Staying one step ahead of your competitors seems to be the new business model standard and it’s no different for the airline industry.
United Airlines announced this month that they have introduced a new feature in their mobile app which allows travelers the ability to scan their passports and complete check-in for international itineraries.
eCommerce Managing Director Mark Nasr stated, “Our industry-first passport scanning function, in combination with the other check-in features on the mobile app, provides customers with more options and helps then save valuable time.” For United Airlines it is all about offering choice, control and convenience to their customers and co-workers.
To learn more about the United mobile app, you can visit their website.
Would you like to apply for a TSA Pre?™, but are not quite sure how to get the ball rolling?
How to enroll in TSA Pre-Check
After spending numerous hours in airport security lines this year, I’ve decided Pre?™ is the way to go. To enroll, you must first visit a TSA Pre?™ application center. You can do this in one of two ways:
Be sure to bring the required documents, which are outlined on TSA.gov, and $85.
After applying, approved applicants will receive a Known Traveler Number (KTN) in approximately two to three weeks. This KTN will then need to be input by your travel agent into each reservation. You can find more information about the application and enrollment process here.
What does Pre?™ mean for you? Faster lines in a dedicated screening line at airport security and no removal of belts, shoes, jackets, or laptops!
Delta has announced changes to SkyBonus, their points program for businesses and corporate customers. The new upgrades are expected to increase reward opportunities and will now be a system-wide reward program instead of the previous 16 region-specific program. The number of points needed to redeem rewards has also gone down, and corporate clients can redeem rewards sooner.
For those who aren’t familiar with Delta SkyBonus, it’s a corporate loyalty program for companies that spend less than $500,000 per year on Delta travel. In addition to a traveler’s individual award program, the purpose of SkyBonus is to also reward the company with points redeemable for awards–points that can be redeemed for flights, upgrades, Sky Club passes, elite status, in-flight courtesy coupons and various other rewards.
For more information on these changes, please click here.
Most companies, with more than a few business travelers, implement some sort of managed travel program and travel policy. Unmanaged travel can potentially become a huge expense and managed programs and policies provide ways to reduce those costs.
While business travel does account for a large portion of some companies’ expenditures, travel managers may find that their more experienced travelers are often the most budget travel savvy. In fact, I recently heard about a frequent business traveler who was recognized at a company event because he had eaten a significant portion of his business travel meals at Costco, thus falling far below the provided daily per diem.
However, while it’s great that particular traveler was aware of the per diem and is clearly motivated to comply with standards, I don’t think employees should be made to feel that they can only have a hot dog and soda for dinner in order to stay within a company’s policy.
In lieu of $2.00 dinners at Costco, here are some other ideas to implement in your company’s travel policy to save money:
1) Book travel in advance.
Sure, prices fluctuate and often change at the last minute, but by booking in advance, your traveler will have a greater variety of flight options, including those that cost less and best fit into your traveler’s schedule.
2) Provide travelers with a wireless hotspot.
Doing this will prevent business travelers from having to incur internet connection fees at airports, coffee shops, and hotels.
3) Increase meal per diems to allow for snacks.
Allowing business travelers to purchase a beverage and snack at the airport gift shop will come out cheaper in the long run than having to purchase food in-flight.
4) Restrict rental car usage.
If your business traveler is taking a one night trip to attend a meeting at, or near, the hotel they’re staying at, it may be more cost effective for them to use a taxi or shuttle service.
5) Encourage employees to call their travel agents if they need assistance.
A travel professional is more versed in booking travel and finding lower cost options, and in most instances, the cost savings that result will far outweigh the transaction fee.
As of the first of this month, Delta Airlines is allowing customers flying outside of U.S. airspace to continue using their portable electronic devices below 10,000 feet on International flights. The expanded customer use of portable electronic devices on international flights compliments Delta’s position to not allow the use of cell phones for voice calls while allowing silent transmissions that don’t interfere with customer comfort.
