Business Travel

Virgin America Launches Seat to Seat Delivery Service


In this ever-evolving world of “pings,” “posts,” “tweets,” and “tags,” social media has also entered the arena of air travel. Last year, KLM announced their “Meet and Seat” program where passengers could, if desired, share their social media profile with fellow passengers and then, prior to departure, change their seat assignments to sit by the person whose profile interested them. Along the same lines, Virgin America recently launched their own social in-flight service. Their program is called Seat-to-Seat Delivery or, as their founder and chairman Sir Richard Branson presented it: “Sir Richard Branson’s Guide to Getting Lucky.”

The Seat-to-Seat program allows travelers to “treat” a fellow road-warrior or break the ice by sending a drink, meal, or snack to another seat with Virgin’s Red touch screen entertainment system. Flyers can browse the in-flight menus, make their order, and attendants will deliver it directly to the guest of choice. The receiver of the item can then choose to either engage in conversation or reject it.

Some people feel this kind of program is in violation of their privacy and is perhaps downright creepy. Virgin America does allow travelers the ability to opt out of this social feature at anytime during the flight.

To help kick off this new program, Virgin America is also running a competition on Facebook where travelers can enter their best in-air pick-up lines, success stories, or in-air flirt photos. Winners will be selected by Virgin America’s Facebook fans, who will then be awarded an all-expense-paid trip to Las Vegas.

So, if you are looking for romance on your next business trip, you might try flying Virgin America. Sir Richard Branson said: “I’m not a betting man, but I’d say your chances of deplaning with a plus one are at least 50 percent.” Perhaps it’s not just United Airlines who flies the “friendly skies.”

Business Travel Travel Management

How to get the lowest airfare–Understanding the fluctuation of flight prices

how to get the lowest airfare

As an Account Manager for Christopherson Business Travel, I’m often asked by our clients’ travel managers: “Why is it, when looking for a flight, that the price can change within minutes of purchasing the fare?”

Cost of airfare has the potential to impact both the traveler and the company. At the point of purchase, the traveler is trying to juggle getting both a reasonable fare and their schedule to align before the ticket price changes. And quite often, it’s the cost of airfare that pushes travel expenses over budget, thus impacting a company’s bottom line.

I like to compare purchasing airfare to buying stocks. The price of stocks and the price of airfare is not fixed and can change in less than a minute. Airlines rely on computer modelling to track sales and adjust fares accordingly as often as they want, just like the price of stock is adjusted depending on demand and the current economic and political climate. These variables, in addition to the following factors, can all influence the price of airfare:

  • Passenger load
  • Competitor pricing
  • Peak travel dates, holidays, and seasons
  • Fluctuating fuel costs
  • How much a traveler is willing to pay for a seat

Airlines will also often raise the prices on flights that have a higher percentage of business travelers vs. vacation travelers. They base this on the comparison of:

  • Flights with a high rate of last minute bookings, which tends to be an indicator of business travel clients vs. flights booked well in advance, which tends to be an indicator of vacationers who have been planning for months
  • Short-haul flights that business travelers can make in one day vs. vacation travelers who would more likely drive, instead of fly, that same distance
  • Travel dates during the work week vs. travel dates over a weekend

How can a Travel Management Company help businesses and their travelers when airfare is so unpredictable?

Travel Management Companies have the ability to leverage all of those price-driving factors to keep costs down and help the traveler make well-informed trip-driven choices. Here are some of the ways we, at Christopherson Business Travel, accomplish this:

  • Supplier negotiations
  • Analyze program leakage
  • Create and manage travel policy
  • Facilitate the duty of care for a company’s travelers
  • Assist in educating the traveler
  • Ability to track that the lowest fare was indeed offered to the traveler and the reasons why/if it was refused

To learn more about how Christopherson Business Travel can help your company find the most cost-effective airfares for your business travel needs, please contact one of our executives.


Business Travel

United Airlines Launches MileagePlus Small Business Network Loyalty Program

United miles plus

United Airlines recently announced the launch of its MileagePlus Small Business Network, which enables small businesses that sign-up for the program to earn and redeem miles on a variety of business purchases. New members can also earn 1,000 bonus miles if enrolled prior to August 17, 2013.

