The Tactical Traveler

FOR MAY 23 TO MAY 30, 2002


This week: The "free" future of hotel high-speed Internet access; airports rush to connect terminals to mass transportation; a new Web service allows you to access your desktop PC from anywhere in the world; you can now get to your airport club even if you're not traveling; and Northwest's chief executive has an astonishing view of what major airlines do well.

COUNTER INTELLIGENCE: The 'Free' Future of High-Speed Hotel Access
Hotels trying to sell guests high-speed Internet access for as much as $10 a day may be paddling up the wrong revenue stream. That's the conclusion of Adrian Kurre, senior vice president of brand management for Hilton's fast-growing Hilton Garden Inn chain. Like other hotels, Hilton Garden Inns had been charging $9.95 a night for high-speed Net access, but Kurre says the usage rate was "only about 3 percent" even though half his guests travel with laptops. When the chain's access provider went bankrupt, however, Kurre began hooking up guest rooms free of charge to the hotels' own internal lines. The free service, which is being tested at three dozen Hilton Garden Inns, has increased the usage rate to 25 percent. But isn't Kurre losing money by giving away a service he once tried to sell? " I'm leaving zero revenue on the table because I'm making it back on rate and occupancy," he says. "Travelers are checking out of other hotels and coming to us and paying $5-to-$6 more a night just to get the high-speed access free."

AIRPORT REPORT: Can You Really Take the Train to the Plane?
It's the infrastructure trend of the moment: Airports around the world are rushing to hook up their terminals to their cities' mass-transit systems. Want some examples? London City Airport, the efficient intra-Europe airport six miles from The City, will be linked to an extension of London's Docklands Light Railway. The project, slated to be finished in 2005, will connect the airport with Canary Wharf in 14 minutes and The City in 21 minutes. In San Francisco, the board of directors of the BART train has approved a new link to and a new station at Oakland Airport. And in Washington, a proposal to link Dulles Airport to the Metrorail system is gaining momentum. Officials recently approved a draft of an environmental impact statement for the project, which would cost about $3 billion and could be completed by 2010. ... Denver International will build 10 new jet gates and six new commuter gates on the west end of Concourse A. The project should be completed in about two years and is likely to benefit Frontier Airlines, the fast-growing competitor of United Airlines. ... SuperShuttle will begin service at Minneapolis/St. Paul on June 1. The blue-van folks are breaking into the market thanks to its purchase of International Express, which has operated at MSP since 1982.

CYBERTRAVELER: On The Road With Your Desktop Computer
Several business travelers I know have been raving about GoToMyPC, an ingenious, Web-based system that allows you to use and control your home or desktop computer from any other PC or laptop anywhere in the world. I've been testing the service over the last few weeks and it's hard to find fault. The set-up procedure on your home or desktop computer is fast, simple and requires virtually no user interaction. And accessing your desktop or home PC--and all of its software and data files--is as easy as surfing to the GoToMyPC Website on a remote computer, logging in, and waiting briefly for the connection to be made. Of course, the service isn't perfect. It works best if both your remote computer and home or desktop computer are connected via high-speed access. Using a dial-up connection on either end slows the process substantially. And your home or desktop PC must be connected to the Net at all times, a problem if you only have dial-up access. But if you've got the right connections, GotoMyPC is the virtual equivalent of taking your desktop on the road with you. Prices start at $14.95 a month after a 30-day free-trial period.

ON THE FLY: Business-Travel News You Need to Know
Several airlines say airport clubs inside security perimeters are now accessible to club members who are not flying. Since September 11, the clubs inside an airport's "sterile area" have been off-limits to club members who did not have a ticket to travel. The Transportation Security Administration now permits club members past security checkpoints after they clear standard security procedures. ... Separately, the TSA has told airlines to stop using the baggage templates some carriers unilaterally installed on X-ray machines in recent years. Most of the templates had been removed after lawsuits or other complaints, but a few airports still have security checkpoints with the metal or plastic sizing devices. ... Here's the creep-out item of the week: Marriott is offering 100,000 Marriott Rewards points for members who place a "loved one" in a Marriott senior-citizen housing center.

VERBATIM: Yeah, That's What the Airlines Are Good At...
You couldn't make this one up if you tried. Here's the lead sentence of an Aviation Daily report on May 23: "The Transportation Security Agency should take a lesson from airlines on delivering quality service at real-world costs with quick turnaround time, according to Northwest chief executive Richard Anderson, who spoke yesterday at the Phoenix Aviation Symposium."

This column originally appeared at

Copyright 1993-2004 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.