1998 travel companion.

Author:Withers, A.L.
Position:African American business travel is increasing - Special Advertising Section

African-Americans are hitting the road, flying the friendly skies more than ever. And the industry is responding to this demand. Hotels, airlines, even convention and visitors bureaus are creating special packages and promotions to target the black business traveler to get to your destination, from booking flights and making room reservations on the Internet to working on the road and keeping in touch with the office. And African-American travelers are taking advantage of all the new innovations in travel.

Conventions & Beyond

According to the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA), African-Americans attend more conventions than any other group. Atlanta understands how important black convention business is. According to Kathleen Bertrand, vice president of Member and Community Affairs of the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB), the city promotes to black meeting planners. Recent conventions hosted by the city include the African American Women on Tour. Coming up is the bi-annual National Black Arts Festival (NBAF), and the NAACP will host its annual conference there this year, something it hasn't done since 1962. The city works closely with planners to network with local black businesses. In fact, the ACVB convinced the NBAF to reschedule to coincide with the NAACP event. "Attendees can go to the festival and we're doing lots of cross promotions with the two," says Bertrand. Another great outlet is the city's Resource Center, where callers can find out about shows, restaurants, conventions, hotel info, as well as discounts, such as Atlanta's two annual promotions-"Celebrate The Holidays" in winter and "Celebrate The Summer."

The annual African-American visitors guide, Heritage Guide, is another networking resource. The bi-monthly Atlanta Now guide also includes a section of African-American interests. Then there's the website, on which the Heritage Guide is posted.

Sitting Pretty On American Airlines

The next time you take a seat on an American Airlines flight, you'll be a little bit more comfortable. The company's made the largest seat order in its 67-year history. All new seats will be installed systemwide by the year 2000. Not only will first- and business-class be enhanced, coach gets new high-quality seats as well. American also increased seat pitch, equaling 75% more legroom. Seat recline also increased.

There were other innovations for the carrier. One being its new NetSAAver website, through which travelers can save up 70%-80% off ticket prices. American also created an Urban and Community Relations division to build relationships with African-American corporations, travel agencies and meeting planners. Through the division American recently signed a three-year deal with the Links, Inc., an African-American professional women's organization, as its carrier.

The British Are Coming

Business travelers apparently like flying on British Airways (BA), so much so they ranked the carrier number one. BA isn't resting on its laurels. it announced incentives to get more passengers in their seats. The carrier reintroduced its popular "Long Weekender" deeply discounted fare to London. The deal lasts through March 31. This is just one of BA's promotions. This winter, business class, first or Concorde passengers to London and beyond earn a free ticket to anywhere. BA's "Ticket to the World" offer ends January 31 st. The free economy ticket will be usable on BA flights or its partners, Alaska Airlines, American...

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