Earned miles can be redeemed for travel awards and upgrades or can be used to bid on merchandise and dining awards in the United’s MileagePlus headliner auction program. The program also allows companies to buy, transfer, or donate their miles to charitable organization. Small Business Network is the first of its kind specifically designed for small and midsize businesses.

Company News and Announcements

2013 Business Travel Survey


2013 Business Travel Survey

Business Travel Travel Industry Travel Management

Companies Continue to Discuss Managed Travel 2.0 and its Impact on Business Travel

travel 2.0With the Global Business Travel Association’s (GBTA) annual convention less than 90 days away, it’s becoming very clear as to what will, once again, be an important topic–Managed Travel 2.0 (also called “open booking”). I find this to be such a fascinating business travel industry matter, some might think I’m becoming obsessed. You can find my older blog posts here, here, and here where I discuss what Managed Travel 2.0 exactly is as well as its impact on our business travel industry. As new ideas continue to develop, many travel management companies, Christopherson Business Travel included, as well as other business travel groups and organizations, are diving even deeper into the details.

For example, Carlson Wagonlit Travel has developed a so-called “industry–first algorithm that assesses traveler stress on a company-by-company basis.” The results (hours of stressful business travel) can then be translated into a financial loss equivalent. (Read more about the algorithm here.)

The ultimate goal of the algorithm is to help companies uncover the actual costs of travel, as well as the hidden ones–particularly how business travel “stressors” affect the bottom line.

BCD Travel is also delving into the economics of traveler behaviors, particularly how the practice of building stronger relationships with travelers saves companies money, boosts productivity, and keeps travelers safe.

Additionally, a LinkedIn Group has been started, Managed Travel 2.0, to advance more discussions at a grassroots level. And be sure to keep an eye out for former travel management consultant Scott Gillespie to announce his new venture to assist companies in understanding productivity and employee retention consequences.

As you can see, Managed Travel 2.0 continues to be a hot topic and everyone is in on the discussion. I, personally, continue to enjoy learning about it and I look forward to the GBTA Convention August 4-7 in San Diego, California where (hopefully) more discussions, findings, and results are presented.

Travel News Vacation Travel

Planning Multi-generational Vacations: Get on board!

Have you heard the term “multi-generational travel?” It’s big in the travel industry right now, and refers to the trend of going on family vacations that include grandparents, parents and grandchildren–you can even throw in aunts, uncles, and cousins while you’re at it! These trips are amazing for getting quality family time with extended family members, but can be tricky to plan with so many schedules, varied interests, and ages. May I suggest cruising as a solution?

The 2013 Virtuoso Luxe Report found that family and multi-generational travel are the year’s biggest travel trend, with river and luxury cruises taking the next two spots. The report also found that spending time and reconnecting with loved ones were among the top reasons motivating such travel. Not surprisingly, Virtuoso travel agencies like Andavo Travel have seen a lot of crossover in these trends, with more clients booking multi-generational cruises over the past three years.

Cruising lends itself well to families with a range of ages and interests. It provides the convenience of being able to travel together, of only having to unpack once, all while experiencing a variety of destinations together as a family. Another added benefit, especially if there are little ones, is that when nap or bed time comes, the stateroom is only steps away, while everyone else can stay put and finish their activity.

Imagine, for example, the challenge of family travel in Europe–the cost of going to multiple destinations by train or plane with the whole crew: grandparents, parents and grandkids. With cruising, guests can go off for the day, onboard or ashore, and do what they like. Then everyone can gather together again for dinner and talk about the day.

At Andavo Travel, Christopherson Business Travel’s leisure travel division, we book many multi-generational trips–not just cruises! And having an agency handle all the details for families, particularly those spread out across the U.S., can be a real time and money saver.

Contact us today and we’ll get started on your family trip! or 866-327-7600

Business Travel Travel News

Delta, United, & US Airways Now Alerting Passengers of TSA Pre? Status

TSA Pre? status on boarding passes

TSA Pre?™ allows select frequent flyers as well as members of U.S. Customs and Border Protection Trusted Traveler programs, who fly on participating airlines, to receive expedited screening benefits during domestic travel. Eligible participants use dedicated screening lanes for benefits which include keeping shoes, light outerwear and belts on, as well as the option to leave laptops and 3-1-1 compliant liquids in carry-on bags.

