The main thing my family doesn't like about this game is the displacement of reporters. It ends up with a couple of players upping the ante by $100 until one gives up or runs out of money.
I was thinking of instituting a system where a player wanting to displace a reporter would need to submit a 'best and final offer', then everyone gets one bid to use that space, ending with the player of the displaced reporter. That is, each player gets one bid to use the space as of the first displacement attempt.
>> a player wanting to displace a reporter would need to submit a 'best and final offer', then everyone gets one bid to use that space, ending with the player of the displaced reporter
This would certainly reduce the 'back-and-forth' nature of the $100 incremental bidding that your family dislikes. However, it would also prevent the tactic of slowly draining the finances of a rival player so that you can switch your bid to another space which you want more strongly. Such a tactic (if done properly) prevent players who build up a big money reserve from getting the best rewards from the board.
Over-bidding another player by just $100 is not sensible play if you really want a space. The reason is that if another player then overbids you by $100, your next bid has to be $200 greater. It is far better to make a realistic bid and to give up the space if overbid.
What is a reasonable bid? Well, it clearly depends on the game situation. But typically, I value each card in a city at $100 and hope to pay just under or over the odds for a set of cards. But never grossly over the odds.
So if London (say) has 5 cards on offer, their face value is $500. So a bid of $400 should secure them (but might not). If I really wanted them, I would bid $500 straight off, because I wouldn't want to pay $600.
Of course, this assumes that the other players do not let me get the cards as a ridiculously low price. Anyone who bids $100 for 5 cards is taking the mickey.* Non-one should let them get away with that!
*Note, actually this is a good tactic for getting your reporter back so you can place him later in the round. This allows you to suddenly switch to another part of the board and take your opponents by surprise.
So, as a variant rule, to prevent players making opening bids of $100 and then upping the ante $100 at a time, I suggest you overcome this by insisting on a minimum bid for a set of cards. The minimum bid should probably be (say) the number of cards less $200 (so, for 5 cards, minimum bid of $300).
An alternative variant would be to return $100 less to any player who is overbid. So, if I bid $300 and get overbid, I only get $200 back. That would ensure sensible opening bids (but prevent the subtle tactics I described at the start of this post). You may need to increase everyone's income by $100 to compensate, however, for such losses.
Please note that I have not playtested either of these ideas, since our games have not suffered from the incremental bidding you describe.
I hope this gives you some ideas that allow you to enjoy the game more.