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Business Travel Travel Tips Vacation Travel

Car Rental Hidden Costs – Are they DRIVING you Crazy?

We’ve talked about this before, but I find that it’s always helpful to review the hidden costs of renting a car.
To begin, let’s say you’ve found a great rental deal for $20/day. Unfortunately that “great” rate doesn’t guarantee you a low-cost rental. Instead, upon returning your car, you find the price has skyrocketed and the bill now includes sales taxes, airport surcharges, insurance, and licensing fees. By the time all the extra charges are added on, the guaranteed result is a severe case of sticker shock … and a final cost double the initial alluring base rate.
So how can you avoid the shock of pricing overload? Here is a summary of car rental surcharges and a few tips for how to cut costs on your next rental.

Taxes and Airport Surcharges

Sales tax and airport charges vary considerably from state to state, and you won’t be able to avoid state and local sales taxes. Many local governments also charge fees to fund their own development projects, such as convention centers or sports stadiums, and some car rental companies also include a daily surcharge for economy recovery fees.
But avoiding airport charges is simple and something to always consider. You can eliminate airport concession recovery fees and customer facility charges by picking up and dropping off your car at an off-airport location. Weighing the possible inconveniences and the price of additional transportation to and from the airport against the concession fees charged by the airport location is, however, a must as doing so could save you more than 15% of your total price.

Insurance

This is usually referred to by rental companies as “collision damage” or “Loss Damage Waiver (LDW).” For an extra $25 – $30 a day, you can avoid liability for any damage to the vehicle, provided you’re not found guilty of gross negligence. Insurance is optional, although in a few states it is compulsory and built into the basic car rental cost.
So, before you purchase the extra insurance, check to see if your regular car insurance covers you in a rental car. Some policies do. Most credit cards also provide insurance if you pay for your rental with that card. Larger companies also include car rental addendums in their company insurance which also covers office equipment and the like. Keep in mind that limitations may apply to all types of coverage. If you’re not comfortable with the risk, consult with your insurance administrator or travel manager.

Gasoline Charges

Returning a car with an empty tank will create an extra charges to your bottom line.  In most cases you’ll want to fill up before you return your vehicle. However, car rental companies now offer the option of purchasing a full tank of gas when you first take the car, enabling you to return the car with as much or as little fuel as you wish.
Keep in mind that there is no refund for unused fuel, so you’d be paying a little extra for the convenience of skipping the trip to the gas station. Also, you may be able to find a better per-gallon price by shopping around on your own.

Drop-Off Charges

An extra fee is usually charged if a car is returned to a different location than where it was picked up. This fee varies by location. In some instances there is no charge, however you could pay more than $1,000 for picking a car up at LAX and dropping it of at JFK plus around $0.35 per mile.
If your corporation has a car rental contract make sure it notes a “one way” rate. The rates will be higher than your normal corporate rate but will save money in the long run.

The 24-Hour Clock

If you rent your car on Wednesday and return it on Thursday, most companies charge you one day only if you return it within 24 hours. Some companies will give you a 29-minute grace period before hourly charges kick in and after 90 – 120 minutes you may be charged for the full extra day. Some rental car companies are also now charging a late return fee of $10 per day.
Make sure you check the terms and conditions in your rental documents.

One Day Surcharges

Picking a car up only for one day will cost you more if those days are Monday through Thursday.  Because of the yield management process, it is more expensive for the car rental company if you pick your car up in the morning on Monday through Thursday and return it the same day. It eliminates the possibilities of another traveler needing that car for two or more days at a time. The one day surcharges are $5 to $7 over the normal daily rate and are “hidden” in the rate so you will not recognize you are being charged extra. Corporations can sometimes get this fee reduced or waived when negotiating a car rental contract.

Age Penalties

Renters under the age of 25 may have to pay additional fees of about $25 – $30 per day. Those companies who rent to drivers under 21 often charge much steeper surcharges. Those over 70 may also have to pay extra (if they’re able to rent at all).  Age restrictions vary by country and franchise, so be sure to check ahead.

Frequent Flier Fees

Car rental companies often charge a small fee when you request frequent flier miles for your rental. The fee varies by airline and can range anywhere from a few cents to $2 a day. Another choice would be to opt for the free day program instead of earning miles. There is not a charge for earning free rental days and are usually earned for every 15 days rented.

