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Business Travel

Business Travel Sustainability: All About “Green” Corporate Travel

During the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses learned how valuable face-to-face interactions are to promote the development of business relationships.

The value of business travel for corporations is immeasurable and it is clear that travel is an essential business function. However, as we return to normal business operations and travel, corporations are reevaluating their corporate travel policies to include sustainable business travel.

While conversations about sustainability were being had before the pandemic, changes in work environments, operations, and HR practices put “green” corporate travel into sharper focus. As corporations shifted to remote work, the environment experienced the benefits of reduced congestion and emissions with less commuters on the road.

Conscious of the impact of travel on the environment, business travelers and their companies are seeking ways to reduce their carbon footprint. To create a sustainable business travel program, enlist a travel management company such as Christopherson Business Travel.

What does sustainable business travel mean?

Sustainable business travel is the conscious effort to travel in an environmentally friendly way that reduces impact on the environment. From selecting carbon-neutral travel options to purposeful business travel, sustainability requires the responsible consumption of resources.

For example, air travel is responsible for 12% of all CO2 emissions globally, and 80% of those emissions are emitted by flights over 1500 kilometers, for which there are no other viable means of transport according to the Air Transport Action Group.

In an active effort to reduce aviation-related CO2 emissions, sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) can reduce the carbon footprint of aviation fuel by up to 80%. Choosing airline partners that are committed to reducing their carbon footprints is one way to support sustainable business travel.

Ways to implement sustainable business travel

There are various ways to implement sustainable business travel practices into your corporate travel program. Here are a few suggestions:

Implement Purposeful Travel Policies

Adopting a purposeful travel mindset encourages companies to look at travel as an investment rather than a cost. Identify the types of travel your company does and evaluate its importance. Can certain meetings or trips be combined to conserve resources and reduce carbon footprint? Could some business trips be shortened? Is there a way to identify objectives for each business trip to measure effectiveness? Asking these questions and others will help you keep conservation at the heart of your business travel program and make the most of your travelers’ time on the road.

Go Digital

Use apps and other digital options to reduce paper waste from printing tickets and itineraries. Christopherson’s integrated software platform AirPortal provides a central, digital source for booking business travel, managing trip plans, and keeping track of itineraries.

Use Sustainable Transportation Options

Encourage, and maybe even reward, travelers for selecting hybrid or electric rental cars. Require the booking of direct flights. Ask travelers to consider rail travel for shorter trips. While carpooling, public transportation, and rideshares may be the right options to meet your sustainability requirements, be sure to evaluate the impact of those services against your risk management plan and corporate culture.

Partner with Travel Vendors Committed to Sustainability

Book hotels that are LEEDS-certified and are conscious about water usage, plastics, and have environmentally-friendly practices, such as buying local soaps, lotions, and food. Request CO2 reporting from your preferred airlines and check their rankings on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index. Select rental car companies that offer hybrid and electric vehicles.

Educate Travelers on Sustainable Business Travel

Inform business travelers of your newly-adopted practices and teach them how to travel sustainably themselves. Organizations can even implement reward programs to encourage adoption of your company’s sustainable business travel practices.

While there are many ways to travel with an eco-friendly mindset, here are a few practical suggestions for business travelers:

  • Pack lighter to lessen fuel burn and decrease emissions
  • Use earth-friendly alternatives to single-use plastics like metal or silicone straws and wooden cutlery
  • Recycle
  • Bring your own water bottle
  • Hang up hotel towels to use again the next day
  • Forgo daily hotel cleaning services to reduce water usage
  • Eat at locally-owned, locally-sourced restaurants rather than chains and/or select organic food options from local farm-to-table providers
  • Avoid purchasing individually-wrapped products or travel-sized shampoos and soaps

Why is sustainable business travel important?

While business travel is often a key measurement of economic success, it’s important to remember that travel also has social and environmental impacts.

For the altruistic, sustainable business travel practices protect and preserve our natural resources for the future. For those more driven by bottom-lines, sustainability sells. Business Insider reports that today’s shoppers “want more than just quality, often looking for products and brands that align with their personal values. … Protecting the environment topped that list.”

While there are many additional reasons to adopt sustainable business travel practices,  your team needs to understand why it’s something your company is advocating for. Getting your employees on board with what you are trying to accomplish is the best way to reach your goals of a more environmentally-friendly corporate travel program. Once educated, your business travelers will more aware of and make greener choices that benefit your company, their travel destination locales, and the environment at large.

