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Why Every Business Should Embrace Corporate Travel Technology

Corporate travel technology has changed the way organizations and their travelers manage and plan, book, and experience business trips. For travel managers, keeping up to date with current innovations in corporate travel technology is critical to ensuring traveling employees are protected and prepared. Corporate travel technology also allows both managers and employees to have peace of mind through all stages of the trip.

Travel technology is constantly evolving, which means there’s almost always something new on the horizon. Below are a few critical innovations in travel technology, specifically designed for corporate travel programs.

Travel Management Software: A Must-Have for Corporate Travel

Businesses with a high volume of traveling employees face unique challenges. From booking the best rates to managing business trip approvals, tracking expenses and traveler safety, the list of responsibilities for corporate travel managers is endless.

Travel management software is a tool no corporate travel program should be without. The best travel management software should do more than track the minimum essentials. It should also integrate with other industry-leading technology tools. It’s critical that your travel management software includes a few key travel tech features:

Virtual Payment Options
Accurately tracking and reporting on business travel expenses are key to running a cost-effective corporate travel program. One way corporate travel technology helps you do this is by offering virtual payment options.

For example, companies face hotel payment challenges if a traveler is a contract worker, has limited credit, or doesn’t have a company credit card. But with virtual payment options provided by corporate travel technology, companies can easily pre-authorize payments with single-use credit cards. This option not only creates operational efficiency, but improves hotel billing accuracy, limits fraud exposure, and helps consolidate hotel spend.

Easy Booking Tools
While the internet has given everyone access to the vast options provided by airlines, hotels, and rental car companies, culling all those options takes time. Quickly finding the lowest rates, knowing which vendors provide the best value, and making bookings that align with corporate travel policies takes expertise. By partnering with a travel management company that delivers integrated corporate travel technology, travel managers can provide their travelers with booking options (online or with expert agents) that align with the company’s goals while still serving the needs of employees.

Corporate travel technology also allows travelers to create travel profiles that populate bookings with their travel preferences, reward memberships, and credit card numbers to eliminate the need for re-entering those details during the booking process.

Integrated Travel Policies
Corporate travel technology gives travel managers the ability to integrate, communicate, and enforce their corporate travel policies. You can also include your specific vendor contracts and detailed reporting requirements to easily manage expiring contracts and ensure you’re tracking the right data. This leads to overall cost-savings and improves both policy and vendor compliance.

Having the ability to customize and integrate your travel policy also means rules can be applied at the time of booking, so travelers maintain compliance from the very beginning.

Risk Management

In an era where anything can change at a moment’s notice, keeping track of traveling employees has never been more critical. Corporate risk managers need real-time access to global health and safety threats as well as the ability to quickly communicate them to business travelers.

Corporate travel technology should help you manage business travel risk by identifying risks and assessing impact, locating travelers by name, travel date, and/or location, and allow you to quickly verify safety or provide communication and assistance should an emergency arise.

 

Centralized Location
There are countless travel apps, all designed to manage different aspects of business travel. —too many options for too many singular actions. Travel managers don’t need one more app to manage one more thing. They need one tool that gives them access to everything.

The best travel management software should allow you to conveniently organize, access, and manage your entire corporate travel program from one place. When you gain access to a fully-integrated corporate travel software platform, you’re equipped to reduce spend, manage risk, track unused airline tickets, access traveler profiles, ensure policy compliance, and more. And travelers have access to the booking options, support, itineraries, and business travel resources they need to have successful trips.

Leveraging Digital Solutions

Christopherson Business Travel provides digital business travel management solutions that help companies maximize their budgets and keep travelers safe and happy.

Our integrated software platform, AirPortal, provides the essential tools for successfully managing and navigating corporate travel.

From booking to approval to security to reporting, AirPortal streamlines critical processes. AirPortal also helps companies maximize their travel budgets and reduce costs with features like AirBank, which tracks unused airline tickets to eliminate waste and ensure re-use.

Companies are always looking for ways to protect their bottom line. AirPortal’s Value Scorecard allows you to assess the ROI of your travel management company partnership by identifying and quantifying both the savings and value you’ve achieved.

All of these tools and features are easily accessible via desktop and mobile. Your dashboards are also customizable to meet your unique needs and how you manage your program and workflow.

Industry-Leading Technologies and Personalized Service

No matter the size of your company or business travel volume, Christopherson’s personalized service and industry-leading technologies can help you take control of your corporate travel program. Contact us today.

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How To Choose The Right Travel Management Company For Your Business

Most corporations spend about 10% of their revenue on business travel. However, that investment tends to pay off. Companies typically see a $2.09 profit increase and a $9.50 revenue increase for every dollar spent on travel.

Still, it’s difficult for many organizations to track and report those metrics. Additionally, business travel expenses often fluctuate, making it hard for companies to budget for it.

For these reasons and more—including concerns about employee safety—it is critical to hire the right travel management company (TMC). A travel management company will help you manage business travel risk, improve reporting, expenses, and more to ensure your investment in corporate travel pays off.

Here’s a short guide on how to choose the right corporate travel management company for your organization.

What To Look For In A Corporate Travel Agency

There is a persistent myth that corporate travel agencies are interchangeable and that one is as good as any other. This myth stems from the misperception that corporate travel management companies are simply travel agents that only help you book flights, rooms, and car rentals.

However, experienced corporate travel management companies provide far more valuable services that extend beyond typical travel agencies. As a result, they are an invaluable partner that can elevate your corporate travel program with the right strategy.

To ensure that you select the right corporate travel agency, look for the following features and services that will provide you with the most value, saving you time and money.

Cutting-Edge Business Travel Technology

There are many business travel management software providers. But the right corporate travel management company will have integrated, digital solutions that deliver the right tools to your employees. In addition to technology for corporate travel managers that track expenses, report metrics, manage unused tickets and assist with risk management, your corporate travel software should offer business travelers easy access to booking options, itineraries, policies, risk plans, and their support team.

From self-service options to mobile apps, your business travel technology should be up-to-date, real-time, and fully integrated. Look for a corporate travel management company that provides software that helps you manage your entire program conveniently, centrally, and cost-effectively, all while keeping a pulse on your employees’ locations in case of emergency.

Furthermore, if you are a corporate travel manager or are responsible for tracking your business travel expenses and ROI, your corporate travel management company’s technology should deliver real-time reporting with actionable data.

Schedule a demo today!

Experienced Travel Agents & Business Travel Support Teams

There is no substitute for experience. The business travel industry transforms quickly and is often the first indicator of how economic, geopolitical, weather and climate situations are going to affect global industries and economies. The COVID-19 pandemic is a perfect example of that.

When situations like these arise, they can often affect travel prices, the availability of travel vendors’ services and products, and sometimes, the safety of an organization’s business travelers.

An experienced corporate travel management company has its finger on the pulse of the travel industry and will know when and how these factors may impact your business travel program. Additionally, a TMC provides a team of expert travel agents, an account manager, and additional client service members who can assist you and your business travelers in navigating those changes or any other domestic or international situations that arise.

When business travelers encounter those unexpected, or even concerning, situations, they need access to someone who can assist them immediately. Your company may not be able to facilitate 24/7 availability for traveling employees. When looking for a corporate travel agency, look for a partner who provides immediate access to expert travel agents 24/7, 365 days a year.

Christopherson’s travel agents are particularly skilled at swiftly helping business travelers en route who have encountered these kinds of sudden and unforeseen situations. This level of skill and expertise is invaluable to maintaining your duty of care standards.

Ultimately, your travel management company’s team of travel agents, account managers, and support personnel should be consultative advisors who offer personalized solutions and deliver a plan that meets your needs, saves your company money, and aligns with your goals, travel policies, and risk management plans. It can also be beneficial to find a corporate travel agency with experience in your industry sector and an understanding of your frequent business travel destinations, whether domestic or international.

Meet Our Travel Advisors

Corporate Travel Policy Integration

Every business travel program should create a corporate travel policy. These policies ensure that both the organization and its business travelers are protected. They also help companies save money and manage the risk associated with business travel.

The right corporate travel management company will have the expertise to consult with you on current best practices of corporate travel policies. They will also have the technology needed to integrate that policy with all your booking options, helpful benchmarking tools, and your HR feed.

Additionally, the right corporate travel management company can guide you in presenting and communicating your corporate travel policy to your business travelers. Maintaining a current travel policy that 1) aligns with your corporate culture, 2) offers a measure of flexibility, and 3) is clearly communicated, allows you to set expectations while keeping business traveler satisfaction high. It also ensures that all your bookings are compliant which saves you money, gives you data to leverage when negotiating rates, and provides the intelligence you need to manage risk.

While business travel risk management is one of the most important duties of a corporate travel manager, it can sometimes be a bit of a grey area.

For example, what happens when employees participate in extra-curricular activities while “off-the-clock” but are still traveling for business? What if an employee gets into a car accident on their business trip, but the accident occurred not while engaged in business but while they were on their way to meet a friend? Should the consumption of alcohol be allowed while business traveling? Should your travel program address phone usage or other safety standards while driving?

These questions and more are another reason corporate travel policies are important and the right corporate travel management company can help you define what you want to allow or not allow within the scope of business travel.

Risk Management and Business Traveler Safety Tools

In addition to utilizing corporate travel policies to facilitate duty of care requirements, companies should also outline plans for managing business travel risk. Such plans ensure the lines of communication in an emergency are defined, open, and accessible if a business trip goes awry.

The right corporate travel management company will help you outline and implement your risk management plans. Risk management plans should consider business traveler safety needs and outline contingency options to enable quick pivots and immediate service when employees are on the road. Your corporate travel management company’s technology should also offer solutions for real-time notification of emergency, disaster, and weather alerts.

Intelligent Reporting & Travel Data Options

Suhail Doshi, the CEO of Mixpanel said, “Most of the world will make decisions by either guessing or using their gut. They will be either lucky or wrong.”

There is a world of difference between data and actionable data. The right corporate travel management company will deliver the reports and tracking software you need to access actionable data that measures performance and helps you analyze areas for improvement.

When your corporate travel management company provides easy-to-read reports with the right data, you can more easily justify the investment in business travel and prove the ROI of your corporate travel program to your management team. With proven, actionable data, you can also see where to save while identifying additional expenditures that yield greater profit and revenue.

When searching for a corporate travel agency, ask for a demonstration of their reporting software and look at the data they deliver. Ask if they are customizable and ensure they track metrics that will assist you in your future decisions.

Corporate Event Management Team

A challenge for many corporate travel managers is the additional level of detailed coordination required for corporate event planning. Organizing large conferences, making group travel arrangements, and negotiating with vendors can prove overwhelming on top of the numerous daily tasks associated with managing a corporate travel program.

But the right corporate travel management company will have an experienced corporate meetings and events team with specialized expertise in group air travel, incentive trips, and the various types of business travel events.

Such business travel events may include small gatherings like executive retreats and team meetings, or large events like trade shows and conferences. Regardless of the size of your event, your corporate travel management company’s meetings and events team has the ability to help you plan, manage, and execute details like audiovisual needs, catering, activities, ground transportation, attendee registration, and more.

Additionally, corporate meetings and events teams ensure each event is uniquely themed and aligns with your organization’s vision for the type of experience you’re wanting to create. They also maintain established relationships with trusted vendors worldwide to ensure the quality of that experience.

Business Travel Vendor Negotiation Expertise

When you partner with the right corporate travel management agency, you are able to leverage the collective buying power of that travel agency. Additionally, you can rely on your account manager to identify the power of your own spend data to strategically negotiate rates that benefit your bottom line.

Why Use A Corporate Travel Management Company?

If your company engages in business travel, partnering with a travel management company will save you time and money. An effective travel management program includes the following and more:

  • Intelligent corporate travel software
  • Centralized data and reporting
  • 24/7 support
  • Online and agent booking options
  • Risk management support
  • Expert vendor negotiation
  • Cost savings
  • Simplified and streamlined process

The right corporate travel management company should provide a comprehensive travel management plan that helps you navigate the unique needs of your own corporate travel program and caters to the needs of your business travelers.

How To Choose A Business Travel Management Company

Here is a quick checklist of things you can do to screen and choose a travel management company:

  • Review their website to understand their services
  • Ask for a demonstration of their travel software
  • Assess their solutions against your greatest needs
  • View sample reports
  • Read case studies
  • Ask for references
  • Check online reviews
  • Inquire with an RFI

Why Choose Christopherson Business Travel As Your Travel Management Company

Christopherson Business Travel is the travel management company you need to manage your travel program. What sets us apart is our unique approach to balancing the need for personalized, consultative service with technology that leads the way in this fast-paced world and ever-changing industry.

We take pride in improving our clients’ travel management programs and providing best-in-class service to meet the needs of their business travelers.

Contact us today!

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The Ultimate Guide to REAL IDs for Business Travelers

Editor’s Note: Since the time of posting, the Department of Homeland Security announced a 19-month, pandemic-related delay of the deadline to obtain compliant Real IDs. The new deadline is May 3, 2023.

READY TO TRAVEL? YOU CAN’T TAKEOFF UNTIL YOU’RE REAL ID READY

Vaccinations, laptop, sunscreen – check. REAL ID. What? You might be ready to travel, but starting October 1, 2021, you’ll need a compliant REAL ID or another acceptable ID form for domestic travel. Here’s what you need to know before you take off.

A QUICK BACKGROUND OF THE REAL ID ACT

The REAL ID Act, passed in 2005 in response to 9/11 Commission recommendations to prevent terrorism, was designed to make our forms of personal identification more consistent and secure.

But enforcement of the Act has been a long time coming. According to the New York Times, “The rollout has been delayed many times over the years after some states complained that the original deadline of 2008 was unreasonable.”

Timing may not have been the only factor. The cost, about $3.9 billion, was largely footed by the states, as federal aid to implement the Act totaled only $225 million. States also had difficulty getting the databases used to verify residents’ paperwork to function correctly.

And just as states were lining up their ducks for the Act’s enforcement deadline in 2020, a global pandemic blew them out of the water.

Many states responded to the pandemic by closing their Division of Motor Vehicle (DMV) offices, the agencies largely responsible for issuing REAL ID-compliant documentation.

State and federal agencies responded by granting grace periods for expiring driver’s licenses to minimize in-person contact and its inherent risk of infection to DMV employees and the general public.

THE CURRENT STATUS OF REAL IDs

In response to the pandemic, the National Governors Association sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in March 2020 requesting a minimal year-long extension of the REAL ID enforcement deadline.

That time is almost up: enforcement of the REAL ID Act begins on October 1, 2021.

Source: Department of Homeland Security

According to the Federal Register, “Beginning on that date, federal agencies may not accept a state-issued driver’s license or identification card for official purposes from any individual unless such license or card is a REAL ID compliant driver’s license or identification card issued by a state that DHS has determined is in full compliance.”

Without a REAL ID, you will be unable to travel within the United States by air—or enter certain federal buildings, Department of Defense installations, and nuclear power plants.

To prepare for Act enforcement, the DHS maintains a map showing state compliance. If your state is compliant, and your driver’s license or non-driver identification card is due to expire before the October 1, 2021, deadline, the new ID issued to you will have a radio frequency identification (RFID) chip, indicated by a star symbol, or will be “enhanced,” depending on your location.

A compliant license will be marked with one of the star symbols shown below, and an enhanced license will be marked “enhanced.”

Source: Department of Homeland Security

Since many driver’s licenses lapsed during the pandemic and resultant REAL ID-enforcement grace period, travelers should ascertain the status of their documentation and act quickly. The DMV lines are likely to be long—and we all want to get back in the air.

To help you become compliant, questions regarding REAL ID enforcement are addressed in the following FAQ section. Additional information can be obtained from your state or local DMV office and the DHS.

REAL ID FAQS FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS

When is the Real ID deadline?

  • All driver’s licenses will be accepted until October 1, 2021. On that date, TSA will only accept compliant state-issued IDs.
  • Passengers without a compliant form of ID will not be allowed through TSA security checkpoints beginning October 1, 2021.

Who needs a REAL ID?

  • All U.S. travelers flying domestically need a REAL ID or other acceptable form of ID unless they are minors traveling with a REAL ID-compliant adult.
  • TSA PreCheck flyers need a REAL ID or another acceptable ID form.
  • Passengers using and enrolled in CLEAR need a REAL ID.

How do I tell if I have a REAL ID?

  • State compliance doesn’t guarantee that your ID is compliant. If your ID isn’t marked with a star, check with your state driver license division.
  • Most compliant driver’s licenses are marked with a star at the top of the card. Check with your state DMV if you are unsure of compliance.
  • Some states—New York, Michigan, Minnesota, and Vermont—issue both “enhanced” driver’s licenses and REAL ID-compliant licenses; both of these forms are acceptable.
  • Washington State issues only enhanced licenses, which are also compliant with the REAL ID Act.

How do I get a REAL ID?

  • To get a REAL ID, present acceptable identity verification documents in person at your DMV office.
  • You can use the interactive map on the DHS’s website to make a plan with your local DMV to be REAL ID ready.

What kinds of documents are acceptable?

  • At a minimum, you must have documentation of:
    • your full legal name
    • date of birth
    • Social Security number
    • two proofs of principal residence address
    • lawful status

Some states may have additional requirements, so check with your DMV before visiting in person.

Are other forms of identification acceptable?

  • If you don’t have a REAL ID, other forms of identification are also acceptable:
    • A federally recognized tribal-issued photo ID is also an acceptable form of identification.
    • A valid passport can be used as identification for international travel instead of your driver’s license.

What forms of identification are not acceptable?

  • The TSA currently doesn’t accept mobile driver’s licenses.
  • Paper temporary/interim driver’s licenses are not an acceptable form of ID.
Source: Department of Homeland Security
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5 Major Pains Travel Managers Face as Travel Resumes in 2021 (& How to Overcome Them)

You might say everything has been a challenge for travel managers since the beginning of the pandemic. They’ve coped with staff reductions (and may have been laid off or furloughed themselves), lost vendor contacts (but are simultaneously bombarded by vendor calls and emails touting their properties and discounts), and are taking more administrative and managerial approaches to travel management as they integrate with corporate stakeholders to examine and revise travel policies—all while preparing to resume traveling at a somewhat nebulous point in the future.

To help smooth your transition back into traveling, we reached out to several travel managers and asked what major pain points they face as they contemplate getting employees back on the road. Here’s what they said.

1. How do we overcome the fear of traveling?

In October, a Harvard study asserted that, as far as contracting the coronavirus is concerned, flying with proper precautions is less risky than a trip to the grocery store or your favorite restaurant. That assertion doesn’t reassure most business travelers, though, or their corporate travel stakeholders.

Domo’s Global Travel Manager, Denise Daniel, says that overcoming traveler and management concerns over potential risks to employees on the road is one of the biggest challenges currently facing travel managers.

And even when you have some road warriors who want to get back out there to visit clients and make sales calls, the pandemic makes other employees “reluctant to come in for an office visit,” said Gordon Cowley, Director of Travel, Operational Services, at CHG Healthcare.

For Rimini Street—and many other businesses—the decision to resume travel is tied to the global roll-out of vaccines, but it is challenging to track global vaccination progress. “We need a benchmark to evaluate our return to travel,” said Debbie Welder, Rimini Street’s Global Corporate Travel Manager. “Vaccinations aren’t proceeding smoothly, and there’s a lack of knowing how many people are vaccinated.”

Maureen Sullivan-Esola, Senior Travel Manager at NICE Systems, agrees that access to the vaccine, as well as better dissemination of information through the media, will help travel resume. “That’s the feedback I’m getting from our travelers, by the way.”

A recent Global Business Travel Association poll confirms the importance of the vaccine in the willingness of travelers to resume business travel.

The Answer

As your stakeholders consider returning to travel in conjunction with vaccination roll-out, you can inform your decisions using the COVID-19 Vaccine Coverage Index, a tool many government decision-makers rely on, to track vaccination barriers and progress. With a U.S. level-of-concern map and county-specific search options, travel stakeholders can obtain information for specific areas (e.g., branch offices, client sites) or get a high-level view of progress by looking at how many residents in a particular state have received one and two doses of the vaccine in each state.

If your firm is encouraging, or even requiring, vaccinations before allowing travel, sharing vaccine availability with your travelers may help you meet your objective. The Center for Disease Control (CDC), Harvard Medical School, and other collaborators created the VaccineFinder site, which shows types of COVID-19 vaccines available, gives contact information for vaccination sites, notes their hours of operation, and provides instructions on how to obtain a vaccination. The site also allows selection of vaccine by brand and shows its availability using a zip code-centered radius.

2. How do we know our travelers’ destinations are safe?

Whether it’s a meeting at a client’s office, nearby hotel conference room, or other facility, face-to-face interactions require that travelers and travel managers prepare for whatever the traveler may experience at their destination.

“How do we determine what is being done at the other end when we send out our travelers?” said Welder.

Vendor policies and the health and safety measures vendors implement to prevent the spread of COVID-19 can be inconsistent across the globe. They can also vary between hotels in the same chain, which is another issue for travel managers and travelers.

The Answer

As part of your vetting process, research recent reviews of individual properties where you’re considering sending travelers. Forbes and ReviewTrackers ranked Google and TripAdvisor as the top two hotel review sites.

Additionally, Christopherson offers the COVID-19 Travel Vendor Health and Safety Guide to inform the vendor vetting process as you compare protocols across brands. Use the guide to develop questions for individual hotel properties so you can ascertain which protocols are and are not being followed before adding the hotel to your preferred vendors or making reservations.

