Categories
Travel News

Competition is Good for the Consumer

Economics 101 says “Competition is good for the consumer,” or at least that’s what I was taught early on in life.
But it also means a bit more work for the competing companies. Which is perhaps the reason some are questioning Southwest Airlines’ desire to use the Hobby Airport for international flights to Latin America.
Southwest is willing to pay for an international terminal along with a customs area, but they’re running into roadblock after roadblock both from United Airlines (who is currently the only airline in the area offering flights to Latin America) and from some members of the Houston City Council.
Some believe that if Southwest is allowed to pursue this venture then the price of airline tickets will go up. But with no competition, doesn’t United have the advantage to set prices anywhere they want?
Additionally, wouldn’t a new international terminal at Hobby create more jobs and drive fares down due to the competition between the two airlines?
I guess there is always two sides to every story, but I still believe that competition is good for the consumer. And I’m a consumer.

Categories
Business Travel Travel Tips Vacation Travel

Baggage Battles – The latest in reality TV

Ever wonder what happens to all that lost airline luggage? I suppose it was just a matter of time before reality TV stepped in to tell us! The Travel Channel recently premiered the new show “Baggage Battles.”
The program involves people bidding on unclaimed luggage, hoping to find treasures left behind. Like the popular television program “Storage Wars“, folks are allowed to see a small portion of what might be in the luggage and then the bidding begins. I’m waiting for the person that lost that family heirloom to be watching and realize someone else now owns it!
All of this can be avoided if folks would just tag their luggage properly. That yellow string on the handle might help you identify your bag at the baggage carousel, but to the lost luggage people, it’s just another yellow string on a black bag. When traveling, have a name tag with your cell phone number (not home address) on the outside. Go one step further and place more information about yourself INSIDE the bag. Your name, cell phone number, flight information and even hotel names where you will be staying. I tell my clients all the time, DO NOT pack valuables or medication inside your checked luggage. These things need to either stay home or be with you in your carry-on bag. Happy Flying!
 

Categories
Business Travel Travel Technology Travel Tips

Tips for Cellular Service When Traveling Internationally

Smartphone usage continues to transform our lives and is becoming the norm for most business travelers. Their usage has transformed from a simple mobile calling device to text messaging capabilities, information retrieval, sending pictures or videos, entertainment and staying connected with family, friends and business associates. However, as with any technological improvements, mobile devices do come with associated costs, especially when traveling abroad.
Recently, Wall Street Journal writer Scott McCarthy’s shared a few ways to save money on voice and data charges when traveling internationally:

  1. Rent a local-country phone. If you’ll be in one country for an extended period, you may want to get a local phone, either before you go or after you arrive. TravelCell Inc., for example, will rent a phone for Israel for $19.99 a week with free incoming calls and text messages and 100 free minutes of outgoing calls to the U.S. After that, it’s 34.9 cents per minute for calls and 19.9 cents per text message.
  2. Skype. This service offers free video calls over the Internet and cheap voice calls to phones. But be careful: If you use your phone or tablet computer, make sure you’re not running up cellular data charges. If you have access to free or cheap Wi-Fi, though, you’re all set.
  3. Turn off apps, data roaming, fetch data and automatic synching functions on your phone’s settings. Look for anything on your phone that looks like it’s automatically updating and turn it off. Make sure Facebook isn’t automatically updating or that you don’t have apps checking stock quotes or sports scores constantly.
  4. Get a local Wi-Fi adapter. Renting your own hot spot can be a lot cheaper than hotel Wi-Fi rates, or worse, data charges from your cellular carrier.
  5. See if your cellular carrier has an acceptable plan. AT&T, Verizon and others offer global roaming plans that require a monthly fee but give you reduced rates. Those rates, however, can still be expensive. Instead of $1.39 in France, for example, you might pay 99 cents a minute for voice calls.
  6. Work incoming calls to your advantage. Cellular plans often have discounted rates for incoming calls and hotels often don’t charge for incoming calls made to rooms. So arrange to have people call you from home rather than calling them.
  7. Purchase a removable SIM card that works in an unlocked phone. You can sometimes get the code to unlock your phone from your cellular carrier, or buy, or rent an unlocked phone. For example: Telestial Inc.’s Passport SIM card comes with a U.S. and U.K. phone number, with roaming in 180 countries at 49 cents a minute for outgoing calls. Data cost 49 cents per megabyte in 135 countries and incoming calls are free in 75 countries. The card costs $19 but includes $10 of airtime.
Categories
Business Travel Vacation Travel