In recent news, Delta, United, and US Airways are now alerting qualified passengers of their Pre? status with a “TSA Pre?” alert on mobile and paper boarding passes. This update comes in response to many eligible passengers often being unaware of their Pre? status or being unsure of which checkpoint line to join.

Delta and US Airways passengers will see “TSA Pre?” on printed boarding passes and, by the end of next week, the TSA Pre? logo will be on those airlines’ mobile boarding passes. On United, the TSA Pre? logo is currently only on printed boarding passes.

More details about the Pre? program and eligibility are on the TSA website.


Vacation Travel

Four Seasons Resort Vail: An Experience that shouldn’t be missed

My career path has taken me to some amazing places around the world and I’ve been fortunate to stay at numerous luxury hotel properties. Because of this, I am often asked what city or resort I’ve enjoyed the most. This is a difficult question for me, and usually requires a really long answer. However, I can tell you, hands down, that my favorite brand of hotel properties is Four Seasons. And while yes, they have amazing locations, beautiful suites, and impeccable grounds, it is their truly amazing, dedicated service that places them at the top of my list.

Recently, my husband, two young children and I visited the Four Seasons Resort in Vail, Colorado. We were greeted immediately and checked in within 5 minutes. When we got to our room, our luggage had already magically appeared, and I thought, how did that happen so quickly?

Our room was also thoughtfully prepared, with attention given to every detail–from hand-colored pictures for our kids, to cookies and milk with their names written in chocolate sauce.

We really wanted to experience the resort so we ate most of our meals there and truly “hung out.” The meals at the Flame restaurant were amazing. We ate breakfast and dinner there, and the breakfast buffet was the best I have ever enjoyed. Just imagine–homemade omelets, Belgian waffles, fruit, charcuteries, and the most unbelievable pork belly bacon you have ever tasted. (I really wanted to find a way to bring that stuff home!) Olga, our lovely wait staff, seemed to never leave our side, even for the buffet.

During our outings to the hot tub, there was always staff around, offering hot chocolate or some sort of wonderfully-made snack. You could, quite honestly, make Four Seasons Resort Vail your single and final destination (although of course there are also wonderful things to see and do outside the resort, in and around the city).

Ski season is, of course, a great time to visit Vail and the Four Seasons Resort–their ski valets are first rate–but the off-season is just as lovely as well. And the Four Seasons is, in my opinion, the only place to stay, should your travels take you to Vail.

Christopherson Business Travel is a Four Seasons Preferred Agency. If you’d like to enjoy the same service and experience my family received, please contact one of our travel specialists today to make reservations at Four Seasons Resort Vail.

Travel Industry Travel News

FAA Lifts Grounding: Dreamliners Are Back in Service

Dreamliners are back in service

After months of being grounded due to a faulty battery system, the FAA has lifted the grounding of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The aircraft is headed back into service throughout the coming weeks.

Eight airlines have the ultra-modern Dreamliner in their fleet with United Airlines being the only U.S. carrier in the group. Ethiopian Airlines will be first to resume service with other airlines following shortly after. United announced it will resume Dreamliner flights after May 31, initially serving the Houston to Denver route.

May the Dreamliner be hugely successful this time around!

Business Travel Travel Tips

How to Avoid Hotel Cancellation Fees

How to avoid hotel cancellation feesHotels, like any business, are always looking for ways to make more money. As a result, they have created fees and surcharges that were unheard of a few years ago. One example of this is the enforcement of cancellation policies.

Hotels have always had some sort of cancellation policy–meaning, the amount of time you have to cancel your room prior to your stay, before they charge you for that reservation. While there are some hotel reservations that cannot be canceled without an immediate penalty of one or two nights being charged to your credit card–this is most common in resort areas or in cities with a major event scheduled during your stay–the majority of hotels that cater to business travelers still allow cancellations up to a specified time prior to arrival, without fees being incurred.

In times past, most “no-show fees” could be waived if you simply called the hotel and explained your situation. But hotels are cracking down. They are beginning to charge regardless of reason, should you cancel after the grace period. In doing so, hotels can then keep the money they’ve made from your cancelled reservation, and hopefully re-sell the room to another traveler, thus doubling the revenue on that one room.

