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Business Travel Travel Tips Vacation Travel

Car Rental Hidden Costs – Are they DRIVING you Crazy?

We’ve talked about this before, but I find that it’s always helpful to review the hidden costs of renting a car.
To begin, let’s say you’ve found a great rental deal for $20/day. Unfortunately that “great” rate doesn’t guarantee you a low-cost rental. Instead, upon returning your car, you find the price has skyrocketed and the bill now includes sales taxes, airport surcharges, insurance, and licensing fees. By the time all the extra charges are added on, the guaranteed result is a severe case of sticker shock … and a final cost double the initial alluring base rate.
So how can you avoid the shock of pricing overload? Here is a summary of car rental surcharges and a few tips for how to cut costs on your next rental.

Taxes and Airport Surcharges

Sales tax and airport charges vary considerably from state to state, and you won’t be able to avoid state and local sales taxes. Many local governments also charge fees to fund their own development projects, such as convention centers or sports stadiums, and some car rental companies also include a daily surcharge for economy recovery fees.
But avoiding airport charges is simple and something to always consider. You can eliminate airport concession recovery fees and customer facility charges by picking up and dropping off your car at an off-airport location. Weighing the possible inconveniences and the price of additional transportation to and from the airport against the concession fees charged by the airport location is, however, a must as doing so could save you more than 15% of your total price.

Insurance

This is usually referred to by rental companies as “collision damage” or “Loss Damage Waiver (LDW).” For an extra $25 – $30 a day, you can avoid liability for any damage to the vehicle, provided you’re not found guilty of gross negligence. Insurance is optional, although in a few states it is compulsory and built into the basic car rental cost.
So, before you purchase the extra insurance, check to see if your regular car insurance covers you in a rental car. Some policies do. Most credit cards also provide insurance if you pay for your rental with that card. Larger companies also include car rental addendums in their company insurance which also covers office equipment and the like. Keep in mind that limitations may apply to all types of coverage. If you’re not comfortable with the risk, consult with your insurance administrator or travel manager.

Gasoline Charges

Returning a car with an empty tank will create an extra charges to your bottom line.  In most cases you’ll want to fill up before you return your vehicle. However, car rental companies now offer the option of purchasing a full tank of gas when you first take the car, enabling you to return the car with as much or as little fuel as you wish.
Keep in mind that there is no refund for unused fuel, so you’d be paying a little extra for the convenience of skipping the trip to the gas station. Also, you may be able to find a better per-gallon price by shopping around on your own.

Drop-Off Charges

An extra fee is usually charged if a car is returned to a different location than where it was picked up. This fee varies by location. In some instances there is no charge, however you could pay more than $1,000 for picking a car up at LAX and dropping it of at JFK plus around $0.35 per mile.
If your corporation has a car rental contract make sure it notes a “one way” rate. The rates will be higher than your normal corporate rate but will save money in the long run.

The 24-Hour Clock

If you rent your car on Wednesday and return it on Thursday, most companies charge you one day only if you return it within 24 hours. Some companies will give you a 29-minute grace period before hourly charges kick in and after 90 – 120 minutes you may be charged for the full extra day. Some rental car companies are also now charging a late return fee of $10 per day.
Make sure you check the terms and conditions in your rental documents.

One Day Surcharges

Picking a car up only for one day will cost you more if those days are Monday through Thursday.  Because of the yield management process, it is more expensive for the car rental company if you pick your car up in the morning on Monday through Thursday and return it the same day. It eliminates the possibilities of another traveler needing that car for two or more days at a time. The one day surcharges are $5 to $7 over the normal daily rate and are “hidden” in the rate so you will not recognize you are being charged extra. Corporations can sometimes get this fee reduced or waived when negotiating a car rental contract.

Age Penalties

Renters under the age of 25 may have to pay additional fees of about $25 – $30 per day. Those companies who rent to drivers under 21 often charge much steeper surcharges. Those over 70 may also have to pay extra (if they’re able to rent at all).  Age restrictions vary by country and franchise, so be sure to check ahead.

Frequent Flier Fees

Car rental companies often charge a small fee when you request frequent flier miles for your rental. The fee varies by airline and can range anywhere from a few cents to $2 a day. Another choice would be to opt for the free day program instead of earning miles. There is not a charge for earning free rental days and are usually earned for every 15 days rented.

