This month we celebrate our 27th year at ATPI Business World Travel – established in 1992 our longevity is attributable to our loyal Clients, our amazing team of Travel Professionals and our proactive Suppliers. A winning combination. Thank you and congratulations to all!
We’re amidst the peak of our inbound tourist season in New Zealand and Australia which creates the perfect storm as our Business Travellers have also gotten back on the road with a flourish. Domestic New Zealand travellers will be aware of the challenges with securing hotels or motels at reasonable rates and of course car rental availability is a problem. We’re concerned about containing your travel budget and to avoid extremely high accommodation rates (most are plus 50% to 100% over normal year round rates) we strongly recommend just making day trips to your business destinations. Once there, think about taxis, Uber or car sharing firms instead of scarce rental cars. Also keep an eye on our New Zealand Calendar of Events (call us for your copy) and avoid destinations hosting concerts, sports events or multiple cruise ships on a single day. The record hotel rate we saw was a 4-star hotel in Albert Street Auckland – last room between Hamilton and Warkworth – at $10,000 for the night! The pressure will ease as we move toward Easter.
United Airlines has confirmed its schedule for the Northern Summer and will offer three flights weekly between Auckland and San Francisco every Mon/Thu/Sat. The flight departs at 1330hrs and lands into SFO at 0640hrs which allows for connections to destinations right across the US and Canada and with an appealing early evening arrival into East Coast destinations such as New York, Boston and Miami. United will operate a Boeing 777-200 aircraft featuring the well-liked Polaris Business Class, Premium Economy Class, Economy Plus and Economy Class.
Emirates has reduced the check-in luggage allowance on its lowest fare categories. Seat sale type fares are often booked in V or X class and these categories of fare will only attract a 15kg luggage allowance. Conversely Emirates does offer one of the highest luggage allowance of all airlines for all other economy fares at either 25kg, 30kg or 35kg per person. Emirates flights between the US and Dubai sit at 2 pieces/ 23kg each for Economy Class.
North American airlines operating the Boeing 737 Max8 model aircraft include Southwest, American Airlines, Air Canada and Westjet. The FAA has now grounded the entire fleet of this aircraft type worldwide (there are 350 in service around the world) following the safety concerns raised about this newer model Boeing following the two devastating aircraft crashes. The aircraft is denoted as ‘7M8’ on your itineraries – not to be confused with the widely used Boeing 737-800 which carries the code ‘738’. The various airlines have advised us of the adjusted schedules and we have re-arranged clients travel to accommodate this.
Bonvoy is the new branding for the Marriott group’s Guest Loyalty Programme. Previous brandings have been Marriott Rewards, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest. The three-programme integration will be completed this month and the new cards issued to members. Marriot merged with Starwood in 2016 and from the New Zealand perspective most clients have been SPG Members. The top tier Bonvoy Ambassador Elite recognises those roadwarriors who stay in the group’s hotel for a minimum of 100 nights or spend more than US$20,000 annually, individually.
One of our US based Virtuoso partners arranges our private sightseeing for clients in a number of cities in the US. One of the highlights is their private tours around Washington DC. They offer guided tours into a wide range of attractions – from the National Archives, Mount Vernon, walking tours of Alexandria and their popular tour of the Potomac River. Clients enjoy the personalised attention from their very skilled and specialised Guides.
Zion National Park in Utah celebrates its 100th Anniversary this year. There are activities planned throughout the year.
A reminder that travellers to the US who qualify for an ESTA must apply for these a minimum of 72 hours prior to departure. These can no longer be applied for within this time frame. And an additional reminder to ensure you carry a hard copy of your ESTA form for both the US and Canadian versions. The US ESTA can be re-printed from the ESTA system any time (via our website www.bwt.co.nz/Traveller Resources/ESTA). The Canadian one allows only one print when you first receive your application. Remember that if you need to show it that there is no wi-fi or other means of internet access within most Customs and Immigration halls.
Travel better! At ATPI/Business World Travel we’re a member of the prestigious US-based Virtuoso, an invited group of the world’s leading travel agents and where we can achieve benefits over and above any other travel agent or booking site for our clients. For a similar rate as any advertised rate included on the hotel site, Bookings.com or Expedia you’ll receive:
- Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
- Daily Breakfast for two
- Food & Beverage or Spa services credit usually around US$100
- Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
- Often some other kind of personalised in-room amenity
- Take a look at www.virtuoso.com or call one of our BWT Travel Advisors
Grant Bevin is an AmCham member and Managing Director of ATPI