Folk wisdom has its place, but that place is not in the airline ticket arena, say researchers at Texas A&M University.


“There’s been this industry folk wisdom that says Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the best days to purchase airline tickets,” says Steven Puller, an associate professor of economics at Texas A&M who specializes in industrial organization. “But we couldn’t find any systematic analysis to back that up.”

Rather, he says, the weekend is the best time to book airline tickets because airlines are more likely to discount fares on Saturday and Sunday.

In the study “Price Discrimination By Day-Of-Week Of Purchase: Evidence From The U.S. Airline Industry,” published in the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Puller and co-author Lisa Taylor, a former Texas A&M graduate student, found that tickets purchased on the weekend were, on average, 5 percent cheaper than similar tickets purchased on weekdays.

“We find that when you control for a large set of factors – the day-of-week of travel, whether the ticket was refundable, the number of days in advance that the ticket was purchased, how full the flights were, and other factors – that tickets purchased on the weekends were sold, on average, for a 5 percent discount,” Puller explains.

The study further finds this weekend purchase discount is greatest on routes with a mix of both business and leisure customers. There is not much of this type of discount for leisure destinations such as Orlando or Las Vegas, Puller notes.

The researchers suggest, although do not definitively conclude, that this weekend purchase effect reflects a common practice known as “price discrimination.”

This happens when the same service is sold at different prices to different buyers, in this case, based on the day of the week that an airline ticket is purchased.

Puller says the airlines try to play the odds when deciding how to price flights.

“Take a route that serves both business and leisure travelers,” he explains. “If the business travelers primarily purchase tickets on weekdays, then the typical traveler buying on the weekend is more likely to be a price-sensitive leisure traveler than a business traveler. There is an incentive for the airlines to lower fares on the weekends to try to entice the price-sensitive leisure traveler to buy a ticket.”

But how do the airlines know if a particular buyer is travelling for leisure or business? “They don’t,” Puller contends. “They’re playing the odds.”

The researchers conducted the study by looking at a historical archive of actual tickets purchased on all major airlines. Puller says the study compared tickets with similar characteristics rather than simply looking at the cheapest fare available.

“If you’re a traveler who just wants to get from point A to point B for the cheapest price possible, then these findings may not apply to you,” he notes. “But many people do care about these factors.”

The researchers only studied round-trip flights with nonstop service. The study did not examine first-class airfare or the holiday travel periods around Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s.

Puller says these results could have implications for other industries that have the ability to change prices daily based on the types of customers who purchase on a specific day. “The software systems that are used in airline pricing are used in other industries such as cruises, hotels, car rentals,” he explains. “We’ve only analyzed airline pricing, but I wouldn’t be surprised if similar pricing practices are used in these other industries as well.”

 
 
If you're not booking your flights via app, maybe you should. Research from priceline.com says that you'd save money if you did. People who use apps for booking are younger than their desktop brethren, and many of them don't want to be tethered to pre-set, round-trip flight itineraries. 

The airline tickets data is similar to what priceline.com saw in earlier studies of hotel reservation trends and paints a picture of a mobile device-equipped consumer whose travel booking practices and preferences are very different from travelers who plan their trips using desktop computers and laptops.

"Mobile-equipped consumers are what we call 'untethered' travelers," said priceline.com's Travel Ekspert Brian Ek. "They like to create their travel experiences on the fly, rather than stick to itineraries planned far in advance. Hotels are typically chosen closer to check-in day (even on the same day), and many bookings are made while on the road or after arrival in town. Mobile-equipped travelers tend to book their airline tickets a bit closer-in than desktop users. And the choice of one-way tickets allows mobile travelers to adjust their length of stay and even return from a different city."

Priceline.com's study of airline ticket booking activity among mobile-equipped travelers found that:
  • Mobile air bookers averaged 32 years of age, or six years younger than the average desktop air booker;
  • Almost half of mobile air bookers booked one-way tickets; and
  • Mobile air bookers paid less for their tickets (average $283) than desktop users (average $315).
 
 
If you've been avoiding the largest country in South America, you missing out on huge events opportunities. Total business travel spending in the nation is expected to grow 14.3 percent in 2013 to $34.5 billion, according to research by the Global Business Travel Association.

In fact, domestic business travel spending has grown 8.3 percent a year for the last 12 years, and is forecast to grow 12.9 percent to $27 billion in 2013. Brazil currently ranks eighth in the business travel global rankings, and is on track to surpass Italy, France and the U.K. during the next two years.

