Fishy Spas, Oh My!
A Sunglass Hut outlet has opened on Concourse B of Cleveland Hopkins Airport. Which is notable because Cleveland is the fifth-cloudiest city in America and has 202 days a year of what weather geeks call "heavy clouds." … Boingo, the WiFi subscription service, has added 2,000 hotspots in Japan. The hotspots belong to Wi2 network, which includes limousines and buses that service Tokyo/Narita and Tokyo/Haneda airports. … The Back to Life spa between Piers E and F at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport now offers "cosmetic fish spa" treatments. That's where little fishies bite at your feet. A 20-minute session of toe-gnawing starts at 25 euros. See, sometimes the jokes write themselves…

Rally Round the Hotel Flag, Boys. Which Flag? What Day Is It?
And we have a new leader in the Velcro Hotel race. As you'll recall, "Velcro hotel" is a derisive term for a property that continually changes flags and brand affiliation. In Toledo, Ohio, the 14-story hotel on Summit Street most recently known as the Crowne Plaza has gone bankrupt and lost its affiliation with the InterContinental brand. It's now trading as the Grand Plaza Hotel. The 241-room hotel opened in 1985 as a Sofitel and in the subsequent 26 years has operated as Marriott, a Holiday Inn, a Crowne Plaza (the first time) and a Wyndham. In 2005, it went independent as the Toledo Riverfront Hotel and returned to the Crowne Plaza family in 2007. But wait, there's more. The hotel's current general manager says that the name Grand Plaza Hotel isn't permanent. He hopes to affiliate with a new chain, perhaps Sheraton or DoubleTree by Hilton. Which makes sense since the property hasn't been one of those brands yet…

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ABOUT JOE BRANCATELLI Joe Brancatelli is a publication consultant, which means that he helps media companies start, fix and reposition newspapers, magazines and Web sites. He's also the former executive editor of Frequent Flyer and has been a consultant to or columnist for more business-travel and leisure-travel publishing operations than he can remember. He started his career as a business journalist and created JoeSentMe in the dark days after 9/11 while he was stranded in a hotel room in San Francisco. He lives on the Hudson River in the tourist town of Cold Spring.

THE FINE PRINT All of the opinions and material in this column are the sole property and responsibility of Joe Brancatelli. This material may not be reproduced in any form without his express written permission.

This column is Copyright © 2011 by Joe Brancatelli. JoeSentMe.com is Copyright © 2011 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.