Travel Management Travel News Vacation Travel

Car Rental Companies – Covering It All

With the recent announcement of Hertz purchasing Dollar & Thrifty, all three major car rental companies now cover everything from corporate business to leisure travel business. The purchase announced earlier this week is in the amount of $1.17 billion in cash and stock. The purchase of Dollar & Thrifty will significantly expand the vacation/leisure portion of their business.
Hertz is already the world’s largest car rental company by locations and with this latest transaction it boosts their total to 9,800. “Together we will be able to compete even more effectively and efficiently against other multi-brand car rental companies, offering customers a full range of rental options in the U.S.,” Hertz CEO Mark Frissora said in a statement.
The three major U.S. car rental companies, each with two or more large brands are Hertz, Enterprise Holdings Inc. (Enterprise & National) and the Avis Budget Group. Enterprise Holdings Inc. has 7,600 locations, the Avis Budget Group has 6,900 and Hertz now has 9,800.
Competition is always the name of the game and Monday’s announcement comes after the Avis Budget consolidation in 2002 and Enterprise’s acquisition of Alamo and National in 2007. Advertising, marketing and commercials seem to be on the increase as well, follow these links for a little entertainment (some old, some new). To rent your next car, contact Christopherson Andavo Travel at 801.327.7700 or 303.740.3000

Travel News Travel Technology

A Deal for iPhone Users, Don’t Wait

Some Lonely Planet City Guides Free Through 11:59 (GMT)
Some good has come from the Icelandic volcano eruption that has caused chaos for European travelers, as Lonely Planet have decided to cut the price of all their City Guide iPhone applications from $14.50 to absolutely zero! This offer has been in place for a few days, but you still have a chance to grab the apps, as it expires at 11:59 (GMT) on Thursday 22nd April.
These apps are darn good. They offer location aware, interactive maps which can be used both online and offline, a mass of images, points of interest, reviews, travel information and the option to favorite places you must visit.
The cities covered by the Lonely Planet Guides include:
* London
* Paris
* Rome
* Vienna
* Moscow
* Amsterdam
* Munich
* Vancouver
There are several others inside the App Store too, so take a look around and grab whichever you need ready for a future holiday!
Search for Lonely Planet. Go to all LP apps. “Buy” all the free ones. The updates should be free for you over time too.

Travel Management Travel News

Travel Agent Creates Ways to Get Travelers Home Despite the Odds!

Back in July 2009 a colleague mentioned Christopherson Travel’s “amazing” agents,” answering the question of why a large majority of travelers continue to work with experienced, knowledgeable, and professional agents rather than book online themselves.
This time however, Jack Cunniff who was the focus of the above blog was interviewed and talked about on Salt Lake City’s KSL radio by Mary Richards.
Jack talked about travelers dilemmas in dealing with the volcano disruptions of flights in Europe and getting them back home. How he creatively arranged flights home from Ethiopia for a client who found out his wife was going to deliver their baby—soon. His Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt was cancelled so Jack found all the open airports—Cairo, to Rome, to Madrid—where he will catch the last flight to Atlanta, Salt Lake, and then home. Jack continued with his agent expertise by flying another traveler out of Moscow across the Pacific. His colleague who didn’t want to join the traveler is sitting in Moscow! Jack is working on others to get them back home. It will be interesting to see what he comes up with next.
Thanks, Jack, we appreciate all your hard work as you exemplify the importance of making flight arrangements through a skilled, professional travel agent. It is truly above and beyond the service fee charged!!

