Topaz News

This is the week when most of us take time off to be with families and friends and to enjoy the holidays as we prepare for the new year ahead. As I have done in past years, I offer my views on some of the events of last year. Hopefully for your reading enjoyment as you partake in an egg nog with a fine touch of Kentucky Bourbon added in for fun. And as you look back, you can look forward to a couple of weeks from now when I take a look at the future and predict what 2016 will bring.

Have we been witnessing the rise of ACTE and the fall of GBTA?
Our industry is very mixed as relates to this viewpoint. We have a divided view of the world of associations, a lot like our United States political system. But there are signs of change - large vendors no longer "showing" at GBTA - increasing attendance at ACTE - and other changes (and non-changes) that make me think there is a small revolution going on before our eyes. But we all know this stuff comes and goes each year, and we just await the drama that is our industry. In the end, each of us must evaluate what is best for us, so that we advance our careers and our personal well-being.

American and US Airways consummate their marriage
Pan Am, Eastern, America West, Republic, and now US Airways. Gone from existence as the brand goes away and the new American Airlines takes flight. We need an industry graveyard with headstones for all the brands that have gone away. I will be interested to see how this one shapes up in our industry - as you read on, you will see the commentary on their direct competitors, but American has been somewhat quiet - maybe testing the waters of our industry - but I expect that now this is behind them, they will soon rise to be a force in our industry and challenge those they compete against.

United Airlines and the new CEO with a new heartbeat
I must confess, I am a United guy. They are nice to me, like no other airline (hint, hint) so I am rooting for them. But boy, they keep screwing up. So, what will happen in 2016? This is the big question - but I hope they take their lessons learned from 2015 and implement changes to 2016. They must create an environment that will foster service delivery at all levels of the organization. I think as travelers we get the facts of weather and mechanical issues (at least most of us do) but deceit and misinformation and avoidance of the customer creates an environment that will soon deliver them to the bottom of the heap, and their replacement in corporate travel programs all over the world.

Delta Airlines and the new way of doing business
I would have never thought these guys would get it - but this year I have heard nothing but good things about Delta - from in flight to corporate programs. Somehow they have taken a very large employee base and moved them to doing all the right things. Then we throw in the guarantee programs, which may just be marketing ploys, but they get the attention of our industry. Success! Corporate travel managers seem to rave about their ability to listen to the challenges they face and deliver a great response in adapting to what travel managers need to do. Oh, then they show awesome profits and deliver huge bonuses to the employees. Hey, if there is anyone from Delta that wants to make me switch, it may just be possible.

The Rhetoric against the Gulf Carrier
Can you just give this up, please? Each of you just sounds like a whining baby that is not getting what they want. Go out and deliver superior service. You will be fine. I will send you a bill for this advice.

The New Mega-Hotel Chains
Here we go - Starwood and Marriott. Accor and Fairmont. Who will be next? Will it help or hurt our industry? This was the year of some big players getting together to make themselves bigger. It is wild how many brands fall under these groups as well - there is no way to fit all those logos on the back of a loyalty card - at least not that old people like me can read them. But this was the year of hotel mergers - which will most likely continue. Fun time for some in our industry - but I fear some friends will lose their jobs. I hope not.

So there is a brief wrap up to last year. I look forward to writing new stuff in the months ahead - and to making people laugh and cry all at the same time!

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