A Guide to the Olympic Games

The Olympic Games may be the greatest show on earth, but for travel managers, it’s creating quite a difficult situation as the search for reasonably priced business travel accommodations in London during the 2012 Summer Games is proving to be a grueling one.
The Olympics are scheduled from July 27-Aug. 12, a period when the city’s hotels are overstretched even during a normal summer. The London Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (which run from 29 Aug. 29-Sept. 12, 2012) has reserved two-thirds of the city’s entire 53,000-room stock for the event.
Are you ready? Here are some things to consider:
 
1. Act today!
If you’ve not acted yet, you must take immediate steps to have any chance of helping their travellers during the Olympics (July 27-Aug. 12) and Paralympic Games (Aug. 29-Sept. 9).
2. Review your London travel needs
Ask all departments to outline their anticipated demand for travel to London in July, August and September. Are meetings planned? How many of your travelers usually visit the city during this period? Are there any major corporate projects that will require trips into central London?
3. Consider imposing a blackout
Communicate across your organization that travelers should — or must — stay away from London during the Games.
4. Find alternative locations
If employees need to meet during the Games, but the location is flexible, direct them to cities elsewhere in the United Kingdom. If they need to be in London for daytime appointments, look for accommodation within an hour’s rail journey, in Oxford or Milton Keynes, for example.
5. Talk to your top hotel suppliers
Companies that must have accommodation for business travelers during the Olympics should talk to hotel suppliers with whom they have the strongest relationships. Some hotels are working very closely with corporate customers to accommodate regular clients’ needs.
6. Consider extended-stay properties
Some extended-stay brands are imposing only marginal increases on their apartments during the Games. They consider the Olympics an excellent opportunity to persuade potential corporate clients to try their product.
7. Remember the impact on air travel
Increased demand is tightening summer flight availability to and from London. Corporate agreements can really make a difference in getting seats for your travelers, so talk to your suppliers now.
8. Prepare for potential disruptions
At best, London will be a difficult city to move around during the Games, owing to the exceptionally high number of visitors and heightened security. If officials issue any security alerts, journey times could stretch even longer. Remind travelers to allow plenty of time between appointments and to create contingency plans for getting around London.
9. Keep everyone in the loop
Communicate your plans and protocols to everyone who will be affected and send updates as the Games get closer.
10. Take advantage of helpful resources
Check out the London 2012 ‘Travel Advice for Business’ site.
 

Categories
Business Travel

The National Car Rental Drop-off Attendants at DIA are GREAT!!

I would like to extend a big “Thanks!” to the National Car Rental attendants at the Denver airport for recently going the extra mile in helping me get back home.
Here’s the scoop …
Because I have the Emerald Isle membership, I get to pick out the car I want when I arrive at the rental desk, and on Wednesday, March 28, having just flown in to Denver International for a business trip, an adorable red Volvo station-wagon was sitting there in the lot, just screaming for me to take it for a drive. So I did!
My personal car is a Prius so the push-start ignition was familiar, and at home, if I happen to leave the keys in the ignition, push the lock button, and try to leave, my Prius makes all sorts of noise to let me know I’m doing something wrong.
Well, when I brought that beautiful red Volvo back at the end of the day, no sound was made when did just that. I left the keys in the ignition, locked the car (which I thought I was unlocking), got out, and shut the door. And as you may have guessed, my briefcase was in the back seat–of a very, locked car.
The young woman who had just checked me in dropped everything and ran to get a mechanic. Within minutes (and as you might know in these cases, those minutes can be really, really long!), they had two mechanics working to get it unlocked. And in no more than ten minutes, the car was unlocked, I got my briefcase, and was on my way.
So again, may I say: THANK YOU!! to all of you at Denver’s National Car Rental return-car center for helping me out of a jam and getting me on my flight home!!