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Business Travel Travel Tips

Safe Travels! 30 Ways to Make it Happen

Did you know that you should sit behind the taxi driver so that you can see him but he can’t see you? Or that you should be aware of staged car accidents as they are meant to catch you off guard?  Or that you should never wear name tags in public?
In today’s world it’s more important than ever to think about what’s going on around you, near you, and to you. Here are 30 tips from the TSA to help ensure safe travels on your next trip:

30 safety tips for traveling

1. Never list your home address on the luggage tag. If on business, put the company’s address on the tag; if visiting friends you can list their address. Use covered luggage tags as well.
2. Stay with your luggage until the luggage is checked. If you must put your bag down, keep one foot on the handle.
3. Carry important papers with you; NEVER check anything that you simply cannot afford to lose. Photocopy your passport, driver’s license and credit cards.
4. Bring a small flashlight. You never know when you’ll suddenly be “in the dark” and find yourself in unfamiliar surroundings. At night, keep your flashlight by your bed.
5. Make sure that your prescription medicines are filled properly and labeled accurately. In some countries certain prescription medicines are forbidden.
6. Never wear anything that projects affluence. No gold chains, expensive watches and rings, luggage, or other paraphernalia should be in easy view. Better yet: leave your jewelry at home.
7. If possible travel with only one or two credit cards.
8. Women particularly should never accept a drink from a stranger. Keep an eye on your drink at all times.
9. Vary your schedule; try not to come and go at the same time every day.
10. Only stay in a hotel that uses cards to open room doors and make sure your room has a peephole and a deadbolt lock. Secure the chain and secure the door by pushing a rubber stop under it.
11. Stay in a room near a stairwell. Never take the elevator if a fire or smoke is detected. Always stay in a hotel where the doors enter the hallway and not directly from the outside.
12. Do not wear name tags in public.
13. Do not use unmarked taxi cabs.
14. Sit behind the driver so you can see him, but he cannot see you.
15. Pay the driver upon arriving at your destination and while you are still sitting in the vehicle.
16. If you must rent a car, rent only from a reputable company. Any operating problems that occur could signal sabotage.
17. Be aware of ‘staged’ car accidents meant to catch you off card.
18. Back into your parking spaces to facilitate a quick exit.
19. Park only in well lit and well traveled areas.
20. If your cell phone does not work outside of the country, consider renting one that does for the duration of your trip.
21. If detained for whatever reason by an official, ask for identification. If in doubt, tell them that you want to see his superior. Keep your emotions in check.
22. If traveling with children, bring along an updated photograph of each child in the event that you become separated from them.
23. Write your child’s name and your hotel number on each card; include a close friends or relatives contact information on the card. Give a card to each child which they will carry with them as long as you are away. Destroy once home.
24. Discuss with your family what they would do in event of an emergency while away from home, e.g. whom to call, how to contact emergency personnel, etc.
25. Do not discuss travel plans, your room number or any other personal information in public within earshot of strangers.
26. Bring along a basic first aid kit with bandages, iodine, mosquito repellant, sunscreen, alcohol packets, Dramamine, Pepto Bismol, diarrhea medicine, etc.
27. Familiarize yourself with train and bus schedules before traveling. Have an alternate plan in place in the event your transportation plans change.
28. Do not flash your passport in public. Discreetly show important documents to officials only.
29. Consider purchasing portable alarms that emit a loud sound.
30. Watch for scams on the street. Children working with adults are notorious as pickpockets.
 

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Business Travel Travel Tips

Pack Two Weeks in Carry-on Luggage (With No Wrinkles!)

I’ve heard the stories, but I thought they were just that … stories.
Not until I recently tried it did I believe that you could pack for a week (or even two!) using a carry-on sized suitcase (22″ x 14″ x 9″, or 56 x 36 x 23 cm).
The International Luggage Center located in North Salt Lake, Utah has one of the largest showrooms in the world, having over 500 cases to choose from.
You can visit their website here—and be sure to watch their “Power Packing” videos.
I hope you are as pleasantly surprised as I was at what can be done with a 22″ x 14″ x 9″ piece of luggage. Think of it as saving time and money.

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Travel News

J.D. Powers and Associates Travel Ratings

Every year J.D. Powers and Associates surveys thousands of people, including thousands of travelers, hoping to make life easier for consumers. As an Account Manager for Christopherson Business Travel who works closely with travelers and travel managers, I feel that the results of this survey can be very valuable as decisions are made that can significantly affect how pleasant a travel experience can be.  These results will not only assist corporate road warriors and business travelers, but those who travel for leisure  can certainly benefit from the results of this survey as they research car rental companies, hotels and airlines.  To read about consumer satisfaction among major travel industry vendors click here.

