1999 Traveler's Companion.

Position:22nd Annual Caribbean Tourism Conference
 
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Business Travel, Affinity Travel, Vacation Travel and just plain wanderlust are all key factors in the ever-increasing number of African-Americans who travel. Popular destinations are many and include locales in the United States, Europe, Asia, Africa, South America and the Caribbean. The travel industry has recognized the 450 billion buying power of African-Americans.

One trend, recently discussed at the 22nd Annual Caribbean Tourism Conference held in Jamaica in September 1998, is to design travel programs to appeal to the diverse African-American Market. Travel professionals expect this trend to become even more evident as we move into the new Millennium.

With the upswing in the number of African-Americans travelers along with the recognized African-American buying power, travel providers are offering more diverse products. Some of these products are specifically geared to the African-American traveler and are tailored for the destination. It is quite common to find options, such as:

* Historical & Cultural Tours

* Art & Museum Shows

* Festivals and other Entertainment Events

* Sports and Recreation Events

The savvy traveler gathers brochures, uses Internet sites and/or a good travel agent to preview vacation locale attractions and offerings. Many festivals and events are time dependent; advance research will enable those interested in a specific event to ensure that their arrival will correspond to the event date. Convention and Visitors Bureaus are excellent sources for destination and special event information.

THE VIRTUAL OFFICE

The last few years has seen a refinement of the amenities needed and demanded by the sophisticated Business Traveler. The increase in hotels offering specific configurations for the business traveler is steadily rising. It is very common to find hotels in all price categories and all cities offering: data ports for computers, fax/copy services and airline and car rental affinity discounts for the business traveler.

Conveniences and services that a few years ago were pegged as what we could expect in the next century are available now. Many hotel Business Centers offer computer workstations, internet access, e-mail accounts, printers, desktop publishing and even technical support for guests. With all of these available services, plus the equipment the traveling business person carries, productivity while on the road can equal or exceed that in the office.

Business Travelers have developed specific travel expertise. They know the "How To" of getting around airports, cities and hotels. They have identified the quickest routes, the best ground transportation options, the best places to get travel information and the hotels that work best for them.

Many African-American professionals travel extensively. Their use of the virtual office has become common place. The latest technology devices, including wireless modems, integrated pagers, message centers and cell phones are all used to conduct business while traveling. According to Computer Reseller Magazine (US), "IBM's ThinkPad 600 is a tour de force of design and technology" Whether accessing your company's resources, or running demanding applications, people on the go need a machine that brings it all together.

REMINDERS FOR THE EXPERIENCED BUSINESS TRAVELERS:

* Consider membership in Airline Mileage Programs and Airline Membership Clubs. There is nothing better than spending a four hour layover in the comfort of an Airline Membership Club as opposed to waiting at the gate. In fact, many executives chair meetings at the Clubs. Routinely found at most Clubs are data ports, copy services, computers, on-line services, conference rooms, telephones and other business amenities, plus beverages and television.

* Carry an extra (or two) modular telephone...

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