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Travel News

Christopherson CEO Mike Cameron Awarded CEO of the Year

Each year, Utah Business Magazine honors a selection of CEOs who play an integral role in building the Beehive State. CEO Mike Cameron was named as one of the 2012 honorees, alongside seven other CEOs who, according to Utah Business, “exude innovation, show sound business strategies and have demonstrated financial success for their companies.”
We are pleased to share this news with you and wish to congratulate Mike and the other recipients. We also wish to extend our grateful thanks to Tyler Dabo, publisher of Utah Business Magazine, his entire staff, and the sponsors of today’s awards luncheon. It was a wonderful event and we look forward to sharing pictures with you in the coming days.

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Company News and Announcements

Rising fuel prices impacting travel

DESERET NEWS | MAR 27, 2012

Rising fuel prices impacting travel

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Travel News Vacation Travel

South African Adventure Travel

I just returned from a trip to South Africa. I visited Cape Town, a city famous for its harbor and the well-known landmarks Table Mountain and Cape Point. The city has over 20 five-star hotels. We drove along the coastal road of the Atlantic Ocean to the Cape of Good Hope where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet, and then on to Simonstown to see the penguin colony on Boulders Beach.
This region is also well known for their wineries. We visited the village of Franschhoek, which is nestled amongst the mountains and can easily be mistaken as being in Switzerland.
Then we were off on an adventure to Kruger National Park where we stayed at Thornybush Waterside Lodge. We enjoyed an afternoon and early morning game drive in open Land Rovers. The reserve has 147 mammals including the “Big Five”, 1,134 reptiles, 507 birds and 336 trees.
Next we visited Johannesburg where we had a tour of Soweto and Pretoria, and visited Nelson Mandela’s home and the Regina Mundi Church – the site of many underground meetings of the then-banned political parties. The 15 hour non-stop plane ride on South African Airways from New York City was really quite easy with their award-winning comfort and service.
I would highly recommend a vacation to South Africa. The country has beautiful modern cities to explore, plus great opportunities to view animals roaming freely on their own land.

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Travel Management Travel News

Recent Changes In the Airline Industry

A number of changes have occurred within the airline industry in the last month. Some, like the merger of United and Continental, have been very visible, while others have gone by unnoticed. And yet, many these changes will have long lasting impacts upon both the industry and its travelers.
With the United merger, we have seen the combining of two very large companies—including tens of thousands of employees, thousands of aircraft, hundreds of airport facilities, numerous policies, two frequent flier programs, and their reservations systems. Most of these changes will result in subtle differences that won’t seem all too unusual. However, there is one very noticeable change, that I haven’t seen mentioned in the media, and that is the change in the policy concerning exchanges and change fees.

Prior to the merger, United permitted travelers to make a change on a nonrefundable ticket with the payment of a change fee. If the new fare was lower than the original fare, then the change fee could be deducted from the difference. For example, if the initial ticket was a $850.00 round trip ticket between Spokane and Savannah and the new ticket was a $500.00 round trip ticket between Spokane and Denver, then the $150.00 change fee could be deducted from the $350.00 residual amount, leaving $200.00 on a nonrefundable credit:

$850.00 (old ticket) – $500.00 (new ticket) = $350.00 (residual amount) – $150.00 (change fee) = $200.00 in credit

This credit would be valid for a set period of time, generally one year from the date of issuance of the original ticket. But the change that occurred on March 3rd, however, is that United adopted Continental’s policy of not permitting the change fee to be deducted from that difference, instead the change fee is charged at the time of the exchange. This means that in order to make an exchange one has to initially pay more money out of pocket, however in the end, the traveler winds up with a larger credit. So in the above example, the math would change to:

$850.00 (old ticket) + $150.00 (change fee) = $1000 (initial out of pocket expense) – $500.00 (new ticket) = $500.00 in credit