Despite the recessionary years of 2008 and 2009, Brazil’s business travel spending has continued to grow at an impressive rate, and has nearly tripled from an estimated $11 billion to more than $30 billion in 2012.
 
 
Suburbs, countryside or city. Most of us make a choice and settle down. But others, particularly those living in poverty, don’t always get to make that choice—the choice that could actually determine our quality and length of life.

This was intriguing for Laura Samuel, a 
Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing doctoral candidate. Samuel could see the way poverty was placing some of her patients at risk for disease and disability. "It didn’t take long for me to realize that poverty needed to be addressed as a fundamental determinant of health," she says.

Taking this health challenge on as her research dissertation at the JHUSON, she is examining just how our environment and its characteristics may actually improve—or hurt—our health. Samuel chose to analyze how factors of social integration (neighborhood social cohesion, emotional support, loneliness) and socioeconomic status might impact people's rates of smoking, physical activity, and diet—and ultimately change their cardiovascular health. 



"We know that these three behaviors are the underlying causes that account for over one-third of deaths in the U.S.," says Samuel. "But it’s also important to know whether our income or our feelings of neighborhood unity or alienation can actually affect these behaviors, and in turn our quality of life."

Studies show that in many cities across the nation, life expectancy can differ by 10 years across neighborhoods—even those side by side. So do socioeconomic and social integration factors make a difference in these numbers? That’s what Samuel is hoping to find out.

While there is still much research to be done, Samuel already knows that the solution won’t be one size fits all. "If we really want to address socio-economic disparities, we need to tailor our interventions to specific individuals and communities. We need to consider people’s social networks, their socioeconomic status, and the social context in which they live their day-to-day lives."

 
 
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Looks like Las Vegas is taking aim at its meetings offerings. The CVA has unveiled plans for a Las Vegas Global Business District, an overarching vision for the Las Vegas Convention Center and the surrounding area—and it includes a renovation of the center and an upgrade in technology.

The plans address three key findings that emerged from research and focus groups with clients and stakeholders. The first focuses on renovating the Las Vegas Convention Center and creating a convention district campus. This includes building additional exhibit space, meeting rooms and general session space; upgrading technology; adding new food and beverage outlets; and, creating a grand concourse connector with more lobby space. Outside the convention center, plans call for outdoor public and gathering spaces and various design elements to enhance the neighborhood and establish a cohesive business center district. This will be the first major expansion of the 54-year-old Las Vegas Convention Center in more than a decade.

The second area of focus creates an international business center by leveraging and expanding the World Trade Center designation. The designation provides the LVCVA with opportunities to market Las Vegas to business travelers around the globe under the World Trade Center brand.  By creating a dedicated World Trade Center facility, the LVCVA plans to expand international business opportunities and increase market share by attracting more meetings and conventions to the destination. In 2011, the Las Vegas Convention Center was designated as an official World Trade Center site through an agreement between the LVCVA and the Consumer Electronics Association.

The third key element creates a centralized transportation hub that will improve connectivity in the resort corridor and improve the overall customer experience. The LVCVA is working with local transportation stakeholders to define a long-term strategy to accommodate the movement of people as Las Vegas projects to host approximately 44 million annual visitors, and as many as seven million convention delegates over the next 10 years.


 
 
If the U.S. economy falls over the “fiscal cliff,” it would have an immediate and severe impact on U.S. business travel, according to new research from GBTA Foundation. The new report analyzes the business travel impact of expiring tax cuts and automatic spending reductions—commonly referred to as the “fiscal cliff”—as well as the longer-term ramifications of leaving current levels of deficit spending unaddressed.

The report models the potential business travel impact of two scenarios—one in which the fiscal cliff takes effect, and one where no changes are made to current tax and spending provisions.

Fiscal Cliff Scenario: If the fiscal cliff occurs, the U.S. economy would enter a recession. This would lead to a total loss of US$20 billion in spending on U.S. business travel over the next nine quarters—a 2.5 percent decline—and a reduction of 32 million business trips.

However, the elimination of tax cuts and reductions in federal spending would lead to reduced deficits and lower interest rates over the long run, resulting in business travel spending and an overall economy that grows more quickly after absorbing the shock of the fiscal cliff.

No Fiscal Restraint Scenario: If all provisions of the fiscal cliff are eliminated or delayed indefinitely, business travel would experience more robust trip volume and spending as a result of stimulus from lower tax rates and continued government spending. In the near term, this scenario would lead to a cumulative loss of only 300,000 business trips and a gain of $5.5 billion in total business travel spending over the next nine quarters.