After you’ve vetted and selected your preferred hotels, let your travelers know what to ask on arrival and to look for signs that indicate cleaning protocols are being followed.

According to infectious disease expert Dr. Thomas Russo, travelers should:

  • Look for hand sanitizer dispensers at entrances to the buildings.
  • Ask for the hotel’s cleaning protocol.
  • Verify that an EPA-registered disinfectant is being used.
  • Request a room that has not been stayed in for a few days.
  • Look for a cleanliness certificate at the front desk or in the room.
  • Check the room for dust, including the heating vents.

After your traveler returns, ask for feedback about the property and its health and safety measures and adjust your preferred vendors as needed.

Cowley, whose medical staff has been traveling throughout the pandemic, says he only uses vendors that meet or exceed the CDC’s COVID-19 standards. “I get occasional feedback from travelers when there is an issue. We haven’t had to change any vendors, but we shifted our airline preference to Delta Air Lines when Alaska Airlines stopped blocking middle seats.”

As far as hotels are concerned, Cowley says they are really delivering on their cleaning promises, and Sullivan-Esola says the airlines are successfully conveying their protocols to customers.

“Fortunately, I think the airlines have done a great job in communicating to us, and the TMCs, with all of the actions that all of the vendors are taking to mitigate the fear and some of the tangible COVID issues,” said Sullivan-Esola. “So I think that’s been really helpful to us.”

3. How do we keep track of changing border restrictions?

Tracking fluctuating border closures and regulations across countries, states, counties, and vendors is an arduous task for travel managers.

According to GBTA’s poll, 56% of travel managers and stakeholders said border closures and restrictions “significantly impacted” business travel and increased confusion, contributing to the uncertainty of when business travel can resume, among other impacts.

 

“Many jurisdictions have their own health and safety protocols. For example, different Hawaiian islands have different protocols and restrictions,” said Welder. “There are even different county guidelines for meetings and events.”

The Answer

To help travel managers and stakeholders keep tabs on border restrictions, Christopherson provides clients with access to a state and country entry restriction database on the COVID-19 Travel Information page of our website, includes a link to the database on every itinerary we send, and embeds the link in the online booking tool so your travelers can check border restrictions at time of booking.

Another good resource is from Global Rescue, who provides global travel risk and crisis management services and offers a free subscription to daily coronavirus alerts, which are sent directly to your inbox. The alerts include U.S. and international border restrictions, lockdowns, curfews, and stay-at-home orders, as well as testing and self-isolation regulations.

4. How do we track or verify mask mandates?

In January, President Biden signed the Executive Order on Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel, requiring masks to be worn at airports, on commercial aircraft, trains, public maritime vessels, intercity busses, and other public forms of transportation, thereby homogenizing unevenly applied restrictions throughout the United States.

However, as states lift mandates, and some counties continue to require them, keeping tabs on ever-changing regulations can be frustrating.

The Answer

Fortunately, travel managers can track these changes through websites such as MultiState, AARP, and the National Academy for State Health Policy, who provide state-by-state face mask and other coronavirus-related requirements.

U.S. News & World Report also addresses state-by-state mask mandates in a recent article that provides links to regulations and additional state-specific COVID-19 information.

5. How do we handle airline tickets and credits that expire before travel resumes?

One of Daniel’s current challenges is “trying to use up expiring airline ticket credits that have vastly different rules by ticket, even on the same airline.”

Many travel managers are facing this dilemma, as unused tickets purchased before the pandemic creep nearer to their expiration dates.

“This year we had a ton of cancellations in February and March with COVID. We had intentions of going to New Zealand, so we’ve got UATP cards for Delta and United,” said J. Ross Salmon, Director of Administrative Services at Nu Skin Enterprises, “ . . . as well as AirBank credits.”

The Answer

As Salmon mentioned, Christopherson’s AirBank tool is available to help travel managers track the life cycle of unused tickets, send automated alerts regarding ticket expiration, and ensure the use of these tickets when new flights are booked, regardless of whether they are booked online or with a travel advisor.

However, if your unused tickets approach expiration and your company hasn’t resumed traveling, your account manager wants to hear from you.

“If you find an unused ticket that doesn’t have an extended expiration date or is expiring, reach out to your account manager to see what options are available,” said Client Consultant Services Manager Dallas Stewart. “If you have a corporate agreement with the airline or a high-value ticket, we can try to get waivers for name changes or extend the ticket’s expiration date.”

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How to Ensure the Well-being of Your Corporate Travelers

Did you know that protecting the well-being of your business travelers benefits your company? Here’s how: 

Your people are your most prized asset. But expecting one of your business travelers to take red-eye flights, then come in to the office after days on the road, and produce an implementation plan en route to the conference treats your valued employee more like software than a software developer.

Comparing business travelers to “athletes in a suit” during a recent GBTA webinar on reducing traveler stress and anxiety, Dr. Lucy Rattrie said that companies often have unrealistic expectations for their employees. “You’d never expect your favorite sports team to get up at 3 a.m., fly somewhere, ace a sports game, fly home, and get up for training at 6 o’clock the next morning.”

The stress associated with frequent business travel—compounded by the duress of productivity, performance, and personal sacrifice—leads to traveler burnout, especially for employees who travel 14 or more days per month. This duress can be demoralizing, causing depression, job dissatisfaction and disengagement, resulting in the expensive process of employee replacement.

Use permitted by Dr. Andrew Rundle and Business Travel News.

Ensuring employee well-being—safeguarding their mental, physical, and social welfare—is a common law duty of care responsibility that applies to traveling employees, whether they are meeting a prospective client across town or presenting at a conference across the globe.

“Employers have the moral and legal responsibility and obligation for the health, safety and security of their employees, especially those traveling on behalf of the employer.”

Stephen Page, Assistant VP, Lockton Companies Insurance Brokerage

Here are three ways companies can increase traveler satisfaction and well-being and enjoy the benefits that come from happy, healthy business travelers:

1. Communicate Your Concern

Letting your travelers know you’ve got their backs alleviates many travel-induced stressors, so communicating this concern is vital. Yet 61% of business travelers surveyed by Amadeus said either their company “doesn’t take steps to actively improve traveler well-being or they are unsure whether the company does.”

In another study, only 44% of international business travelers said they were offered real-time information on security issues and only 43% were given tracking information for their business trips, leading more than half of these employees to believe their well-being is of little consequence to their employer.

“People are spending time away from their lives for your business, and if you treat [travel] as just a cost center, eventually those employees will treat your business as just a job. Ignoring that for any company that is investing in developing and retaining talent is a huge risk.”

Harmony Miller, HR Manager, GRI

You can communicate your commitment to traveler well-being by:

  • Verifying key health and safety information, such as emergency contacts and personal itineraries, before each trip
  • Holding traveler training to discuss your emergency plans/protocols
  • Empowering travelers and travel managers with mobile apps that provide security alerts, destination maps, and links to their itineraries, like SecurityLogic.
  • Lessening the headaches of travel by allowing travelers to rebook canceled or delayed flights through travel advisors
  • Reviewing and discussing your travel policy at least annually to ensure it’s in line with institutional and personnel changes

“Employers can further support a culture of health by adopting policies that mitigate the wear and tear of business travel and by providing their travelers with tools and training for handling stress while on the road.”

Dr. Andrew Rundle, Associate Professor, Columbia University

2. Develop a Traveler-friendly Policy

Although booking a 5 a.m. flight for a 9 a.m. meeting may save the cost of an overnight stay at the Marriott, Amadeus shows that poor traveler well-being can “create costs for employers through higher medical claims, reduced employee productivity and performance, absenteeism, presenteeism and short-term disability.”

Maintaining traveler well-being means making accommodations in your policy, but this actually benefits businesses. Having a “very attractive travel policy” interested 84% of business travelers when considering a different job requiring a similar amount of travel. According to 83% of respondents, a better travel policy would be equal to or more important than pay and responsibilities, so factoring employee well-being into a travel policy is essential to employee retention and recruitment.

According to ARC, allowing non-stop flights is the most preferred way to ease business travel friction, followed by providing better/more convenient lodging options, allowing business-class travel on extended flights, and allowing paid time off after long trips.

Lodging affects travelers throughout their stay, so a pleasant experience—or a bad one—has a big impact on well-being. If the hotel has limited options, travelers are more likely eat junk food, drink heavily, and be sedentary, all of which lead to burnout, an “occupational phenomenon” recognized by the World Health Organization.

Employees suffering from burnout or fatigue are also more likely to engage in risky behaviors that they might not participate in at home, according to International SOS. And burnout often requires an extensive recovery period.

“It took about six months for me to recover from what was considered burnout by my doctor. When I got to that point, it felt like chronic fatigue.” – Dr. Lucy Rattrie, Psychologist & Founding Partner, Business Travel Wellbeing Community

However, you can mitigate travel impacts on employees by aligning accommodations with your travelers’ needs. To promote well-being, select hotels with facilities and services such as:

  • Easy access to conferences and meetings
  • Fitness facilities and / or pool (or reimburse travelers for memberships to national gyms)
  • Healthy onsite and nearby dining or in-room meal prep options
  • 24-hour services
  • Employee-paid relaxation services such as massage and yoga

Mia Kyricos, global head of well-being at Hyatt Hotels, told the New York Times that our 24/7 world places increasing demands on work and life, so “well-being is top of mind for everyone today, and we think that’s going to continue in the future.”

3. Combine Business with Pleasure

If you’re looking to increase traveler well-being, allowing a “bizcation” or “bleisure” travel—personal days before or after a business trip—may make your travelers more willing to leave home and increase their productivity. Since business travel reduces social and personal time, adding bleisure provisions to your travel policy promotes a better employee work/life balance, which in turn facilitates employee well-being.

Employees also benefit from bleisure opportunities by reaching destinations they might not otherwise afford, such as Europe or Asia, and by accessing bucket list entertainment and activities like visiting the Museo del Prado in Madrid, ziplining Arebak Volcano, Costa Rica, or seeing Lady Gaga live in Las Vegas.

A study of international business travelers found that while 74% of respondents “saw business travel as an opportunity for adventure and exploration,” the corporate decision to include bleisure time “was inconsistent and at the direction of individual managers.”

Developing a bleisure policy for employee well-being doesn’t have to hurt the bottom line if its provisions are thoughtfully implemented, such as:

  • Allowing employees personal days if their originating or returning flight falls on a cheaper travel day
  • Providing bleisure opportunities if employees subsidize their travel insurance and / or any travel changes that increase trip costs
  • Defining employee responsibilities for bleisure travel including duty of care, expense tracking, communication, and travel arrangements
  • Permitting employees to travel with a self-paid companion to enjoy bleisure time and increase their connectivity with family or friends
  • Using bleisure travel as a benefit for employees who save your business money by complying with corporate travel policies

“Bleisure travel is ultimately a win-win for employers and employees,” said Chubb insurers. “By providing guidance and extending protection to employees taking bleisure trips, companies can safeguard their greatest assets, address issues before they arise, and reap the financial benefits of their support.”

Well Travelers = Willing Travelers

Since comfort and support are critical to traveler performance, implementing a travel policy that accounts for employee well-being not only lessens travel impacts on employees but also benefits the bottom line. Allowing travelers to maintain elements of their normal routines and have some travel-related personal or downtime means they will be better rested, eat healthier meals, exercise more, and feel more positive about their job and their time away from home—all of which means they’ll be more likely to travel again.

“Whether we give them an upgraded seat, or extend their trip for leisure, it’s the little things like that that play into the role of overall satisfaction of the traveler.” – Harmony Miller

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Business Travel Company News and Announcements Featured in the news Travel Industry Travel News

COVID-19: Travel Partner Update

Christopherson delivers a bi-weekly email to clients with the latest developments and important information about how COVID-19 is impacting travel. This post was last updated on August 25, 2020. 

Christopherson Expands COVID-19 Resources

We are pleased to offer even more support as you work to get your travelers back on  the road. Visit our new COVID-19-dedicated webpage to access reliable resources and updates on the pandemic and how to travel safely for business.

Included on this new page are our regularly updated Travel Vendor Health & Safety Guide, our travel partner updates, a state/country entry restriction database, and current COVID-19 numbers and statistics. 

Delta Extends Middle Seat Blocks Into January 2021

Delta Air Lines is extending their protocol to block middle seats and limit the number of customers per flight through at least Jan. 6, 2021. They are also extending their change fee waiver for new flights purchased through Sept. 30.

American Extends Travel Waiver Through Dec. 31

American Airlines has extended its offer to waive change fees for customers who purchase tickets by Sept. 30, 2020 for travel through Dec. 31, 2020. The offer is available for any of American’s fares.

Q&A: How Border Control Technology Could Ease COVID Spread

The return to an open and robust air travel industry is dependent on many factors including containment of the virus, development of vaccines, a resumption of corporate travel, strong consumer confidence and the lifting of travel restrictions.

Technology can help to facilitate this process by enabling contract tracing that correlates passenger data with confirmed cases of COVID-19. Read more in this Q&A.

Scientists Say Odds are Slim of Catching COVID on Plane

CNN reported that according to some experts, who point to the very few documented cases of in-flight transmission, the chances of catching COVID-19 while on board a flight are actually relatively slim. According to findings, the odds of a passenger catching COVID-19 on a flight and dying from the virus are less than one in half a million. Read about the study here.

TSA Promotes “Stay Healthy. Stay Secure.” Campaign

TSA launched their “Stay Healthy. Stay Secure.” campaign, which details proactive and protective measures they have implemented at security checkpoints to make the screening process safer for passengers and our workforce by reducing the potential of exposure to the coronavirus. Here’s a helpful infographic about the program.

TSA also announced they will be installing acrylic barriers and associated equipment at checkpoints in 37 priority airports nationwide, with wider rollout this fall.

Christopherson Named No. 1 Woman-Owned Company

We are honored to have been ranked No. 1 on Colorado Biz Magazine’s list of Top 100 Woman-Owned Companies in 2020.

Need a Good News Break?

A few fun stories our team enjoyed this week:

The information here is up-to-date as of August 25, 2020 and is provided for general information purposes only. It should not be construed as legal advice. Christopherson does not provide recommendations on the prudence of travel to an affected location. We do seek to provide pertinent information, allowing organizations and travelers to make informed decisions regarding travel.

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Business Travel Travel Industry Travel Management Travel Technology

How to Cancel a Trip in Concur Travel

Below are the steps you can take to cancel a trip in Concur Travel:

  1. On the home travel page in Concur, click on Travel at the top of the Menu Bar.
  2. Then click on the Upcoming Trips tab to see future trips.
  3. Click on the right to cancel the trip.  This will Cancel the entire itinerary (all vendors in the record).

If the traveler has a hotel booked included in the record they cancel, they will need to make sure they receive a hotel cancellation number after the cancel. 

If they DO NOT get a cancellation number they could be trying to cancel within the penalty timeline and could get a no-show charge from the hotel.

The screenshot below outlines how to see withdrawn (canceled) trips in the Trip Library in Concur

  1. In the Trip Library, travelers can search for past travel using the date range box. 
  2. They can check the box to include withdrawn trips to see trips canceled in Concur. 
  3. The traveler can then click on a specific trip for a canceled hotel reservation and they will see the hotel cancellation number.
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Business Travel Travel Industry Travel Management Travel Technology

What Does a Travel Management Company do?

A travel management company (TMC) is a travel agency that provides extensive business travel support to organizations of all sizes. A TMC can simplify your workload, help you manage travel risks, reduce travel spend, serve your travelers, and provide integrated and centralized data reporting.

1. Simplifies and Streamlines Your Workload

Corporate travel management is complex. As a travel manager, you are often juggling a lot of different tasks within your company. Trying to keep track of employee travel preferences, travel plans, unused tickets, and more can be a daunting task. Travel management companies streamline your processes and support your business travel program through service and technology.

Christopherson Business Travel understands that technology is key to simplifying your workload. That’s why we built our AirPortal software platform. AirPortal provides customized dashboards for both travel managers and travelers with access to all the tools each stakeholder needs to manage the travel program and their business travel, respectively. This suite of tools within AirPortal streamlines the ability to manage risk, spend, profiles, travel plans, unused tickets, booking options, and more.

Each traveler is able to create a unique profile within our travel management platform that securely stores their travel preferences and loyalty program information. These profile details are fully integrated to ensure ease and convenience at the time of booking. When working with a TMC, travelers are able to book travel online or with an expert travel agent, based on your unique service needs. Your company travel policy is also custom-built and integrated to ensure all bookings are compliant.

AirPortal uses artificial intelligence to show the user what’s most important. On both the travel manager and traveler dashboards, AirPortal provides My Action Items, a feature that lists pressing or time-sensitive tasks and reminders so you always know what’s most important today. For example, if a traveler books their flight and rental car, but not a hotel reservation, a line will populate in their My Action Items alerting them of this gap in their travel plans. Or maybe a travel manager missed a travel approval request. This too will appear in the My Action Items feature of their dashboard, along with any other pressing tasks.AirPortal360 Travel Management Company

Some travel management companies like Christopherson also integrate their travel management software directly into valuable benchmarking tools, preferred booking tools, and your HR feed. Facilitating these integrations allows you to access everything you need from one centralized location, saving travelers and travel managers time, and ultimately money.

Providing guidance through account management is another way a travel management company can streamline and focus your travel program toward reaching your goals. Account managers should work with you to carefully analyze your program to see where you’re succeeding and where the gaps are. Based on that analysis, they should then provide a custom travel management plan to help you know where improvements can be made. This kind of consultative account management allows travel managers to lean on the expertise of seasoned industry professionals

2. Helps You Manage Risk

Duty of Care is the legal and moral responsibility each organization has to keep its employees safe from threats. Such threats could include extreme weather or natural disasters, political strikes and civil unrest, car accidents, theft, personal attacks, or terrorism—the list goes on. As a travel manager, how do you maintain confidence that you are upholding your obligation to protect and care for your travelers?

A travel management company can help expedite your knowledge of threatening situations in areas where you have travelers and facilitate your response and/or assistance. At Christopherson Business Travel, our clients utilize our SecurityLogic tool to access critical, real-time security data, quickly locate travelers and verify traveler safety.

SecurityLogic Corporate Travel Management Company Example

In a recent study, only half of the travel managers surveyed felt confident that they could locate their travelers within two hours of an emergency. If your travelers’ plans are not stored, managed, or accessible from one centralized location, trying to locate employees during a crisis could be a messy and stressful task, not to mention potentially disastrous.

SecurityLogic provides travel managers with a real-time list of who is currently traveling and where those travelers are. SecurityLogic also allows you to quickly see if your travelers are in or are going to be in an affected area.

Travel alerts inform you of events that could impact employee travel or compromise their safety. Travel managers have the option to click through to the news source to get even more information. For extra security, you can set up auto-alerts that push directly to travelers via text and email to verify safety.

Click here to see a quick video tutorial on SecurityLogic.

3. Reduces Your Travel Costs

Partnering with a corporate travel management company can significantly reduce your overall travel costs. TMCs have expert knowledge in all aspects of the travel industry, including contract negotiations. Your account manager should be able to negotiate with your preferred vendors to ensure you are paying the lowest amount possible.

Cost Savings from University Corporate Travel ColoradoBusiness travel plans often change or get canceled. Did you know that nearly 10% of all business travel airline tickets go unused? As a travel manager, how do you ensure those funds from unused airline tickets are used before they expire? Keeping track of all the changes in your traveler’s plans could be a fulltime job in and of itself.

Travel Management Companies should ensure your unused tickets don’t impact your bottom line. Christopherson’s AirBank tool, found within AirPortal, captures those unused airline tickets and prevents the loss of those funds by prompting their reuse at the time of booking, whether online or with a full-service advisor.

Working with a business travel agency also ensures employees are booking within your company travel policy. By booking within policy, you can take advantage of your corporate rates, ensure you aren’t overspending, and make expense tracking and reporting a breeze.

Lastly, by partnering with a TMC you are saving time. Every hour you do not have to spend dealing with a travel headache, is an hour you can utilize elsewhere. Travel managers shouldn’t have to troubleshoot flight delays, manually keep track of itineraries, or pull reports from multiple locations. Travelers can find information quicker, make last-minute updates to travel plans, access 24/7 support from a trusted travel expert, and locate all expense receipts in one location.

4. Serves Your Travelers

Companies rely on corporate travel to close new business, foster relationships with current accounts, or inspire and connect departments within their own organization. In order to ensure those travel dollars are well spent, businesses need to prioritize the traveler experience to avoid fatigue and travel burnout. This is where a travel management company can shine.

By utilizing a tool like AirPortal, travelers can access all their travel plans in one location. No more frustrated inbox searching! Travelers are also alerted when they have incomplete trip plans. This allows you to avoid the high-stress situation of arriving at a new destination and realizing you forgot to book a hotel. Avoiding these small hiccups makes for a better traveler experience overall.

Let’s dive deeper into the actual booking process. Whether your travelers like to book online themselves or with a travel agent, partnering with the right travel management company can provide huge upside.

First, adhering to company travel policy is effortless. Regardless of which booking option they choose, your travelers are only offered options that fit within your policy. Traveler preferences are also documented, integrated, and considered before any bookings are confirmed, which makes for happy travelers!

Most importantly, TMCs should offer around-the-clock expert support and consultation. We all know that flights are sometimes delayed or canceled. Occasionally hotels are overbooked. Having access to a dedicated travel advisor team or a certified online support team means your travelers can feel confident in knowing they always have a trusted expert to turn to.