While this may not seem like a big deal to some folks, to others, having to pay that extra fee out of pocket, is a bit of a burden.
There is also one disturbing aspect to this change that I have yet to mention.
United has made this new policy retroactive to all nonrefundable tickets, regardless of the date of issuance. This means that tickets issue last October, under the old rules, are now subject to the new rules, which I think has the potential for legal action by some travelers since it seems to be in violation of United’s contract of carriage which states the following points:
RULE 3 APPLICATION OF CONTRACT
A)    These rules constitute the conditions of carriage upon which UA agrees to provide Domestic and International Carriage and are expressly agreed to by the Passenger. These Rules are also the tariffs filed by UA in accordance with certain government regulations.
E)    Except as otherwise provided within specific fare rules, transportation is subject to the Contract of Carriage and charges in effect on the date on which the Ticket is issued. References to pages, rules, items and notes are coterminous and include revisions, supplements and reissues thereof.
F)    Where the Ticket has been purchased and issued before the effective date of an increase in the applicable fare, the increase will not be collected, provided there is no change in Origin, Destination, Stopover point(s), flight(s) or dates shown on the original Ticket.
K)    Except where provided otherwise by law, UA‘s conditions of carriage, rules and tariffs are subject to change without notice, provided that no such change shall apply to Tickets issued prior to the effective date of such change.
This break from tradition and their long standing contract of carriage could have long term implications if it becomes normal for airlines to change the rules after the consumer has purchased their tickets.
While United made the biggest and most noticeable changes, Delta has also worked in a couple of changes worth noting. First, they have modified their international baggage policies. They have lowered the fee for a second checked bag for coach travelers and increased the fee for the third through tenth bags and for overweight bags. Additionally, they have added a second checked bag fee for transpacific flights. These changes can be viewed here.
The other and potentially more interesting change is that Delta has rolled out a new product for select domestic flights between Detroit, Orlando, Ft. Myers, Ft. Lauderdale, and Tampa. The new product is called Basic Economy and it creates a new type of fare.  This fare is nonrefundable and non-changeable, except in the case of involuntary changes, like irregular operations. This product cannot be combined with refundable or changeable fares, nor does this product allow advance seat assignments. Currently this option is only available to the identified markets, however if successful, I would expect to see Delta expand in the future. If that happens, don’t be surprised to see other carriers come out with similar products. Currently the cost difference between this new Basic Economy ticket and the standard nonrefundable ticket is less than $10.00 in each direction. That could change fairly quickly and if it does, don’t be surprised if the difference increases to more than $50.00 in each direction.
The good news is that agents at Christopherson Business Travel are aware of this new product and can offer these choices to travelers. The bad news is that currently, travel sites such as Orbitz don’t make an obvious differentiation between the two types of fares, so travelers booking online will have to be very careful and read the fare rules in order to avoid getting stuck with a non-changeable ticket.
At the same time, Delta is rolling out what they call Trip Extras. This allows travelers to purchase a variety of “extras,” such as additional SkyMiles and/or 24 hour Wi-Fi Passes, which allow unlimited Wi-Fi on all GoGo-equipped Delta flights. It also allows travelers to purchase priority boarding. Delta offers packages that combine various options, such as the LIFT package that combines Priority Boarding and an extra 1000 miles, or the ASCEND package that includes Priority Boarding and the 24 hour Wi-Fi pass. These extra services are currently available for purchase at Delta.com and at the kiosks.  Once purchased, they are nonrefundable and non-changeable.
As you can see, the one constant in the airline industry is change.
 
 
 

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Business Travel Travel Management Travel Tips

The Security of Knowing Where Your Travelers Are

There is something called “duty of care,” which is a corporation’s legal and moral responsibility to their employees who travel for business. It was defined by Dr. Lisbeth Claus, a human resources professor at Willamette University, as “the obligation employers have for the health, safety, and security of their employees when they travel across boarders.”
Knowing where your travelers are is crucial to maintaining this responsibility. Companies can avoid a lot of stress (and potential legal fees) by having plans in place prior to any type of emergency, whether it’s weather or terrorist related, or due to traveling in high-risk areas. There are many programs available to help keep travelers safe and help keep employers out of the court room, including large organizations such as SOS International or training provided by Kevin Coffee, President & CEO of Corporate Travel Safety.
For a corporation, the first step is creating and implementing an internal plan of action. The second step is having a tool available that will assist in locating travelers at any given moment. Christopherson Business Travel has developed (and makes available to clients) SecurityLogic®. This proprietary technology allows a company’s travel manager the ability to view real time data of where travelers are at any given time (including flights, hotels, and addresses) based on reservations booked through Christopherson. To learn more about SecurityLogic® and the many others services provided by Christopherson Business Travel, contact us to set up a demo.

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Travel Management

United’s MileagePlus Program: FAQ

United’s recent merger with Continental has resulted in many questions regarding their Mileage Membership accounts. We received the following information from United to share with our clients and hope you find it helpful in answering some of the questions you might have in regards to this issue.

