Archive for » February 17th, 2012«

A Rate Sleuth That Makes Rental Car Companies Squirm

We are distant from vital in that world, alas. In a final integrate of columns, we’ve called out automobile insurers that don’t tell we when you’re entitled to a 50 percent reward cut and created about a continued culture of obfuscation in automobile shopping.

But there is a spark of wish in carland, and it exists in a many doubtful place: automobile rentals, an attention famous mostly for pulling word and charging $9 a gallon for gasoline.

A small online engagement engine called AutoSlash, however, offers a following promise: Book giveaway on a site, and a integrate of times a day until your transport date it will hunt for coupons or reduce rates. If it succeeds, it rebooks we automatically. AutoSlash claims success 85 percent of a time, a statistic innate out by my possess knowledge regulating it for all of my possess rentals.

The greeting in some corners of a attention has been something like revulsion. Enterprise, that owns National and Alamo, won’t let AutoSlash uncover a cars and wouldn’t contend why. Avis, that owns Budget, also steers transparent and offering some handicapped logic that I’ll explain below.

Hertz and a association behind Dollar and Thrifty are still personification ball, however, along with discounters like Fox. It’s adequate to make AutoSlash my initial and usually stop for automobile let booking. Using a use feels most subversive, generally when airlines nickel and dime we for any series of services and imagination hotels wish $10 a day for Internet access.

But it’s a story behind AutoSlash’s presentation that is so revealing: an attention with primitive manners sets itself adult to have a third celebration bluster a firmness of a prices. And when it happens, a attention — automobile let companies and their partners — conflict by doing their pinnacle to keep consumers from removing a good deals.

AutoSlash competence not exist yet for a fact that automobile let companies mostly let we change or cancel reservations as most as we wish and decrease to reprove we if we don’t uncover adult to collect adult your car. And travelers don’t uncover adult in droves — 20 percent of a time, according to a longtime attention consultant, Neil Abrams.

So since don’t they change a rules? Mr. Abrams pronounced it was since executives in a attention lacked a correct resolve. “It is mind-boggling,” he said. “Even New York restaurants ask for a credit label when we make a reservation. It’s a freaking steak, as against to a $20,000 vehicle.”

Enter Jonathan Weinberg, AutoSlash’s 42-year-old co-founder. His father worked in record for United Airlines and once took him to Kennedy Airport in New York to lay wire underneath a general arrivals building.

The younger Weinberg’s career includes a army handling Radio Shacks and a near-death experience directly next a aeroplane impact section in a South Tower of a World Trade Center. He after got behind to transport while consulting for a association called Airfarewatchdog. The suspicion for AutoSlash came from his mom in Florida, who suspicion there was a business in all of a automobile let rate sleuthing he did before visiting her.

He bending adult with a partner, Mike Miller, and they built a site with only $25,000, pulling behind a screen in 2010. AutoSlash earns income around commissions from Travelocity, that runs AutoSlash’s engagement engine in a credentials yet not a exclusive understanding sport software.

So far, AutoSlash has requisitioned some-more than 100,000 rentals. As for that 85 percent figure — a commission of time that users grasp some assets — roughly half a time a cost cut formula from AutoSlash requesting coupons that we could have found yourself. The beauty here, however, is that we don’t have to.

Total contingent assets after any and all cost cuts averages around 25 percent for people who have requisitioned during slightest a integrate of weeks forward of their transport date. Last-minute bookings give a association reduction time to find improved deals.

All of this creates let automobile companies and full-service online transport agencies flounder uncomfortably. When we asked Enterprise since it won’t let AutoSlash book reservations for a brands, it sent me an e-mail statement. “We make decisions about where to concentration a online selling efforts formed on a accumulation of criteria,” it read. “Currently, we do not feel that AutoSlash is a good fit for us.”

When we asked about a criteria and a fit, a association went radio silent.