High-stress circumstances during business travel can lead to traveler anger and resentment towards their employer. These situations need to be solved quickly and with little effort from the traveler. With Christopherson Business Travel, your travelers have an expert in their corner to deal with unforeseen issues no matter the day or time.

5. Provides Integrated and Centralized Data Reporting

Next, let’s dig into how a travel management company can help the travel manager as well as the finance department. Many businesses struggle to analyze data because this information is coming from multiple departments and software. Christopherson’s AirPortal platform takes all your data points and presents them in a meaningful and centralized way.

Your AirPortal reporting and analytics tools can help you identify which departments or individuals spend the most on travel, which travelers book outside of your policy, and trends to see where you can save money. Having clear, concise reporting ensures accountability across all departments and helps you to make better-informed business decisions.

In addition to AirPortal’s benchmarking and analytics options, you can also access ValueLogic, an ROI tool that allows you to see exactly how and where we’re saving you money. And since not all travel programs are the same, AirPortal’s reports can be customized to your specific needs, so you see what matters to you. The end result? Cost savings and a well-managed travel program.

 

Read our blog post, What are the benefits of a corporate travel management company?” to learn about more benefits a TMC can provide. 

 

Do You Need A Travel Management Company?  Customer Testimonial for CBT Travel Management

From Fortune 500 companies to nonprofits to start-ups, any organization that wants to save time or money on travel can benefit from using a TMC. Download our whitepaper “Do I Need A Travel Management Company?” to better understand how your travel program could benefit from a TMC.

Click Read next: 

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5 Facts Every Business Traveler Needs To Know About The Coronavirus

If you have seen the news or skimmed social media this week, chances are you have heard about the coronavirus outbreak in China, now with confirmed cases in Hong Kong, Macau, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and the United States. As a business traveler, you might not have the luxury of canceling or postponing your upcoming travel plans, so we put together the five most important facts to keep you informed and safe from this concerning outbreak.

1. What is the coronavirus and how is it spread?

The novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a respiratory infection in the same family as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). During early cases of the novel coronavirus, it was thought to have spread from animal-to-person, however new cases of the virus have been identified in patients that confirmed they had no exposure to animal markets. Person-to-person transmission of 2019-nCoV has been confirmed but the exact way in which the transmission occurs remains unknown.

2. What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

Symptoms of the coronavirus look and feel much like the flu, including fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If you believe you might have come into contact with an infected person, seek medical attention immediately.

3. How can I protect myself from the Coronavirus while traveling?

The Center for Disease Control states the first way to protect yourself is to wash your hands often and thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Do not touch your face with unwashed hands. Avoid coming into contact with people who are sick. Cover your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing. Use alcohol-based sanitizers throughout the day.

4. What should I do if I have travel planned to an affected area?

The World Health Organization (WHO) has not yet recommended any travel restrictions. Business travelers should closely monitor the news, the CDC, and the US State Department for breaking\/changing information. Utilize your company’s travel risk management tools to ensure you have the most up-to-date information on the outbreak and possible travel restrictions. Give yourself extra time at the airport for potential health screenings, delays, and long lines. Employ the highest level of health and sanitation protocols.

5. How can my Travel Management Company (TMC) help?

Contact your dedicated business travel agent if you want to delay or cancel any of your upcoming business travel plans. Some airlines and hotels are offering free cancelations for people with travel plans to or through the affected areas and your TMC will be most knowledgeable on eligibility. Your TMC may also be able to assist you in avoiding high-risk areas without canceling your trip plans.

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Business Travel Travel Industry

Improving The Safety For Women Business Travelers In Your Company

Whether it’s a concern about terrorist attacks, identity theft, or simply food poisoning, your health and wellbeing is important while on the road. Unfortunately, according to a study by GBTA, women business travelers often feel concerned about their own safety while traveling on business. In fact, of the women surveyed, 80% reported at some point feeling worried about their personal safety while traveling. More needs to be done in the business travel industry to help women feel secure while traveling on behalf of their company.

Women business travelers often have concerns for their safety while traveling on business

This study from GBTA and AIG, found that:

  • 83% of the women surveyed reported that in the past year one or more safety-related concerns or incidences occurred while traveling for business.
  • 63% think about safety always or frequently while traveling, and their concerns for safety have been escalating.
  • 84% of women say their employers either did not provide safety tips or resources, or they were not aware of such tools. It is startling to think that majority of employers in the study are not providing the adequate duty of care and support for their employees. Even if these companies have risk management protocols in place, their communication is ineffective.

Ultimately, both the business traveler and the company wants the business trip to be productive and successful. Your travelers are less likely to do so if they are preoccupied with safety concerns or security issues. Women often feel these effects more in our society than other demographics, and this study shows how significantly under prepared most women feel when traveling on business. Recognizing this immense gap is the first step in helping to resolve the problem.

What can your company do to help women (and men) feel safer while traveling on business?

  • Listen to their concerns – As the person booking travel, you may not be aware that your go-to hotel in Seattle is down a dark alley and their after-hour front desk manager is a creep. Establishing an open culture in your office about business travel concerns could make a big difference. If travelers know they can come to you, you’ve already tackled one of the biggest hurdles in this issue. Depending on the travel policy or vendor contracts, you might not be able to change hotels completely, but you can at least keep these comments in mind when you review your program or vendor contracts down the line.
  • Discuss duty of care policies and procedures – We often find that most travelers don’t know the security features within their travel program. It often puts travelers at ease knowing that their itinerary is known, and communication is always open through features like our Security Check.
  • Educate travelers on theft, phishing scam and identity theft – Did you know that hotels have one of the highest rates of identity theft? Keeping your employees educated on the common threats, and more importantly, how to evert them, will provide them the tools to travel safer and with more confidence.

In this survey, 80% of the women at one point or another did not feel safe while traveling on behalf of their company. This should not be acceptable in the business industry today. It is up to individual companies to provide an open culture for employees to voice their concerns. As well as have effective communication for employees to understand the policies in place to make them feel supported.

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Southwest Airlines Will Require CVV Code in Booking Process

UPDATE – Southwest Airlines recently announced they are postponing the CVV requirement for booking from June 17, 2019 to a later date. Though not required now, a credit card CVV code will likely be needed to book travel in the near future. It is still recommended that you contact your Christopherson Account Manager and update your credit card information.

Does your company book travel with Southwest Airlines? If so, it’s important you know this information. Starting June 17, 2019, Southwest Airlines will require the credit card CVV code to complete their booking process. Fortunately, this update is a tiny one that requires minimal action. Unfortunately, if not completed by June 17, it will cause disruptions and declined transactions on Southwest Airlines tickets.

Reducing fraud through CVV codes

The credit verification value, or CVV code, is the three or four digit number on debit and credit cards. It can be found on the back of VISA, Mastercard, and Discover cards, or on the front of American Express cards. Providing the CVV code at the time of purchase confirms to online merchants that you have the physical credit card or debit card in your hands during the transaction. It is one technique that helps reduce fraudulent purchases. Southwest is the first airline to require CVV information on booking reservations, but others are predicted to follow soon. Visa is also requiring the CVV code in order to purchase online air tickets.

What does this mean for your corporate travel?

Finding the CVV code is pretty easy when you can just pull it out of your wallet. The process becomes more complicated when multiple departments or travel partners are involved. Some companies use one card managed by a Travel Manager. Others allow individual employees to book travel themselves with their own corporate credit cards. Understanding how your company books travel is the first place to start.

If Southwest Airlines is one of your carriers of choice

We’ve outlined the easiest way to update your CVV code to avoid any future delays or disruptions. How does your company book travel with Christopherson?

  • One company card is used to book travel: Contact your Christopherson Account Manager to update the credit card information with the CVV code. They will also verify additional card information, names, and billing addresses to ensure your account is current.
  • Travelers book their own travel with individual credit cards: Advise your travelers that they will need to provide their credit card’s CVV number whenever they book a reservation with a Christopherson travel advisor. Your travelers can also easily book Southwest through your online booking tool where the CVV code is not required.
  • A company card is used to book travel AND travelers book with credit cards:If the majority of your employees book their own travel, but a company card is used for contractors’, interviewees’, or lower-level employees’ travel booking be sure to contact your Christopherson Account Manager, as well as notify your travelers of these updates.

As we work to ensure no disruption to your travelers and protect your company against fraud, we appreciate your partnership and proactivity to this update. If you have any additional questions about updating the CVV code, please contact your Account Manager.

 

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Business Travel Travel Industry Travel Technology

Biometrics And What It Means For Business Travel

The travel industry, especially air security, has always at the forefront of the latest technology. Just think about, where was the first place you walked through a metal detector? Or walked through a scanning device? It was likely at an airport security line. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are always spearheading procedures to keep us safe. Want to know what they up its sleeve now? Look no further, it’s Biometrics.

 

What are biometrics?

We are all unique in our own way, like snowflakes. Biometrics is the act of using these physical and behavioral differences to identify individuals. Identifying through fingerprints is a common biometrics technique. New technology has made biometrics effective in other ways, like analyzing the irises of the eye and even full facial scans.

 

What will air travel look like in the distant future

Did you know that over 70% of airports and airlines are will be rolling out biometric scanning systems in the near future? While keeping our airports secure, they are also easing the experience for the traveler. Here is what the process will look like:

  1. Arriving at the airport, you will take a picture at a kiosk or check-in counter.
  2. That picture will be automatically matched to your passport photo in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) database.
  3. You can then proceed to the TSA security checkpoint. With this verification from DHS, you can walk through without taking out your id, boarding pass, and maybe even keep your shoes and jacket on.
  4. At the gate while boarding your plane, your face will be scanned one final time. You will then be cleared and can proceed to your seat.

 

How are biometrics currently being used in travel?

Though many airports and companies are steadily working to make this a possibility, a few innovators have already weaved together biometrics and travel.

  1. CLEAR has also been at the cutting edge of biometrics for years. As an alternative to TSA PreCheck, they use biometric eye scans and finger scans to verify identification of travelers through their private security check line.   
  2. Hertz recently sped up their car rental process with the help of biometric technology. Partnering with CLEAR, they’ve introduced Fast Lane. The traveler will simply select a car and drive it towards the exit. There, they will roll down the window for a biometric face scan. The camera will identify the traveler, then lift the gate so they can get on with their day. The entire process is expected to take about 30 seconds.  It is currently only available to Hertz Gold Plus Rewards accounts. Starting at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, it is expected to expand to more than 40 Hertz locations in 2019. 
  3. Delta is at the forefront of revolutionizing the entire airport experience we mentioned above. They have launched the first fully biometric airline terminal at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. From the curb, to the baggage drop-off, through TSA checkpoint, and onto the plane; travelers will use facial recognition as identification throughout the entire airport experience. 
  4. Dubai airport has opened a new automated form of passport control. Though currently only available to business and first-class passengers, it is expected to completely replace immigration officials by 2020. Traveler’s identities will be checked and verified as they walk through a virtual aquarium, with cameras disguised as fish verifying identities. With the automated process, lines will essentially disappear, with estimates of cutting immigration control procedures to just 15 seconds. 

 

What are the benefits of biometrics for business travelers

Essentially, every step of the process through the airport will become more streamlined. You will no longer continually dig through your bag for your driver’s license or even your ticket. You will essentially walk from the curb of airport to the seat on your plane with minimal stops and lines. It is also expected to increase efficiency of the travel industry as a whole. Some say the time it takes boarding a plane will be reduced to 20 minutes. With this faster turnaround time, planes will take off on time and delays will be reduced. Overall, biometrics simplifies the process for business travelers and airlines, while also providing top-of-the-line security.

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Business Travel Travel Industry

Starting In 2021, Americans Will Need Visas To Travel To Europe

Along with other countries and regions in the world, Europe has recently decided to improve their security levels regarding illegal immigration and terrorism. One way they’re becoming more secure? Requiring visas to enter, specifically to the Schengen Zone. That’s right, starting in 2021, all Americans traveling to a European country in the Schengen Zone will need to apply for the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) in order to enter.

What is the European Schengen Zone?

26 countries in Europe make up the Schengen Area. Within it are 22 countries from the European Union (EU), 4 countries that are part of the EFTA (European Free Trade Association) and 3 microstates.

The countries making up the Schengen Zone are:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Luxembourg
  • Netherlands
  • Germany
  • France
  • Spain
  • Portugal
  • Sweden
  • Finland
  • Denmark
  • Lithuania
  • Latvia
  • Estonia
  • Poland
  • Slovakia
  • Hungry
  • Italy
  • Greece
  • Czech Republic
  • Malta
  • Iceland
  • Liechtenstein
  • Norway
  • Switzerland
  • Monaco
  • San Marino
  • Vatican City

 

Apart from the 26 total Schengen states, there are 6 non-Schengen European Union members. They are currently not a part of the Schengen Zone and will not require a ETIAS to enter.
They include:

  • United Kingdom
  • Ireland
  • Romania
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus

 

What does this mean for Americans?

So far, the requirements for an American to obtain a European visa waiver is pretty basic. The U.S. Citizen will need to have a valid passport, a credit or debit card, and an email account. When applying, the passport must be valid for 3 months beyond the period of intended stay. The ETAIS visa waiver must be paid in advance through secure online payment via credit or debit card.

The ETAIS visa waiver will be valid for 3 years. During this 3-year validity of the ETIAS for U.S. travelers, it will be possible to enter the Schengen Zone European countries as many times as necessary.

What does this mean for business travel?

The new requirement does not go into action for another two years. At this time, visas are not required for Americans to visit Europe. It should also be expected for some details to change by the time it is required, so stay informed if your company frequently travels to Europe from the United States.

The requirements for the visa are relatively low and obtaining one should be streamlined. The applicant will be notified via email if they are granted or denied the ETIAS. The main hurdles for travel managers and travelers will be remembering to allow time before a trip to apply and receive the visa. Remembering to re-apply after the three year validity time will also be a hurdle in the distant future. As you may recall, when a passport was required to travel to Mexico or Canada from the U.S., a rush of passport applicants caused lengthy delays to the whole process. This rush should also be expected with the ETIAS process, and it would be wise to apply as early as possible.

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Business Travel Travel Industry

On The Horizon: 2019 Business Travel Trends

Can you believe 2019 is already here and in full swing? We can’t help but look ahead and contemplate what this new year may bring. In business travel; technology, customization, and traveler comfort continually advances. In 2018 we saw changes like; increased mobile bookings, a growing acceptance of the sharing economy industry, and the implementation of the GDPR. In 2019, it’s safe to say that customization will continue to advance, with an enhanced emphasis in security.

2019 business travel trends – here’s what to expect

  • Increased cybersecurity. With the recent Marriott-Starwood data breach, cyber security is on everyone’s mind. Add in the relatively new GDPR regulations, continued advances in travel security should be a highlight. In fact, so airlines, like United, are already thinking far ahead and testing their options within blockchain.
  • Biometrics in airports. Biometrics are no longer a thing of sci fi novels. Just recently, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport became the first in the United States to open a biometrics security terminal.  What does that mean? You will soon be able to check in and drop off baggage with a facial recognition screening. You may also be able to breeze through the security line, without ever having to take out your identification or ticket.
  • Women in business travel. The #metoo movement continues to empower women to have their voices heard.  It will be interesting to see if trends evolve within the business travel industry, catering specifically to the needs and concerns of women business travelers.
  • Expect additional AI integration. You are likely already engaging with artificial intelligence if you’ve ever used a chatbox on a website, or have been notified of a change on your flight. As helpful as online automation and chatbox technology is, it tends be used as customer solution instead of a tool. While it does work well in certain situations, it does not make up for talking to a an experienced travel agent when you need it the most. With this latest technology, it’s also important to value the one-on-one customer service you have with your TMC.
  • Advances in data-driven analytics will lead to real-time reporting and actionable intelligence. Our Analytics tools allows travel managers to make actionable decisions instantly. We’re excited to see more of clients utilize this feature, potentially changing how they understand and manage their business travel.  

What do you think will be at the forefront of 2019 business travel? Let us know in the comments below, or connect with us on Linkedin

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Business Travel Travel Industry

Attaining A Healthy Work/Life Balance As A Business Traveler

Traveling takes a toll on the body—but traveling for business takes it to a whole other level. Many studies show that extended business travel can lead to anxiety, depression and even chronic illness. So why do so many people travel for business? For some, it’s unavoidable in their professional career. For others, it’s a chance to ditch the cubicle, offering new and different experiences. No matter how often you travel for business, it’s important to make sure you’re leading a healthy and balanced life along the way.

I was once a regular roadwarrior. Traveling four days of the week, I thought it was the best way to support my family. However, I didn’t realize how it was affecting them on a broader scale. It wasn’t until I was home, after being away for seven weeks in a row, that my six year old son looked up at me and asked, “When are you going to spend time with me?”. In that moment I understood the effects of my nonstop roadwarrior schedule. Ultimately, I decided to find a different position that provided the work/life balance I needed for my family.

Now, I’m not telling you to go out and quit your job. Yet, as we end the year and look hopefully towards the next, it’s important to take a moment and reflect on our lifestyle and ways to increase satisfaction. For most business travelers, this includes finding a healthier work/life balance. Finding simple, yet effective ways to stay balanced can mean all the difference while on the road.

Ways to achieve a healthy work/life balance as a business traveler

  • Learn how to stay productive while traveling. Sometimes the stress of falling behind at the office while traveling leads to additional anxiety. Learn how to stay on top of things or focus on things you can control while traveling for work.
  • Find a healthy outlet. Exercise is one of the best stress relievers out there. Given that the average business traveler also has heightened anxiety, exercise is a win/win. Whether it’s using the hotel gym, running outside, practicing yoga, or finding a gym in the area, there are many options to staying fit and centered while away on business.
  • Stick to a schedule. If you run every morning at 7am, continue to do so while on the road. Same goes for connecting with family. Try calling them at the same time every night. For example, you could plan on eating dinner together, though you are in different cities.
  • Schedule downtime. Though it sometimes sounds impossible while on the road, it’s ok to take time for yourself after a long day. If you burn out early, you likely won’t be as efficient or productive by the end of the trip. Plus, you’ll likely get home cranky and tired, ultimately making it harder to readjust.
  • Plan one enjoyable thing every week. Business trips are typically jam packed, but squirrel away some time to do something fun. Go sightseeing, try a local restaurant, or go shopping. Or if you’re home, plan a fun date night or activity with the kids.
  • Delegate. You won’t always be able to get everything done by yourself. Professionally, consider if any tasks can be managed by a co-worker while you’re out. Personally, consider tasks that you don’t particularly enjoy doing and take up your time. For example, hire a cleaning company. You’ll spend time with your family or friends while you’re home, instead of cleaning the bathroom. Other apps are available for an assortment of tasks. Try task rabbit for small home improvement jobs, or get your groceries easily delivered to your doorstep.
  • Turn your business trip into a bleisure trip. Take advantage of your business trip and tack on a few personal days before flying back home. Your company should still pay for the return flight. Consider it a free plane ride for an extended weekend!
  • Use your vacation time. Did you know that most Americans don’t take their PTO time? It turns out that we as a nation leave 429 million unused PTO days on the table every year! Even more disconcerting is that taking a vacation is proven to be good for your health and increases productivity when you return.

Maintaining a healthy work/life balance as a business traveler can sometimes feel impossible. It takes hard, consistent efforts to achieve it, but in the end you’ll find yourself enjoying the time you are at home, and living in the moment while away.

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Business Travel Travel Industry

Business Travel—A Status Symbol For Millennials?

It shouldn’t be a shock to you that the millennial generation is the largest segment jumping into the workforce. As baby boomers ease into retirement, millennials are stepping in, often starting with the most stressful and burdensome tasks. In most cases, this includes business travel. But in a somewhat surprising turn, a new study from Hilton Hotel & Resorts, finds that millennials are ultimately enjoying business travel and the perks that come with it.

That’s right, while many in the past have seen business travel as a burden, millennials are jumping in head first and loving it. They often see traveling on behalf of their company as a work perk. In fact, 65% of young professionals in the U.S. consider business travel a status symbol. Additionally, 39% would not take a job that did not allow them to travel for business. And 81% of those surveyed say they repeatedly travel for business because they get more work done in person.

Additional perks millennials enjoy about business travel

  • Exploring new cities – 64%
  • Eating in a new city – 62%
  • Covered expenses – 57%
  • Hotel stay – 55%

 

Their common business travel anxieties

  • 69% wished that they could extend their trips, turning it into a bleisure opportunity.
  • 59% regret not extending previous trips in the past to explore further
  • 54% not sure how their boss would react to a bleisure trip request
  • 44% worry asking to extend their trip would make them look bad to their senior leadership
  • 58% would like to fly in a day before meetings/events to prepare, but are nervous to ask. >

 

Common frustrations facing millenials and business travel

  • 38% can’t enjoy their weekend before traveling on business.
  • 38% continue to feel stressed after traveling for three to seven days
  • 46% say their employers don’t consider personal time when asking them to travel for business.
  • 44% said they gained weight due to traveling
  • 58% sacrifice sleep/wellness when traveling

 

Companies need to more clearly define their business travel culture

Looking at the frustrations felt by these young professionals, it’s easy to see that there is a gap in communication between the company culture, travel program, and traveler. Imagine being a young professional again You’re new to the industry, trying to look your assertive best and represent yourself the best way you know how. You don’t want to step on any toes, and you want to be remembered as the reliable employee who can take whatever is thrown at him/her. Asking for clarification on subtle details of business travel typically goes against that mindframe. It might be time to evaluate your travel program, as perceived from a new employee or new professional perspective. What type of company culture are you trying to promote? One that understands the importance of your employees work/life balance?