2012 MileagePlus Program: New Account Number Information and Start of Program FAQs

1.    When will I receive my 2012 credentials and membership card?
We will begin mailing 2012 Premier credentials in mid-February.
2.    When will I receive my new MileagePlus account number and when can I begin using it?
If you are being assigned a new eight-character MileagePlus account number, you can log in to your personalized page to retrieve it starting February 23.
You can start using the number on March 3. Your current 11-digit MileagePlus account number will be recognized for a short time after that, but it will be important to start using the new account number as soon as possible. We understand that your account number may be linked to partners and travel agencies, so we will provide you with time to coordinate this change.
3.    What is a PIN?
When the MileagePlus program migrates to using eight-character account numbers, Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) will also be required. The PIN will be unique to your account and is designed to protect your account from unauthorized use. It will be required when calling United or MileagePlus for transactions such as redeeming award miles or changing the address on your account. The PIN does not replace your password and will not be required for online transactions.
If you are a MileagePlus member and aren’t linked to a OnePass account, we assigned you a PIN when we assigned you a new eight-character MileagePlus account number. After March 3, you can reset your PIN at United.com/AccountSettings. You must have a valid email address in your account.
If you are a OnePass member and already have a PIN, it will carry forward into the MileagePlus program.
4.    I am a member of both MileagePlus and OnePass. Which account number should I include in reservations I book between now and March 3? You can continue to use either account number to make reservations and earn miles, as you do today. No matter which account you use, your miles and status are safe.
5.    Can I use my new eight-character MileagePlus number before March 3?
No. It will not be valid until March 3, 2012. Continue to use your current 11-digit number until then.
6.    Can I combine my OnePass and MileagePlus miles?
Yes. If you have both a MileagePlus and a OnePass account, you can transfer miles between them through March 2. Start at United.com/TransferMyMiles.
7.    I have accounts in both programs and they aren’t linked. What will happen after March 3?
After March 3, you will have two MileagePlus accounts: your current MileagePlus account and a new MileagePlus account that replaces your OnePass account. Both accounts will be valid for earning and redeeming miles. However, you should consolidate them in order to consolidate your mileage earning. By early April we will have an online process for you to request an account consolidation. If you want to consolidate the accounts before April, you must call the MileagePlus Service Center.
8.    Will we continue the existing MileagePlus mileage expiration policy?
Yes. However, we want our members to enjoy and be engaged in the MileagePlus program, so we’ve made it easy to keep your miles active. As long as you earn or use MileagePlus award miles at least once every 18 months, your miles will never expire. And there are hundreds of ways to earn or use award miles, such as flying United or any partner airline, staying at any of the many partner hotels, using miles to buy flowers or a magazine subscription, shopping online through one of our numerous MileagePlus partners, purchasing miles or donating award miles to a charity. In addition, if you have an eligible Chase-issued OnePass or MileagePlus Credit Card, your award miles will never expire, as long as your card account is in good standing.
For current OnePass accounts, the MileagePlus policy will go into effect on April 1, 2012, which means the earliest award miles could expire for former OnePass members is September 30, 2013.
9.    I didn’t make Premier Silver/Gold/Platinum/1K status for 2012. Can I still earn it?
Select members are eligible for a limited-time offer to purchase the remaining 2011 EQM or EQS/EQP they need to earn a higher Premier status level for 2012. The last day to participate in the offer is February 28, 2012.
10. How do I find out if I am eligible for the Purchase EQM offer?
To see if you are eligible, contact MileagePlus Customer Service or OnePass Customer Service.
11. Once the 2012 MileagePlus program begins, will I be able to request upgrades on the day of departure or at the airport? Members can request to be put on the waitlist for Mileage Upgrade Awards, Regional Premier Upgrades and Global Premier Upgrades until 24 hours before departure. Within 24 hours, these upgrades can be requested only through united.com or United Reservations, and only if upgrade seats are available.
If you are a Premier member traveling on an eligible flight, a Complimentary Premier Upgrade is requested automatically on your behalf when you book your ticket, even on the day of departure.
12. If I’m a Premier member, can my traveling companion receive a Complimentary Premier Upgrade?
Yes. One companion traveling on a paid ticket on the same reservation as a Premier member is eligible for Complimentary Premier Upgrades on select flights, and may be confirmed with the same priority as the Premier member, even on the day of departure. This benefit applies to all Premier levels, including Premier Silver. Further, if the upgrade is confirmed before check-in, the Premier member and the companion will remain on the same reservation.
Note that for flights operated by Copa, Complimentary Premier Upgrade companions will continue to confirm on the day of departure.
13. If I have questions regarding the status of my account, whom should I contact?
You should continue to work with representatives from your current program to answer questions regarding your account.
 