 
 
Almost 40 percent of seafood in NYC is mislabeled, according to a new report from international advocacy group Oceana. DNA testing of 142 seafood samples from 81 retail outlets, including grocery stores, restaurants and sushi venues, confirmed that 56 samples were mislabeled according to U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines.

Oceana’s investigation in the New York City-area, including Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and other surrounding towns, targeted species with regional significance like cod as well as those that were found to be mislabeled in previous studies such as red snapper, white tuna and wild salmon.

Among the report’s key findings:
  • 58 percent of the retail outlets sold mislabeled fish (three in five).
  • Small markets had much higher fraud (40 percent) than national chain grocery stores (12 percent).
  • All 16 sushi venues tested sold mislabeled fish.
  • Tilefish, on the FDA’s do-not-eat list because of its high mercury content, was substituted for red snapper and halibut in one small market.
  • 94 percent of the “white tuna” was not tuna at all, but escolar, a snake mackerel that has a toxin with purgative effects for people who eat more than a small amount of the fish.
  • Thirteen different types of fish were sold as “red snapper,” including tilapia, white bass, goldbanded jobfish, tilefish, porgy/seabream, ocean perch and other less valuable snappers.

Oceana and others also recently uncovered shocking levels of seafood mislabeling in the Boston (48 percent), Los Angeles (55 percent) and Miami (31 percent) areas. Oceana is now urging Congress to pass the Safety in Fraud and Enforcement for Seafood (SAFE Seafood) Act, H.R. 6200, which would require full traceability for all seafood sold in the U.S. The bill, introduced this summer by Reps. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Walter Jones (R-N.C.), will likely be reintroduced next year and would take actions to stop seafood fraud that hurts our oceans, our wallets and our health.

To read Oceana’s new report, please visit www.oceana.org/nycfraudreport.
 
 
Corporate investment in business travel should remain stable in 2013—61 percent of senior finance executives anticipate spending the same or more on business travel next year, according to 200 U.S. CFOs surveyed by American Express. Most senior finance executives (64 percent) don't anticipate that corporate travel policies will loosen next year, in line with companies’ disciplined approach to controlling overall spending.

Meanwhile, face-to-face meetings remain key. The most important reasons for making travel investments?  Building new business (37 percent) and retaining current business (35 percent). 

 
 
U.S. Congress is considering an across-the-board reduction in government travel, hidden in its postal reform legislation. An additional rule proposed by the General Services Administration (GSA) would eliminate per diem lodging flexibility that currently exists for travel to government conferences. So far, two industry groups have issued responses.
  • U.S. Travel is working to maintain "mission-critical" travel for government employees and has sent letters to both House and Senate leaders expressing our opposition to the proposed cuts.
  • The American Hotel & Lodging Association and U.S. Travel sent a joint letter stating that the GSA measure to produce artificially low lodging reimbursement rates—whether in the context of transient or conference travel—hampers the federal government's ability to send civil servants on appropriate and necessary travel.
 
 
Workers who begin their careers in travel achieve higher wages, have greater access to educational opportunities and enjoy better career progression, according to data collected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and analyzed by Oxford Economics and the U.S. Travel Association. (BLS tracked more than 5,000 workers, interviewing them every year between 1979 and 1994, and every two years between 1994 and 2010.)

KEY FINDINGS
  • Earning Higher Wages: The average maximum salary for employees who start their careers in the travel industry reaches US$81,900—significantly more than other industries.
  • Promoting Educational Opportunities: One-third of the 5.6 million Americans who are employed part time to support themselves while they further their education work in the travel industry. Among workers who began their careers in the travel industry, 33 percent earned at least a bachelor's degree.
  • Leading to Rewarding Careers: Employees who work in travel jobs build valuable skills that can translate into rewarding careers, both in travel and other industries. Two out of five workers who start their careers in the travel industry go on to earn more than $100,000 per year.

The full report is available at www.ustravel.org/jobs.
 

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    About Me

    Jessie States is the industry research expert at Meeting Professionals International. She's also an award-winning writer specializing in the topics of business, meetings and travel. She has earned honors from Suburban Newspapers of America, the Texas Press Association, APEX and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. Her writing has appeared in The Meeting ProfessionalOne+, the Texas Property Journal and Heart & Soul magazine.