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Travel Management Vacation Travel

What to Do Once You’ve Booked a Cruise: 5 Things to Consider Before Boarding

before boarding a cruiseIt was 25 years ago that my husband and I took our first cruise for our honeymoon. Fast forward to February 2013 where we celebrated our 25th anniversary on Royal Caribbean’s Radiance of the Seas that left Sydney, Australia for 11 nights. It was one of the best vacations I have had in years.

The only part of our vacation I found to be labor intensive was the pre-cruise planning of all the “extras” you might want to consider when embarking on a cruise.

It took time to review all the options the cruise line offered and decide which ones we wanted. Because this can take a couple of days to do, you don’t want to wait until the last minute to book these optional items; things can sell out. Of course, you can certainly wait and see what’s offered once you set sail. But for us, we found it beneficial to know what our cost would be months prior to departing and in some cases, we had certain portions of our trip pre-paid before boarding the ship.

If pre-planning sounds right for you, I suggest reviewing all the items your ship/cruise offers and then take time to research each, one at a time. Read reviews and decide what’s most important for you to experience while on your cruise. Here are a five items to consider:

  1. Dining – Cruises offer a great way to try different types of specialty foods or to have a grand dinner selected by the Chef and paired with wine. We enjoyed all the food we had on our ship and our dining experiences enhanced our vacation even more.
  2. Drinks – Cruise lines offer several packages for soda, water, wine and other alcohols. I could have done a better job in pre-planning this area. I only chose a soda package, but I should have purchased a wine package as well. We also pre-purchased water that was delivered to our cabin upon our arrival. This encouraged me to drink more water, knowing it was already paid for and I didn’t want to leave any behind.
  3. Excursions – If you decide to go with an outside vendor for excursions, be sure to double check their policy for situations where the ship arrives into port later than the scheduled pick-up time. Additionally, on some excursions you might not want to have the full experience, but just come along to watch. Ask ahead of time if this is allowed and if so, will you be required to pay the same as someone having the full experience?
  4. Other On-board Cruise Options – These items vary by ship–just be aware that with on-ship items such as pictures or spa treatments, there might be specials offered on different days while cruising that could be a better buy than pre-purchasing.
  5. Transfers To and From the Ship – Line up your transfers beforehand. If you don’t make arrangements for this, be prepared for long wait times for taxis. Also, because you don’t know what the weather will be like or if there will be delayed traffic, this is an especially important consideration for those who need to get to and from the airport in a shorter time frame.

In my opinion, the more pre-planning you do, the less stress you’ll experience on vacation. I’m already looking forward to our next trip where I’ll do even more pre-planning than this last cruise.

And if you’re interested in booking a cruise, I would encourage you to contact an Andavo Travel advisor. They are experienced, helpful, and professional, and can guide you through the maze of “additional cruise fees” with ease.

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Business Travel Travel Management

One Company Finds that Travel 2.0 Doesn’t Save Money

I have blogged before regarding the topic of Travel 2.0:

travel 2.0It is certainly a hot topic with varied issues, differing opinions, and supposed ramifications.

But another stark example on the side of “why Travel 2.0 doesn’t work” was reported last week in a Business Travel News article about the company Autodesk, and their recent challenges with travelers who continually respond to their travel manager with those famous last words, “I can find it cheaper myself online than through our travel program.”

After 30 days of Travel 2.0, Topaz International performed an audit on Autodesk’s travel expenses. Results showed, that when it was all said and done, Autodesk was in fact, not saving money with Travel 2.0 and the value of a managed travel program was confirmed.

I couldn’t help but think as I read the report: “Well, that’s another point on the side of managed travel over open booking with Travel 2.0.”

What are your thoughts? Do you think a managed travel program is worth the investment in the long run? Or do you think Travel 2.0 is the best option for companies?

Categories
Business Travel Travel News

Delta to Make Investments in Customer Experience

aircraft-grounded-flyoverIt’s no wonder Delta Airlines is consistently voted the best run and most admired airline by industry insiders and business travelers alike. One of the ways Delta stays ahead of other carriers is by constantly improving customer comfort and superior service on-board its flights.

Customers on Delta’s transcontinental service from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and New York-JFK can look forward to upgraded food and entertainment options, beginning this spring, summer and fall.

Economy Comfort and Economy customers will be offered:

  • Complimentary headsets, beer, wine, spirits, and premium snacks
  • Complimentary movies and on-demand TV shows, plus free HBO selections and new movie releases

Business Elite customers will be offered:

  • Sparkling wine and express meals
  • Copies of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today, beginning later this fall

Additionally, 375 ml bottles of Hess Select Chardonnay and Meiomi by Belle Glos Pinot Noir will be available for purchase in Economy class beginning in March. Expanded movie and on-demand TV libraries, with up to 100 movies to choose from, as well as Starbucks coffee will be available for all transcontinental customers beginning this summer.