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Business Travel Travel Tips

Laptop Totes – No More Choosing Between Your Purse and Your Laptop Bag, Ladies!

Post-9/11 TSA regulations have forced us to economize. Gone are the days when you could board an airplane with a Big Gulp of Diet Coke in one hand and your roller bag in the other, while simultaneously juggling both your purse & your brief case. As we all know too well, TSA has completely nixed the Big Gulp and requires us to choose two of the latter three. And options are limited because the roller bag has to be carried (or rolled) on, otherwise you’re charged $50 each way to check the bag.
So ladies, how do we choose between our purse and our briefcase? If we opt for just the briefcase, we’re faced with the predicament of how to carry our wallet, cellphone, and lipstick to a restaurant for dinner. If we choose the purse, it means we have to put all our business documents, and our laptop, in the roller bag which then ends up then being stored in the overhead bin.
The answer? Laptop totes.
Retailers like eBags, and BagKing have incredibly stylish and functional totes that serve as both a purse and a laptop bag. These totes keep your laptop protected and your mobile office essentials fashionably organized, while also providing the space to keep your purse items within reach. Just make sure your new bag has the following features/qualities:

  • Be certain that it will fit under the seat in front of you.
  • Make sure it fully zips closed, just in case it were to tip over.
  • Look for removable computer protection. This way, you can remove your laptop and use your tote as a purse for evenings out.
  • Check to see if the handles on your tote coordinate with the handle on your roller bag as you might want to balance your new tote on top of your suitcase while trekking through the airport.

With these new bags, in all their styles and colors, you’ll definitely be the envy of the office & your fellow airline passengers. Plus, you’re easily minimizing your packing situation!

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Business Travel

Delta Amends Various International Baggage Fees for Transatlantic and Transpacific Travel

We recently received the following update from Delta and thought it pertinent to share with you business travelers:
Delta Air Lines is amending various international baggage fees for both transatlantic and transpacific travel. The amendments apply for tickets issued on or after March 12, 2012, and for travel on or after March 12, 2012. Details of the changes are outlined below.
Transatlantic Travel Delta is amending its checked baggage fee structure for tickets issued on or after March 12, 2012, and for travel on or after March 12, 2012. The changes will affect travel between the Western Hemisphere* and Europe, and travel between the
Western Hemisphere* and North Africa.

Key Changes:

  • Decrease in second checked bag fee in coach from 75 EUR to 70 EUR
  • Increase in third through tenth bag fee from 200 USD to 285 USD
  • Increase in overweight fee from 75 USD to 100 USD; and decrease the Euro amount from 75 EUR to 70 EUR

Transpacific Travel
Delta is amending its checked baggage fee structure in the coach cabin for tickets issued on or after March 12, 2012, and for travel on or after March 12, 2012. The fees will affect travel between the Western Hemisphere* and US Pacific Trust Territories.
Key Change:

  • Add second checked bag fee of 75 USD

*Except Brazil
The highlights of the policy changes including effective dates, fee changes and applicable travel areas are noted in the chart below. Fees in bold reflect a change.

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Business Travel Travel Tips Vacation Travel

“Animal Talk” About Frontier Airlines

Let’s talk animals.

Okay, okay … I know we here at Christopherson are headquartered in Salt Lake City, a major Delta hub, and not many of us fly Frontier, but they actually are a pretty cool airline. Let me tell you why.
Frontier has been around for forever, but after their merger with Republic Airways in 2010 they revamped their services and are actually quite competitive. Did you know that for a corporate discount they offer a percentage off their fares rather than classes of service? That means it’s so much easier for companies to calculate savings, plus one can avoid the confusing maze of classes of service.
Also, Frontier has more seat width than Southwest, they only have a 50$ change fee, and–hold onto your hats, folks, are you ready for this?–if you have a qualifying corporate contract Frontier will give you 20 Ascent Level Memberships to distribute however you want! This means same-day flight change fees are waived, free bags, early boarding, complimentary DirecTV, and 25% bonus early return mileage credit.
Plus, how can you pass up the menagerie of animals they have on their tails?
If you haven’t given Frontier a chance lately, check them out. I think you may be pleasantly surprised!