There also appears to be a gap in understanding of what is included in the travel program. 43% often misunderstood what could be expensed, resulting in owing the company money. This shows that perhaps the travel program is not as easy to understand as some companies think. It may be worth looking at your company’s travel program with fresh eyes, and revise where it needs updating or additional clarification.

Christopherson Business Travel is a corporate business travel company, with more than 60 years of experience. Our consultative approach assists companies to streamline their travel management, save money, and keeps travelers safe. Contact us to learn more about award-winning company.

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Are Uber Scams Cheating Their Users?

Ride sharing apps should be pretty straight forward, right? You request a ride, they pick you up, drop you off, and you are charged for the distance and time. It’s simple in theory, but as Uber scams made news last week, the function is now under a microscope.  The driver can easily manipulate the story, being paid for services or fees never occurred, and leaving the customer in the dust with costly fines or bans. People using ride sharing apps should be aware of the potential scams and how to avoid them.

What Uber scams are you talking about?

The first scam is creatively called ‘vomit fraud’. Picture this. You’re picked up by an Uber and dropped off without a hitch. The next day you receive an email from Uber, notifying you of a $150 dollar “adjustment” due to damages from your recent ride. Included are images sent from the driver to Uber of vomit in the car. You know you didn’t spill anything, make a mess, and certainly didn’t puke in the Uber vehicle.  You email Uber to alert them of the false charges. Their response? The driver claimed it happened and has pictures of the mess. It quickly becomes a ‘he said/she said’ situation, and in most cases, without the passenger ability to ‘prove’ their innocence, they accrue the high priced fee.

Of course, if a passenger did vomit or spill inside of an Uber car, there should be an additional clean up fee. After all, the mess potentially lost the driver’s rides for the rest of the night, ultimately affecting their livelihood. And there should be a fee to clean up someone else’s mess. Uber has previously said, “the vast majority of cleaning fee reports are legitimately the result of someone making a mess in the car. In the instances where we find a confirmed case of fraud, we take appropriate action.” What has become the crux of the issue is some drivers taking advantage of this policy for their own benefit.

Another fraud technique is being charged for a ride you did not take. This can happen if the user request a ride and then cancels it. It still leaves the driver an opportunity to charge them for the ride. Ultimately, it can be pretty easy for the rider to never see these additional charges. After all, the user’s credit card is automatically charged for the service. If they aren’t checking their email or meticulously watching their bank statements, they may never see the charges. And the driver is hoping they won’t notice either.

Tips to stay safe and avoid ride sharing scams

Ride sharing services make sense when everything goes as planned. It’s when it comes to the sketchy drivers and scam artists that make them a potential minefield for fraud or even danger. Whether you’re using a ride sharing service for business, standard commute, or night on the town, there is always room to play it safe. Here are a few recommendations to stay protected and ensure you won’t be charged in the future.

  1. Regularly check your payment statements after a ride or cancelled ride.
  2. If you need to cancel a ride, take a screenshot of the cancellation page. If you are charged for the rise later, you can prove the charge is fraudulent.
  3. Ensure the car and license plate matches the car you requested. If it does not, do not get in the car.
  4. Take a pic of the car and license plate. Also the interior before and after the ride to avoid a vomit fraud charge.
  5. Ride in the back of the car to you can disembark from either side, as recommended by Uber.
  6. Share ride details with friends, call a friend during ride, or use a safety app like these.
  7. Use an intersection or nearby business as your destination if you are concerned about them having your address.

 

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What You Need To Know About TSA’s New Ban on Powders from International Flights

This past weekend, a specific ban started its enforcement on flights entering the United States. This time, the focus in on the amount of powders allowed in carry-on luggage. Impacting only international flights entering the United States, it will not affect domestic flight travel. Read more about the specifics of the new procedures below.

What’s happening?

Foreign airports with direct flights to the United States are requested to provide additional scrutiny to fliers carrying 12 ounces or more of powder in their carry-on luggage. Many international airlines have already placed heavier scrutiny on powders since an incident last July in Australia.

This is in addition to the increased security scanning procedures implemented in April; which included removing food, powders, liquids from carry-on bags while going through security checkpoints.

 

What might be included in this ban on powder?

American Airlines helped define exactly what is a powder in a recent press release – “Powder-like substances are described as fine dry particles produced by the grinding, crushing, or disintegration of a solid substance.”

If you’re like me, you’re probably racking your brain to think of what common powders might even find their way into luggage. Turns out, there’s quite a few items, like: cosmetics, coffee, spices, baby powder, and protein mixes. Fortunately, baby formula, medicine, and cremated human remains are exempt from these secondary screenings. Gunpowder remains prohibited from all checked and carry-on luggage.

 

If you need to travel with 12 ounces or more of a powdery substance

It won’t necessarily be confiscated. Likely, it will be requested that you remove the powder, and it will go through an additional screening. If the powder is still unidentifiable, it may then need to be discarded. You can also check you baggage with the large amount of powder to avoid this situation completely.

 

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GDS & Business Travel: Definition Series

Business travel is an advancing, multi-faceted, and frankly, a pretty complicated industry. That’s why we’ll be breaking down some of the most confusing issues, terms, or functions within the industry in our definition blog series. We’ll identify specific business travel terms and explore its importance for companies, both big and small. We’ll also examine important tips or pain points to consider in your business travel management program. To start off, we will define the ‘GDS’ and how it is used in the business travel industry.

What is the GDS?

Called the Global Distribution System, or GDS for short, it is essentially the brain of the travel industry. A computerized network system, it provides real-time information to companies; including airlines, hotels, car rental companies, and travel agencies. Each of these industries use the GDS to see real-time inventory of other services in the travel industry.  For example, a travel agency can find the number of hotel rooms available, number of flight seats available or cars available on behalf of a client. One distinction is that the GDS is not a reservation system, but instead provides the information and a link to the services.

How do TMCs use the GDS?

Travel management companies use GDS systems to locate the best airline ticket, car rental, hotel room, etc., for their clients. They can customize information based on the traveler’s preferences, itinerary, etc. To further complicate things, there are different types of GDS systems available such as Worldspan, Sabre, or Galileo.

When a traveler requests travel from a travel agent, or travel management company, the agent will access the GDS to find the most accurate and cost effective itinerary for their traveler. The TMC is charged each time they access the GDS, but this is typically waved to the client. There is no way for the average person to access the GDS without help through a travel agency or other vendor.

How do online travel sites use the GDS?

Here’s the thing, they regularly don’t! Have you ever found an out-of-this-world low price on a ticket while using an online travel site?  But when you get to the final booking page, the ticket is ‘suddenly’ gone? You have every right to be annoyed, because it likely wasn’t available when you found it in the first place! Due to the cost of accessing the GDS, most online travel sites only look for prices once a day. Through a process called ‘screen scraping’, they take inventory of prices and seats available at one time and continually use that information until the next time they access the GDS. That means that most of their inventory is immediately out of date and typically more expensive.

Anything else I should know?

As with anything in life, there are a few quirks. For example, Southwest Airlines does not work with the GDS company, WorldSpan. Agents who use WorldSpan either do not book with Southwest or must look for pricing directly with Southwest Airlines. Something else that is newsworthy, is the content agreement in which airlines sign to work with GDSs, is up for renewal. Many in the industry are wondering if airlines will be renewing their relationship with certain GDSs. And if not, what does that mean for booking air for the travel agents and their clients?

We hope you learned something new about the business travel industry today. Check back as we dismantle the confusing world of business travel management in the next blog of our definition series. Christopherson Business Travel is an award-winning corporate travel management company. We’ve spent the last 60 years developing our unique approach to integrated technology and dedicated support. Learn more about us and our travel management services on our contact page.  

 

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Business Travel Travel Industry

How The European GDPR Will Affect Business Travel

In our digital age, keeping personal information protected and secure is a new normal. Not only do individuals need to be vigilant about security, but also the companies that handle their private information.  New regulations from the European Union will inevitably enhance these protections; affecting not just EU residents but potentially globally. With something on this scale, it is certain to affect many other areas, including business travel, even in the U.S.

What’s going on?

Starting May 25, 2018, The European Union will be introducing a regulation that fundamentally reshapes how private data is collected and used for EU residents. Called the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), this change will affect how the E.U., and potentially globally, handles and secures the private information of its users. The EU, like most other nations, already has regulations about data security. Replacing the Data Protection Directive, the GDPR is extensive and more thoroughly defines data security. One of the biggest changes is that the Directive was implemented by each EU member state. The GDPR is a regulation, meaning it must be followed by the entirety of the EU.

Why is this important?

The entirety of the EU is updating their standards and practices of data collection. Any organizations based in an EU country will have to comply with these changes. But more extensively, any company involved in processing data of individuals from the EU, regardless of the location of their organization, will also be responsible for updating their data privacy to comply with the GDPR. Meaning, the GDPR will likely alter how the world processes and protects user data.

What are the specifics of the GDPR?

  • Regulation – Because this is a regulation and not a law that needs to be enacted at the country level, there should be a greater degree of harmonization of data protection, across the EU in all industries.
  • Increased protection of personal data – The definition of ‘personal data’, is widening, further protecting individuals. Online identifiers, like IP addresses, are now included as data that should be protected.
  • All organizations, regardless of location, will be under the GDPR’s requirements – If an organization is in the EU, offers goods or services to individuals in the EU, or monitors behavior of individuals in the EU, they will be required to abide by the same GDPR requirements and standards for their data security.
  • Increased fines – If any of these organizations does not comply, it can lead to fines up to 20 million EUR or up to 4% of total worldwide annual turnover of the preceding financial year.
  • Consent requirements – The GDPR also creates a higher standard for consent for the individual, for collecting, using, storing, and processing their data. With clearer and less ambiguous language, consent protocol will be straightforward. Consent will be voluntary, without the use of pre-ticked boxes, silence, or inactivity not constituting as consent. It will also be easier to revoke consent.
  • Breach notification standards – If a company’s data is breached, they are required to report the data breach to the data protection authority without undue delay and, where feasible, within 72 hours of becoming aware of the breach.
  • More thorough data protection in new products – Moving forward, data protection must be considered from the onset of new technologies and products. No longer will it be an afterthought, quickly solved post launch.

How will the GDPR influence business travel?

The GDPR will impact any company that stores or sells personal information about E.U. citizens.  For example, let’s think about a hotel in the U.S. books a room for a business traveler from France. This hotel has the liability of observing to the GDPR’s regulations on data security for this European citizen, or potentially be fined. Basically, any company that requires gathering personal information to use at a later time, like name, birth date, credit card information, etc., will need to comply with the GDPR. This will affect not just business travel, but many other areas of industry as well.

Additionally, companies will need to find ways to protect user’s data and information, while also providing easy-to-use and accessible products. Our society is accustomed to immediate gratification and convenience. Keeping needed material like travel itineraries, preferences, and user information readily available, while also keeping it secure may also pose as a challenge.

At Christopherson, we take the issue of GDPR and data protection very seriously. We are currently working with an outside consulting firm to ensure we’re compliant with all new upcoming GDPR regulations. If you have any questions, thoughts, or concerns about our data security, please contact your account manager.

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Business Travel Travel Industry Travel News

Restrictions Coming To ‘Smart Bags’ Starting Jan. 15, 2018

Lithium-ion batteries have a pretty awful reputation when it comes to plane travel. They’re the reason why hoverboards began spontaneously exploding and are now no longer allowed on flights. They’re also the culprit for the briefly released Samsung Galaxy Note7, which had similar instability issues and also banned from flights. Part of the technology that makes lithium-ion batteries so powerful also leads to them overheating and as a posing a serious fire hazard. In result, new policies regarding the proper procedure for lithium-ion batteries on flights are being created. Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, and Alaska Airlines have recently announced an updated protocol for passengers traveling with lithium-ion batteries, including items like smart bags.  

What are ‘smart bags’?

Smart bags are typical pieces of luggage, but also feature integrated technology. There are a few different models on the market, but most allow travelers to weigh their luggage and even lock it through an app on their phone. Some can track your luggage using GPS. And others can even be used as a mobile charging station for phones and laptops. This autonomous smart bag is hands-free and will automatically follow the owner as they walk! As amazing and innovative as these new smart bags are, they unfortunately use lithium-ion batteries to operate. Due to the unpredictability of lithium-ion batteries, a debate has taken hold. Where is the safest place for smart bags on an aircraft? Should these batteries be stored in the cargo hold, where the Department of Homeland Security recently announced large electronics should be placed? Or, should they be in the cabin, where if an error occurs, it could be addressed immediately? Now some airlines are taking the lead and implementing policies that regulate lithium-ion batteries on air crafts. 

 

Airlines restrictions on lithium-ion batteries and smart bags

Delta, American, and Alaska are the three airlines leading the charge on these restrictions. Both recently announced their decision to ban smart bags with non-removable lithium-ion batteries from flights. The removed batteries should then be brought in the passenger’s carry-on, similar to how passengers should bring extra batteries. If the battery is removable, the smart bag will be allowed on the flight.  American added that in their policy, non-removable batteries will be allowed, but only if the battery can be turned off. If the traveler cannot turn off or remove the battery, the bag will be refused. These restrictions will go into place starting January 15, 2018. 

It should also be noted that many smart bag companies claim their products comply with TSA and FAA procedures. This may be true, but they are not endorsed by the airlines. 

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Business Travel Travel Industry

Are Travelers Dissatisfied with TSA PreCheck?

Don’t you hate it when your reliable shortcut home becomes mainstream? Or when the coffee shop is always out of your favorite muffin due to high demand? It always ruffles some feathers when previously hidden gems become commonplace. Unfortunately, this may be happening with TSA PreCheck. In a recent article by USAToday, a number of travelers complain that TSA PreCheck is not all that it’s cracked up to be. They claim to watch travelers speed through traditional security lines, while they stand by in their PreCheck lines. In a service that’s main objective is to expedite security lines, what’s really happening here?

What is TSA PreCheck

This premium service provided by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) allows travelers to simply walk through security lines; without removing shoes, computers, light jackets, or even pausing for additional screening. It requires a formal application, fee, in-person interview, and background check conducted by the FBI to be included in the program. Once the traveler has been approved, they are free to use the TSA PreCheck lines at security gates.

What’s happening?

In a recent survey of 2,500 North American travelers, 45% of fliers already enrolled in TSA PreCheck thought that the wait times were too long and the price was too high to be worth the membership. The same survey found this grievance was even higher among business travelers at 57%.

TSA rebutted with data, showing nationwide average wait times as five minutes, compared to less than 10 minutes for travelers in standard lines. Additionally, though the number of travelers signing up for TSA PreCheck is significantly lower than expected, it is continually growing. The program doubled from 2.3 million in March 2016 to 4.6 million in 2017.

What could be the potential issues?

If TSA PreCheck designed to speed fliers through security, what could be causing these unexpected inconveniences? There seems to be two main issues of contention here.

  1. Randomness arrival of travelers to the airport. There is no way of knowing when travelers will arrive and start through security for their day of travel.
  2. Continually providing free TSA Pre-Check status to other fliers. Though TSA announced earlier this year that they have begun limiting access to these expedited security lanes, most frequent travelers aren’t see the change. Overall, travelers are questioning why there are not more TSA employees stationed at these TSA Pre-Check lines.

Is TSA Pre-Check worth it?

It seems to depend on your expectations. For a one-time fee of $85 for five years, it truly depends on how often you travel and the price tag. Most travel experts say that if you travel more than twice a year, it’s worth being part of the program. Though it may be slightly delayed at times, PreCheck lines still average in the single digits for security wait times. New identification technology is   being tested at some airports. This is expected to decrease security wait times in the future. If cost is still the hurdle for you, keep an eye open for occasional deals or incentives. For example, some credit cards with annual fees will reimburse the cost. Have more to say? Leave us a comment on Facebook.

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Travel Industry Travel News

New Security Screenings For All U.S.-Bound Flights

New airport security screening procedures were implemented late last week due to a new announcement from the TSA. Flights entering the United States will now require stricter passenger screening, for both U.S. citizens and foreign travelers. Only airports which serve as the last point of departure to the United States need to make these updates.  This will affect approximately 2,100 flights entering the U.S. every day.

This measure replaces earlier security rules, banning travelers from certain countries from bringing laptops or large electronics into the plane cabin with them. Each airline is adjusting to the new procedures in slightly different ways.  As details and procedures are likely to change, here’s what we know so far.

The bottom line

Most importantly, allow enough time in your schedule for interviews, questionnaires, or unexpected hang ups. Though the hope is that more extensive screenings will not increase wait times, most airlines are recommending to arrive at least three hours early to the gate. And of course, have your documentation and electronics readily available.

What new procedures travelers can expect

  • Stricter passenger screenings and interviews, even for American citizens
  • Inspection of personal electronic devices
  • Not all measures will be visible to the public, though passengers may see more bomb-sniffing dogs

How each airline is dealing with the new security screenings

  • Delta Air Lines– Travelers should arrive to the airport three hours before their flight. They should head straight to their gate where they may go through additional screening.
  • Air France– They’ve developed a questionnaire given to “100 percent” of the travelers. Have begun conducting these interviews at Paris Orly Airport. On Nov 2, the same procedures will be implemented at Charles de Gaulle Airport.
  • Emirates– Will be conducting ‘pre-screening interviews’ at their check-in counters for travelers flying out of Dubai. The interviews will be conducted at the boarding gates for transit and transfer fliers. Those flying through their headquarters, Dubai International Airport, should allow extra time to check in and board.
  • Cathy Pacific– Have suspended their self-drop baggage services. Those heading to the U.S. will instead be subject to a short security interview when checking in their luggage. Travelers without checked baggage will undergo a similar interview at the gate.
  • EgyptAir- Their new measures include more detailed searches of passengers, luggage and interviews.
  • Lufthansa Group (including Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, Swiss, Eurowings and others)- Travelers may face short interviews at check-in, or documentation check at their gate.
  • Royal Jordanian– They will begin these new security procedures in mid-January, after being granted a request for delay in implementation.

We will continue to update this blog as more information and procedures are implemented. If you are a Christopherson client with additional questions, feel free to reach out to your account manager.

Christopherson Business Travel is a corporate travel management company with more than 60 years of experience. Known for our proprietary travel technology and dedicated account management, we’re always working to make business travel easier. Please contact us to learn more about our approach and corporate travel packages

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Business Travel Travel Industry Travel News

Where are the Sleep Pods in Airports, Already?

We’ve all been there — it’s a snow storm, rain delay or mechanical issue and you’re stranded in an airport. Your flight is delayed or cancelled with no solution in sight. Your only hope to get some sleep is sitting up in an uncomfortable plastic chair, surrounded by others attempting the same thing. Then, the thought hits you in a moment of hangery and exhausted frustration, ‘I would give my first born to comfortably lay horizontally for even just a few minutes! When will someone invent sleeping pods for airports already?’ Well, the time is finally here. A number of companies are cornering the market in accessible sleep units. Unfortunately getting them into airports is another matter.

Sleep pod options for business travelers

A well-rested employee is a happy employee. Along with taking vacation, people who sleep well are more productive. This may be why we’re seeing a trend of sleep pods in offices. Business travelers need this rest as well. Below are a handful of sleep pod companies entering airports.

  • izZzleep- Opened sleep capsules in the Mexico City airport earlier this year. It includes hourly rates, nightly rates and even showers.
  • Yotel Ltd.- A mini-hotel operator which can be found in four European airports. You can find Yotel at the Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, London Gatwick Airport, and London Heathrow Airport.  They also offer mini-hotel options in New York, Boston, and soon San Francisco and Singapore, with hopes to be opening in American airports soon.
  • NapCity- Found in the Munich airport, they offer a tiny escape with a small bed, internet access and tv. Charges are calculated on the actual time of use. And the cleaning staff is notified to sanitize and clean the cabin after each session.
  • MinuteSuites offer comfortable cabins to nap, relax or work. They can be found at the Hartsfeild-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Philadelphia International Airport, and Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

Sleep pods in airports

With so many companies entering the field, why are sleeping pods in airports not a common and frequent occurrence. As Skift describes in a recent article, there is often resistance from the airports themselves. Revenue is the driving factor against commonplace sleep pods. Why sleep when you could spend time in a bookstore, duty-free shop or restaurant? This is especially conflicting since most sleep pod companies would prefer to be located inside security checkpoints, directly competing with these other options.
Another obstacle, is disrupting the relationships between airports and the nearby hotels. When cancellations and delays hit airports, these hotels are bombarded by the wary traveler. What happens to them if efficient sleep pods care readily available without leaving their gate? How does this affect local ground transportation companies too?
Most sleep companies are asking for a longer-term lease commitment, in order for airports to realize the proper return of the business model, says Jo Berrington, a vice president at Yotel. She also said in the Skift article that the company’s ideal airport business size is about 60 – 150 cabins. Can you imagine a sleep pod colony of this size?

Have you tried out a sleep pod in an airport? Find us on Facebook and tell us about your experience.

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Travel Industry Travel News

Additional Security Measures for International Flights to the U.S.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced today that flights arriving to the United States will undergo additional security measures. This is response to increased threats on commercial aviation as a whole. Starting later this week, passengers flying to the United States should expect additional security measures.