Delta’s commitment to its customers has not gone unnoticed as they continue to grow customer loyalty with business and leisure travelers from around the world.

Click here to view Delta Airlines’ press release regarding these changes.

Categories
Travel Industry Travel News

Airport Service Quality Awards Announced

Have you ever wondered which airport ranks number one by travelers?

There are several airports I travel through on a regular basis, but I’ve only had a few opportunities to experience the airports that have earned the Airport Service Quality Award. Among airports, this is a coveted and prestigious award that they work hard to obtain.

The Airports Council International has tallied information gathered from travelers who complete questionnaires at airport gates, and for North America, the top five airports are Indianapolis (who also won this award in 2010 and has scored in the top three every year since), Ottawa, Tampa, Sacramento, and Jacksonville.

In Europe you will receive the best customer service in Moscow Sheremetyevo, Malta, Edinburgh, Keflavik, and Zurich. Seoul Incheon, Singapore, Beijing, New Delhi and Hong Kong rank highest in Asia. Cancun took first place in Latin America and in Africa, you will want to experience Cape Town. In the Middle East, it won’t surprise you that Abu Dhabi scored gold twice, for best airport and most improved airport.

Click here to see the full report.

Categories
Business Travel Travel Management

What Should Your Travel Management Company Do For You?

A good travel management company (TMC) is the key to an effective travel management program.

Travel Management CompanyYou should expect your TMC to work with you to:

  1. Design and implement a travel policy that is appropriate for your company and culture.
  2. Negotiate and manage vendor contracts that will generate company savings and provide traveler conveniences.
  3. Simplify the booking process for you and your travelers, whether you choose online, full service, or a blended approach.
  4. Give you the information and tools to manage your duty of care responsibilities, helping you to respond appropriately when there is an incident.
  5. Effectively manage your unused airline tickets.
  6. Give you full visibility into your travel spend with real-time information and on-demand reporting.
  7. Provide your travelers with the tools they need before, during, and after their trips.

Click Here for 10 more ways a TMC can benefit your company.

If your company’s travel program needs tuning, please contact one of our account managers and make an appointment today. We are here to help!

Categories
Travel Industry Travel News

TSA Updates Rules for Carry-ons

TSA Just when you thought you finally understood all the TSA carry-on rules, they change them again–this time, to more closely match international standards.

The TSA will now allow travelers to carry small pocket knives onto passenger planes for the first time since the September 11 terrorist attacks, however box cutters and locking knives are still prohibited.

Additionally, TSA will further relax its list of prohibited items, allowing passengers to also now carry-on sticks used for lacrosse, billiards, hockey, and skiing, as well as golf clubs and some types of baseball bats. Several updates to the security check process are also being made but travelers should still be prepared to remove their shoes at the security check point.

These changes come in an effort to more closely conform with international regulations and will take effect April 25.

For more information on the forthcoming changes, click here.

Categories
Business Travel Travel Tips Vacation Travel

Take Advantage of Airlines’ Comfort Economy Seats

Many years ago I flew to Europe on British Air. My husband and I are both tall and we dread long haul flights crammed into coach seating, so I paid (at the time) a few hundred dollars more for the “premium economy seats” that allowed more leg room and more recline.

Since then, I’ve often wondered why our domestic carriers never had this option. You either had to “pony up” for business/first class or were crammed into coach – nothing in between.

But finally our air partners are offering that “something in between”–comfort economy seating. These seats offer extra leg room and extra recline not just on long haul international flights but on domestic flights as well. Domestic seats can be upgraded from $29 each way, depending on the itinerary. Or for an international flight example–Salt Lake City to Paris can be upgraded to Delta’s Economy Comfort seats for about $120 each way.

On a recent domestic flight where I had purchased the upgrade for my husband and myself, he commented, “These seats are great. I’d even pay a little more for these.” I just smiled.

After I issue air tickets for my clients, I review these options with them and get the seats they want so that perhaps they can enjoy their trip just a little bit more.

To enjoy the benefits of an experienced travel advisor (like more comfortable airplane seating), please contact Andavo Travel, Christopherson Business Travel’s leisure division.

Categories
Travel Industry Travel News

Sequester Affects Business Travel

In a recent article by Skift.com, it was reported that the sequester is already affecting many airports and TSA lines, and in turn–business travelers.

If you’re unfamiliar with “sequestration,” The Huffington Post reported that “the sequester is a set of automatic spending cuts put into law by the Budget Control Act. Signed by President Barack Obama in August 2011, that legislation raised the debt ceiling and sought to apply pressure on Congress to come up with a longer term plan for deficit reduction.”

Due to these budget cuts, Homeland Security has been forced to cut some TSA positions and/or not fill any of the open positions. The result is longer airport security lines due to the lack of staffing. Business travelers should be prepared to arrive at their airports earlier than usual and to expect lines.