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Business Travel Travel Management Travel Technology Travel Tips

Top 8 Business Travel Apps for Smartphones

At Christopherson Business Travel, we get it. We, too, are business travelers and we understand the importance of staying connected, regardless of the time zone you’re in.
Perhaps our CEO, Mike Cameron, said it best: “Traveling is more convenient when you don’t have to deal with delays, getting lost in a big city, or not knowing the native language.” With that in mind, here are eight apps for business travelers to help increase productivity and alleviate stress when traveling.

  1. TripIt: TripIt allows you to access your travel itineraries right on your iPhone, Android or BlackBerry. While most TripIt users need to forward their itineraries to TripIt for loading to their account, Christopherson clients enjoy automatic transferring of all their AirPortal itineraries directly to the TripIt app. If you upgrade to TripIt Pro, you can get notifications on flight delays, cancellations or gate changes and can track your frequent flyer miles and reward points all in one place. Additionally, Christopherson Travel provides clients who use TripIt Pro with a $10 discount per year for the app.
  2. Wall Street Journal: If you download the latest version of the Wall Street Journal to your iPad right before you board your flight, you’ll have a simple, yet comprehensive tool to catch up on all the latest news. This is particularly useful when there is no WiFi on the plane.
  3. Penultimate: We all know business traveling can often include full days in conference rooms. Whether you need to jot down a quick memo or take notes for hours on end, Penultimate eliminates the need for papers, notepads and pens. The power of this app lies in a user’s ability to create as many digital notebooks as they desire. You can choose to write on a graph-, lined- or blank-paper layout with a stylus pen or just your finger. When you’re done, you can email your notes to colleagues or assistants back at the office.
  4. AllSubwayHD: Have you ever been in a big city and tried to figure out the subway system? AllSubwayHD is a time-saver app, providing answers, directions and timelines you’ll need to keep you running on-schedule. This app offers subway maps for over 125 cities worldwide, all of which are available offline.
  5. Google Translate: With this app, you can translate essential words and phrases into 57 different languages. Speak or type in the phrase and the translation will appear on your screen. Audio playback is even available for certain languages. Click Here for iPhone. Click Here for Android.
  6. Urbanspoon: This is a perfect app for those who know what they want to eat, but don’t know where to go. You only need to tell your phone where you are, what type of food you want and how much money you’re willing to spend. Urbanspoon recommends restaurants, lists reviews and lets you browse restaurants by maps or neighborhoods. It also shows the top restaurants in your vicinity and lists restaurants recently reviewed by critics and bloggers.
  7. Yelp: Making a name for itself as an app offering reviews on most everything around you, Yelp lists range from restaurants, hotels and businesses to museums, spas, bars and gas stations. You can access the wisdom and approval of the locals for just about any place you plan to visit. Yelp also allows you to bookmark sites, “check in” and share via Facebook and Twitter, make reservations, add tips and find contact information anywhere you go.
  8. Seat Guru: There’s been a lot of buzz lately about SeatGuru by tripadvisor, the “ultimate source for airplane seating, in-flight amenities, and airline information.” With their detailed, color-coded seat map key,  you’ll have access to in-depth information about seats with limited recline, reduced legroom, and misaligned windows, to help you identify both superior and substandard seats. Plus, once you select your airline, you can navigate through their information pages for tips on Check-in, Baggage, Unaccompanied Minors and Traveling with Infants and Pets.

“From navigation support to eliminating paperwork, each of these apps provides the everyday business traveler with user-friendly tools to manage the many details associated with executing a successful business trip,” said Cameron. “You may even impress a current or prospective client with your modern resourcefulness in the process.”
About Christopherson Business Travel
Christopherson Business Travel, headquartered in Salt Lake City, is the independently owned leader in business travel management in the western U.S. With over 250 team members and 35 offices, the company supports more than $287 million in annual travel bookings. Christopherson provides intelligent travel management to more than 900 successful companies, and is an affiliate of BCD Travel, the leading provider of global travel logistics. BCD operates in 90 countries with $14 billion in annual travel management bookings and a combined worldwide workforce in excess of 13,000.