These security measures include:

  • Enhanced screening of travelers
  • Increased security screening of aircraft and passenger areas>
  • Heightened screening of electronic devices that are larger than a standard smartphone
  • Being prepared to remove these devices from protective cases or packaging if asked.
  • Using additional technology
  • Expanding canine security
  • Establishing additional pre-clearance locations

This heightened change effects 105 countries and approximately 280 airports that serve as the last points of departure to the United States. This affects 180 airlines, an average of 2,100 flights per day and 325,000 daily passengers on average. The DHS and TSA will be working with airline stakeholders over the next weeks and months to ensure these security protocols are fully implemented. Stakeholders that fail to adopt these requirements within certain time frames will run the risk of additional security restrictions being imposed.

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Travel Industry Travel Management

Enterprise/National as a Ground Transportation Supplier

To be effective, corporate travel programs require many moving parts. One critical area involves nurturing wonderful supplier relationships, including ground transportation. We’ve found that Enterprise/National offers customized benefits for many of our clients.

Customized benefits from Enterprise/National:

  • Dual Brand Agreement (National Car Rental and Enterprise Rent-A-Car). Programs are customized and negotiated based on the company’s specific travel patterns and traveler needs.
  • One loyalty number “Emerald Club” that is provided and works for both brands globally.
  • Global Billing options are available.
  • Local Account Management and support provided for any customized agreement.
  • 100% location compliance with corporate pricing.
  • Supporting lines of business that can help with other areas of ground transportation: Enterprise RideShare, Enterprise CarShare, Enterprise Fleet Management, Enterprise Truck Rental, Exotics by Enterprise, Enterprise Car Sales.

Christopherson Business Travel maintains excellent communication with the many Enterprise/National Representatives throughout the country.  If you need a referral to the right contact in your area, please allow us to be your resource for making an introduction.

We’ve spent the last 60 years dedicated to finding travel management solutions for busy companies. From customized travel programs to advanced technology, we provide peace of mind. Contact us to learn more about how Christopherson, along with our preferred partners, and assist you with your travel needs.

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Airlines Updating Overbooking Policies

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks, you have probably noticed recent scrutiny over airline’s overbooking policies. In the wake of an event on a United Airlines flight, these processes and its protocol have heavily been in the media. In response, most major airlines are updating overbooking policies.

What is overbooking?

Overbooking is the process of airlines overselling seats on most flights. Using advanced algorithms airlines estimate the number of no-shows or canceled tickets. This allows them to fill flights to capacity, while saving on fuel costs and keeping ticket prices low. Read our recent blog for everything you need to know about overbooking.

Updates made to overbooking policies

United:  Their new policy says passengers will not be removed from the plane once they have boarded. Also, local police will no longer be used to forcibly remove passengers. And crew members will not be allowed to bump passengers from planes. They will require one-hour advanced notice of the plane boarding, or wait for a later flight.

Delta: Though still allowing displacement of passengers once they have boarded the plane, they raised their compensation rate.  Originally capping at $1,350, it is now $10,000. Compensation has also been increased at the gate, from $800 to $2,000.

Southwest: This airline has said they will end overbooking policies completely. Gary Kelley, CEO of Southwest said to USAToday, “We’ve been taking steps over the last several years to prepare ourselves for this anyway… As we have dramatically improved our forecasting tools and techniques, and as we approach the upcoming implementation of our new reservations system on May 9, we no longer have a need to overbook as part of the revenue management inventory process.”

American: They have updated their Conditions of Carriage policy to no longer allow passengers to be removed from the plane once it has boarded. They also stated their compensation has never been capped, and it will remain that way.

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Everything You Need To Know About Airlines Overbooking Tickets

We all nonchalantly agree to this when we book a flight, but the fact of the matter is that all major airlines overbook their flights, often leaving travelers in the lurch. Overbooking came into the spotlight this week when a United passenger was forcibly removed from a flight, leaving many of us wondering the extent of enforcing this policy.

It’s standard practice for airlines to sell more tickets than the plane has seats, anticipating a few cancellations and missed flights. Rather than having half empty planes take off, extensive calculations are been made determining the probability of no-shows. Additional tickets are then made available based on these solutions. The video below from Ted-ed perfectly summarizes the process and statistics behind overbooking.

Though overselling results in more profits for the airlines, not having enough seats on a flight is still a common occurrence. According to the video above, about 50,000 people get bumped off their flight each year.  Overbooking processes are outlined in each airline’s “contracts of carriage” policies, which passengers agree to when tickets are purchased.

What happens when a flight is oversold?

Federal rules require that airlines must first ask if any passengers will voluntarily give up their seat. Airlines can individually decide on compensation, but typically a travel voucher or gift card is given.

If passengers are unwilling to voluntarily to give up their seats, airlines are then allowed to bump fliers involuntarily. Every airline has a different policy on how they decide who is denied travel as well as their compensation.

  • United – Excludes individuals with disabilities and unaccompanied minors. Priority is then determined by passenger’s fare, class, itinerary, status of frequent flier membership, and order of check-in.
  • Delta – Decided with regards to priority boarding rules and elite status and check-in order and cabin.
  • JetBlue – JetBlue claims they never overbook flights, but have information in their contracts of carriage if a situation arises. Passengers denied boarding involuntarily will receive $1,350 dollars.
  • American – Usually deny boarding based upon check-in time, but may include additional variables such as severe hardships, fare paid, and status within AAdvantage program. Compensation and protocols differ for domestic and international transportation.
  • Spirit – Unaccompanied minors and people with disabilities are excluded. The last customer to check in will be the first to be involuntarily removed first from an over booked flight.
  • Southwest -The last Passenger who receives a boarding position will be the first Passenger denied boarding involuntarily in an oversale situation, with no preference given to any particular person or category of fares. Compensation differs based on their readiness to get the passenger on anther flight.

How business travelers can avoid being involuntarily removed for oversold flights

Getting to your meeting on time is tricky enough when you’re a frequent business traveler. It’s best to keep additional possibilities to a minimum.

  • Check-in early
  • Acquire elite or member status through the airline

 

Christopherson Business Travel is a corporate travel management company. We’re focused on getting our travelers to their destination smoothly, and with limited headaches for the travel manager. Contact us to learn how we do it.

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Laptop Ban Affects Business Travels

Business travelers, who utilize flight time to catch up on work and email, will be disrupted by the recent announcement made by the Department of Homeland Security. Dubbed the ‘laptop ban’, large electronic devices will not be allowed as carry-on when flying non-stop to the U.S. from 10 international airports.

What are these 10 international airports?

  • Jordan – Queen Alia International Airport (AMM)
  • Egypt – Cairo International Airport (CAI)
  • Turkey – Ataturk International Airport (IST)
  • Saudi Arabia – King Abdul-Aziz International Airport (JED) & King Khalid International Airport (RUH)
  • Kuwait – Kuwait International Airport (KWI)
  • Morocco – Mohammed V Airport (CMN)
  • Qatar – Hamad International Airport (DOH)
  • United Arab Emirates – Dubai International Airport (DXB) & Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH)

What airlines fly non-stop to the U.S.?

  • Royal Jordanian
  • EgyptAir
  • Turkish Airlines
  • Saudi Arabian Airlines
  • Kuwait Airways
  • Royal Air Moroc
  • Qatar Airways
  • Emirates
  • Etihad Airways

Regulations of the new ‘Laptop Ban’

The aviation security enhancements are for all U.S. bound flights from these 10 airports. It  requires that all personal electronic devices larger than a cell phone or smart phone be placed in checked baggage.  Large electronic devices such as laptops, tablets, e-readers, cameras, portable DVD players, and electronic games can no longer be used in-flight. The ban does not effect the flight returning from the U.S. back to these countries.

Increased security was needed, based on intelligence about airlines that fly non-stop from these 10 airports. Top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff,  said “These steps are both necessary and proportional to the threat. The global aviation system remains a top target and proper security requires that we continually adapt our defenses.”

The nine airlines affected have until early Friday morning to implement necessary changes. If an airline ignores enforcement, security officials will ask the Federal Aviation Administration to revoke the airline’s certificate to fly in the U.S.

Great Britain has followed the U.S. with a similar announcement.  Their ban specifies dimensions of electronics not allowed as carry-on. The U.K. ban focuses on Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia. Canada may be following with their own electronic ban as well.

No time frame has been given on this change. The DHS has said in “will remain in place until the threat changes”. Additional airports could also be added at any time.

Business travel industry reaction to the ban

While safety is at the forefront of everyone’s mind, this ban comes as a jolt and inconvenience to business travelers. A complete halt in business productivity is one criticism, but additional safety concerns are another.

One possible matter is the increased risk of lithium-ion batteries catching fire in the cargo hold. These fires would be hard to contain early or even reach.

Another criticism is theft or damage to checked items. There is a reason we keep the most expensive and important items close to us while traveling. Most of us have experienced lost or damaged baggage, and even theft. Without your protection, your items are open to anyone. Speaking of which, this regulation will potentially leave confidential company business exposed while valuable information housed on laptops are checked.

Having flown on Emirate’s Airlines and experienced their exceptional in-flight entertainment, I appreciated their prompt and creative response to the ban, with their “Let Us Entertain You” video on Twitter.

Business traveler tips for the laptop ban

Regardless of in-flight entertainment options, the need to mitigate risk will be an inconvenience that travelers need to be prepared for in advance of their departure from the impacted airports.

  • Back up everything and save it to the cloud, just in case of theft or damage.
  • Add everything you need to your phone – movies, games, podcast, email, etc.
  • Bring those ‘back burner’ tasks you never seem to get to normally – whitepapers, recommended books, research, etc.
  • Buy an external keyboard that can be connected to your phone, making typing less of pain and increase productivity.
  • Consider changing flights from a non-stop to one-stop flights.
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Americans May Need Visa To Enter These European Countries

Earlier this month, members of the European Union’s Parliament approved a measure calling for the EU Commission to urge full visa reciprocity. The United States and a few other countries still require citizens of Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania to obtain visas before visiting. If the U.S does not change their policy, visas will soon be required by Americans to enter these countries as well.

Facts about the potential visa reinstatement:

  • This push stems from a two-year warning period to these countries to change their visa policies. The initial warnings went our in April 2014, which expired last year.
  • The other countries warned were Canada, Australia, Brunei and Japan.
  • Australia, Brunei and Japan have since lifted their visa requirements.
  • Canada will lift their requirements by December 2017.
  • These countries asking to change the visa policy were all formerly communist.

Next steps:

  • A two-month deadline has already been established for the EU Commission to act if the U.S. does not change its policies. Though the commissions has said they may not respond until this summer.

What does this mean for business travelers?

  • At this time nothing has changed. We will know more within the next few months.
  • If the U.S. does not change their policy and visa requirements are reintroduced, it would likely be temporary, the EU says.
  • If you travel frequently to Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland or Romania, we will keep you posted via the blog.

Christopherson Business Travel is a corporate travel management company, focused on providing superior service for our clients. Whether it be our integrated software, consultative account management, or just helpful tips, your travel success is literally our business. Learn more about how we do it.

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Is Your Driver’s License Valid For Air Travel?

The REAL ID Act, originally passed by Congress in 2005, has steadily been updating the identification processes in our nation. Already standardizing protocol in federal buildings, nuclear power plants and other facilities, the act is entering its final stages. The final focus in on passenger identification on commercial airlines, which is secured by the Department of Homeland Security. Depending on which state you live in, your driver’s license may soon not be valid for domestic air travel.

TSA protocols for valid identification will be updating

Surprisingly, many frequent travelers are unaware of the impending identification changes coming to commercial air travel. It has been the responsibility of the individual states to update their driver’s license to be REAL ID compliant. Even with detailed timelines and deadlines given, many states are still in flux.

Read our inforgaphic below to see if your state is compliant to the impending REAL ID Act changes.

real-id-act

Have more questions? Read our blog on the Real ID Act.

Christopherson Business Travel takes the frustration out of travel management for busy companies. Learn how our travel technology and consultative account management does just that by scheduling a demo today.

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Delta Partially Returning Complimentary Meals

Delta does it again.  While most airlines are cutting out snacks and even beverages from their service, Delta announced they are reinstating complimentary meals.  Starting with economy class, Delta began offering free meals late last year for a trial period. Testing out ways to improve customer satisfaction, most fliers were surprised to see the once commonplace amenity again.

Beginning in March, they will offer meals on long-haul domestic flights between JFK and Los Angeles and San Francisco. Later this Spring, complimentary meal service will be added to 10 other major domestic markets including: Boston to San Francisco; Los Angeles and Seattle; Washington National to Los Angeles; JFK to San Diego, Seattle, and Portland, Oregon; and Seattle to Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, and Raleigh-Durham.

Are in-flight amenities, like complimentary meals returning?

After merges and cutbacks, complimentary meals and even drinks from airlines seemed to be a thing of the past. Now, in an effort to improve customer satisfaction, airlines are returning to these staples. Some have even surpassed the traditional in-flight meal to offer higher value products.

  • United, Delta and American have dramatically improved their airport lounge catering services, offering healthier and fresher options
  • United’s Polaris Class offers locally sourced and seasonal fare
  • Delta’s Intercontinental One Suite also provides a five course meal based on seasonality.
  • JetBlue and American are vying for best in-flight products and service among the legacy carriers.

Delta was the first airline to bring Wi-Fi to domestic flights.  Then in-seat power outlets.  Now meals.  What will be next?  Massage chairs in first class?  Spa services? Massage therapists available after the meal?  One can only dream…

Christopherson Business Travel is a corporate travel management company. With more than 60 years of experience, we provide travel solutions with our custom technology and dedicated account management. Contact us to learn how we do it.

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Travel Industry Travel News

Free TSA Pre-Check Status Is Ending

If you have traveled frequently in the last month, you may have noticed a major change. Most airlines are no longer providing free TSA Pre-check status like they have in the past. Those receiving TSA Pre-Check for free will now be offered it less and less. The Transportation Security Administration has begun limiting access to its expedited physical screening lanes. Only those who have paid for and enrolled in a Department of Homeland Security trusted traveler programs—TSA PreCheck, Global Entry, NEXUS, or SENTRI will be offered on a consistent basis. My thinking is that every once in a while they want to make sure you are still going by the rules and have you go through regular security lines for a full review.

Applying for TSA Pre-Check

Though an application and approval process is required to receive TSA Pre-Check status, it is very easy.  Interested fliers apply online, submit to a background check, and then visit one of more than 380 enrollment sites across the country. This in-person appointment with a TSA agents can be scheduled online as well.  I enrolled in Global Entry early in 2016 and loved how it expedited my re-entry to US. If you travel 3-4 trips a year, it is well worth the $85 for five years ($17 a year) or Global Entry is $100 ($20 a year).  Learn more about the application process in our ultimate TSA Pre-Check and Global Entry guide.

TSA Pre Check alternative payment methods

Some airlines are offering payment by using your miles. United Airlines and Alaska Airlines require using 10,000 miles, while Southwest  needs 9,000 rapid rewards points.  Delta Air Lines is using miles, but instead offering Diamond and Platinum Medallion Members the ability to select Global Entry application vouchers through Choice Benefits. This loyalty program feature is only available to Delta elite Members. JetBlue is also offering TSA Pre Check for free to elites, similar to Delta’s system.

If you love not having to remove shoes, leaving laptop in your bag, along with your Ziploc bag of liquids don’t delay because the necessary face-to-face appointments are filling up fast.  In other words—don’t wait until right before your next trip to apply as you will be sadly disappointed.

Any questions about TSA PreCheck eligibility contact TSA at (866) 289-9673 or submit questions to @AskTSA on Twitter or Facebook.com/AskTSA.

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Travel Industry Travel News

Airline Efficiency Rates At All-Time High

One of the challenges or frustrations felt by frequent business and leisure travelers is having their flight leave on time, or worse yet, cancelled. However, things may be looking up. It seems years of hard work for the airlines are finally coming to fruition. Reviewing the month of November 2016, typically the brunt holiday traffic, we saw the highest rate airline efficiency in decades.

According to the Department of Transportation, 86.6 percent of flights in the U.S. arrived on time during the month of November 2016. That’s a significant improvement from the previous year. In regards to cancellations, less than one-third of 1 percent from the busiest airlines had domestic flight cancellations. Making it the lowest rate since the DOT started keeping records in 1995! Also, the number of bags lost, damaged or delayed by the airlines was the lowest since the beginning of this record keeping in 1978.

Which airlines had the best scores

  • One-time arrival
    • Delta Airlines posted the best rates for on-time arrivals.
    • Hawaiian Airlines compared favorably at over 90 percent.
    • Southwest Airlines ranked seventh, with 86.1 percent of its flights arriving on time.
    • American Airlines had the eighth-best performance with 85.4 percent.
    • The lowest on the list was Virgin America at 81.4 percent.
  • Regarding cancellation of flights,
    • Delta had no cancelled flights during the month of November, but instead diverted flights to other airports.
    • Alaska, Frontier, Hawaiian and Virgin America canceled fewer than 20 flights each with far fewer diversions than Delta last November.
  • Lost/Damaged bags
    • Overall the airlines reported approximately two mishandled bags for every 1,000 passengers.
    • Virgin America and Alaska had the best rates of bag handling.
    • ExpressJet and Frontier had the worst rates.
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Travel Industry Travel Management

Business Travelers Increasingly Moving To Sharing Economy

The times, they are a-changin’. One of the biggest adjustments in the business travel industry in recent years is the growing trend of sharing economy options. Companies like Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb have created an alternative from big-business hotels and car services. The results are often informal connections and saving money. So how are companies reacting to this industry change?

Sharing Economy is growing in the business travel industry

A survey by the Global Business Travel Association found that businesses are increasingly allowing the use of rides sharing services, like Uber or Lyft. This compliance has increased nearly 15% since June 2016. Over the same period, permission to book through Airbnb or other lodging services increased by 20%.

Though the compliance growth has been substantial for it’s short time, these sharing economy companies have a long way to go to gain the majority of the market. According to GBTA, half of corporate travel policies still don’t explicitly allow employees to use ride-hailing apps. 70% also make no mention of using home-rental services.

Hurdles in travel management compliance?

Let’s say your company allows sharing economy for business travel. Is the company’s internal communication strong enough to get the message out? This seems to be one of the biggest setbacks the sharing economy is facing right now. In another study by the GBTA, of 24% of companies that permit ride-hailing apps, only 12% of their employees were aware of the compliance. Begging the larger question– what good is a modern and updated travel policy if no one sees it?

Christopherson Business Travel is an award-winning Travel Management Company, headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah. With more than 60 years of experience, we provide travel solutions with our proprietary technology and customized account management. Contact us to learn more about our unique business model or to schedule a demo.

 

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Executive Order On Immigration May Affect Business Travel Industry

An Executive Order on immigration was signed by President Donald Trump on January 27th, placing immediate travel restrictions from seven countries. While this may not pertain to most of our client’s travelers, the ban is already affecting the business travel industry and its trends.

The Executive Order on immigration

Citizens from these seven countries – Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, will not be allowed to enter the United States. Restrictions will continue for the next 90 days. Currently, these nationals may travel to and from the U.S. only if they are in possession of a Green Card. They will undergo additional secondary screening upon arrival. This is a recent change to the order, following some confusion when the order was first released. Those already living in the U.S with visas will not be removed. The U.S. State Department website also advises these citizens to not schedule visa appointments at this time, or attend their pre-scheduled visa appointment. They will not be permitted entry into the embassy or consulate.

How companies are responding to the 90-day ban

A survey conducted by the Association of Corporate Travel Executives found that 39% of the 260 respondents said the ban had the potential to reduce corporate travel. When asked if the ban posed travel difficulties for their company, 20% responded “yes”, while 34% were still unsure of the repercussions.  Their largest travel difficulty concerns were; fear of traveler harassment, fear of harassment of US travelers in the Middle East, uncertainty regarding Green Card and approval via credibility, and limited access to the employee pool.

Leading multinational corporations and tech companies have already expressed their concern by the Trump Administration’s actions on immigration. CEOs from companies such as; Ford, Amazon, Coca-Cola, Bank of America, Chobani, Uber, Netflix, Starbucks, Apple, Twitter, SalesForce, Tesla, General Electric, Expedia, and TripAdvisor have released statements concerning the ban.  Additionally, Google and their parent company, Alphabet, sent an internal memo to their employees, urging any employee in the U.S. on a Green Card or visa to use caution. The memo stated, “Please do not travel outside of the U.S. until the ban is lifted. While the entry restriction is currently only in place for 90 days, it could be extended with little or no warning.” The definitions of this Executive Order are still being defined.

If you are a client and require assistance or need to make amendments to your itinerary,  please contact Christopherson Business Travel .  Our agents will check the most up-to-date airline policies.  You can contact your dedicated reservations team per the phone numbers noted on your itineraries.

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Sighted: A Gym In An Airport!

When you travel for work, it’s hard to maintain your lifestyle. Finding time to exercise or follow a healthy diet can seem almost impossible when your priorities are centered on networking, deadlines, and adhering to a schedule. After a long day of meetings, I often find myself, pacing,  just to get in a few more steps in before my plane boards. Apparently, I’m not the only business traveler attempting to burn calories while waiting at the airport.