Mr. Weinberg has had several such discussions with vital players, and one of them (he wouldn’t tell me who) simply told him indicate blank, “We don’t wish a patron to get a bonus for doing nothing.”

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Business transport aids increase during Hyatt, Marriott

Fri Feb 17, 2012 5:30am EST

(Reuters) – An boost in business transport increased quarterly distinction during Hyatt Hotels Corp, though a association pronounced potentially discouraging mercantile factors done forecasting difficult.

“There are still intensity headwinds in a short-term from both Europe and a severe financing services sector,” Chief Executive Mark Hoplamazian pronounced during a discussion call on Thursday.

Travel by a financial services industry, that has been slicing jobs, accounts for some-more than 10 percent of Hyatt’s revenue.

The company, that is creation poignant renovations during several pivotal hotels, pronounced organisation direct from companies strengthened in a fourth entertain though counsel persisted.

A business-led liberation has helped lift occupancy rates and given a hotel attention pricing power. Still, debility in Europe has weighed on general results.

Hyatt (H.N) saw fourth-quarter normal daily rates stand from a year progressing and pronounced income per accessible room, or revPAR, was adult 6 percent during owned and leased hotels open during slightest a year. RevPAR is a pivotal magnitude of health in a hotel industry.

Morningstar researcher Chad Mollman pronounced his organisation expects revPAR expansion to come underneath vigour since of a hurdles in Europe as good as rising gasoline prices that can take a fee on transport by automobile in a United States.

He pronounced expansion in revPAR slowed in a fourth entertain from a third entertain for both Hyatt and opposition Marriott International (MAR.N), that posted quarterly formula late Wednesday .

Hyatt pronounced that in North America, fourth-quarter revPAR gained 6.5 percent during full-service hotels and was adult 5.5 percent during select-service hotels that offer singular food and splash outlets. International revPAR rose 2.9 percent.

Net income during Hyatt was $52 million, or 31 cents a share, in a quarter, compared with $6 million, or 3 cents a share, a year earlier. The latest entertain enclosed a $28 million advantage tied to income taxes.

Analysts approaching 13 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue rose 8 percent to $990 million, compared with $1 billion approaching by analysts.

Marriott, whose brands embody Ritz-Carlton and Residence Inn, extended a before foresee for 2012 revPAR expansion and pronounced organisation business seemed to be stronger for 2012.

“When we went into 2011, a engagement gait was adult about 2 percent,” pronounced Marriott mouthpiece Laura Paugh. “Going into 2012, a engagement gait is adult 9 percent, so that’s a poignant improvement.”

Hyatt’s shares gained 0.8 percent, or 33 cents, to $43.17 in New York Stock Exchange trading, while Marriott slipped 7 cents to $34.66.

(Reporting by Karen Jacobs; Editing by Derek Caney, Maureen Bavdek and John Wallace)

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On-road fund-raising: Worth a risk to tyro safety?

Q: we need to prologue my doubt with a matter that we am not opposite any sold organisation or their excellent fund-raising activities. However, we have a regard with a ostensible boost in several groups collecting income during highway intersections. Over a years we have seen teenagers collecting supports during a intersection of Route 512 and Blue Valley Drive in Washington Township. Sometimes they mount in a center of a highway and along a curbs collecting donations. I’ve seen several nearby misses with cars interlude abruptly to dump income in a bucket. The teenagers transport in a highway though contemplative reserve vests and are hardly visible. Is this legal, and if so, are there any restrictions? To me, it seems to be an collision watchful to occur with one wrong step or one dreaming driver.

— Steve Schupen, Roseto


Q: What’s a story with Bethlehem permitting people to appeal supports during dual of a busiest and many dangerous intersections in a city? I’m articulate about a people with buckets who transport in a center of a street, mostly adult and down a yellow line or between automobile lanes, during Five Points and during Third and Wyandotte streets. These people are a bother and a danger. They’ve been there on rainy, snowy, icy weekends when a pushing was already challenging. It seems this is open panhandling, and a risk to a pushing public, not to discuss a people holding a buckets. How can this be legal?