Categories
Company News and Announcements

Utah travel agency steers through headwinds

SALT LAKE TRIBUNE | APR 15, 2012

Utah travel agency steers through headwinds

Categories
Travel News

Air France and KLM Modify Various Joint Baggage Policies

An update from Delta regarding baggage policies on Air France and KLM:

(April 12, 2012) – Effective for tickets issued on/after April 16, 2012, Air France and KLM are modifying their joint baggage policy. The changes will further align the Air France and KLM baggage policies with Delta’s baggage policies. Some changes are in compliance with DOT EAPP requirements.

Golf Bags: Effective for tickets issued on/after April 16, 2012, a golf bag will be counted as a “normal” piece of baggage as part of the free baggage allowance. Flying Blue Golf Club members will continue to be able to check-in a golf bag for free as an additional piece of baggage not counted as part of the free allowance.

Bicycles: Effective for tickets issued on/after April 16, 2012, a bicycle will be counted as a “specialty” item which is charged as an additional item over the free baggage allowance. Specialty items are charged regardless of whether or not the customer has any checked bags. Charges for excess weight apply for bicycles weighing more than 23 kg (50 lbs).
Surfboards: Effective for tickets issued on/after April 16, 2012, surfboards between 107 cm and 200 cm in length (between 42 in and 78 in) will be counted as a “specialty” item which is charged as an additional item over the free baggage allowance. Specialty items are charged regardless of whether or not the customer has any checked bags. Charges for excess weight apply for surfboards weighing more than 23 kg (50 lbs). Surfboards less than 107 cm (42 in) in length will continue to be counted as a “normal” piece of baggage counted as part of the free allowance.
Charges for Specialty items: In compliance with DOT EAPP requirements, the charge for transporting specialty items will be USD 150 departing from the USA and EUR 105 departing from Europe.
Currency change: To comply with DOT EAPP requirements, for tickets issued on/after April 16, 2012, the fees for excess baggage in African markets using the XAF or XOF as local currency will be based on the USD equivalent instead of the EUR equivalent
The 2-piece exception in Economy class: The 2-piece exception allowing economy class travelers traveling between the USA and Canada, and certain destinations in Central and Western Africa to travel with two free pieces of baggage (instead of the standard allowance of one piece) has been extended for travel to/from N’djamena, Chad (NDJ) and Malabo, Equatorial Guinea (SSG), effective for travel on/after April 16, 2012.
For complete Air France baggage information, visit airfrance.com.
For complete KLM baggage information, visit klm.com.
For complete Delta baggage information, please visit delta.com.

Categories
Travel News

Christopherson Attends CEO of the Year Banquet

Last month, we shared the exciting news that our CEO Mike Cameron was recognized as a 2012 CEO of the Year by Utah Business Magazine. The day we made that announcement, a few of us here at Christopherson, in addition to the Cameron family, attended the awards luncheon and we wanted to share a few pictures from the event, along with the video presentation that was shown before Mike received his award. Enjoy!

Categories
Business Travel Travel Management Travel Tips

Hotel Credit Card Fraud: Are you a target?

Credit card fraud is widespread and growing. I’m sure we’ve all had an experience (or at least know someone who has) where a credit card was perhaps stolen or used illegally. I recently saw a story on KSL.com about how using a debit card for hotel reservations is not smart and how travelers could potentially become a victim of credit card fraud by doing so. It reminded me about the importance of this element of travel safety and I thought I’d share a few ideas about how to avoid possible fraud when booking hotels for your next trip.
1.  Never use a debit card. If your card is compromised your entire checking account balance could be a target.
2.  Use a credit card that has fraud insurance.
3.  For corporations who book hotels: check in using a prepaid one-time-use credit card option like the ones AirPlus or Wright Express offer.
4.  Be aware of your surroundings and watch for shoulder surfers and when giving your credit card info to the hotel desk.
 