New Airport Gym

Enter Roam Fitness, a new company establishing workout facilities in airports.  Opening their first gym in the Baltimore/Washington International Airport, it’s the first of its kind to hit the air travel industry. It is located after the security gate at the D/E connector. Not only is having a gym in an airport a potential game-changer, but their amenities appear to be top-of-the-line and well aligned with business traveler’s needs. A few services they provide:

  • cardio equipment
  • free weights, medicine balls, stability balls, yoga supplies
  • TRX system
  • stretching space
  • bathrooms with private showers
  • towel service
  • lockers
  • clothes and shoe rentals for unprepared members
  • vacuum seal to contain sweaty garments post-workout

The company has plans to open other locations, with several more airports on the horizon. The airports in negotiations are Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport,  Pittsburgh International Airport, and Charlotte-Douglas International Airport. They have their sights on 23 additional airports, mainly located in the United States, but also including Heathrow Airport in London.

Depending on your frequency to the Baltimore/Washington International Airport, a membership may work with your budget. They offer day and month passes, as well as annual passes. These annual passes include additional perks, such as a 24-hour advance reservation on showers.

I’m probably not the only traveler excited for a healthy airport activity like a gym. This advancement in is a push in the right direction for a healthy lifestyle, especially for on-the-go business travelers.

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Business Travel Guides Travel Industry

Comparing Basic Economy Fares

There is a new bandwagon in the business travel industry – and it’s basic economy fares from major airlines. Delta has had a handle on their basic economy class since last year. But both United Airlines and American Airlines announced their own twist on the basic economy fare within the last three months. With this sudden competitiveness for cheap seats, we decided to compare each new basic economy class by airline.

The gist of basic economy fares?

  • Cheaper ticket prices, but a few of the perks of the flight have been removed
  • Traveler can’t choose their seat
  • They are also the last to board the plane
  • Still has access to on-flight perks such as inflight entertainment, snacks and non-alcoholic drinks

Delta Air Line’s Basic Economy Class

  • Allows use of overhead bin and the area below the seat in front of you
  • If traveling with others or family, it’s likely you won’t be sitting together
  • Traveler will not be eligible for same-day changes or ticket refunds after the Risk Free Cancellation Period
  • Also not eligible for paid or complimentary upgrades or preferred seats, even with Medallion® Status

United Airline’s Basic Economy Class

  • No use of overhead bins for luggage. This is the biggest differentiation with United’s basic economy class.  When originally announced, it spurred a lot of emotion in the business travel community.
  • Seat is assigned prior to boarding. No changes or upgrades are allowed.
  • If you are a MileagePlus member, you will still earn miles from the flight, but you will not accrue Premier qualifying credit or lifetime miles or toward the four-segment minimum, and won’t receive some benefits.
  • Checked baggage is still available for the addition fee.

American Airline’s Basic Economy Class

  • Most recently announced, American’s Basic Economy Fare will go on sale in late February
  • No use of overhead bins – following United’s suit
  • Seats assigned at check-in, but they do offer seat selection for an additional fee.
  • BUT- if you are an AAdvantage elite status member and eligible AAdvantage credit cardmembers, you are exempt from certain restrictions
    • Use the overhead bin for an addition piece of luggage (no larger than 22 x 14 x 9 in.)
    • Keep you priority or preferred boarding privileges
    • Keep your checked bag benefits
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Travel Industry Travel News

Delta and Aeroméxico Partnership Announced

More exciting news comes from Delta Airlines in 2017. Delta and Aeroméxico recently announced a transborder alliance, establishing a historic partnership between the United States and Mexico. These two airlines have been partners for 22 years, offering more than 400 flights between the two countries. This Delta and Aeroméxico partnership is expected to increase these benefits and choices for fliers.

The Department of Transportation recently authorized an antitrust immunity, allowing the airlines to establish a joint cooperation agreement.
Delta CEO, Ed Bastain said in a recent press release, “Together, Delta and Aeroméxico are stronger in the U.S.-Mexico market than either airline can be on its own. The partnership will make it possible for us to offer customers more flights to more destinations, with more choices every time someone travels across the border. We will offer industry-leading reliability, great service and an unmatched array of options.” “Our partnership means growth of services and jobs for both Delta and Aeroméxico,”

Once finalized by the DOT and the Mexican Federal Economic Competition Commission conditions are met, it will allow Aeroméxico and Delta to coordinate and enhance the experience for their travelers.

What does this Delta and Aeroméxico partnership mean for travelers?

Collectively, they already operate more than 400 flights between them, offering greater benefits to their flyers. In the near future travelers can expect to see:

  • Expanded destinations
  • Improved connecting schedules
  • Seamless operations
  • Improved experience on the ground, including updated gate and lounges

Sales and marketing for this venture will soon be created, increasing the presence in Delta’s United States hubs in Atlanta, Detroit, Los Angeles, Minneapolis-St. Paul, New York, Salt Lake City and Seattle. Aeroméxico will begin marketing efforts in their hubs in Mexico City, Monterrey and Guadalajara.

Christopherson Business Travel is a premier business travel management company in the United States. We offer travel solutions with our top-of-the-line custom technology, account management services and 24/7 agents. Contact us to learn how we can save you time and money on future business travel.

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Should Calls On Planes Be Allowed? You Can Help Decide.

The travel industry was left a bit perplexed in December when the Department of Transportation (DOT) made a sudden announcement.  They stated a “proposal to require airlines and ticket agents to disclose in advance to consumers if the carrier operating their flight allows passengers to make voice calls using mobile wireless devices.” So what does this mean? The DOT has decided they will no longer regulate the use of cellphones for calls on planes. Instead, the decision will be determined by the airline and ticket agents.

 

Why are phone calls currently prohibited on airplanes?

Electromagnetic interference has been the culprit for prohibiting these calls on planes. It’s also why laptops and other devices need to be turned off during takeoff and landing.  This interference is more prominent in our lives than you might think. For example, when your phone is too close to speakers, producing a static noise. Or how you sometimes hear a number being dialed on a wireless phone through a baby monitor. These are small examples that most have encountered without much consequence.

Airplanes on the other hand often use a number of radio frequencies for different tasks.  If those wires are crossed while flying the results may be more severe. Radio frequency is used to communicate with ground control, air traffic control, guidance and weather detection. If a passenger’s phone is turned on, it could possibly garble the message between the pilot and others, similar to putting your phone too close to speakers.

 

Why phone calls are now safe on planes

The Federal Communications Commission rules do not cover wi-fi or other non-radio frequency communications. Leaving the DOT to decide if wi-fi voice calls on planes should be allowed. Calls made using radio frequency would still be prohibited.

 

The pros and cons of approving calls on planes

For me, there are two obvious sides to this coin. If you are an efficient business traveler, your productivity on a plane will significantly improve if you are able to call the office, clients or prospects while flying. The downside, of course, being strapped in a seat for hours, forced to listen to the one-sided calls around you. What if you are flying in the middle seat and both neighbors are on the phone? How will that affect your work? Like crying babies aren’t enough of a distraction?

Many figureheads and politicians have already put in their two cents.  Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) made a statement saying “Small seats, little legroom and, now, cell phone chatter – air travel could become even less comfortable if consumers are surrounded by passengers talking on mobile phones,”

DOT wants to hear from you

Overall, the DOT is still defining their decision. Is leaving this decision in the hands of airlines acceptable, or if voice calls should be prohibited altogether? Fortunately, they are looking for feedback. Members of the public can comment on the notice of proposed rulemaking at regulations.gov, docket number DOT-OST-2014-0002. The notice closes on Feb 13, so be sure to submit your comments for their review before then.

Christopherson Business Travel is a travel management company for busy corporations. We’ve succeeded for more than 60 years by innovating technologies and providing superior account management. Learn more about the Christopherson approach.

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Business Travel Travel Industry

The Science of Shrinking Personal Space on Airplanes

It’s no surprise that airlines have been squeezing more seats onto their planes. Some criticize the move increases their profits, while others defend it keeps ticket prices low. Regardless of your stance on the matter, personal space on airplanes is expected to continue to dwindle on commercial airlines. But, many are surprised by just where that space is shrinking.

Average planes now have 142 seats, with the previous average being 137 seats. Most think this new row was previously leg room. But with the creation and implementation of slimmer backed seats, our leg space is relatively unchanged. The noticeable shrinking of personal space actually comes from headroom. On most new planes, our heads are now three inches closer to the head of the person sitting in front of you. Once that person reclines, the distance between you and them shrinks further. 

It’s human nature to become anxious and agitated by shrinking personal space. And of course, the size of this personal bubble is different for everyone. Some people can handle this closeness more easily than others.  But science does show that some parts of the body require a larger personal bubble. For example, you probably don’t care how close your foot is to another object. Not surprisingly, the head is an area that is more sensitive. When that seat in front of you reclines, it is noticed immediately. Though it hasn’t been officially researched, many think the shrinking space correlates with increased incidences of flying rage in recent years. 

Additionally, bathrooms are sizing down. In the new Airbus A320s and A321s, they have cut the bathroom galleys in half, creating two bathrooms next to each other instead of one.

How to deal with shrinking personal space on airplanes

At least airplane manufacturers are trying to alleviate the tension. Boeing has reported that they are redesigning the ceiling panels to provide a more spacious view up above. We have yet to know if it will relieve some of the strain, so here are a few other tips to use the next time you fly.

  • Sit in the first row. There is more room for your legs and no one sitting in front of you to recline.
  • Even the first few rows can make a difference. Seeing only a few rows instead of 30 can make you feel less stressed.
  • If you can afford it, fly first class.
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Travel Industry Travel News

Delta Air Lines Continues To Innovate

Here at Christopherson Business Travel, we’re pretty big fans of Delta Air Lines. Their continual innovation and commitment to fliers is inspiring. Earlier this year, our management team had an opportunity to hear some of Delta’s top leaders speak. One of those industry leaders was Tim Mapes, Senior Vice President – Chief Marketing Officer of Delta.  With a company that is consistently pioneering, we valued the opportunity to understand the message behind the brand.

How Delta continually innovates

During the meeting, Mapes said, “If the world is changing faster on the outside than you’re changing on the inside, then your company is dying”.  Sound business advice, it dawned on me how hard Delta strives to be on the cutting edge.  For example, their revolutionary new baggage ticketing system released this year. Or how their Gift Back Project cultivated altruism by recognizing selfless individuals. Mapes also explained the three pillars of their brand:

  • Thoughtful ? Always be warm and caring.
  • Reliable ? Get our passengers home on-time, safely, and with their bags.
  • Innovative ? Strive to be the first in the industry to make a change, and then continually innovate.

Delta Air Lines continues to deliver on their reliability brand promise. Their hard work and dedication lead to great accolades. For example, this November Delta was named the most punctual airline in North America. Hearing Mapes speak about the foundation of the Delta brand and recognize it in their recent updates was inspiring.

Christopherson Business Travel is an award-winning corporate travel management company. We help busy companies book, manage, and expense their business travel, so they can get back to what’s important to them. Contact us if you are interested in learning how we can simplify your company’s travel.

 

 

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Travel Industry Travel News Travel Technology

Delta’s New Baggage Tracking System

Almost two months ago, Delta introduced their much-anticipated new baggage tracking process. Originally announced last spring, their new checked luggage process is now active in 84 airports. If you are a frequent business traveler, make sure you take advantage of this new technology.

Delta’s New Baggage Tracking System

What makes Delta’s new tracking system so innovative? Bags checked through Delta Air Lines receive a tag. These Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags transmit an individual frequency, making them easier to locate. This is the same technology as used in E-Z Lane toll passes, id badges, electronic locks and even library books.

Once the RFID tags are attached to the luggage, they continue down the conveyor belt to the designated plane. A red light/green light system identifies the bags and their correct flow. The system shuts down when a bag is scanned and found to be headed the wrong way. If this happens, an agent easily locates the bag and moves it to the correct flow.  Delta claims it has 99.9 percent accuracy of luggage making it to their correct destination.

Mobile app provides instant information for the flyer

Delta’s conjoining app notifies the flyer when their luggage reaches baggage claim. More incredibly, it allows the flyer to see their bag’s journey throughout the day.  I already know I’ll be obsessively monitoring my bags the next time I fly with Delta!

Christopherson Business Travel is a leading travel management company in the United States. We specialize in exceptional customer service and forward thinking travel technology, making the lives of our clients and their travelers easier.

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Business Travel Travel Industry Travel News

Brexit Yet To Impact Business Travel Market

Following the Brexit decision in June, the business travel industry has been holding its breath in anticipation. At the time, no one knew what to expect from the British or EU economy. Now, five months later, a new report shows that Brexit has yet to make an impact on business travel, foretelling positive signs for the future.

Business travel forecasting

In a recent report from the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), the European business travel economy, like most of the industry, has been slower than overall expected for 2016.  But, it is slightly higher than other markets and predicted to pick up. Western Europe is anticipated to increase 6 percent in 2016, and another 4.7 percent increase in 2017. This is higher than the United States, which is predicted to fall this year, and grow a mere 3.8 percent in 2017. With this realistic, but positive outlook, it’s easy to disregard the potential impact from Brexit adjustments. A few areas highlighted that may be affected are listed below.

Areas of concern for Brexit developments

  • Travel pricing within Europe. As the UK breaks away from the EU, the open skies between the two may also close. This could result in fewer flights and higher fares. Additionally, mobile roaming charges could be implemented, increasing the cost for roadwarriors and travel expenses overall.
  • Visa protocol. Rising immigration issues, coupled with security concerns, could lead to extreme new UK visa requirements. If this happens, extreme protocols will likely be reciprocated be the EU. This may cause a lengthy or difficult process to travel between the two areas.
  • Access. The free movement of people throughout the EU prospered business, connections, and money as well. It’s fair to anticipate a time for adjustments as this free movement closes. For example, airlines may negotiate for new routes and pricing. Or credit card fees and charges will need to be decided upon.

Overall, there is still a lot we don’t know about how the Brexit decision will affect the business travel industry. Fortunately, the impact has not yet been seen by the overall market, which is itself a blessing.

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Travel Industry Travel News

United Announces New Basic Economy Class

Though not completely unexpected, United Air Lines announced their new basic economy class last week. With Delta’s economy class running since 2012, and American Airlines revving up for their new class, this was not a huge surprise. With many of the same low-budget priorities, there is one restriction of United’s basic economy class that made the travel community do a second glance.

United’s no-frills basic economy class

An exciting change for the budget-conscious flier, United can now offer lower priced seats on some of their existing flights. This puts United in competition with no-frills airlines, such as Spirit or Frontier. With this limited structure comes a few restrictions. First, basic economy fliers won’t be able to pick their seat. With this come no guarantee that they will be able to sit with their companions. Voluntary flight changes won’t be allowed, and basic economy fliers will be the last to board the plane. In regards to travel points, fliers will accrue Milage Plus award points, but they will not go toward elite loyalty status.

But, the limitation that’s creating commotion is in regards to baggage. Basic economy fliers are allowed only one carry-on and will not have access to the overhead bins. Their carry-on will have to fit under the seat in front of them. United believes this will save time with onboarding procedures and decrease delays.

This is all part of United’s attempt to diversify and customize the experience for their differing fliers. But has this gone too far? With United also recently announcing their Polaris business class, I can’t help but feel the disparity as if aboard the Titanic. The Polaris class offers roomy, adjustable seats with down pillows and noise-canceling headphones. While their basic economy offers a carry-what’s-on-your-back mentality and limited guarantees.

What do you think of the newly announced basic economy class? Will you be booking them? Do you frequently travel with limited luggage? Let us know in the comments below.

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Business Travel Travel Industry Travel News

China Tops Global Business Travel Market

According to GBTA’s latest business travel forecast, China accounts for 25 percent of business travel spending. This is a dramatic increase from 2000, when they held just 5 percent of the market.  China is now considered the fastest growing business travel market in the world.

China’s Growth To Top Of The Global Business Travel Market

For China, their total business travel spending is expected to reach 9.2 percent, or $317.9 billion by 2016. In 2017, the expected increase is slightly lower at 8.4 percent. Though it is slowing down, this is still a giant leap ahead of the United States. For comparison, in 2017, U.S. business travel spending is expected to reach $293.1 billion. That is a $51.5 billion dollar difference!

The GBTA Executive Director and COO, Michael W. McCormick,  stated this is “demonstrating the truly global nature of today’s economy.” He added, “We expect longer-term spending growth to continue to moderate until Chinese policymakers can achieve their goal of rebalancing the economy and diverting resources away from investment and towards consumption.”

China Continues To Ride The Wave

Of this 25 percent growth, much of it came from domestic ventures. They are now setting their sights on global carriers. On top of that, vying for top margin travelers.  From Traveller.com.au, flights from the South Pacific and Asia is the strategy to begin with. The industry is already saturated with big hitters like Cathy Pacific, Qantas, and Singapore Airlines. Also standing in their way is the perception left by past safety records.

This will not be an easy battle for China’s airlines, but it’s one that can’t be passed up. According to data from the International Air Transport Association, premium passengers account for only 8 percent of travelers. But, these premium travelers generate close to a third of revenue.  To increase their chances, Chinese airlines are stepping up their game in comfort and premium services. Hainan Airlines’ business class, for example, now offers  menus by Michelin star chefs, top amenity bags, and comfortable seating. Expect a big push from Chinese markets in the future, but they certainly have a battle ahead of them.

Chirstopherson Business Travel is a travel management company for businesses. With more than 60 years of experience, we focus on travel—so busy professionals don’t have to. Learn how we can save you company time and money on travel by contacting us today.

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Business Travel Travel Industry

Emotional Support Animals On Airplanes

You seen them on the plane and in the airport—service dogs and animals flying with their owners. But did you know not all are trained to provide assistance for their handlers? Some of these are animals aiding and comforting the owner who is suffering from mental or emotional issues. These ’emotional support animals’ are allowed on planes and travel just like service dogs though. Read below the frequently asked questions we had about these emotional support animals on airplanes.

What are emotional support animals?

Emotional support animals (ESA) help people suffering from anxiety and other emotional disorders. They are allowed to always accompany the person in need, even in places that don’t allow animals. A few examples are restaurants, movie theaters, at work, and on public transportation. They are often confused with service animals, which are specifically trained to assist people with disabilities. These are the seeing eye dogs or hearing dogs, but also include animals that are trained to detect the onsets of future episodes like seizures or PTSD symptoms. These animals go through rigorous and specific training to assist those in need.

Emotional support animals, or comfort animals, have a less rigorous definition, and are therefore not considered service animals by the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). These animals, not only dogs, provide companionship, relieve loneliness, and help with depression, anxiety, and certain phobias. By providing therapeutic contact, they improve their owner’s physical, emotional and cognitive functioning.

What is the process for receiving an emotional support animal?

To be eligible for an emotional support animal, the person must first be diagnosed by a healthcare physician with an “emotional/psychological disability”. A properly written letter from a licensed therapist, counselor or physician is sometimes needed. They must also prove the animal is well-behaved and under control. After registering online, through a number of different organizations, they receive certifications and  patches for their animal. Overall, the process is easy and straight-forward.

Ultimately, the care and supervision is the handler’s responsibility. The animal must be under control, including things like excessive barking, jumping on people, or running away from handler. If the owner can not get the animal under control, businesses have the right to not allow the animal on the premises.

Can only dogs be emotional support animals?

No, really any animal can be registered as an ESA. If they provide companionship and help the person lead a normal life, really any animal is allowed. Even less likely animals like kangaroos, pigs, and turkeys are ESAs.

Are emotional support animals allowed on airplanes?

The FAA allows support animals to fly in cabins on flights, but the decision is really up to the airline. Though the airlines do vary, it seems most allow these comfort animals with additional documentation, such as a letter from a licensed professional. The airlines require a minimum 24 – 48 hour notification period to let the airline know that there will be a emotional support animal on borad.

Are any animals not allowed on flights?

There are some restrictions on the type of support animal allowed to fly. Rodents, ferrets, snakes, spiders and other reptiles are often not allowed on flights. Also, depending on the destination, especially international flights, there may be additional restrictions. Overall, it’s best to contact the airline directly.

Do emotional support animals go through security?

Yes, both service animals and support animals go through security screening at the airport. Their collar and vest are removed and the owner holds them while they go through together.

Do travelers pay for their emotional support animal to fly?

Travelers with emotional support animals or service animals do not pay additional fees to fly. I did learn that some airlines, like Delta, allows passengers to bring small pets on board for an additional fee with some restrictions. Counting as one piece of carry-on, they must be kenneled and stowed in the seat in front of the passenger.

Where do support animals sit on the flight?

If the animal is small and kenneled, it should be stowed under the seat in front of the traveler. If the emotional support animal is larger, it should sit at the customer’s feet, without protruding into the aisle. Travelers with support animals are not allowed to sit in exit rows.

What if someone on the flight has a pet dander allergy?

According to the FAA, allergens, including pet dander, are introduced onto planes by passengers and their clothing. So regardless if there is an animal on the flight, pet dander will be present anyway. If someone has severe allergies, they should fly with an airline that does not allow pets in the cabin. They can also contact a reservations agent from the airline to see if any other traveler have booked pets on that flight. As a last resort, the airline will typically reseat someone with a pet allergy.

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Travel Industry Travel News

Feeling The Shift In Airline Commoditization

It’s kind of funny. As technology continually advances, our expectations also change. We are living in an interesting age of requiring immediate results and instant buyer satisfaction. If we don’t see what we want, we can find it somewhere else. It might not surprise you that this is prominent in the travel industry. As consumers, we have any hotel and their reservation system at our fingertips. There is complete control over when and where we stay, and usually with some persuading discount. Same can be true with flights. We can decide when, where, negotiate on price and even pick our exact seat. However, some people believe there is still room for improvement.