Business Travel Travel Technology

A Peek “Behind the Curtain” at the Coolest Mobile Travel Apps

Mobile computing is increasingly becoming an inexorable part of our every day lives. And travel is no different. As business and leisure travelers are trading schlepping their laptops for their Blackberries, iPhones or Droids in droves, a new wave of mobile travel apps are flooding the marketplace.
Here’s a quick peep at 5 travel apps that are truly making lives easier and more fun for the modern day traveler:
#5. Seat Guide. Couldn’t let a “Top 5” list escape without at least one seat guide and this one tops the list. With over 100 airlines and over 1,200 aircraft cataloged, you now have access to information on the best or more importantly the worst seats before making your seat choice on your next flight.
#4. Gate Guru. Ever find yourself wondering where to get a decent meal at an airport? Not sure if it’s before or after security? Not sure where to find a souvenir on a long layover? Well, with Gate Guru fret no more! This user friendly airport guide is the most comprehensive up-to-date-in-airport guide available. Like Yelp but for airports!
#3. Flight Update. Flight Update allows you to enter any flight and track that flight’s status and location. With over 1,400 airlines in its data base, chances are the flight times, routing and gate information for the flight you need are there. Voted “ of the best apps of 2009” by Apple. A favorite for travelers AND professionals alike.
#2. Flightcaster.“Not another flight-tracking app..” you cringe? Well ….this app PREDICTS flight delays! How you ask?? It’s pretty simple really … “by deploying advanced algorithms that scour data on every domestic flight over the last 10 years and match it to real-time conditions”. See?
And ……..
#1. TripIt Pro. The only paid app on this list, TripIt Pro is a MUST HAVE app for anyone who travels more than once a month. Equal parts social networking, travel tracker and travel admin, it is the perfect app that helps manage the unpredictable nature of travel on the road. And Christopherson Business Travel now offers TripIt Pro at almost half the price currently being offered online!
For more information on our preferred TripIt Pro pricing or how apps and Christopherson’s travel technology tools are helping revoltionize the mobile travel landscape, contact one of our account managers or travel advisors today.

Travel News

Iceland Volcano Causes Europe Travel Chaos

A Cloud of Volcanic Ash Has Led To Airpace Closures All Over Europe
Airports across Europe were thrown into chaos today after ash drifting from Iceland’s erupting volcano caused several countries to close their airspace.
Smoke and steam hangs over the volcano under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier in Iceland. Early Thursday April 15, 2010, the valcano erupted for the second time in less than a month, melting ice, shooting smoke and steam into the air and forcing hundreds of people to flee rising floodwaters.

Travel News

“Slap in the face…”. Carry-on bag fees…really?

Really! Isn’t it amazing of all the work it takes just to carry on a bag?
On my last business trip I decided to carry on instead of checking because of fees. I figured it was easy enough to stroll my carry-on through security along with my laptop. Upon arriving to the security line I proceed to take out my liquids and put in a ziploc bag. Then i had to take out my laptop and put it in a separate bin. Don’t forget about the shoes and jacket! So here I am, 4 bins later and 2 hands walking through security. After surviving the security line I proceed to the gate. I check my ticket, I am zone 4 with a seat in the mid section of the airplane. As I walk down the aisle I notice, no where to put my bag. The previous zones, 1,2, and 3 have taken all of the spots. I have to walk all the way to the back of the airplane to park throw my bag up to the top of the bin. I workout, but let me say this, it was rough. I’m sure I didn’t look like the happiest traveler on the plane. And I couldn’t imagine what the mom with 4 kids would do. Not to mention paying for all of those carry-on bags.
So now they want to charge me for this??? Well one senator says he thinks this is a “slap in the face to travelers.”

Travel News

What will my flight really cost?

Links to airline baggage and meal fees
Since airlines began offering a la carte pricing for everything from checked baggage to in-flight meals, calculating the true cost of a trip has become decidedly more complicated. With no industry standard for the pricing of checked baggage and meals, the cost for these services varies widely – not only from one airline to the next, but from route to route and class to class.
Moreover, ancillary fees seem to be in a constant state of fluctuation. A traveler paying US$25 to check a first bag on one trip may find the fee has increased the next time he travels on that same route.
To assist travel managers and their travelers in sorting through the complicated pricing of meals and checked baggage, BCD Travel, which Christopherson Travel is their largest affiliate, has put together a comprehensive list of links to pages on individual carrier Web sites housing information on those services.
Please click here to view links to online information about in-flight meals and checked luggage for specific carriers or go to:
BCD Travel: Airline Baggage Fees PDF
Please feel free to contact your Christopherson Account Manager or ask your travel counselor for additional information.

Travel News

Would you sleep here?