— Andrea Wittchen, Lower Saucon Township


A: Al Skeath of Allentown also emailed recently, disturbed about a reserve of pedestrians soliciting roadside donations, and also about probable effects on trade flow: “Can we suppose if thousands of nonprofit organizations motionless to have roadside fund-raisers?”

It is a defilement of Pennsylvania law for people to mount in a transport soliciting donations, or to transport into a transport to collect income proffered by motorists or passengers. Other states have identical prohibitions.

Municipal officials I’ve talked to about this emanate contend their process is for military officers to intervene, interlude a use when they see it, and infrequently they do — Whitehall military admonished a Penn State tyro in this demeanour during a Dec fund-raiser — though to my experience, coercion seems occasionally during best. Some officers substantially are hesitant, for a same reason we felt a need for a prologue to your question, Steve.

One of a many inclusive and manifest on-street fund-raisers is a THON debate conducted by Penn State students, billed as a largest student-run hospitality in a world, carrying lifted some-more than $78 million for pediatric cancer investigate given 1977 — scarcely half of it a final 6 years. An annual dance marathon (hence a name) and other money-raising methods minister to a tally, though officials have pronounced 30 to 40 percent of a income comes from a street-side effort, famous as “canning.”

Obviously this is a worthy enterprise. But we tremble each time we see a immature people out there, risking life and limb, however eminent a cause. Under THON rules, they’re not ostensible to enter a transport to collect donations, though mostly they do so. Normally they wait for vehicles to come to a hindrance during a intersection, though a timing’s not always perfect. I’ve seen canners scurrying opposite lanes as a trade is entrance to a stop — solemnly and sequentially, all a cars don’t stop during once — and when a cars are starting to accelerate again after a light turns green.

Today’s normal automobile speeds and a fact that heavily trafficked roads extend a biggest event for remunerative collections make for a conditions diligent with danger, mostly for a canners.

The student-run nonprofit THON classification provides reserve recommendations for canners, advising a students to wear bright, manifest clothing, lift current Penn State identification, arrangement central THON signs, and obtain metropolitan permits when necessary. Students are told not to appeal in a center of streets or intersections, or when it’s dark. They’re also educated to examination a state Vehicles Law as summarized in a THON Rulebook.

Penn State mouthpiece Jill Shockey pronounced a THON organization, and a university, have ceaselessly stressed a need for students who proffer for canning to take all applicable reserve precautions. Canning scheduled for a weekend of Jan. 21 was deferred until this weekend since continue reports had likely dangerous transport conditions, she said. That movement followed a Dec trade collision in that a THON proffer was killed and several others harmed while roving to a canning location.

THON also torqued adult a reserve bid in Jan with a new process requiring volunteers to attend a reserve seminar to validate for canning. A THON news recover announcing a module said, “Simply, we wish to improved surprise students in sequence to safeguard protected and authorised fundraising.”

Hopefully a workshops will help. For one thing, The Morning Call photographs from a THON canning mark in Bethlehem in Dec exhibit that some of a students wore gray sweatshirts and jeans, discordant to a bright-colored wardrobe recommendation. we would advise that THON strike a gas harder, creation PennDOT-sanctioned bright-green contemplative vests compulsory outerwear for all canners. That would cost a few bucks — 15,000 students went canning in Dec — though a vests could be defended and reused by destiny volunteers.

For a longer term, here’s a challenge: The Penn State village should use a immeasurable good of artistic appetite to detect a safe, effective swap process for lifting this critical investigate money. Shockey pronounced she’s wakeful of no tyro carrying been strike by a automobile and severely harmed in some 35 years of canning — appreciate goodness. Nevertheless, a use as I’ve seen it, and as today’s questioners have seen it, seems inherently unsafe.