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Business Travel Travel Tips Vacation Travel

Top 10 Hotel Safety Tips

Making sure our clients travel safely is always a priority for us at Christopherson. Here are 10 hotel safety tips (from SuperMedia.com) to keep in mind on your next overnight trip.

1.  Be aware of your surroundings. This includes when you’re in parking lots, public areas, elevators, or the hallway to your room. Have your key ready in hand before you get to your door so you’re not distracted as you look and fumble for it.

2.  Keep your room number to yourself. Most hotels these days no longer print room numbers on the keys. But don’t share your room number with strangers, and don’t display your key in public or leave it where it can get stolen.
3.  Avoid staying on the ground floor. This will leave you much less vulnerable to break-ins and other incidents.
4.  Identify a fire escape route. Once you’ve settled in, map out the nearest fire escape route. Remember, in case of emergency, always use the stairs, never the elevator.
5.  Secure your valuables. If your room has a safe, store any extra cash, plane tickets, and other valuables in there. And never, ever leave valuables in a car in the hotel parking lot.
6.  Don’t open the door to anyone until you use the peephole to identify them. Don’t assume it’s housekeeping or maintenance just because the person says so.
7.  Keep the doors and windows locked while you’re in the room. This includes any windows or sliding glass doors. Avoid propping your door open, even for a short time. If your door has an extra bolt or chain, engage that as well.
8.  Make it seem like you’re home. When you leave your room for the day or evening, leave the TV or radio on. It may very well deter a thief if they think someone might be in the room. Hanging the Do Not Disturb sign.
9.  Enter and exit the building through a main entrance. This will help you avoid unoccupied or deserted areas. It’s also a good idea to park in a well-lit part of the parking lot, even if you have to walk a little farther to get to your room.
10.  Keep your children in sight. Children should not be allowed to play by themselves on hotel grounds. This, of course, includes the swimming pool, the playground and other kid-friendly areas, as well as the hallways, elevators, and lobby.

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Travel News Vacation Travel

Are you vacation deprived?

Did you know that 226 million vacation days will go unused this year, resulting in some 50 million Americans becoming vacation deprived?  A recent vacation deprivation study analyzed vacation habits across multiple countries around the world, and the results were interesting.
When asked, “How many vacation days, if any, do you receive from your employer each year?”, Germany, France, Spain, Denmark and Brazil all tied for first place with 30 days. Workers in the UK came in just below with 25, with Canada at 16, and the U.S. at 14. However, Japan came in last place with 11 days, which they used 6 of, on average.
According to the survey, most of the world’s work force likes to take a mix of short and long vacations during in the summer months, and beach locations won out over all others as the most preferred kind of holiday.
Clearly, we here in the U.S. are somewhat lacking in vacation days, so don’t let what you DO have go to waste!  Get thee to a beach and sun-bake that vacation deprivation away!
Wondering which beach to visit and where to stay?  It can be overwhelming.  Take a look at this collection of fantastic hotels and resorts in the Caribbean and Bermuda for a little inspiration, then give your Andavo Travel advisor a call.

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Company News and Announcements

CEO of the Year: Mike Cameron, Christopherson Business Travel

UTAH BUSINESS | MAR 1, 2012

CEO of the Year: Mike Cameron, Christopherson Business Travel

Categories
Travel News

Merging Continental and United Means Endless Decisions

United Airlines and Continental Airlines migrated to a single airline reservation system on March 3, 2012. Deciding which reservation system to migrate to was one of a thousand of decisions which had to be made for the two airlines to merge, integrate, and become one airline.

In addition to selecting the combined reservation system, following are some of the interesting decisions which had to be made, in order to create “the new United”:
•    Which coffee supplier to use (they brew 62 million cups per year)
•    Serving roasted nuts to the first class travelers (heated or not)
•    Boarding procedures (back-to-front or window-to-aisle)
•    Boarding passes (information and printing format)
•    Shape of the plastic drink cups (width and height)
•    Branding (including logo, slogan and uniforms)
•    On-board animal policies
By way of anecdote, on July 1 the “new United” coffee was introduced to fliers. However, due to the barrage of complaints the received following this introduction, they had to change their decision. To read more about this and other details of the United Continental merger, see this Bloomberg Businessweek article:
Making the World’s Largest Airline Fly
 