Holiday Inn – England
Do you love it when your bed has that already-slept-in feeling? Then Holiday Inn is the hotel for you, friend. The chain is testing human bed-warmers at three locations in England. Request the service, and “a willing staff-member” will don a one-piece fleece sleeper suit and slip between your sheets, heating them to 68° Farenheit.
Sleep scientists say warming the bed should help guests nod off faster. It’s “a bit like having a giant hot water bottle in your bed,” a hotel spokesman tells Reuters—though, to clarify, the employee in the fleece suit will leave the bed before you sleep in it. Holiday Inn wouldn’t confirm whether the bed-warmers will shower first, but they will wear hair coverings.
Maya Hotel Floating Pyramid Island In Caribbean Sea
The $209 million Maya Hotel located south of Cancun, slated to open in 2010. This pyramid-shaped hotel will float in the crystal clear Caribbean waters with the help of a new composite material, normally used in the defense industry, which is billed as six times lighter and ten times stronger than steel.
The Exploranter is a 25-ton Scania truck and trailer which houses a lounge, a kitchen and 28-berth sleeping quarters. It takes you to the backroads of Brazil, places you won’t find in the glossy travel brochers. Launched by Falvio at São Paulo s adventure sports fair, and it is now one of the most unique traveling tours in the world.
Jumbo hostel
A must for aviation enthusiasts, the Jumbo hostel is the first aircraft in the world to be converted into a hotel. The former Pan American Boeing 747 parked near Arlanda Airport in Stockholm, Sweden holds 25 rooms, each with a bunk bed, an overhead luggage compartment and a flat-screen TV.  It opened for business in January 2009 charging $43 (350 SEK) a night for dorm beds to $410 (3300 SEK) a night for the best room on the plane — the cockpit.
Das Park Hotel
Das Park Hotel, located in Linz, Austria, consists of re-designed, durable standardized sewer pipes. Apparently, you reserve your room, and pay as you wish, and if you want additional services, like electricity, shower etc, then you “pay as you go” which is quite a novel idea. The hotel is open between May and October so if you fancy spending the night, somewhere unusual, and quirky then visit the Das Park Hotel.
Closer to home: Dog Bark Park Inn, Cottonwood Idaho
Dog Bark Park Inn is a bed & breakfast guesthouse inside the World’s Biggest Beagle. Guests enter the body of the beagle from a private 2nd story deck. Some of the dog’s decorative furnishings are carvings by Dog Bark Park chainsaw artists Dennis & Frances. Inside and up another level to the head of the dog is a loft room with additional sleeping space plus a cozy alcove in the muzzle.
At Dog Bark Park Inn sleeping in the doghouse is a good thing!

Travel Management Vacation Travel

Do It Yourself vs. Using A Full Service Agency

There are those who believe that booking travel is something that anyone can and should do.  There are those who believe that booking travel should be left in the hands of experts.  I think that both groups have some valid points however I think that those who believe that they should do their online bookings directly with the vendor and/or via a portal, such as Travelocity or Expedia or Orbitz are setting themselves up for problems. There is a great article that addresses some of the potential problems that happen far too frequently to those who do it themselves.
If one wants to book online, I would suggest that one does so through a full service travel agency, such as Christopherson Business Travel. The difference will be the level of service that the customer receives if there is a problem. Unlike the online booking portals, a full service agency can and will, offer personal service if a traveler makes a mistake when booking travel or has an issue arise while traveling. Additionally, if one is using a full service agency and discovers that the trip that they are planning is more complex than they first anticipated, they can reach a real agent who will be able to assist them. So by utilizing a full service agency, a traveler can have the best of booking online and having access to professional assistance when needed and/or desired.
For corporations, the equation to determine value vs. service fee costs, needs to include the hidden costs associated with booking online. Hidden costs include things like, lost productivity due to employees spending their time trying to book their travel, lost productivity when an employee books an impossible connection or the actual cost of paying a salesman or engineer or manager to sit and book a trip. If an employee is making $50,000 a year and spends 30 minutes booking a trip, that’s about $12.00 worth of that employees time spent booking travel and does not include any fee charged by the online booking tool. Then comes the issue of employees who either unknowingly or knowingly, book outside the travel policy and cost their company money. When booking with a full service agency, such as Christopherson Business Travel, we can customize our online booking tool to help enforce a company’s travel policy, which is something that Orbitz, et al, will do for smaller companies.
And if a company is doing lots of international travel, I would strongly suggest utilizing an agent given all the changes that have happened in the last year, the increasing numbers of countries requiring visas or passenger information prior to the day of travel or that the TSA is now requiring airlines to provide them with the full name, the date of birth, gender and citizenship of each traveler, along with requiring the name on the ticket to match the name on the ID being presented at check in, all add layers of complexity to international travel. Additionally, agents have access to specials, such as they BUY COACH, FLY BUSINESS offerings from a number of airlines. This means that a traveler can purchase a full fare coach ticket and end up seated in business class. You won’t find these deals offered through the online booking tools, you will only get them from an agent. Agents can also suggest alternatives to avoid paying certain taxes or to get a lower fare by using various “tricks of the trade”.
So, to recap, I would suggest that even if you are an ardent DIY person, that you still utilize an online booking tool associated with a full service agency so that you can get service when you need it. And if you aren’t really savvy, I would suggest that it is beneficial to work with a full service agency because there is someone there to assist you, if you need it. And for those who do a lot of international or even a lot of complex itineraries, working with a full service agent can save you money, time and stress.