THON students are justifiably unapproachable of their fund-raising accomplishments, as are their families. “THON is one stately instance of what Penn State represents by a many critical item — students, not football, not coaches,” Robert Aylward of Allentown, father of a THON volunteer, pronounced in a Dec minute to a editor. The regard afterwards was that a new spate of disastrous broadside suffered by this good university competence suppress contributions.

There’s a distant larger regard slow on a transport lanes each time THON canners drive their approach to an intersection nearby we — including this weekend. Keep an eye out for a immature folks, associate warriors. Having been immature ourselves, we know how simply mistakes can be made.

Road Warrior appears Mondays and Fridays, and a Warrior blogs during Email questions about roadways, trade and transportation, with your name and a municipality where we live, to, or write to Road Warrior, Box 1260, Allentown, PA 18105-1260.

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Lacey Pate Poker Run in its third year

It’s hard to find clothes that fit her neck, she said.

One symptom of her illness is a wider neck. It’s wide enough to fit her smile, though, which has won the hearts of a lot of off-roaders.

She doesn’t travel off-road, herself. When she travels, it’s out of state to a doctor or hospital.

Medical trips are expensive, which is why The Jacked-Up Jeep Club holds its annual Lacey Pate Poker Run to help her.

The next one is Saturday.

Lacey Pate of Auburndale has King Syndrome, a congenital muscle tissue disease that deforms the spine, skeleton and facial features, according to the National Institutes for Health at

Her mother, Tammy Pate, said Lacey is the third child in the United States diagnosed with the disease.

It was hard to find financial help. Much like her clothes, Lacey doesn’t “fit.”

There aren’t any foundations specifically for her disease, Tammy Pate said.

Lacey, who also suffers from arthrogryposis (contracted joints and hearing loss), has been in hospitals regularly since birth — in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Orlando, Seattle and San Antonio.

Soon, she will have her 31st surgery in Texas, Tammy Pate said.

It was surgery in Texas that helped her breathe.

Lacey’s spine was putting pressure on her lungs. A doctor in San Antonio anchored a titanium rod from her pelvis to her collar bone to bend her spine and relieve the pressure, her mom said.

After surgeries, Lacey “walks” with her older sister Lorann, 16, who pulls her around hospital corridors in a wagon.

Lorann, a high school student also taking classes at Polk State College, said she hopes to go into neonatal medicine herself — to help children like her sister.

Lacey, in turn, loves math and science, and enjoys going to Stambaugh Middle School like her sister did.

While she can’t stand up and be out and about too long, she enjoys playing GameBoy, taking pictures, reading and singing in the children’s choir at the The Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ in Eagle Lake.

Her father, Tim Pate, often carries all 70 pounds of her into worship services.

Although he may not do that much longer, “he needs the exercise,” Lacey said.

Lacey usually gets around in an electric wheelchair, although not in their neighborhood, her mother said, because the pavement is too rough.

For Lacey, constant hospital and doctor visits are normal, but she takes some encouragement from a line in “Facing the Giant,” a movie shown at their church.

“When we win, we praise him. When we lose, we praise him,” Lacey said.

Her mom said that’s how they see the surgery.

“It’s between God and the surgeon,” Tammy Pate said. “That’s why she’s alive.”

Medical trips cost as much as $6,000 for flights, hotels and oxygen. Tammy Pate said they can’t use the Ronald McDonald House in Texas or Washington because they are for in-state residents.

So she books hotels, which gets pricey in downtown San Antonio, she said.

They have gotten help over the years. Christy Carter at Bartow Ford organized a fundraiser in 2003, and often asks listeners on local radio to donate frequent flyer miles to the family.

Jake Bratten, called “Jester” in The Jacked Up Jeep Club, said Lacey’s is the only poker run they organize.

The first run in 2010 raised $7,600 – $3,300 of which was funds raised by friends in California, he said.

In 2011 they raised only $3,200 but that’s still a large amount for Lacey, he said.

“No matter how much we raise, it’s more money than they had,” Bratten said.

