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A P R I L 2 0 1 6 ⎜ ConventionSouth ⎜ w w w . c o n v e n t i o n s o u t h . c o m 7 headlines, trends & ideas Rising Corporate Travel Costs Push Per Diems Upward A new facial scanning technique could help travelers move through the boarding process more quickly at airports. Unveiled in mid-March by SITA, a global firm specializing in air transport IT and communications, the new Smart Path technology uses a biometric test that captures an individual's unique biological traits via facial scans. When passengers check in and board a plane, their identity is verified by a biometric check and a secure biometric token is generated. Once verified, they are allowed to travel without showing boarding passes, passports or other travel documents at each step of their journeys but are instead allowed access via a facial scan that is checked against the token. According to Matthys Serfontein, Airport Solutions vice president at SITA, the Smart Path technology can be integrated with existing airport infrastruc- ture and airline systems as well as government databases to enable easy immigration and border checks. n Facial Scanning Technology Speeds Up Boarding Process The average U.S. per diem rate for hotels, rental cars and meals went up by 3.9 percent in 2015 to $318.80 and is expected to stay at that level or continue upward in 2016, according to the Business Travel Network (BTN) 2016 Corporate Travel Index. This measurement, based on 100 cities across the country, was $306.91 in 2014. Average hotel rates for corporate travelers, which increased by 5.6 percent (to $172.80) in 2015, were the biggest factor in the overall rise in the per diem rate. Several cities, such as Bos- ton, Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles and Detroit, experienced double-digit increases in corporate hotel rates. Although 12 Southern cities were among the 35 with the largest per diem costs, none of them had double-digit hotel price in- creases. Based on input from Starwood Hotels & Re- sorts, Marriott International and Hilton World- wide, corporate rates for 2016 have already increased somewhat as of mid-March, according to the BTN report, which indicated that a seller's market continues to prevail. There was little change in the average corpo- rate car rental rate during 2015. According to the report, it moved up just .7 percent (to $47.12 per day) and is expected to stay at about the same level in 2016. Increases in average daily dining costs were also small (1.9 percent), bringing this measure- ment to $98.74. At the same time, overall corpo- rate dining expenditures increased by 7.1 percent in 2015, according to Dinova, a corporate dining network. A Portable Safe With Key & Combo Access Meeting professionals seeking a convenient way to prevent theft of valuable items as they travel might want to check out SAFEGO, a portable and lightweight travel safe and custom combination lockbox. Designed to be durable and prevent theft, SAFEGO functions as both an outdoor key safe and a custom-combination lockbox. Whether outside exercising, traveling, in a hotel room or on the beach, travelers can take SAFEGO along, attach it to anything, put belongings inside, lock it and feel secure that smartphones, keys, cash, wallets, cameras, sunglasses, jewelry and other items are safe. Features include: • Combination + Key Access: the lock mechanism is rust-resistant, made of nickel-plated Zamack, a zinc alloy. • Ear Plug Opening: lets users listen to mu- sic and keep electronics protected from weather or hazardous conditions. • Made of splash-resistant and impact-re- sistant materials. For more information, visit safego.us. n Per Diem Costs In Southern Cities The following cities in the South ranked among the top 35 in the U.S. in terms of average per diem costs Rank City Hotel Car Food Total 3. Washington, D.C. $245.81 $44.07 $121.21 $411.09 16. Miami $209.51 $43.68 $112.14 $365.33 18. Austin, Texas $209.49 $49.96 $103.80 $363.25 19. Houston $200.12 $51.75 $111.31 $363.18 20. Baltimore $207.24 $49.21 $103.58 $360.03 22. New Orleans $204.18 $45.69 $98.52 $348.39 24. Nashville $203.32 $45.65 $96.46 $345.43 25. Atlanta $187.61 $47.53 $110.29 $345.43 27. Dallas $183.47 $50.63 $107.45 $341.55 30. Charleston, S.C. $186.35 $46.25 $98.17 $330.77 32. Charlotte, N.C. $184.94 $46.29 $98.12 $329.35 24. Fort Lauderdale, Fla. $176.22 $42.50 $108.11 $326.83