Travel Update with Barb

An accomplished newspaper journalist (USA TODAY staff 2002-2013) and relentless social media enthusiast, Barb wakes up at dawn seven days a week to search for, write and edit stories that resonate with travelers and travel business insiders. She craves stories that teach us something about life or business, make us laugh, shed light on our future or help make our journeys a little easier– or at least more interesting.

Charge my phone!

WASHINGTON D.C. – This week, I’ve been attending CVENT’s inaugural, invite-only Group Business Forum with 400 hotel sales executives, meeting planners, destination marketers and CVENT executives to discuss group business trends and innovations. The event is extremely well run, as far as events go. Attendees can’t walk more than two feet without bumping into a smiling CVENT employee who’s ready to help or guide them. And, needless to say, I’m learning quite a bit about group business trends, which I’ll eventually write about in this space. NEW POST! “Cocktails with…CEO John Kinzell” But right now, I wanted to share...

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Hotels: Q1 earnings preview

We’re almost at that time of the year when the CEOs of the publicly held hotel companies talk to investors and Wall Street analysts about how the last quarter went – in this case Q1. I personally enjoy these calls because we learn about the top-line travel trends that have been driving financial results and at least a few interesting details about specific properties. So this morning, I read with interest the “1Q14 Lodging Preview” report for real estate investment trusts (s) from Suntrust Robinson Humphrey analyst Patrick Scholes, whose work I’ve been reading for years. Here are a...

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MGM pairs with Hakkasan

Ready to check into an upscale Bellaggio hotel with a stylish Hakkasan restaurant in a city other than Las Vegas? If so, you may not have to wait too long. Vegas-based MGM Resorts International announced last week that it’s forming a joint venture with London-based Hakkasan Group to develop hip, non-gaming hotels with vibrant nightlife scenes. JOIN THE CONVO: Talk travel with Barb and friends on Facebook Hakkasan Group, an upscale restaurant chain that specializes in upscale Cantonese food in chic settings, started in London but has a global presence including the U.S. with restaurants in New York, San...

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Upgrades for all but me

It was like a Seinfeld episode… Last week, my family and I were changing planes in Atlanta so we could fly Delta to Cancun for our spring break vacation. For whatever reason, I had an assigned seat – but the three of them did not. So my husband went up to the the Delta gate agent to find out their seat assignments, which is where the TV sitcom scenario started. “I’m sorry I have to do this to you,” the agent told him in all seriousness. He then told my husband that he and our two boys, aged 10...

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Tomorrow’s hotel paper?

Do you crave the feel of a printed newspaper in hands when you travel? If so, one hotel company believes you’re increasingly in the minority. Milwaukee-based Marcus Hotels & Resorts recently replaced complimentary printed newspapers for guests with a free-to-use mobile device app called PressReader in three of its 17 hotels. The PressReader app gives news craving guests access to 3,500 papers and magazines. Guests can use the app to download publications on their smart phone, iPad/tablet or e-reader, or print out an ad-free version. Guests can expect to find the digital publication app at these hotels: Pfister Hotel...

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Seamless luxury?

Will 2014 be the year travel companies figure out a way to offer affluent consumers an ultra-premium, door-to-door travel experience? The answer remains unclear, but the question has been getting quite a bit of attention lately. Global business forecasting firm Oxford Economics recently identified the lack of a premium-priced “seamless travel” product as an area of opportunity in a new global travel trends report commissioned by Amadeus. ( “Why not do this with one ticket?” Oxford associate director and report author Andrew Tessler told me recently during a phone interview. “Airlines are all doing their own things. Airports are...

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Bank on travelers’ feelings

We all know that hospitality marketing and PR are changing radically due to a confluence of factors, including the never ending growth of mobile devices and snowballing use of the social web. But what marketing and branding expert Porter Gale told attendees at HSMAI’s digital marketing strategies conference made me really stop and think. What consumers are thinking and feeling at your resorts is your marketing, said Gale, a former marketing executive for Virgin America. One of my favorite quotes from her Feb. 25 talk in New York: “The consumer is Tweeting 24/7 about what is happening with your...

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Barb’s new blog!

Thanks for checking into my new home. So glad you found me! Many of you know me from my work at USA TODAY. I spent most of the last dozen years covering the travel industry for both the newspaper and the website through the lens of an experienced business reporter. Those were some very tough times on the travel beat (Sept. 11 terror attacks, airline bankruptcies, SARS, Boston Marathon Bombing, etc.). But I also witnessed the resilience of an industry that services a vital global business infrastructure as well a growing leisure market. By creating a virtual community for...

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Rotten Wi-Fi ‘watchdog’

By Barbara DeLollis We all have stories about poor quality or non-functioning Wi-Fi when on the road trying to communicate and get work done, right? So, if you’re like me, you’ll be just as curious as I was about a new app called “Rotten WiFi.” The iOS version hit Apple’s app store the first week of April; Android users will find a version next month. The free app hopes to do for public Wi-Fi providers what sites such as TripAdvisor and Yelp have done for hotels and restaurants. It operates on the basic premise that people who have had...

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