How to make air travel more sustainable

While air travel does have an impact on the environment, sometimes it is the only choice for business travel. When this is the case, here are five things you can do to make your air travel more sustainable:

  1. Pack as light as possible to reduce the weight of your luggage and its impact on fuel use and emissions.
  2. Choose direct flights. Since take-off, taxiing, and landing a plane require the most fuel, reducing the number of times you take off and land can reduce your overall carbon footprint. In fact, choosing a direct route can reduce emissions by up to 50%.
  3. Select flights that will be flown by fuel-efficient aircrafts, such as the Airbus A350 XWB and Boeing 737 Dreamliner.
  4. Select flights that will be using biofuel blends. Nearly 170,000 flights from airlines such as Qantas Airways, United Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, and Alaska Airlines use blends.
  5. Don’t print boarding passes, itineraries, or maps. Use digital apps and alternatives instead.

How can sustainable business travel save money?

Not only is sustainable business travel good for the environment, it can also be good for a company’s bottom line. Here are a few ways sustainable business travel policies save you money:

  • While the cost to rent hybrid or electric vehicles may be higher, you will save on fuel expenses in the end.
  • Ride-sharing options could be a cost-saving business travel practice but be sure it’s in line with your risk management plan.
  • LEEDS-certified hotels can sometimes be less expensive than hotels that are not LEEDS-certified.
  • Locally-sourced food is often cheaper as it cuts out long-distance distribution and transportation.
  • Identifying yourself as an environmentally-friendly business can improve your company’s reputation as consumers are increasingly interested in doing business with organizations that align with their personal values.

 

How can a travel management company help your business implement a sustainable business travel policy?

Christopherson’s corporate travel experts can help you implement green corporate travel policies that encourage eco-friendly behaviors while traveling.

As your corporate travel management partner, we will collaborate, guide, and assist as you seek out vendor partners who meet your sustainable business travel goals.

Our experienced corporate travel agents and your integrated online booking tool can help travelers book sustainable hotels, flights, and ground transportation.

And our AirPortal technology digitally aligns your entire corporate travel program by integrating those policies and plans so you can succeed.

To learn more about Christopherson, contact us today.

Categories
Business Travel Travel Management

The Overlooked Factor In Efficient Travel Programs

In February, the GBTA- North Carolina chapter had the pleasure of hosting Scott Gillespie, a true travel management thought leader.  Mr. Gillepsie is the CEO of t-Clara and frequent contributor to Business Travel News. His presentation focused on a question travel managers often find themselves thinking – how do I gauge success with my travel management process?

Identifying the difference in efficient travel programs

Gillespie based his findings from a recent study, sponsored by ARC, American Express Global Business Travel, and his firm, tClara.  Participants were 700 US-based road warriors who answered questions about their company’s travel policy. The questions focused on if their travel management policies emphasized convenience or budget.

Not surprisingly, travelers operating under strict cost-focused travel programs tended to be more dissatisfied. They admitted to nearly 13% less compliance with their travel policies. They also indicated a 15% higher rate of burn-out and were significantly less willing to travel within two years time.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, travelers with companies that had convenience-based travel policies tended to be more productive on the road and had an overall better outlook about their jobs.

What travel managers should also be measuring:

So are these companies specifically prioritizing cost over the wellbeing of their employees? Of course not! Most companies just aren’t measuring employee satisfaction as a KPI. Gillepsie advised that each travel manager obtain an employee turnover report for employees in traveling roles from their HR department. Getting insights on high turnover rate is the first step to see if adjustments to the travel policy to result in higher employee retention. From there, it may make sense to look at other priorities for travel policies than budget.

Read Scott Gillepsie’s article for other key performance indicators and details on the survey.

 

With our 24/7 service, online support and exceptional service delivered by our travel agents, Christopherson helps ease any challenges that occur when your travelers on the road. In addition, your consultative account manager will assist you in making the necessary changes to your travel policy to decrease traveler dissatisfaction and increase productivity!

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Business Travel Travel Technology

How Christopherson Provides Organization for Travel Management

It could be the ‘type A’ personality in me, but I often think there’s room for improvement in most situations. I’ve also noticed this trait in many travel managers, procurement officers and executives. In positions as busy as these, isn’t the job more manageable with a structured and reliable system? Fortunately, I know Christopherson can provide that oh-so-necessary organization for travel management tasks. Our technology allows for peace of mind and instant access to information for company’s travel management needs. Why are we so confident that we can provide that satisfaction? Read some of our top benefits below:

How Christopherson provides organization for travel management

  •  With our AirPortal 360™ Dashboard and Mobile App, you have a 360° view of your travel program instantly and at all times.
  • No more digging through your inbox to find a traveler’s itinerary. Christopherson’s SecurityLogic® will tell you exactly where your travelers are in seconds. You can even look at their past or upcoming trips by customizing your search.
  • Eliminate that spreadsheet tracking your company’s unused tickets. AirBank® technology seamlessly tracks the unused funds from cancelled tickets. We even provide reminders, ensuring they are used before expiring.
  • All of your traveler’s pertinent travel information and preferences is stored in our Traveler Profiles, allowing you to take one less step when booking. There is no need to keep a series of post-it notes on your desk with traveler’s information written on them.
  • Lastly, eliminate the need to “shop” for fares prior to booking a trip. With PolicyLogic™, your company’s travel policy is built into our software. When travelers book their travel either with an agent or through one of our online booking tools, your travel policy will always comply.

By choosing Christopherson Business Travel as your travel management partner, you are signing on from streamlined and organized travel management. We are at the forefront of travel technology, and have been since we opened our doors in 1953. Contact us to learn more about our AirPortal® platform, and how we can declutter your travel management procedures.

Categories
Business Travel Travel Tips

Ultimate Travel Checklist for the Infrequent Business Traveler

Road warriors most often have their travel packing down to a quick science.  But what about the infrequent traveler?  We’ve created a travel checklist of not only what you may want to bring on your upcoming business trip, but also a “to-do” list for that upcoming trip.

Before you travel:

  • Sign up for all applicable loyalty programs (airline, hotel, car rental).
  • Make sure you have all loyalty program numbers in your reservation.
  • Download the airline mobile app for flight delays and gate changes.
  • Sign up to receive all travel alerts from your travel agency or airline app.
  • Understand your company’s health and travel insurance information.

Additional to-do items for an International business trip

  • Make sure your passport is current.
  • Alert the bank to prevent your card from being shut off.
  • Check out travel.state.gov for visa requirements, local laws and travel alerts.
  • Check the websites of the US embassy or consulate for the latest security messages.
  • The US Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization provide recommendations for vaccinations and other health precautions when traveling abroad.
  • Always carry contact information for the US embassy or consulate with you when traveling abroad.
  • Get a letter from your doctor about the medications prescribed to you. Some countries have strict laws on  prescription and even over-the-counter drugs.
  • Make sure your health insurance is valid overseas.  For example, Social Security and Medicare do not provide coverage abroad.
  • Make a photocopy of your passport.

What to bring:

My most often forgotten item is my toothbrush.  Probably because brushing my teeth is the last thing I do before I walk out the door.  And by habit, my toothbrush goes right back to the holder next to the sink.  Here is a quick checklist for those necessary items we don’t want you to forget:

  • Work clothes
  • undergarments
  • socks
  • belt
  • Workout clothes
  • Workout shoes
  • sleepwear
  • hand sanitizer
  • toothbrush and toothpaste
  • shaving cream and razors
  • shampoo and conditioner
  • deodorant
  • first aid kit
  • over the counter medications (ibuprofen, aspirin)
  • prescriptions
  • glasses
  • contact lens solution, case
  • ear plugs
  • mobile device, laptop
  • phone charger, laptop charger
  • Business materials
  • Business cards
  • travel comforts – headphones, books, magazines, language guides

Looking for more travel packing tips? Check out some of our other packing blog posts:

Categories
Business Travel Travel Management Travel Technology

Christopherson Business Travel Helps Companies Acheive Maximum Travel Policy Compliance

Communication and enforcement of travel policy is a common challenge for many companies. As a solution to that challenge, Christopherson Business Travel uses a blend of technology and established processes to verify that at the time of booking, policy guidelines will be enforced as designated by the company.

Should the policy need to be rewritten or enhanced, Christopherson can assist. Our Account Managers act as expert consultative advisors helping companies establish a fair, complete, and cost saving policy that benefits both the business travelers and the company.

Christopherson also developed PolicyLogic®, software that provides consistent application of preferred vendors, travel policy, coding, and reporting needs, as well as a new functionality that alerts travel managers and arrangers when travelers are not using preferred vendors. Travel policy configuration allows policy rules around the following categories: travel itinerary, flights, flight fares, flight classes, ticket change, car, hotel, and messaging.

These specifics are integrated with Christopherson’s experienced travel agents, online booking tools, and our mid-office and back-office systems to ensure accuracy and compliance across all booking sources. We will customize and update training and point-of-sale scripts when needed.

If business travelers book online, each action displays in the user interface reservation workflow so users clearly see policy compliance as well as policy violations at the point of sale. This empowers travelers to make better-informed decisions and help drive cost savings.