Delta was the first U.S. carrier to submit plans with the Federal Aviation Administration to allow domestic customers continued use of portable electronic devices while in airplane mode from gate to gate. The carrier conducted tolerance testing in 2013 of over 1,250 aircraft to ensure the safe operations of passenger portable electronic devices during all phases of flights which allows customers to use e-readers, tablets and smart phones, all in airport mode, during taxi, takeoff and landing on flights.
Delta’s efforts continue to lead the airline industry in innovation, customer service and comfort.
GBTA’s 2014 Convention, held last month in Los Angeles, offered attendees an array of educational sessions that sparked discussions on new or improved ways of managing business travel.
Of the sessions I attended, one stood out. Four companies discussed the inner workings of their travel program, along with the process of taking their program global. Each of the companies offered highlights of their programs and presented ideas to consider when taking a travel program “global.” Here are my notes from their suggestions and discussion:
All four companies had duty of care responsibility as the first consideration.
Cost savings was the next item to consider when globalizing their travel program.
Data management reporting followed as the third item.
One company contracts with two Travel Management Companies (TMC). The presenting travel manager said the two TMCs had a very good working relationship making this option possible.
While the hype, advertising, and media in the market place touts using one online booking tool throughout a global program, the reality is usually different.
The use of one booking tool globally is entirely dependent on the countries where offices are located.
Depending on the country and the tool, the adoption rate varies from 25% to 75%.
The cost of bringing on a given country/location needs to be considered against ROI, especially when only a few travelers reside in a specific country. Sometimes a particular location can be combined with another for cost effectiveness.
Travel agents are still highly regarded and a necessity with complex and international travel.
As a Convention attendee, I appreciate these education sessions and the perspectives they provide, and I look forward to next year’s event.
While traveling I am constantly connecting to Wi-Fi. It is so easily accessible and keeps me connected while I am away from the office. I recently came across an article which reminded me of the dangers associated with using wireless hotspots and suggestions for safer use.
Although I’ve heard these tips before, it was a nice review and reminder.
1. Keep a clean machine.
Ensure your devices are up to date with the latest antivirus firewall protection and operating system patches.
2. Stop and think before you connect to public Wi-Fi.
Wi-Fi is available everywhere you go, including airports, hotels, restaurants, parks, and museums, but these networks are completely open and insecure. Use common sense when you connect to public Wi-Fi and be cautious about the sites you visit and the information you send.
3. Paid Wi-Fi doesn’t mean safe Wi-Fi.
Just because you paid for Wi-Fi access, doesn’t mean it is safe. There’s no encryption to stop anyone from eavesdropping on your communications, so make sure you protect yourself from hackers.
4. Beware of evil twins.
Hackers sometimes set up “evil twins”–Wi-Fi networks that look real or near legitimate public networks–but if you connect to them, all of your information can be captured. It can be hard to tell the difference, so confirm the name of the hotspot with the owner before you connect.
5. Use a VPN to encrypt information on all of your devices.
If you use public Wi-Fi while you travel, the only way to guarantee your security is to use a virtual private network (VPN) like PRIVATEWiFi to encrypt your personal data in wireless hotspots. Remember, Wi-Fi signals are just radiowaves. Anyone can “listen in” to what you send and receive. Antivirus or firewall software won’t protect you – but a VPN encrypts all of your communications no matter where your travels take you.
With all the different options for reviewing hotel stays and providing online feedback for travel products and services, business travelers may find themselves asking, “How hard is it to find decent lodging with decent reviews?” The key is to understand that hotel rating systems vary from place to place. Additionally, there is a difference between a hotel’s rating and its guest reviews.
What are hotel rating systems?
Hotel rating systems are meant to provide an accurate and unbiased assessment of accommodations. In the U.S., the American Automobile Association (AAA) runs the “AAA Diamond Rating Process.” This system only rates hotels that meet AAA’s essential requirements based on things like cleanliness and comfort. Ratings are indicative of service, amenities, and décor. Keep in mind, however, that each country uses different systems. You can’t really compare a 3-star hotel in the U.S. to a 3-star hotel in Europe.
