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Business Travel Travel Management Travel News

How to Support Your Business Travelers During The Coronavirus Outbreak

Originally published Feb 27, 2020 at 4:02 PM, updated March 09, 2020

As the coronavirus continues to affect business travel, we want to provide corporate travel managers with helpful tools, resources, and information to best support their travelers. For the most up-to-date information on the coronavirus, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. 

CDC Travel Guidelines

The following warning and alert classifications have been outlined by the CDC. We encourage travel managers to review the warnings and make informed decisions to protect their travelers.

Warning Level 3 

Nonessential travel to these highest-risk locations should be avoided. This currently includes China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran.

Alert Level 2 

Due to sustained community transmission of the virus in Japan, the CDC recommends that older adults and those suffering from chronic medical conditions postpone travel to these areas. Corporate travel managers could also consider adding an additional level of approval for these business trips by having senior leaders review them on a case-by-case basis. 

Watch Level 1 

The CDC recommends practiving usual precaustions when traveling to Hong Kong at this time. The CDC will continue to update its recommendations on their website. Companies with employees traveling to level 1 watch areas may want to consider implementing additional health and security protocols to ensure traveler safety.  

Personal Travel 

While personal travel does fall outside the realms of a corporate travel manager’s purview, companies may want to encourage employees to travel with caution and remain aware of this ongoing situation. If an employee has personal plans to visit or has visited one of the warning level areas, you could consider having them self-quarantine for 14 days. If an employee participates in any travel, regardless of the area, and shows signs of being sick, you could also ask them to follow the same 14-day self-quarantine. 

Reminder to Only Book Within Approved Corporate Tools 

Travel managers should reiterate the importance of booking business travel within the organization’s approved corporate booking tools and enforce these policies. Booking within policy ensures you always know where your travelers are so that you can best support them and communicate critical information in a timely manner. 

Review Your Risk Management Policy and Update if Needed

Be sure you have included a protocol for an infectious disease outbreak like this in your risk management plan. Events that could trigger action include travelers becoming infected or being stranded in an infected area. Do you have a plan in place to quickly and appropriately support your travelers? 

Remind Travelers to Follow These Best Practices While Traveling 

Ask business travelers to follow these actions recommended by the World Health Organization when traveling. 

  1. Wash hands frequently
  2. Maintain social distancing 
  3. Avoid touching eyes nose and mouth 
  4. Practice respiratory hygiene
  5. If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early
  6. Stay informed and follow the advice given by your healthcare provider

Additional Resources

For more resources to help you plan and respond to this situation, visit the CDC’s Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019

BCD Travel also has a current list of airline updates and advisories by country. 

The information presented here is up-to-date as of March 9 and is provided for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Christopherson does not give recommendations on the prudence of travel to affected areas. Our aim is to provide helpful information that allows companies and travelers to make informed decisions. As the situation continues to unfold, companies can access real-time information through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the World Health Organization website.

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Business Travel Travel Management

Do You Know The Most Common Business Travel Expense?

What do you think is the most common expense from business travelers? They need to get to their destination, so you might think it’s airfare or maybe a car service. They also need to sleep, so hotels would be another good guess. Would you be surprised to find that it’s actually dining expenses?

That’s right, Certify recently released a study examining more than 50 million expenses on their platform. Trying to understand how business travelers spend their money, they discovered a few insights along the way. 

Common expenses for business travelers

  • Dining is not only the most common expense, but also the expense that has increased the highest in the last three years. The average meal is now $5 more than it was in 2016.
  • Within those dining expenses, Starbucks remained the most popular vendor in 2018. Not really a surprise to fellow business travelers, right? It represented 23.4% of all dining expenses.
  • Hotels and fuel have also increased in the last few years. Hotels are on average $50 more expensive.
  • Airfares and ride hailing services have declined in price. (Thanks Uber and Lyft!) Airfares are about $40 less on average.

What does this mean for your business travelers:

  • Travelers are now accustomed to convenience and getting exactly what they want, when they want it. Having a travel program with this flexibility will keep your travelers more comfortable in the long run. If you don’t it’s time to start thinking of ways to include this in your travel policy and program.
  • Understand that costs overall have increased for the travel industry. Yes, flights have decreased and the sharing economy has also helped changed the game. But overall, travel is increasing and is expected to continue that way. Though obviously one of your main objectives is to keep costs low, try to be fair to your business travelers and their needs. They shouldn’t get the short end of the stick because fuel is more expensive.
  • Understand which expenses are most important to your travelers.  See if there is a way to provide that service within the travel policy at a better price point. Negotiate with vendors if possible and don’t be afraid to get creative.
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Business Travel Travel Management

Increasing Employee Compliance With New Travel Policies

Implementing new travel policies can get tricky. Yet often the real battle comes later, when you’re trying to get employee compliance on these new changes. More often than not, these new policies were sculpted with the traveler’s needs and happiness in mind. The truth is there are many reasons business travelers should want to comply, not just because the company seems to demand it.