However, there are ways to help reduce the cost of cancellation fees and hopefully save you some money.

  • Join a hotel loyalty program. If you “attach” yourself to a particular hotel brand and begin earning points by always staying at their hotels when you travel, you will then be recognized as a “brand loyal” customer and the hotel will be more likely to work with you on an occasional no-show reservation. Think of it this way: The more points you accumulate, the more valuable you become to the hotel. And the more likely they are to accommodate your situation.
  • If your travel takes you to the same city frequently, try staying at the same hotel each time. The employees at the front desk will get to know you by name and your loyalty could pay off if you ever need a favor.
  • If you cancel your reservation and the hotel is refusing to grant you a waiver of their cancellation policy, ask if you can have a credit for a future stay. Many business trips are not necessarily cancelled, just postponed due to some unforeseen circumstance. If you know you’ll be returning, the credit can be applied to your next visit.
  • If your travel plans change frequently, avoid hotels that charge at the time of booking. You may also want to avoid those that have a 14, 7, or even 3-day cancellation policy. There are plenty of brands that still allow a 4:00 p.m. or 6:00 p.m. cancellation on the day of your arrival.

And always, to avoid unnecessary expenses, read or ask about the hotel’s cancellation policy. If it doesn’t fit your travel needs, consider booking a different hotel to save money and hassle should your plans change.

Business Travel Travel Management

The Acrobatics of Rock & Roll Business Travel

business travel management for rock groups

What event takes 130 people, 27 trucks, a 747 cargo plane, multiple cars, hotel rooms with late check-in and late check-out, catering, advance travel teams, and contingency plans? Here’s a hint: It’s all for one two-and-a-half hour rock and roll show.

Welcome to the Sir Paul McCartney tour!

The travel requirements for this tour were described as “practically a paramilitary operation,” by Global Business Travel magazine editor Peter Greenburg in his recent  article “Band on the Run: Anatomy of a Mega Rock and Roll Tour.”

It’s not just the musicians’ needs they have to consider. Planning a concert tour means coordinating travel for the entire crew, including lighting and sound techs, caterers, and accountants, plus the arranging of numerous hotel rooms, navigating weather, and dealing with lost luggage. It’s nothing short of a business travel management miracle.

But having had the privilege of attending two of Sir Paul’s concerts, I can confidently say that all the behind the scenes acrobatics are certainly worth it!

(Oh, and while you’re browsing the latest issue of Global Business Travel, check out Christopherson Business Travel’s ad on page 7!)

Business Travel Travel Management

Springs Resort & Spa in Pagosa Springs, CO: A “HOT” Corporate Executive Meeting & Retreat Location

The Springs Resort and Spa offers a perfect backdrop for your next corporate meeting and retreat.

Let me paint you a picture. Two days of back-to-back meetings, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., blank hotel room walls, boring budget planning. Sound familiar? I think we’ve all had a business meeting experience like that at some point.

But imagine this–a corporate meeting/retreat at the world’s deepest geothermal hot springs! Sounds like a much better alternative, doesn’t it?

I recently visited one such location in Colorado that not only accommodates all the necessary meetings business retreats need to have, but also cultivates a more creative and open environment, combined with a bit of health and wellness opportunities and outdoor activities.

The Springs Resort & Spa in Pagosa Springs, CO is the perfect corporate getaway and can accommodate small or large gatherings. Their conference facility features full audio/visual equipment and a private patio overlooking the Pagosa hot springs. The 29-room boutique hotel also offers the finest in resort amenities and is proud to be the first LEED built hotel in Colorado.

There are also plenty of options for employee team building. Wolf Creek Ski area has the most snow in Colorado, there is golfing close by, whitewater rafting, scenic balloon rides, adventure packages and of course the Pagosa Hot Springs and Spa with 23 individual mineral-rich waters with pool temperatures ranging from 83 to 114 degrees.

As you get ready to plan your next retreat, contact a Christopherson Business Travel Account Manager. They will connect you with Christopherson’s expert team of group and meeting travel planners to help you create your next successful retreat!