The everyday traveler mainly uses travel booking websites to research and book future itineraries. We decide when we want to travel and where; and these sites help us find the cheapest fare. The search functions are primarily price and date. You decide when you want to travel and they find the best deal. But what if we want more? Robert Albert from RouteHappy wonders if perhaps consumers want more options. Albert explained during the Skift Global Forum in New York City last September that this commoditization is a big problem with airlines.

For example, think of that last flight you had with a low-price, low-value airline. Yes, your original booking price was low, but factor in the carry-on luggage fee, food and drink fee, and the minuscule leg room and you were left feeling cheated. Yes, it’s the best price, but was it worth feeling used and spit out? Not likely. And more and more people are seeing this.

As our buyer behavior and expectations continue to evolve, our expectations become more defined. While other industries, like hotels, have design overhauls to capture emerging buyers, shifting airline brand messaging or selling points is harder to do. It’s easier for a boutique hotel to pinpoint a demographic niche and jump on it, than the mammoth airline industry. In essence, there this room for opportunity to capture the growing needs of demanding airline passengers, but the industry may be too far behind to catch up.

As Albert said in his Skift Forum presentation, the biggest trend in the airline industry right now is the focus on ‘commoditize to differentiated.’ It most likely started with offering checked baggage options. Cabin upgrades came next. But is it enough?  Albert found an interesting niche in the travel booking world. Why have online travel booking be based solely on price? He has found that consumers are willing to pay extra for these upgrades. Flyers no longer want the cheapest price, but would rather see the value in the money they spend. Try booking based on amenities, travelers scores, plane type, legroom, and duration of flight. It’s an innovative look at travel booking in a seemly stagnant industry.

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Travel Industry Travel News

TSA Precheck Lines Getting Longer?

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced an initiative to enroll twenty-five million new travelers in their Trusted Traveler programs by 2019. Such programs include TSA Precheck and Global Entry.
—To accomplish this goal, TSA is getting creative. Last year, they opened Precheck enrollment centers at locations like H&R Block and select Department of Motor Vehicles. During their Summer Tour, they set up pop-up enrollment centers at hotels across the country. They’re also now marketing Precheck at concerts, offering those who enroll access to concert Fast Passes via Precheck. Rumor is, TSA may soon be partnering with a major bank. They may also begin offering special pricing programs for the service. Select hotel and airline reward programs offer the option to use points to pay for the enrollment, while some credit card companies offer waivers to cover the cost.

According to Charlie Carroll, the vice president of Identity Services at TSA’s enrollment services partner MorphoTrust, 250,000 people enroll each month. While momentum is picking up with increased marketing, reaching twenty-five million in the next two and a half years may be an uphill climb.

How Does Increased Precheck Enrollment Affect Travelers

The real question is—how does this affect travelers? On a recent business trip, I got TSA Precheck status via random selection. It was a dream. I kept my shoes on and my laptop and bag of liquids stayed in the suitcase. I breezed through security, arriving at my gate much earlier than I anticipated. Needless to say, I enjoyed the elite status and ease of the service so much I considered enrolling and paying the $85 to become Precheck approved.

But let’s remember–the need for TSA Precheck rose from travelers’ frustration over long, slow security lines. Long, slow security lines are the result of travelers having to empty bags and practically de-robe to pass security. These requirements came in response to terrorism. TSA Precheck was then created as an elite service for frequent travelers. Eventually, preferred members of airlines, identified as “low risk” travelers, received access. Now, they’re actively marketing the service with no signs of limiting the number of people who want it.

From where I stand, it appears that they reduced the quality and speed of airport security services after 9/11. Now they’re charging us, the travelers, to get back the convenience of the faster, easier security lines we originally enjoyed. And with enrollment for the service growing rapidly, it seems unlikely that TSA Precheck will continue to be as fast, convenient, and elite as it has been.

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Travel Industry Travel News

Update on the New Salt Lake City International Airport Terminal

The long awaited building of the new Salt Lake City international airport terminal is finally making some noticeable progress.  Residents and travelers can see the change in the roadway used to enter and exit the airport. This project is a very complex undertaking, with a price tag of $1.8 billion, but the end result will be worth the effort.

New Salt Lake City International Airport Terminal

Salt Lake City International Airport serves nearly 23 million passengers a year. The current facilities were built 30-50 years ago, and designed to serve only half as many travelers. SLC International Airport has grown into a major hub airport in the western U.S. With flights often leaving and arriving at the same time, security protocols need to updated to accommodate these changes as well. Buildings also need to meet current earthquake-safety standards.

Some key features of the new design:

  • Single, three-level terminal
  • One linear concourse
  • Gateway center
  • New parking garage
  • New support facilities

We applaud Delta Air Lines for their commitment to Salt Lake City and their willingness to be the anchor tenant in the new facility. Delta’s CEO, Ed Bastian, was recently in Salt Lake City and shared a positive outlook about their commitment to the SLC hub. From a Salt Lake City Tribune article, Bastian said, “It’s a great destination market. And as we rebuild the airport here, there’s going to be even more opportunity down the road”.

Fro those eager to see the new terminal built, their SLC Airport provides consistently updated information and pictures. See their conceptual renderings, photos (including demolition), and other highlights. 

Christopherson Business Travel is a national corporate travel management company with headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah. Privately owned for more than 60 years, we are passionate about providing travel solutions for busy professionals. Please contact our sales team if you have questions about our unique services.

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Business Travel Travel Industry

Travel Hardest on Small Business Travelers

Start ups and small businesses can sometimes feel like an uphill battle. Getting off the ground, maintaining stable growth, and establishing a competitive advantage, it’s easy for smaller details to fall through the cracks. That’s exactly what a new study by Holiday Inn discovered regarding small businesses and booking travel. They found that small business travelers find it harder and more time consuming to book business travel than larger companies. In fact, travel in general is more stressful for this demographic.

Travelers from small businesses surveyed

The study was an online survey of 1,005 small business travelers. Most of the survey group found the process of traveling time-consuming and costly, though the majority (98 percent) found its benefits ultimately rewarding. The larger take-away is roughly a third of small businesses believe they have a harder time booking travel than larger companies. And in all honesty, they are probably right. Smaller companies tend to not have the backing of a corporate travel booking tool. They end up doing the booking themselves., spending excess time and possibly money with travel management.

Additionally, the small business travelers surveyed found their biggest issue is the stress involved in travel itself. And they are probably correct here as well. Without the support of a travel manager, auto-updated itineraries or reassurance should issues arise, travel itself can be nerve-wrecking. 

What can small business owners do to feel more prepared?

Create travel management plan

  • Develop a travel policy, or guidelines for travel. Creating a game plan from which you book travel may help you feel more organized and save time in the long run.
  • Create vendor relationships. Establishing partnerships can save you money and ease in stress.
  • Research if a corporate travel management company or program is right for your business.

Relieve the stress related to travel

  • Familiarize yourself with the destination. Research restaurants, coffee shops, and drug stores near your hotel. Feeling more prepared while you are there may take the edge off of the unknown.
  • Get down a packing routine. Get packing list tips from our own frequent road warriors. Read this one too.
  • Stay productive while traveling. The job never ends for small businesses, which is why taking advantage of the few minutes of downtime is important. Read our 7 productivity tips.
  • Take time for yourself and explore the city. Whether it be an afternoon or a weekend, take advantage of being in a new city. The downtime may put the fun back in travel too!

Christopherson Business Travel is a corporate travel management company for busy businesses, big and small. With more than 60 years of experience, we specialize in top-of-the-line travel technology and consultative customer service. We’re here to take the stress off of travel, so your company can focus on what’s more important.

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Business Travel Travel Industry

What Happens To Lost Luggage?

Luggage lost by the airlines has to end up somewhere, right? I don’t know about you, but this is a question that pops up out of nowhere in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep. Or, as I’m anxiously waiting at the carousel in baggage claim while the bags are circling. The thought of possibly having my checked baggage lost or delayed while traveling on business often leads me to just bring a carry-on. While I’m sure I’ll always have that fear, at least now I know where the luggage may possibly end up.

What happens to Lost Luggage

The Numbers

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, only 3.68 bags of every 1,000 pieces of luggage goes unclaimed. Of those, nearly 98 percent of the luggage finds its owner within the next week. Within the next three months, half of the remaining luggage is returned. After the 90-period, the tiny remaining fraction of luggage legally becomes the property of the airlines. By this time, claims have been filed on the lost luggage and the flyer is compensated. So, what does the airline do with the luggage? They sell it!

Your Luggage’s Final Home

The Unclaimed Baggage Center (UBC), located in Scottsboro, Alabama buys the lost luggage  and then unpacks, cleans, organizes and sells the contents to shoppers. Jewelry and artwork are appraised and electronic devices are wiped clean. Even with appraisals, a few great finds have been found over the years. Including a painting priced at $60, but actually worth $20,000 and rare relics and oddities.

The UBC started in 1970 by a man named Doyle Owens. He had the ingenious idea to borrow a pickup truck, drive to Washington D.C. and took out a $300 loan to buy his first load of unclaimed luggage from airlines. Since that first truckload, the business has forged relationships with many different airlines, and hauls luggage from all across America. The Unclaimed Baggage Center building is the size of a city block and has over a million visitors every year. It also claims to be one of the top tourist attractions in Alabama.

Returns, Please?

Unfortunately, don’t expect to turn to them for your lost luggage. In regards to the question on their website, they say ‘Regrettably, “No”. . . After this point, claims have been paid out and the items are sent with no identifying information to Unclaimed Baggage to be repurposed or sold.’ So feel free to go shopping  at the UBC (aka, my new bucket list addition), but don’t get your hopes up in finding your own bag. 
Read next from our blog:

Finally, Refunds For Delayed Checked Baggage

What Is The Right Size For Carry-On Luggage?

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Business and Leadership Travel Industry Travel Management

Increasing Compliance With Your Millennial Business Travelers

In case you haven’t noticed, the Millennial generation have recently become the butt of  jokes at conferences, twitter chats, and professional gatherings. Millennials, or Generation Ys,  are the most recent generation to enter the workforce. Currently in their early 20s – early 30s, they are putting the traditional workforce into a spin with their differing work styles and priorities. Whether you are from the camp believing they have a productive work ethic or they are self-entitled children, we as a society need to learn how to adjust our work environments to productively work with them. As Carolyn A. Martin and Bruce Tulgan, authors of the book ‘Managing Generation Y’ said “Organizations that can’t – or won’t customize training, career paths, incentives, and work responsibilities need a wake up call.”

Millennial Generation Characteristics

  • Millennials expect everything to be customizable to their preferences. If they don’t like their profile picture on Facebook, they change it. They can have just about anything shipped directly to their house. It’s how our world works now; almost everything is customizable and instantaneous. The difference is they’ve grown up with the expectation that if you don’t like something, there is always another solution available.  
  • They are on average highly educated, but value a higher work-life balance. This often makes them appear lazy and lacking respect when they take long lunches or work from home.
  • Growing up with computers and quickly advancing technology, they are quick learners to new technology and can easy adjust to new protocols or changes in the company.
  • They value experiences, especially travel. Millennials can make the best roadwarriors. Every city they enter is new and full of promise.
  • Sharing these experiences are highly valued. Why go to a new city and not take pictures?
  • Communication is important, but not in the traditional sense. Good luck getting them on the phone. They are more apt to sending a email or text than leave a voicemail.

Millennials and Reporting Compliance

Regarding travel management, Millennials have the highest rate of non-compliance. According to Tim Hines, the presenter at a Rocky Mountain Business Travel Association luncheon, they average 46% compliance. Compared to Baby Boomers, who are on average 80% compliant, the difference is concerning. If Millennials are always connected, why are they so bad at reporting their travel expenses? Well, the devil may be in the details here. Often the reporting process is lengthy or slow. For a group that expects results instantaneously, this can be a giant hurdle.   If you need something done, it should have a quick and easy approach.

6 Tips For Improving Compliance Rates:

  • Allow customization of the reporting platform and the ability to make adjustments.
  • Make the process as automated as possible. Use text alerts or automatic updates.
  • Enhance traveler experience, possibly with incenetives.
  • Leverage social tools, like Concur, TripIt, or Airtinerary.
  • Explore alternative communication methods like Twitter, Google Chat or Slack. Providing additional channels may open up lines of communication you didn’t know was needed.
  • Put them in charge of creating a new system for regulating compliance. They are quick to learn new technology. If they are responsible for finding something that will work for them, compliance will certainly be higher.
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Business and Leadership Travel Industry

Christopherson Is A SAP Concur Preferred Partner

One of the key differentiating factors for Christopherson Business Travel is our SAP Concur Preferred Partner status. Though this is one of our most beneficial components, it is often overlooked by prospective travel managers or business travelers. Working closely with the leading spend management provider allows us to further provide our clients with easy and affordable online travel management solutions. Their cloud-based services allows for updates and upgrades automatically. Combine that with our top-of-the-line integrations to our own travel technology means our clients are always supported, no matter the situation.

What makes a SAP Concur Preferred Partner:

  • Fully aligned with SAP Concur’s mission and vision, and consistently collaborate with the SAP Concur team
  • Market leaders in the industry, committed to driving innovation for their clients
  • Fully supportive of SAP Concur’s business traveler suite of solutions
  • Connected with SAP Concur sales and business development teams to ensure complete alignment
  • Proactively engaged in key industry events and initiatives

We were one of the first SAP Concur Preferred Partners, an exclusive membership that includes only 25 partners worldwide. SAP Concur Preferred Partners achieve the platform benefits of full, open technological integration. This enables us to offer our clients comprehensive service and the ability to evolve with the industry and our client’s growing travel needs. We currently manage more than 800 sites for more than 650 companies using SAP Concur.

Christopherson is a longtime direct reseller of SAP Concur, our clients are assured of high-quality service, responsive interaction, and an on-time implementation and transition. Most importantly, Christopherson has two specialized teams to build, customize, and maintain our client booking sites. These teams are ready to provide prompt and insightful assistance to travelers with navigational and system questions via phone or email.

“Christopherson Business Travel was one of our original TMC Partners to earn the Preferred Partner designation. This is due primarily to their leading edge in-house technical capabilities and their ability to successfully build out an API to Concur which allows for a robust data exchange process. Christopherson was also one of the first agencies to be TripLink certified and they are an active participant on our Preferred Partner Advisory Board. Their Executive team from the CEO down are some of the finest and well respected professionals in the industry and I truly enjoy working with them as a Concur TMC Preferred Partner.” —Will Elliott, Senior Alliance Manager, Concur

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Travel Industry Travel News

Christopherson Honored As A Utah Business Fast 50 Company

Utah Business magazine hosted its annual Fast 50 event on Thursday, August 24, to recognize the 50 fastest-growing businesses in the state of Utah.  Christopherson Business Travel was honored at the event, and the only company to date to achieve the Fast 50 recognition for 8 consecutive years. Companies were selected based on five years of compound revenue growth and total revenue, submitted to an independent accountant for analysis.

Christopherson is an innovative organization focused on long-term growth objectives in a rapidly changing industry.  We were awarded for our entrepreneurial spirit and innovative tactics. It is a notable accomplishment to have maintained sky-rocketing revenue growth for such a substantial period. Our CEO, Mike Cameron accepted the award, “When my wife and I first bought the company 26 years ago, we were doing under a million dollars a year and we set some very ambitious goals at the time. . . we wanted to become one of the top ten travel agencies in Utah. Turns out we met all those goals, actually exceeded them, and today we are doing 600 million dollars a year and we are the largest travel agency in Utah”.

Recognition as one of the Utah Business Fast 50 is shared with many of our Utah-based clients including Nu Skin Enterprises, Jane.com, Pluralsight, Extra Space Storage and Crest Financial Services. We applaud everyone for their success and wish them luck for an outstanding year ahead.

Christopherson Business Travel is a corporate travel management agency with more than 60 years of experience. We are passionate about providing efficient travel solutions for busy professionals, so they can focus on what’s important to them. Contact us to learn more about our travel technology and consultative services.

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Business Travel Travel Industry

How Should Travel Suppliers Accommodate For Women Business Travelers?

Many travel suppliers are missing the mark on the fastest growing majority of their customers — women business travelers. According to The Women In Business Travel Report, conducted by Maiden Voyage, 47 percent of women who travel, travel on business and 80 percent of all travel spend is managed by women. This makes them currently the fastest growing segment of business travelers.

So, what are these travel suppliers doing to accommodate this growing segment of their customers? Though there have been studies and enhancements over the past few years, there is still a lot of room for improvement.  

Where should travel suppliers be focusing on to further accommodate women traveler preferences?

Safety and Security

Joe Bates of the Global Business Travel Association observes that women have a greater focus on safety and security. “It would be things like, ‘Is the hotel located in a safe part of town? How do I know the taxi company I’m using is a reputable one?’ … Things of that nature tend to resonate much more with women than with male travelers.”Bates says. 

It’s not rocket science that staying safe is a priority for women traveling alone. MaidenVoyage.com, who conducted the survey, is a website that connects female business travelers with each other to rate hotels and share experiences. Hotels are then scored based on specific safety concerns, such as 24-hour front desk attendants or on-site secure parking. What is most often discovered is that hotel staff can go even further in analyzing their actions and behavior to make guests feel more secure. Does your staff loudly announce the hotel room number at the front desk? Do they consider which room to book for a single women traveling specially? Thinking about these tiny details in the hotel services experiences can change the experience for solo travelers.

Dedicated Services & Amenities

Another reason the increase of women business travelers should be on traveler supplier’s radar, is their tendency to be the planner in future travels. Women make up 85% of purchase choices for households. Their opinions hold firm weight in the long run. Was their experience in the hotel enjoyable enough to plan a family location or future business trip to include your hotel again? 

Hotel amenities and quality of the services are overall more particular to women. This is why some hotels are leveraging this by adjusting amenities. Some hotels have added complimentary curling irons, hair straighteners, increased electrical outlets in the bathroom, and enlarged makeup mirrors. 

The Hyatt Group has done extensive research into this demographic. After an 18 month survey, they improved their services by adding the ‘Hyatt Has It’ program and additional amenities. Guests can rent or purchase items they may have forgotten to bring. Whether it be a room humidifier or extra hair conditioner, Hyatt has positioned themselves as the reliable friend who can ensure your comfort while visiting.

Business travel services are always changing, and in this respect, I think it’s changing for the better. Though originally targeted for women, having a larger focus on safety protocols and elevating usability of hotels and complimentary items are things that can benefit everyone.

Read Next:

Who books business travel earlier? Men or Women?

Christopherson Business Travel Named #1 Woman-Owned Company In Colorado

 

Categories
Travel Industry Travel News

United’s New Business Class Polaris Solves Business Traveler Discomforts

United Airlines is reinventing international business class with their latest creation, Polaris. We were fortunate enough to preview it last Thursday in downtown Denver. The event was held in the beautiful and historic Brown Palace Hotel and Spa and featured informative and interactive stations. It included their business class seats, as well as a virtual reality demonstration of the lounge and carrier.

United Polaris Business Class

This international business class overhaul encompasses lounges in their hub locations as well as on-board international flights. It is very apparent that significant time, thought and attention went into this development. The ideals of relaxation, comfort, exclusivity and excellence are very top of mind in every detail. I especially see the benefits for busy business travelers. Though there are many examples, I think my favorite is the ‘do not disturb’ button at every seat. Let’s say you eat a pre-boarding meal in their exclusive lounge (yes, that’s also a new addition), so when you board the plane you can simple go to sleep after take off. No issue of waiting until after dinner service to make it apparent that you don’t want to be disturbed. Continuing our example, let’s say that you wake up in the middle of the flight, completely parched. Well no need to flag down a flight attendant while everyone else is sleeping. You can simply use their walk-up bar station to grab water, drinks, or assorted snacks at your convenience. Every detail has been considered.

A few other amazing takeaways of the new Polaris Business Class:

  • All seats are designed to have aisle access and ample legroom. No walking over neighbors if you fly in the middle seat. There is no more middle seat on Polaris.
  • Ample outlet and technology placement. Each tray has a phone or tablet perch, to actively use your devices on the plane. Work can comfortably be done in these seats. 
  • Fold down seats with the length of 6’6’’.
  • Amenity bag including spa-quality Soho House & Co. Cowshed products, black out eye masks and headphones.
  • Elegant cuisine created by The Trotter Project, which will specialize in locally sourced and seasonal flavors. For example, if you are flying out of the Denver hub, you may be able to anticipate flank steak, mashed potatoes with a palisade peach cobbler for dessert. These are products local to Colorado and in season.
  • On-board linens provided by Saks Fifth Avenue. Enjoy two pillows, a sheet, and a duvet. If that is not enough, pajamas, a mattress pillow top and a cooling gel memory foam pillow is available upon request.

When to expect changes

The first United Polaris Class lounge will open on December 31, 2016 at the O’Hare Airport. Eight additional lounges will open at Houston Intercontinental, Los Angeles International, New York/Newark, San Francisco, Washington Dulles, Hong Kong, London Heathrow and Tokyo Narita. Specific dates are not yet known. Access to these lounges will only be to those with a business class ticket. General access or day passes are not allowed to this lounge.

Airplanes will be quickly renovated with this business class update. United will start with the Boeing 777-300 carriers in December 2016. They will be available in early 2017. Booking and reservations for Polaris has not yet been established.

Our hands-on guided look at United’s innovations got us pretty excited for the new advances. We could truly imagine ourselves in the new lounge and comfortably snoozing aboard. Overall, United’s Polaris Business Class is something we can’t wait to enjoy for ourselves. United’s website can keep you updated on latest news or explore it’s additional features.   