What employees receive when they comply with the travel program:

  1. Their safety. It’s the company’s duty of care responsibility to ensure their traveler’s wellbeing while they’re traveling on the company’s behalf. Should an emergency arise, there will be no confusion if a traveler has followed the protocol of the travel policy. Plus, tools like our SecurityLogic provides instant location information, based off of their itineraries.
  2. Saves costs for the company. Vendor contracts have been painstakingly created and negotiated. It only makes sense to stay within guidelines.
  3. If done correctly, increases traveler satisfaction. As important as overall costs are for the company, ensuring their travelers are comfortable often leads to more productive meetings. By understanding what will keep your travelers happy, and ensuring they rely on your travel program to receive it, makes it a win/win for everyone.

5 ways to use traveler satisfaction to increase compliance

    1. First and foremost, talk to your travelers. Survey your employees and try to negotiate the inclusions that are important to them. They are, after all, the people enduring the trip.
    2. Recognize frequently expensed items like lounge access or Wi-Fi. Try to get these things included for frequent travelers.
    3. Don’t be afraid to get creative in negotiations. For example, if travelers are frequently expensing Starbucks, consider negating a breakfast credit to be used either in the restaurant or coffee shop (rather than a traditional breakfast) at your preferred hotel.
    4. Travelers are more likely to comply to vendors if you provide them the WIFM (what’s in it for me). Traveling for business in general may be enough of a perk of the job for some. So make sure they understand the additional benefits included in their policy. You’ve worked hard to get them these perks, so make sure they know they have it available.
    5. Continued internal communication about travel programs. This tip seems so basic, but is often overlooked. Travel management has a tendency to become a siloed conversation within companies. Sure, new employees are briefed when they come on, but how many really know what’s included in their travel policy? Many may not even realize they’re booking outside of the policy. Or reasonable alternatives to their preferences are available. Try by taking a step back and putting yourself in their shoes for a few minutes. When was the last time they were briefed on employee compliance and the travel policy? What information is available when they’re booking or if they have questions? Do you have communications protocol if a new vendor contract is created? You could make a goal to send out a quarterly update email entailing any changes or reminders of basic protocols.

Overall, getting employee compliance with travel policies requires help from both sides of the table – the company and the traveler. By understanding their needs, you can help create a superior travel experience. And hopefully the travelers will understand the importance of complying with the policy when they see the benefits for their wellbeing and safety.

Read next:

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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 Management

What Common Password Mistakes Are Putting You At Risk?

Is your password still your birthday? Do you get that guilty feeling every time you use it, swearing you’ll be more creative next time you login? For good or bad, you’re not alone. 91% of people in a recent survey said they knew they shouldn’t reuse passwords, but 59% continue to do so.  Unfortunately, we live in a time when data breaches are part of the norm. In fact, in the time it takes to finish this sentence, there will be approximately 280 data records stolen. Not only are you putting yourself at risk, but your company and coworkers as well. It’s time to stamp out those nasty password mistakes and start on the right foot.

The most common password mistakes

  • Thinking a weak password is ok for some accounts. You may be thinking that hackers are more interested in your PayPal account than your FitnessPal. And you’re right — for the most part. Hackers will often start with a login on a less important account as a way to climb the ladder to your more valuable accounts. Users should be aware that every login is important for a hacker, whether it’s your banking password or online shopping account.
  • Reusing passwords, especially from home to office. Turns out slight adjustments to your tried-and-true password is not enough of a change to thwart off hackers. It becomes even more problematic when you use the same passwords across personal and business accounts. Once this gap is breached, confidential information for your business, coworkers and even clients may be exposed. For example, an employee of Dropbox reused a personal password, ultimately leading to the credentials of over 60 million accounts being seized.
  • Sticking to the default password. Always remember to change any new logins created by your tech department. ‘Admin’, ‘password’, or ‘12345’ might be easy to remember, but it’s not worth the risk. Plus, it’s often the first words hackers try.
  • Not using two-factor authentication when available. You have likely used this process recently. It requires a second verification to log into an account, typically it’s an additional pin sent to your phone or fingerprint scan. This added step in security ensures that no one other than you will be able to access your account. If given the option, always activate the two-factor verification process.

Tricks to creating a secure password that you’ll actually remember

If you’re anything like the majority of people, you should probably update your passwords. The hurdle for most people is the fear of forgetting their new password. In fact, the same study found that only 55% of victims change their password after they discovered they were hacked. The truth is, secure password habits is actually pretty easy to learn and utilize. The trick to a hard-to-crack password is one that is unique, easy for you to remember, but also hard to guess. Just follow our tricks below and you’re accounts will be like Fort Knox in no time.