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Travel News

Traveling Green – What is your Carbon Footprint?

In honor of Earth Day last Friday, I thought I would share with you how companies large and small are looking at their carbon footprints. As an account manager, recently I have had companies request data regarding their carbon footprint and miles flown. It got me thinking about who the greenest companies are within the travel industry. Some of the information I was able to find took me by surprise.

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Travel Management Travel News

Airline Fee Tracking Made Easy

You either hate them or accept them, but for the most part airline ancillary fees are here to stay. When I look at the larger picture, it’s definitely worth the additional $10 to $100 to fly instead of drive to a destination that would normally take more than 6 hours and up to several days to drive. To help make the translation of service fees a bit easier, the USA Today Travel section posted a very helpful list of airline fees on March 10th.  Check it out and let me know what you think.  Do fees make you want to drive instead of fly?

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Travel News

Say Goodbye to Mileage Expiration

Delta Airlines has announced a major change in its frequent flyer program. The airline eliminated the expiration date on miles, claiming that loyalty should not have an expiration date. They are the only U.S. airline to offer this incentive, and it will be interesting to see if the other airlines will respond. Miles can still be redeemed for a number of different products, including airline tickets, car or hotel stays, and online auctions. Within other airlines’ frequent flyer programs, miles can expire in as early as one year.
Frequent flyer loyalty has tremendous benefits for the corporate traveler who flies frequently. Travelers can qualify for expedited check-in, free checked baggage, complimentary upgrades to first class, and reduced or no fees for making flight changes. These perks can really expedite the travel experience and save some costs that can quickly add up.
Click here for more information on Delta’s frequent flyer program.

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Travel Management

Another Reason Why Using An Agent Is To Your Benefit

I was talking with one of my fellow agents here at Christopherson Travel and we were comparing examples of different times we had done something for a client that most likely wouldn’t have happened if they hadn’t had an agent to help them. Many times I’ve gone to great lengths to help clients resolve issues with vendors. However, my fellow agent had a story from this past summer that bears repeating.
This agent has a client who is a touring musician. She takes about 120 flights a year and he handles her travel. On the trip being discussed, here is the itinerary her agent had booked for her:

  1. Depart from the Washington DC area
  2. McCook, NE – 2 days
    • Fly into Omaha.
    • Pick up a car.
    • Drive to McCook
    • Return to Omaha two days later
  3. Dallas, TX – 2 days
  4. Nashville, TN – 1 week
  5. Return to DC
Categories
Travel News

Mexicana Airlines Is In Trouble

This past week has not been a good week for Mexicana Airlines.
First, the US government declared that Mexico no longer is a Category 1 country, in regards to their airport and airline security. This means that travelers on flights that originate or connect through Mexico have to undergo more scrunity when they arrive in the USA. In addition and this is the part that really hurts Mexicana, is that US airlines cannot code share with Mexican airlines. Mexicana was a code share partner with American Airlines which meant that many people who thought that they were booking their trips on American Airlines going to various Mexican destinations. The change in status means that people may not book the same connection as they would when they thought it was all on one airline. So that was a hit on the bottomline of Mexicana.
Then on Tuesday, Mexicana announced that a number of investors that had been looking at investing more money into the airline decided not to. The result of this action has caused Mexicana to file for bankruptcy. Inititally Mexicana said that there would be no disruption of service however as of this morning Mexicana has announced that they have stopped flying. Pending their ability to find new backing, Mexicana may not be back.
At Christopherson Travel we have been taking a proactive approach of contacting all of our clients who are booked on Mexicana and taking steps to protect them on other airlines when possible. Failing that, we’ve been working on getting the unused tickets refunded before it is too late.
If someone has booked travel on Mexicana and doesn’t have a pro-active agency working for them, they may not find out about this until after Mexicana is gone and then the only recourse will be to dispute the charge on their credit card and purchase a new ticket at whatever the price is at that point in time.
This is why I always suggest to clients, pay with a credit card, not a debit card and work with a professional travel agency.