He prefers helping a local person to raising funds for a big disease foundation.

“Three thousand dollars is a pebble against a giant (for a big charity),” he said, “but to someone local, this can change their year.”

The family attended the first year’s event, watching as mud-covered Jeeps rode in, Tammy Pate said.

“I drew for the raffle,” Lacey said.

The family said it warms their hearts that people who don’t know them reach out to help, and that Bratten organized the event after meeting once with Lacey’s uncle.

He kept helping after losing his left leg at the hip.

Just a couple of weeks after the first poker run – Feb. 23, 2010 – Bratten was driving to work at the Avon Park Police Department when he got in a wreck.

When the family heard about it, they all knelt and prayed, including Lacey.

Bratten is on disability retirement now, so he runs his shop full-time – Jester Offroad parts and accessories – but he still organizes the ride.

“For him to continue giving to others is incredible,” Time Pate said.

Anyone can sign up for the event, Bratten said, no matter what vehicle they drive: “It’s all for Lacey.”

Registration for the ride begins at 11 a.m. Saturday at Somewhere Bar Grill, 5688 Cypress Gardens Blvd. in Winter Haven: $25 per participant.

It ends at 5 p.m. at Sorenson Schade Chrysler Dodge Jeep, 21529 U.S. 27 in Lake Wales, with trophies, prizes and food.

To donate or help, contact Bratten at 863-412-2239 or

Phil Attinger may be reached at 863-401-6981 or

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European woes would harm US transport industry


Europe’s pain is a pain, too, a new investigate says.

If Europe’s economy worsens, U.S. transport industries such as airlines, hotels, car-rental companies and restaurants will see a downturn, too, according to a Global Business Travel Association.

“This information serves as a wake-up call to a whole attention as we watch European policymakers work to enclose a debt crisis,” pronounced Michael McCormick, executive executive during GBTA.

“While these problems are function abroad, they many positively can have an outcome during home. We’ve seen a resurgence in business transport investment, definition delayed though clever mercantile liberation for a U.S.” he said. “However, in a critical conditions where a eurozone competence even mangle apart, business transport would dump dramatically, exceedingly stopping mercantile expansion overall.”

Business transport is a heading mercantile indicator of pursuit expansion – or loss.

“No one unequivocally seems to know what a financial fallout competence be,” pronounced Joe Bates, comparison executive of investigate during GBTA. “If we see business transport start to suffer, that’s an indicator that a economy is also suffering. If transport increases, afterwards a following entertain practice is approaching to increase.”

The worst-case unfolding – a critical predicament in Europe that leads to widespread debt, bank failures, or even a retraction of a European Union – could cut into business transport spending by as most as $88 billion, according to a study.

“We would see a tellurian retrogression on standard with what happened in 2008,” Mr. Bates said.

In reduction critical scenarios – if, for example, Italy, Spain and France default on their debt – a enlarged European retrogression would squash U.S. business travel. Trips competence be cut by 42 million rides, or 5 percent. Spending could decrease by $40 billion, or 7 percent.

“If things get a small bit worse, and we see a some-more critical retrogression in Europe, afterwards it will have an impact,” Mr. Bates said.

If European leaders, however, can enclose a debt predicament and emerge from a ephemeral recession, as projected, U.S. business transport would boost somewhat to 443 million trips in 2012 and 443 million trips in 2013, with spending flourishing to $263 billion in 2012 and $277 billion in 2013.

“As prolonged as things don’t get worse than they are now, we’ll be fine,” Mr. Bates said. “It won’t means a retrogression here or a problem with business transport spending in a U.S.”

“There’s a lot of people articulate about a sky falling,” he added. “Well, it’s not. Things are not good in Europe. But if it doesn’t get any worse, things are going to be excellent in a United States, and in fact, we’ll see growth.”

Rising fuel prices have stirred U.S. airlines to lift prices in new days by about $10 per round-trip ticket.

© Copyright 2012 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

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