Christopher Elliott, author of “How to be the World’s Smartest Traveler,” submits the opinion that in many places, ratings are manipulated by clever reputation management operatives and can’t be trusted. Though Elliot may be on to something, don’t completely negate the validity of AAA’s process. This is where it can be valuable to weigh and compare a hotel’s ratings with its guest reviews. Though guest reviews can sometimes be fueled by circumstantial frustrations, they come from the people actually eating the food, swimming in the pool, and sleeping in the beds.
As you can see, next time you’re selecting lodging based on ratings, a little bit of investigative work may be necessary. Make sure you understand what the rating systems mean, and take the time to read a handful of guest reviews for a well-rounded picture of what your stay could be like.
For more information on hotel ratings, click here or here.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has made some major changes for passengers returning to the United States from some international cities. Passengers may now be required to power up electronic devices during the security screening process. If the device does not turn on, it will not be allowed on board. This could potentially cause undue stress for travelers returning home (e.g. an electronic device is not charged and won’t turn on) and having personal electronics deemed ineligible to return with their owners is certainly not the way to end a trip.
Wi-Fi, Apps, Web-browsing: they all increase the ability to track you and some would argue that they invade your privacy. For example, our smartphones and tablets have location services, Facebook tracks what you “like,” Google tracks your browsing history to serve relevant ads, etc.
Well, now the travel industry has taken it to the next level and Helsinki Airport is proposing to be able to track travelers within their airport once you connect to their wi-fi. This, they say, will enable them to know where you are to prevent bottlenecks in the terminals, send out flight updates and gate info, and market to travelers with offers from shops and restaurants.
What do you think about this proposal? Is it helpful? Or too invasive? Read more in this article from SKIFT.
I recently heard Biz Stone, the co-founder and co-inventor of Twitter who also helped create and launch Xanga and Blogger, speak at the GBTA Convention in Los Angeles. In his remarks, he shared the story behind the idea and invention of Twitter. He also shared some of his insights into how he defines success. I took the following notes:
First, it must be fun before it can be important.
Twitter is not a triumph of technology. It’s a triumph of humanity.
Opportunity can be manufactured.
Creativity is a renewable resource.
To succeed spectacularly you need to be willing to fail spectacularly.
Altruism is important, be willing to help other people.
Get started helping others early. There is a compounding impact in helping others. Time matters.
A lot of the improvements made at Twitter came from watching how people used our software.
My hope is that all of this hyper-connectivity will create more empathy in the world.
I just returned from a family vacation in Puerto Vallarta with my husband and three teenagers (Yes, we survived!). My son just graduated from high school and as children get older, it becomes more and more challenging to get everyone together at the same time.
These days, vacations come in myriad forms. While we took the traditional family vacation, more and more travelers are taking a different approach. Here are a few examples: A “paycation” is when you moonlight as you travel. A “daycation” is a quick 24-hour getaway. A “praycation” is a religious retreat. A “bakeation” is a foodie’s holiday dedicated to sampling pastries (Yum!). Eco tourism (a.k.a. sustainable tourism) and volunteer tourism are also becoming popular options for many travelers. If nothing else, you can have a “staycation” where you stay home and enjoy free time and sightseeing in your own city.
Regardless of how you decide to spend your time off, Christopherson Business Travel has an expert team of advisors in their leisure travel division (Andavo Travel) who can assist you with making your plans. Learn more on their website, or contact an agent for support by phone 866-327-7600.
The groundbreaking ceremony for Salt Lake International Airport’s new terminal was held last month on July 18. According to the press release, the 8-10 year construction plan will result in a new terminal and associated facilities at Salt Lake City International Airport.
“A single terminal will be built southwest of the existing terminal complex, featuring dual level access, new parking, and more spacious, modernized facilities,” the press release stated. “It is anticipated that the terminal will be completed in 2019.”
The $1.8 billion project will transform Salt Lake City International Airport into one of the nation’s most efficient airports. A more efficient Delta hub will also help drive Salt Lake City’s economic development.