Categories
Business Travel Travel Management

2012 Travel Forecast and Recommendations

Since the fourth quarter of last year, the Christopherson Business Travel Account Management team has been actively negotiating 2012 air, car, and hotel contracts for those companies that qualify.  Because the negotiation process is more viable this year, it has been necessary for us double-check every angle in order to secure the best contracts for a great return on investment for our clients.  Below are the forecasts and recommendation guidelines for 2012 that we use when obtaining the ultimate contract for you

Airfare

Forecasts:

  • Fare increases of 3-5%.  Significant fuel surcharges, prompted by rising oil prices, will ultimately determine this.
  • Capacity cuts that occurred in Q4 2011 are likely to be sustained into 2012, but over-supply may remain in some regions.
  • Additional factors threatening to push up total ticket prices include consolidated airline entities, distribution/card payment fees, and EU Emissions Trading System.

Recommendations:

  1. Negotiate hard on pockets of over-capacity in the market.
  2. Joint ventures and other airline consolidations will pose an increasing threat to managed air programs.
  3. A reliable way to reduce average ticket price is to find ways to avoid last-minute purchases.
  4. Be wary of significant over-commitment to volume or market-share targets during negotiation.

Car Rental

Forecasts:

  • Demand will continue to rise steadily and providers will keep inventory tightly aligned.
  • Rate increases will be minor (4-6%) thanks to strong competition, but total cost of rental will continue to climb (ancillary charges, taxes, insurance, fuel).

Recommendations:

  1. Negotiate harder on ancillaries and other charges, such as refueling premiums.
  2. Revisit car rental program before suppliers start to push up their rates.
  3. Book further in advance.
  4. Evaluate relative financial costs of private vehicle use vs. car rental.
  5. Set policy on ancillary items (i.e. satellite navigation systems, etc.).

Hotel 

Forecasts:

  • More chains will demand heavy rate increases in opening 2012 negotiations.
  • New capacity will be limited in N. America and Europe but significant in Asia-Pacific.
  • Rates will rise 2- 6% in general, but with another double-digit jump in markets like New York.
  • Demand will continue to rise, though at a lower rate than 2011.

Recommendations:

  • Be wary of dynamic pricing and be sure to negotiate more than 10% off the BAR.
  • Expand # of hotels in RFP process but concentrate on fewer properties in final decision.
  • Negotiate hotel contracts for transient travelers to cover small meetings (up to 50 room nights).
  • Insist on negotiated rate being an LRA rate.
Categories
Company News and Announcements

Christopherson Travel reports Colo., company growth

DENVER POST | MAR 1, 2012

Christopherson Travel reports Colo., company growth

Categories
Business Travel Travel News Travel Tips Vacation Travel

Summer is Coming! Book Your Travel Now & Lock in Lower Prices

I realize that March has only just begun, but in the travel industry that means that now is the time to start planning your summer travel, a fact that is perhaps more true in 2012 than in previous years. There are a number of reasons why this is true:
1.  The airlines have continued to reduce their capacity over the last three years, so there will be fewer discounted seats on each and every flight. This means that everyone will be paying higher fares this summer. Also, when there are flight disruptions due to weather or other events, it will take longer to re-accommodate everyone since there are fewer seats to work with.
2.  There are signs that the economy is starting to rebound and travel is too. So the potential is that there will be more people flying this summer than the two previous summers. More people, mixed with the aforementioned reduced capacity, will result in crowded skies and higher fares.
3.  Fuel prices are on the rise. Given that airplanes gulp down vast quantities of fuel, the slightest change in price then results in higher fuel surcharges that the airlines then pass along to consumers to cover the cost. Depending on who you listen to and what happens in the world, the price of fuel may jump from 25% to 200% this summer. For example, when Iran announced that it was cutting off exports of oil to Britain and France, the price of a barrel of crude jumped roughly 25%. Within 48 hours of that, a number of international carriers announced that they were going to be increasing their fuel surcharges between 10% and 15%. If that situation continues to worsen, it is very likely that speculation will drive the price of fuel up sharply. If this happens, expect airfares to follow.
So what should you do? Plan ahead and lock your prices in now while they are lower. Once your ticket has been issued, the airlines cannot come back to you asking for more money. But if the price drops after you purchase the ticket the airlines will refund the difference, less their administrative fee. This means that the drop in airfare would need to be significant in order to make it worthwhile pursuing that refund. However, the potential for savings is fairly significant if the pundits are correct about the price of fuel.