 

Categories
Business Travel

Diamond Airport Parking + Exclusive Christopherson Pricing

Need a place to park your vehicle while on a business trip from Salt Lake City (SLC)?

Christopherson Business Travel has teamed up with Diamond Airport Parking to provide a convenient and secure place to park your car while you are out of town, while receiving Exclusive 2013 Christopherson Pricing. Diamond Airport Parking has 2 locations to choose from:

  1. 1950 W. North Temple Street (self parking only)
  2. 50 S. Redwood Road (self parking & Valet options)

With Christopherson’s exclusive pricing, business travelers enjoy 20% off standard rates per day for self parking at both locations. Or pay only $9/day for valet open or $12/day for valet canopy at the Redwood Road location.

Diamond Parking Benefits Include:

  • Salt Lake City’s only valet parking service
  • Free touch-less car wash, bottled water, newspaper, & Rewards Program
  • Full service, on-site auto care
  • On-site dry cleaning available
  • Shuttle on demand – from your car to your gate at SLC International Airport
  • Special Group Pricing Programs – customized for your company’s needs

For more information, please contact a Christopherson Business Travel Account Manager.

 

Categories
Travel Industry Travel News

United’s 2013 MileagePlus Premier Program Reference Guide

If you’re like me, it can sometimes be hard to keep track of all the different benefits and rules of United Airline’s MileagePlus Premier Program. But I found this reference guide to be very helpful. Many of these benefits can make or break your business travel experience. Click Here to download the .pdf version.

mileage plus

 

Categories
Business Travel Vacation Travel

Tired of the Usual Hotel Experience?

 

For most travelers, one hotel is the same as any other. You get a bed, nightstand, phone, bathroom and a television. Sure, some hotels might offer a larger room, chocolates on the pillow, or perhaps a nice desk, microwave and small refrigerator. But generally, hotel rooms are pretty much the same.

But have you ever thought about staying in an unusual hotel on your next trip? Something out of the ordinary? Here are three hotels I think would be great places to stay, although they would probably be better suited for vacation travel, as they are located in cities far from your normal business travel hubs.

  1. The Molja Lighthouse in Aalesund, Norway is a 150 year old lighthouse with all the modern conveniences you would expect in a hotel. Although, the bedroom is upstairs and the bathroom is downstairs. But what can you expect? After all, you’re in a lighthouse right at the harbor entrance. Talk about the views!
  2. Looking for something unusual, but a littler closer to home? Try the Featherbed Railroad in Nice, California. They have nine individually decorated cabooses that overlook Clear Lake, with a own private beach and boat dock.
  3. Have you ever wanted to spend the night in jail, but without that pesky police record following you around for the rest of your life? Try The Old Mount Gambier Gaol in Mount Gambier, Southern Australia. It’s a prison built in 1866 and closed in 1995. Guests have access to the prison library, the chapel, and three courtyard areas and can spend the night in a cell or non-cell room. All rooms have modern conveniences, so no need to worry about staying in the types of cells we all see on T.V. And when you leave, (i.e. get paroled) you won’t have to worry about a criminal record haunting you.

Most of these accommodations don’t cost any more than a standard hotel room. So why not make it a bit more memorable?

For more information on these and plenty more, click here.

Categories
Business Travel Travel Industry

BCD Travel Founder, John A. Fentener van Vlissingen, Talks about BCD History

BCD_AffiliateChristopherson Business Travel is a BCD Travel Affiliate. We joined as an affiliate 20 years ago, when it was then called BTI Americas. Being affiliated with the third largest global travel management company has been good, both for us and our clients.

BCD Travel operates in more than 95 countries, with US $20.8 billion in total sales, and a combined worldwide workforce of 11,000.

Recently BCD’s founder, John van Vlissingen spoke with Business Travel News editorial director Jay Campbell about “his legacy and lessons of business.” In his interview, he related the story of the 1998 acquisition of BTI Americas and the subsequent BTI-WorldTravel Partners merger. (Read more about that merger here.)

I was actually serving on the affiliate board of BTI Americas, prior to the acquisition by World Travel Partners taking place. We knew that BTI was for sale so we held an emergency board meeting in August of 1998 to talk about the various selling options BTI was contemplating, as well as the possible consequences of each one to the BTI affiliate organization. We learned about the deal with World Travel some time later and were thrilled to hear they decided to make the deal with WTP. It turned out to be a good thing for the affiliates.

In his interview with Business Travel News, van Vlissingen talked about the advantages of being privately owned and being able to make better long term decisions rather than what he calls “the quarterly thinking” (the short term need to meet “earnings numbers” required as a publically traded company).

Christopherson Business Travel is also privately owned and we too have the ability to make decisions based upon a longer term horizon. For example we have recently been investing significant amounts of capital in our people, new facilities, and technology that will benefit our long term future.