  • Make passwords lengthy and complex. A secure password should contain at least 12 characters, with uppercase and lowercase letters, as well as numbers and symbols.
  • Avoid using painfully obvious passwords, or commonly used words in passwords. For example, ‘12345’, ‘asdfghjkl;’, or ‘password’.
  • Don’t use information that a friend or family member would be able to guess. Hackers would likely be able to decipher it as well. Avoid using information like you or your family member’s birthdays, your favorite band, your home address, maiden name etc. If it’s something a facebook search could reveal, avoid using it in your password. You can still make it personal and memorable to you without using these general and searchable facts.
  • Try using a passphrase instead of a password. A passphrase is a string of letters or words put together, making it unique and harder to crack. You can still personalize it to make it memorable. For example, use your favorite breakfast, ‘startthedaywith_Eggs&bacon.’
  • Use a phrase or acronym to keep it memorable but also obscure. For example, ‘2BorNot2B_ThatisThe?’ (To be or not to be, that is the question) or ‘4Score&7YrsAgo’ (Four score and seven years ago).
  • You can also be systematic about your process. Use passwords with common elements, but customize for the account. For example, ‘ABT2_uz_AMZ!’ (about to use Amazon) ‘ABT2_uz_BoA!’ (about to use Bank of America)
  • Use the keyboard as your reminder. Create a password by creating a shape on the keyboard. For example, by creating a big W starting at 1, my new password is ‘1qsxfthmko0’. That’s pretty tricky to decipher to an outsider, while still being relatively easy to recreate. Try different patterns, like smiley faces, hearts, or a letter you will remember. Just be sure to avoid completely straight lines across the keyboard.
  • Get in the habit of changing passwords regularly. Start with National Change Your Password Day on February 1.
  • If you’re still wary of forgetting passwords, use a password manager to generate and store your passwords. Here are some the the top rated managers on the market.
  • Hopefully this is a no-brainer, but should be repeated for any roadwarriors out there – always use a secure wifi connection when creating a new password or logging into an account. Wait until your home or in the office to make any changes. Hotel wifi is often not secure enough for sensitive information.

Passwords are truly the first line of defense against identity theft. Whether it’s a food delivery app or banking account, it needs to hold a strong defense against impending attacks. These simple tricks may taxing to start with, but will keep you and potentially your company’s information safe.

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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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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 News

What Travelers Should Know About The Marriott Starwood Merger

The news we’ve all been waiting for is here—Marriott International and Starwood have finally completed their $13 billion merger.  With the sale originally announced almost a year and a half ago, the twists and turns surrounding the Marriott Starwood merger occasionally felt like a daytime soap opera. Through it all, the travel industry has been anxiously waiting to hear the details, especially how travelers and travel managers will make out in the end.

What happened with Starwood?

  • In April 2015, Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide first put itself up for sale.
  • They initially had 30 serious parties interested in merging, both U.S. and international.
  • In November 2015, Starwood announced a deal with Marriott for $12.2 billion. (Read Skift’s article about how Marriott played hard to get here.)
  • They slated the deal would be finalized by mid-2016, with a $400 million termination fee if it didn’t go through.
  • From there, the merger needed approval by regulatory authorities in over 40 countries. The U.N. also approved the deal in June.
  • The Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) requested more time in August to review the merger. They finally approved the deal September 20, 2016.
  • This merger created the world’s largest hotel company.

Marriott, the largest hotel company, ever:

  • The new company now has over 30 hotel brands. This includes operating or franchising more than 7,500 properties and 1.1 million rooms in more than 110 countries.
  • The hotels that are now under the Marriott- Starwood merger include:
    • Marriott, Courtyard, Ritz Carlton, Sheraton, Westin, W, St. Regis,  The Luxury Collection, Le Meridien, Tribute Portfolio, Four Points by Sheraton, Element, and many more.

What does the Marriott Starwood merger mean for travelers?

One of the biggest concerns about the merger have been regarding the loyalty programs. Both companies have their own loyalty programs. And as any frequent travelers knows, their perks often keep the customer loyal. Well, good news for any worried road warrior out there. Marriott has acknowledged the necessity of loyalty programs since the beginning of the merger. Arne Sorenson, CEO of Marriott, said integrating Starwood’s guest loyalty program was ‘central, strategic, rationale for the transaction.’

This week, Marriott announced the loyalty points will be linked and transferable. One Starwood Preferred Guest point will be worth three Marriott Reward points. This is yet another strategic tactic that many travelers wont be able to pass up. The process to connect your loyalty rewards is already set up and ready to go. Simply start at Marriott’s New Member page and follow the steps.

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Travel News

Utah Discontinues Online Driver License Renewal And Asks For Positive ID

Effective January 1, 2010, ALL applicants for a Utah driver license (original, renewal or duplicate) or Identification card will need to provide:

  • Original or copies certified by the issuing agency showing evidence of your identity
  • Legal/lawful presence
  • Social Security Number or ITIN
  • Two proofs of Utah residence address, if it is different than the address on your current Utah record; and
  • Evidence of name change, if applicable

For more information you may visit  the web page or call Customer Service at 801-965-4437 or toll free at 888-353-4224. Applications will not be processed without all the required documents. Online renewals are no longer an option so drivers need to make time to apply in person for renewals.
Travelers need to be sure to be aware of this change as a valid driver license is required for travel by air and a requirement for car rentals.
Source and additional information can be found at www.driverlicense.utah.gov