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Travel Industry Travel News

Christopherson Sponsors Rocky Mountain Business Travel Association Luncheon

This past week, Christopherson Business Travel sponsored a luncheon hosted the Rocky Mountain Business Travel Association. An affiliate of the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA),  they are committed to connecting business travel professionals and enhancing education and partnerships in the West. It was hosted in the conference room of the beautiful new Hyatt Regency Aurora Hotel.

The hotel itself was updated and modern, with many elegant touches.  Before entering conference room, the we socialized with 80 other travel industry professionals. The conference room was set up beautifully and ready with our deconstructed cobb salad, bread, drinks, and chocolates.

Following member news and update was the presentation by Tim Hines, an entrepreneur, keynote speaker, and consultant. His highly entertaining presentation defined the millennial generation and how they are affecting business travel.

Here are a few defining characteristics about millennials:

  • Members of the millennial generation were born between 1980 – 2000. They are the largest generation we have ever had, even out numbering baby boomers!
  • Growing up amid new technology such as computers, internet, and mp3s, they can easily adjust to change and are quick learners.
  • Most were affected by ‘the great recession’, often resulting in them being thrifty but also willing to spend additional money for something of value.
  • They desire a greater work/life balance than past generations. Technology has made work achievable from any time or place, and they typically enjoy this flexibility.
  • Experiences are more important to them than past generations. For example, 71% of millennials would live in another country if the opportunity presented itself.

Tim Hines offered valuable and insightful information on the generation as a whole and their impact on the business travel industry. Keep your eye out for a blog post further detailing this trend, including how travel managers can engage with millennials to improve compliance.

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Business Travel Travel Industry

Most American Employees Don’t Do This Anymore

As we approach summer, it’s hard not to daydream of the adventures the next few months hold. But interestingly, the idea of the American vacation may be on the way out the door. Last year, Americans left a total of 429 million vacation days unused.

Four-in-ten American workers (41% on average) consistently fail to use all of their time off. That is a total of $224 billion total that Americans are forfeiting by not taking these days. Strangely enough, both employees and employers understand the importance of taking time off. Almost every worker and manager in this study reported that vacation time is important for maintaining team energy levels and productivity. So, what’s happening here?

For 25 years, from 1976 to 2000, American workers used an average of 20.3 days of vacation every year. Starting in 2000, the numbers began to drop and continued steadily though the Great Recession. With economic troubles, a lack of vacations is not unimaginable. But surprisingly, this this trend continues to decline, even as our economy improves. Today, Americans report using just 16.0 vacation days in 2014, almost a full work week less than compared to pre-2000.

Looking further into the reasons why, Skift found that 62 percent of their survey group stated they would not be taking a summer vacation in 2015. Of this group, about half stated they could not afford it, while the other half said they were too busy to take those days. Of the remaining pool, only 15 percent stated they would be taking a longer vacation over the summer, with a larger majority of 22 percent taking short vacations on the weekends. Perhaps the biggest issue here, is that though we may be not using these days in an effort to save money, we are actually throwing money away. The U.S. Travel Association calculated this “vacation liability” to be an average of $6,400 per U.S. employee, not including the health and wellbeing benefits of taking time off.

This trend is so startling, that the U.S. Travel Association has launched an initiative to bring vacation time back to American culture, claiming our economy is losing $160 billion by us not taking these days. Their Project: Time Off campaign provides additional statistics and tips to discuss the importance of time off with your employer.

What about you? As a busy professional, are you making time for yourself and your family? Let us know in the comments below, or start the discussion on our Facebook page. Christopherson Business Travel is a corporate travel management company, known for our innovative travel technology and cost-saving solutions.

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Travel Industry Travel Management

Higher Education Travel Experts

Colleges and universities need convenient and cost-saving travel management. With more than three decades of experience managing higher education travel, Christopherson provides that expertise. In 2014, we created a University Travel Team, dedicated to meeting the distinct needs of colleges and universities. Understanding the unique challenges that higher education institutions face, we developed solutions to meet those needs. Christopherson offers the perfect blend of mega-agency buying power and high-touch, consultative service.

Christopherson Specializes In Higher Education Travel Management

Christopherson’s University Travel Team and online options provide domestic and international travel arrangements for faculty, staff, athletics, and university executives. We also coordinate air and ground transportation, hotel accommodations, study abroad programs, educational tours, and team travel.

Configuration

Christopherson customizes your university’s service configuration. Whether you book with our University Travel Team agents, the online booking tool, or even on-campus agents, we tailor your configuration to meet the needs of each university. We also offer a VIP desk for university executives.

Customization

Christopherson fully customizes each University online booking tool site to include travel policy, preferred suppliers, grant tracking, approval policies, and more. Furthermore, we offer our online support team to assist travelers with navigational and system questions via phone or email.

Dedicated Account Managers

Account Managers with higher education experience will oversee your account, offering consultative services and insight into higher ed best practices. Your travel dollars are maximized as they apply their proven proficiencies and extend the following account management services:

  • Analyzing travel patterns and offering suggestions for money-saving improvements
  • Uncovering new savings opportunities and negotiating with vendors
  • Validating the quality of your travel program through ongoing evaluations and reviews ensuring that quality standards are met

Christopherson has been a frontrunner in implementing collegiate and university travel programs. Recently, after implementing a comprehensive travel program at a large southeastern university (which had previously been unmanaged), the school, in less than a year, boasted an agency compliance average of more than 90 percent and more than 55 percent online adoption. (The remaining 45 percent of the university’s bookings are group travel, athletic travel, and international bookings being made by Christopherson’s University Travel Team.) Similarly, Christopherson consolidated another large, multi-campus, fragmented travel program from 12 agencies to one. Today, this university has achieved agency compliance of more than 90 percent and more than 60 percent online booking tool compliance (five percent more than their initial goal).

Interested in learning more? Contact us to get in touch with one of our business executives, or keep reading about our university-focused services.

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Business Travel Travel Industry

United Airlines flies high in my book

United Airlines international travelWhile airlines constantly receive complaints for one reason or another, I have found that United Airlines continues to “up” their game when it comes to their international service.

I have long been a premium flyer with United but never thought their service matched other international carriers. I flew them simply for convenience as one of their hubs is in Denver (where I am based). But in the last couple of years, I have seen a great improvement in both the attitude of the in-flight crew and the service offered.

Did you know they serve ice cream sundaes in business class on international flights? I look forward to this, since most desserts are pretty predictable and boring. Their entrée options are tasty and varied, and most of the flight attendants seem to be enjoying themselves. (Of course, you will occasionally find one here or there that spoils this.)

A smile or a kind word can certainly go a long way when you are traveling. The memory of your flight may not be the highlight of your trip, but on United Airlines you have a chance. Give them a try again.

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Business Travel Travel Industry Travel News

Southwest is raising early bird check-in fee

Southwest is currently not raising fares or charging bag fees but they are raising the fee of their EarlyBird Check-in service. Originally starting at $12.50, it now could cost $15 to $25 each way. The cost to the traveler will depend on the length of the flight and popularity of EarlyBird on that route.

What is EarlyBird Check-in?

EarlyBird Check-in is a Southwest service that automatically checks travelers in before the standard 24-hour time frame. By paying for this additional service, the traveler has the opportunity of being one of the first on the plane. If you are unfamiliar with Southwest’s boarding system, the seats are claimed on a first come, first serve basis. The boarding passes are arranged with different boarding groups (A, B, or C) and a boarding position (1-60). Passengers line up and board the plane based on the group and position. By paying an additional EarlyBird check-in fee, there is additional opportunity of being assigned in the boarding groups A or B, with a higher position number. This gives ample opportunity of grabbing the best seat and first access to the overhead bins.

This is not the first EarlyBird fee increase from Southwest

Originally, EarlyBird was introduced in 2009, charging only $10 each way. It later increased to $12.50, and then to $15 in 2016 (at the time of the original posting of this post).  Another criticism of the service is there is no guarantee of  being in boarding group A, or with a top boarding position number. It will be interesting to see if the service is as successful with this fee increase with no upgrades to the service itself.

Christopherson Business Travel is a travel management company, specializing in business travel. We have been in the travel business for over 60 years, and provide custom mobile technology tools and superior customer service. Contact us for more information on our services or traveler assistance dashboards.

 

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Business Travel Travel Industry Travel News

What is the new “basic economy” class?

Previously offered only by discount carriers, the “basic economy” class is also offered by Delta. This fare competes with ultra-low cost carriers (LCCs) like Spirit and Frontier. What you get is simply transportation from point A to B with restrictions on seat selection and checked bags, no refunds or changes, and no upgrading to elite perks.

At JP Morgan’s Aviation conference in March, both American and United announced they are following suit with Delta. American will stick with the name, “basic economy,” and will introduce the option in the second half of 2016. United will call their new fare class, “entry level,” with no announcement of when. Routes were not announced by either airline. Delta started with routes to and from locations where they compete with Spirit and Frontier, but is slowly moving into other cities.

Of these new options, Skift’s Grant Martin wrote, “And while it’s a lucrative change for the airlines and premium travelers, unrest among budget travelers may start to grow. With no alternative airline to find refuge in, however, the budget travel community may finally be out of luck.”

 

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Travel Industry Travel News

Delta’s Giving Back

intro-txtHave you heard about Delta’s Gift Back Project? Through this project, anyone can nominate the most selfless person they know and give them their dream gift.

To nominate someone, nominators must register on the Gift Back Project website, and submit a short essay explaining how their nominee is truly selfless and in what way they’d like to see them gifted back. If the nomination is chosen, Delta will make that dream gift a reality.

Delta spokesperson Paul Skrbec explained the project to The Huffington Post, stating, “Giving back to the community is one of our core values. Any time we can do things for the people we serve … it highlights those values.”

Visit TheGiftBackProject.com to nominate someone today.

Categories
Business Travel Travel Industry Travel Technology

DUFL Packs and Ships Your Suitcase

Dufl is a new travel app designed to assist business travelersMany business travelers feel that the worst part of traveling is having to pack and unpack a suitcase, plus the time required for the task.

Serial entrepreneur, Bill Rinehart, has found a solution to this annoyance: DUFL. DUFL is right up there with Uber and Airbnb as a travel game changer. The idea came after Rinehart finished a roundtrip from Phoenix to London, arriving home on Friday, only to start traveling again on Sunday. The time involved in laundering and preparing to travel again can be depressing. It takes away from valuable family time and enjoying one’s personal life. Here’s how DUFL works:

  • Download the DUFL app and create a new user account. DUFL will then send you a large suitcase.
  • Pack your DUFL suitcase to the brim with whatever you need for future business trips.
  • Mail the suitcase to DUFL’s storage facility via FedEx, DUFL’s partner. Upon receipt, DUFL will inventory and photograph inventory, photograph, clean and store your clothes so that they are ready for your next trip. All items will be uploaded to your account for your reference the next time you travel.
  • Request which clothes you’d like to take from your DUFL virtual closet, through the app, then enter your destination and arrival date. Items are expertly folded and your DUFL suitcase is guaranteed to be waiting for you in whatever city and hotel where you are staying.
  • Return the suitcase once your trip is over via FedEx. Return forms are included with your items and the suitcase is transported back to their facility where clothes are washed or dry cleaned and stored for your next trip!

If only this existed a few years back when I was traveling every other week! The service costs $9.95 per month to maintain your DUFL closet, and $99 for a standard trip, which covers three-day shipping to and from your destination. It also includes cleaning and repacking. DUFL was voted Best Travel App for 2015 by USA Today.  To learn more, visit USA Today and Forbes. You can also check out DUFL’s FAQs at DUFL.com.

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Business Travel Travel Industry

Japan Airlines’ First Class Cabin Review

Since Japan Airlines unveiled their new first class product not too long ago, I’ve been itching to test it for myself. My wife and I spent Christmas and New Year’s in China last month and this was the perfect opportunity to check this off of my “to review” list. I booked us to fly from Tokyo, NRT to Chicago, ORD on Japan Airline’s 777-300ER.

As I approached the front of the plane, the senior attendant greeted me (smiled and bowed at a 47 degree angle) and escorted me to my seat, 1A.

First Class Cabin

The first class cabin is made up of 8 seats in a 1-2-1 configuration–pretty standard. Though Japan Airlines labels them as suites, they are open suites unlike the fully-enclosed ones we have experienced on Singapore, Etihad, and Emirates. The suites are 78.5″ in length and 33″ in width. Not the best in the industry, but still pretty generous and comfortable.

As soon as I sat down, an attendant introduced herself and offered me a pre-departure beverage with hot towels to refresh. “Mr. Tang, may I offer you a drink–perhaps a glass of champagne or mimosa?” Champagne it is! More to come on the champagne, as it gets much better.

I felt I had plenty of space and nice hidden compartments for knick-knacks and my pre-departure beverage. The suites had a good TV size and the table was easy to maneuver. A touch pad operated the TV and other functions. The seats were easily adjusted. I noticed that the usual amenities were in my seat and ready for use–Bose noise-canceling head set, pajamas, and an amenity kit with toothbrush, lotion, etc.

Meal Service

Fast forward an hour and the plane was cruising at 40,000 feet and meal service was about to begin. I was offered a dinner menu and a wine menu. One thing to call out is that unlike other elite first class products, I was not given the option to dine at my convenience. The entire cabin was served at the same time. For a one-way ticket that priced out at $12,000, one should be able to enjoy meals on one’s own schedule.

The menu had a selection of Japanese and Western 4-course meals, created by celebrity Japanese chefs, one being a Michelin Star rated chef. I chose the Japanese course and eagerly ordered another glass of champagne along with my Amuse Bouche. I was very much looking forward to it because [drum roll] it was Salon 2004!

While I’m not a wine or champagne connoisseur I knew Salon is considered to be more prestigious than Dom Perignon and Krug, so I didn’t pass up the chance to try it. Salon will run $350 – $400 per bottle (triple that in restaurants), so the fact that Japan Airlines serves it (free flowing) is pretty amazing! Maybe I could drink enough to offset my ticket? I noticed that the Salon was served in a larger white wine glass verses the flute that was previously used for the pre-departure champagne. Fine champagne in flutes is considered to be served in poor taste as it does not allow the proper amount of oxygen exposure, denying a fuller appreciation of the wine’s complexity. Needless to say, I was impressed when the attendant pro-actively suggested to serve the Salon in a white wine glass. Kudos!

While the Japanese course did not include caviar service, I politely expressed that I’m a fan of caviar. Three minutes later, my wish was granted! My main course was Japanese Wagyu beef–my main reason for selecting the Japanese route. The beef was fairly tender and cooked slightly above medium (it should have been medium rare). The beef was dipped in the egg yokes and tasted pretty solid, for airline food. Dessert was offered but I politely declined it as I was stuffed (I also had tons of sushi at the lounge’s sushi bar just prior to the flight).

Turndown Service

At this point, I requested a turndown service and to have my bed made. Time to catch up on movies and TV shows! The bed is plenty long/tall and can comfortably accommodate anyone under 6’6″. A mattress is placed during turndown service. You can select a hard or soft comfort level.

After about three movies, I was in the mood for a snack and ordered Udon Noodles. The noodles were really good, I almost ordered a second round but decided to have ice-cream instead.

Ten hours had flown by (See what I did there?) when we started to approach the Chicago airport.

Conclusion

While it wasn’t “top notch” like Singapore, Cathay, or Etihad, I still thought it was a really pleasant experience. The hard and soft mattress products are both solid and communication wasn’t an issue as the attendants spoke decent English. We landed in Chicago refreshed and without complaints. I would have no hesitation in booking my clients on Japan Airlines’ first class product.

For more trip photos, follow me on Instagram @besvisor.

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Travel Industry Travel News

Delta Launches Delta Comfort+ Fare

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 6.15.49 PMAccording to an article from Airways News, Delta is the first U.S. legacy carrier to offer extra legroom seats as a fare class.

A few of the benefits of this fare class are:

  1. Customers can take advantage of Sky Priority boarding instead of boarding in Zone 1
  2. There is dedicated overhead bin space for Comfort+ customers
  3. Extra leg room
  4. Free wine, spirits, and regional craft beers for customers 21 and over
  5. Snacks on all flights with a premium snack basket being offered on flights over 900 miles
  6. Complimentary access to everything on Delta Studio

Delta still will charge for checked bags and meals in Delta Comfort+. Additionally, some medallion changes were made to make this fare available.

For more information please visit Delta.com.

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Business Travel Travel Industry

Six Lessons on Innovation From the Wright Brothers

Evolution of business travelAll of us who benefit from airline travel owe the Wright brothers a debt of gratitude as the aviation pioneers credited with inventing and building the world’s first successful powered airplane and making the first sustained flight on December 17, 1903.

In his book The Wright Brothers, David McCullough writes that many of the “most prominent engineers, scientists, and original thinkers of the nineteenth century had been working on the problem of controlled flight,” without success.

Orville Wright is quoted as saying, “The desire to fly is an idea handed down to us by our ancestors who, in their grueling travels across trackless lands in prehistoric times, looked enviously on the birds soaring freely through space, at full speed, above all obstacles, on the infinite highway of the air.”

Forbes magazine recently published an article summarizing McCullough’s book by sharing “Six Lessons on Innovations From the Wright Brothers.”

Lesson one is how they kept going despite their failures. Additionally, they taught us how to take risks and still avoid total disaster. Most importantly however, the Wright brothers taught us to test, iterate, and continue to test prototypes, until you build something of value that the world needs–even if the world doesn’t recognize it yet.

To read Forbes’ article and learn more from the Wright brothers, click here.

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Business Travel Travel Industry

Airbnb for Business Travel

Airbnb now offers a business travel program that allows travelers the option of linking bookings to their company so that travel managers can track and report on on Airbnb stays. Airbnb also participates with Concur Triplink to report and track in Concur. Airbnb_Logo

What is Airbnb? Airbnb is a website where homeowners can share their homes and living space with travelers in need of accommodations. Available housing options can range from futons on the floor to castles on the hilltop.

Airbnb requires hosts who want to provide business travel accommodations to become “business ready.” Being business ready requires the space to have business travel amenities such as a laptop or computer work space, basic linens, shampoo, pet-free (during the business traveler’s stay), and a 24/7 check-in or entrance.

Account Managers or agents can be added to Airbnb business accounts in order to view the reporting dashboard and manage business trips for travelers. They however cannot book on behalf of the account holder.

If you feel your business model may work with Airbnb, consult your Christopherson Account Manager to discuss available options for your travel program. Keep in mind, though, that this is an outside booking option and may not work with your managed program.

To learn more go to Airbnb.com/business.

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Travel Industry Travel News

Salt Lake City Airport Now Offers Premium Reserved Parking

Premium Reserved Parking, which provides travelers with a guaranteed, covered parking space adjacent to airport terminals, has been added to the parking garage at Salt Lake City International Airport.

There are 71 reserved parking spaces available, including three that are ADA-accessible. The new Premium Reserved Parking is accessed via a dedicated entry lane and includes a concierge service with personalized staff assistance. Travelers can make a reservation in advance by going to SLCAirport.com/parking. Once a reservation is made, travelers will receive a Quick Response (QR) code that allows entry into the reserved parking area. Before using Premium Reserved Parking however, business travelers should check their company’s travel reimbursement policy as this service costs $50 a day.

The Premium Reserved Parking lot was created when space became available due to the closing of the parking garage’s drive-through passenger pick-up/drop-off lane as part of Salt Lake City Airport’s ongoing Terminal Redevelopment Program.

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Business Travel Travel Industry Travel News Travel Tips

Data Security When Traveling Abroad

data security while travelingI don’t know about you, but I am becoming increasingly paranoid about security when accessing my personal data while business traveling, especially financial websites like my retirement accounts, bank, and credit cards. If at all possible, I access these sites only when I’m at home.

While security should always be on one’s mind, business travelers should be especially careful when traveling to China, as it is recognized as having the most dangerous internet environment. A recent New York Times (NYT) blog article discussed this issue with former National Security Agency official, Thomas Parenty, wherein he discussed topics such as the biggest threat for foreign firms, mistakes made while trying to be secure in China, and precautions business travelers should take.

Comments on NYT post also suggest that if you do have to connect in China, only do so through VPN. Another comment suggests, “instead of trying to secure what one typically uses, and something that may well contain sensitive information, start from the premise that whatever you bring is inherently insecure and work from there.  Even if nothing happens, you’re safer from the start.”

Another article from the Washington Post mentions Russia and France as additional countries that pose internet security challenges for business travelers, and carrying disposable cellphones and loaner laptops might be considered. Ultimately, security begins with awareness and it would be smart to always know what risks certain countries pose.

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Business Travel Travel Industry Travel Tips

My Free Ride from Uber

uberUber continues to generate buzz in the business travel industry. I recently decided to try it out and signed up for my own account.

A friend provided me with a discount code so that I could try my first ride (up to $20) for free. The app was simple and the discount easy to redeem. The best part was that I too received a free ride code to share with friends. And even better–if my friends use that code, I get another 20.00 off. It’s a pretty great share/incentive plan.

If you’re unfamiliar with Uber’s service, you type in your destination when you need a “taxi,” the Uber map locates where you are, and once you click “pick me up,” it sends the closest driver to your location. The driver is there within minutes. It’s fantastic! If you haven’t used Uber yet, I recommend you try it soon.

Christopherson’s CEO recently wrote about an experience he had with an Uber driver and his thoughts on American free enterprise. Check it out here.