A recent study by an outfit called Mintel (which sounds like a candy you’d find on your pillow at your hotel but is actually a global market-research firm) predicts cloudy days ahead for lodging and air travel in 2010: a 2 percent drop in sales. The silver lining for travelers, of course, is the promise of continued deals and discounts. Other analysts agree with Mintel, reports the Seattle Times. Deloitte & Touche says that “with hotels fighting to hold their rates as much as possible, they may offer an additional free night, complimentary spa treatment or discounted meals. For its part, the airline industry is also boosting incentives.” For more details, check out the article in the Seattle Times, which offers advice on where to find bargains in the “year of the deal.”
A virtual wrinkle in newspaper advertising. If you do click to read the Seattle Times article at the paper’s Web site, you’ll be doing what more and more readers are doing these days: getting your news online. The trend has driven many papers (including the Seattle Post-Intelligencer) to stop the presses and cease publication of their print editions. The trend has also driven up the cost of ads in online publications. This is a problem for small businesses. Say you own a Seattle coffeehouse and want to attract new customers. You may soon have no print daily in which to place an ad. And, on the other hand, you may be unable to afford a flashy display ad and place it in your local online paper. Now you can. Forbes reports on a new service called Flyboard, which makes it easy — and affordable — for small businesses to put together their own online display ads and reach their local clientele.
Need a loan? Think small. President Obama is returning to his community activist roots. Sizing up the loan-jam at big banks, he’s planning to open the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program to community banks. The new policy would allow community banks to borrow money at low rates from TARP and loan it out to small businesses that are starving for capital. Until now, the administration’s primary effort to aid small business has been the America’s Recovery Capital program, which is beleaguered by tortuous paperwork, a low loan ceiling and stringent qualification rules. In spite of these limitations, early analysis of ARC loans shows that community banks are far more interested in extending credit to small businesses than large banks. Obama’s policy change is designed to make it easier for community banks to keep doing that — and do more of it.
Tim Devaney has been a senior editor at Red Herring, Industry Standard, and San Francisco magazines, and editor-in-chief at the Berkeley Monthly and Peninsula magazine. He currently handles marketing communications for Working Assets, a long-distance, wireless, and credit card company in San Francisco.
Tom Stein has contributed to leading business and general interest publications including Wired Magazine, Business 2.0, Venture Capital Journal, and Tennis Magazine. Previously, he held staff-writer positions at the San Francisco Chronicle, Red Herring, and InformationWeek. He also was a senior editor at Success Magazine, where he covered some of the most unusual and utterly unique entrepreneurial companies in the world.