It never hurts to be conscious of the potential threats out there.
And please contact your Christopherson Business Travel Account Manager if you are interested in receiving more information about AirPlus or Wright Express.

Categories
Travel News

Delta Phishing Email Alert

We received the following notification from Delta and thought it pertinent to pass along to you, our travelers.
Phishing Email Alert
(April 3, 2012) – Delta Air Lines has recently received reports from customers of fraudulent emails claiming to be from Delta.

As such, please be advised of the following:
•    We recommend customers change their SkyMiles account PIN immediately and monitor their account for any misuse.
•    These emails were not sent by Delta.
•    Customers should not click on the link in the email or open any attachments.
•    Instead, they should delete the email from their inbox.
•    Please call Delta at 1-888-750-3284 if you have questions or need further information.
These emails claim that a customer has purchased a Delta ticket, a credit card has been charged, an invoice or receipt is attached to the email or that customers may print their electronic ticket from an attachment. If you or your customers receive one of these emails, do not open the attachment as it may contain potentially dangerous viruses or harm your computer.
Be assured that Delta did not send these emails, and our customers’ credit cards have not been charged by Delta as a result of the emails. These emails did not originate from Delta, nor do we believe that any personal information that you provided us was used to generate these emails.
As more updates become available, they will be posted on delta.com under Flight Status & Updates – Other Announcements.

Categories
Travel News

Delta Offers New Air Fare Class – Basic Economy

Delta Air Lines has launched a new air fare class called Basic Economy. It comprises the airlines “lowest-priced fares” and does not allow refunds, changes or advance seat assignments.
Basic Economy fares initially are available to customers traveling between Detroit and Orlando, Ft. Myers, Ft. Lauderdale and Tampa, but “may be expanded to other markets in the future as determined by Delta,” the carrier noted on its website.
The main difference between Basic Economy and other advance-purchase, nonrefundable economy fares is that ticket-holders cannot select their own seats. Instead, Delta indicated that seats “will be auto-assigned for Basic Economy fare holders during check in.” That goes for elite frequent flyers as well, according to Delta, which called the fare “ideal for travelers who seek the lowest fare option, do not intend to make changes and do not consider seat choice an important part of their travel experience.”
Delta would not disclose the average cost difference between Basic Economy and the next step up on the ladder.
While its price may be appealing to cost-sensitive travelers, the fare requires some new disclosures to would-be buyers. “If the Basic Economy fare is selected, the customer must be notified of all the fare rules. In addition, expectations of the travel experience must be clearly explained,” Delta noted.
Its new “Trip Extras,” for example, is a suite of services that includes priority boarding in certain markets, frequent flyer mile bundles and inflight Wi-Fi access. Additionally, Basic Economy ticketholders “may purchase any available Preferred Seat,” but only at check-in, Delta noted.
For additional information you can talk to your Christopherson Business Travel agent or go directly to Delta.com.
Source: Business Travel News

Categories
Business Travel Travel Management

Travel Agency or Talent Agency?

Is Christopherson Business Travel a travel agency or a talent agency?

I’d say that in order to be a successful travel agency, you first have to be a successful talent agency.
Some may wonder, how did Christopherson grow from $1 Million to $287 Million in just 22 years? In order to achieve this, there are three basic points on which we focused:

  1. We hired the right people
  2. We developed a unique value proposition
  3. We shared the wealth, with those who generated it

Hiring the right people means putting together a team that has the ability to help you develop a superior value proposition, which will, in turn, provide monetary returns to your company. Then, if you’re willing to “share the wealth,” those “right people” will want to stay with you and the cycle of investment, return, and growth will continue. It sounds cliche, yes. And it sounds simple. But it begs the question: “Why doesn’t everybody do that?” Most businesses probably do, but many don’t.
Talent Management 101 says:

  • People want to be listened to
  • People want to be empowered to make decisions
  • People want to be part of a growing and successful organization
  • People want to receive incentives, which reflect their contribution to the success

So yes, we learned early on that we are a talent agency. We identified the best people in the travel industry, we hired them, and we keep them!