Categories
Travel News Vacation Travel

Vacation division has new name Andavo Travel

In January 2008, Christopherson Business Travel, located in Salt Lake City, and Andavo Travel, located in Denver, began a merger process forming the nation’s 14th largest travel management company.
We are pleased to announce the merger process has concluded with a consolidated ownership and branding of our companies. Effective this month, we will be operating our entire leisure vacation division under the name Andavo Travel, a Christopherson Company. Our corporate travel division will be operating under the name Christopherson Business Travel. Both divisions are now under the common ownership of Mike and Camille Cameron of Salt Lake City, Utah.
As we emerge a unified leisure travel management company under the Andavo Travel name, we want to assure our long time Christopherson Travel vacation clients that the same travel advisors who you have come to know and trust will continue to service your vacation travel needs. Along with many other special offers and promotions only available through our agency, we are pleased to bring our clients the added value of our preferred partner programs through Andavo’s long time membership with Virtuoso®.
“What is Virtuoso®?”
Virtuoso provides Andavo Travel, a Christopherson Company connections with the best hotels, cruise lines, airlines and tour companies in the world. For our clients, this means access to exclusive travel offers which are not available to the general public. If you rely on experts to reduce the complexity of travel arrangements and ensure smart choices, our travel advisors are able to design exceptional customized travel experiences using the resources and relationships available only through Virtuoso®.

  • Global Connections: With personal contacts at more than 1,000 airlines, cruise lines, hotels, resorts, and premier destinations worldwide, our travel advisors will put these relationships to work for you.
  • Unparalleled Expertise: Our travel advisors are among the most well-traveled people on the planet. They draw on their first-hand experiences when customizing vacations for our valued clients.
  • Customized Travel Experiences: From weekend getaways to trips of a lifetime, counting on the expertise of our travel advisors insures your greatest experience.
  • Confidence: Our clients rest easy knowing their personal preferences are reflected in every aspect of their itinerary, delivering the best value for their time and money.

At Andavo Travel, a Christopherson Company, our promise to our clients is to drive world class service through a foundation built on excellence, trust, integrity, loyalty, family, caring and community. Since our inception in 1956, our fundamental core company values reflect this philosophy and translate it into our daily business practices. For those who have a passion for travel, we invite you to take advantage of our specialized expertise and insider connections.
Thank you for being our valued client and for allowing us to service all your vacation travel needs.
Mike Cameron
President

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Travel Management Travel News Vacation Travel

Car Rental Companies – Covering It All

With the recent announcement of Hertz purchasing Dollar & Thrifty, all three major car rental companies now cover everything from corporate business to leisure travel business. The purchase announced earlier this week is in the amount of $1.17 billion in cash and stock. The purchase of Dollar & Thrifty will significantly expand the vacation/leisure portion of their business.
Hertz is already the world’s largest car rental company by locations and with this latest transaction it boosts their total to 9,800. “Together we will be able to compete even more effectively and efficiently against other multi-brand car rental companies, offering customers a full range of rental options in the U.S.,” Hertz CEO Mark Frissora said in a statement.
The three major U.S. car rental companies, each with two or more large brands are Hertz, Enterprise Holdings Inc. (Enterprise & National) and the Avis Budget Group. Enterprise Holdings Inc. has 7,600 locations, the Avis Budget Group has 6,900 and Hertz now has 9,800.
Competition is always the name of the game and Monday’s announcement comes after the Avis Budget consolidation in 2002 and Enterprise’s acquisition of Alamo and National in 2007. Advertising, marketing and commercials seem to be on the increase as well, follow these links for a little entertainment (some old, some new). To rent your next car, contact Christopherson Andavo Travel at 801.327.7700 or 303.740.3000

Categories
Travel Management

Managing Your Hotel Policy

Managing a hotel program can be a daunting task, but an unmanaged hotel program can be costly to a company’s travel budget.  Travelers don’t seem to want to be told where to stay or how much they can spend, but mandating a hotel program can provide savings in several ways.  If you arrange travel through a travel agency ask them for assistance in creating a company travel policy or fine tuning your existing travel policy.
With a detailed travel policy and the assistance of your travel agency, you will be able to ensure that your travelers are booking preferred hotels and you will be able track your hotel expenditures by hotel property and hotel chain.  With this valuable information your travel agency/account manager will be able to build relationships and negotiate rates on your behalf.
Providing preferred supplies with anticipated revenue you should see lower rates, additional amenities that would typically come with a price tag attached and better service from hotel staff.  As your travelers become familiar with your hotel program and follow the guidelines presented, and if permitted to join hotel reward programs, their experiences will improve and they will soon see personal benefits and the overall value to the company.
If your current travel agency does not provide this service through a dedicated account manager, please feel free to contact us.  You won’t be disappointed, I promise.