All reservations are reviewed by Compleat with your company policies and negotiated programs in mind. This resource drives costs down by auditing every reservation for compliance to your company’s travel policy and preferred-vendor lists. Compleat will not allow a ticket to be issued until the reservation is in compliance or has been approved by a manager. With these compliance reminders and checks in place, Christopherson then takes policy savings a step further by tracking trends in policy compliance to identify problem areas.

For information evaluating business travel policies, Christopherson has provided this white paper outlining a few basic steps companies can take to guide travelers and ensure compliance.

Categories
Travel News

Christopherson in the News: Seven Corporate Travel Trends for 2016

Travel Market Report recently interviewed Christopherson Business Travel’s CEO, Mike Cameron, about his outlook for next year. Click here to read the full article and his thoughts on Christopherson’s overall increases in travel, investments in technology, and the growing meeting sector.

Corporate travel trends

 

 

Categories
Business Travel

Why Small and Mid-Size Companies Should Implement a Travel Management Program (& How to Do It)

In tough economic times, businesses are always seeking new ways to reduce costs. One way to both save money and improve business traveler satisfaction is by adopting a corporate travel management program.

While most large corporations have such programs in place, many smaller companies do not and could definitely benefit from implementing one. Additionally, a well-managed corporate travel policy ensures better corporate compliance and traveler satisfaction.

Steps to implementing a successful corporate travel program:

  • Make a plan and keep it comprehensible: Work with the finance department to make a simple, easy to understand program, putting policies and procedures in place.
  • Get “buy-in” from upper management: Develop a financial proposal detailing the projected cost savings through a managed travel program. Market internally to gain support from both upper management and employees.
  • Find a travel management company: Develop a Request for Proposal (RFP) to evaluate each travel management company. (Of course, we would love to be considered.)
  • Communicate effectively: A travel portal is a key component for communication. Portals hold all pertinent travel program data and are available to travelers 24/7.
  • Train your travelers: Let your travelers know why your company implemented the new program and how to book through the new system. If the traveler is not educated, the program is ineffective.
  • Show results: Let the travelers know how they’re doing and show upper management the cost savings resulting from the new program.

A successful managed travel program can significantly reduce costs while increasing traveler satisfaction.

Categories
Business Travel Travel Industry Travel News

Delta Changes Baggage Policy: What this means for business travelers

Beginning January 15, 2013, Delta Air Lines will be changing their baggage policy to match that of other airlines. More and more airlines are now only checking bags through to the destination on the ticket, as opposed to what is on the itinerary. Currently, Delta will check your baggage through to the final destination, regardless of how many tickets are created to get you there. Starting next year, that won’t be the case.

Let’s take a look at this new policy and what it means to you, the business traveler. Often, there are times when it will save money to split an itinerary and issue two or more tickets. These savings can be quite significant for business travelers, particularly those flying internationally. In fact, as a business travel management company handling travel for hundreds of companies worldwide, we have seen numerous itineraries where splitting a ticket actually saves several thousand dollars. Currently the agents at Christopherson Business Travel, check that option when trying to find the best price on an itinerary. Under the current policy, this doesn’t create any significant issues for the business traveler. However, under the new policy, it would only make sense to split a ticket is if there is sufficient time for business travelers with checked luggage to pick up their bags at baggage claim, then re-check in for the next leg of the split ticket, re-check the bags, clear security (again), and board their next flight.

Also, in addition to the extra time needed for baggage claim and re-check-in (if a ticket is split), business travelers would also need to pay additional baggage fees since they will be paying for each airline they fly on. This can add significantly to the cost of travel since it is likely that one or more of the carriers involved would be one on which the traveler doesn’t have status.

I’m sure some will ask why the airlines would do this, and others might say it is simply a means to collect more fees. The reality is that the airlines have decided they no longer want to bear the responsibility for a checked bag when they aren’t even on the ticket. For example, if you were to fly Delta to London and then connect to British Air to Edinburgh and it is done as one ticket, then Delta would be responsible for collecting any fees and for solving any baggage related issues. But if two tickets were issued on this itinerary and Delta were to check the bag all the way through to Edinburgh, they have only been paid for transporting it to London. And what if British Air were to misplace or damage the bag–who is actually responsible for making the customer whole? Additionally, if two tickets are issued, the second airline is not bound to accept the bags if they are heavier or larger than permitted on intra-European flights.

As evident, there are many sides and key issues to understanding this change in policy. Christopherson Business Travel will continue to seek options that result in lower prices for business travel, and we will let the customer decide if the money saved is worth the extra time and trouble. I also expect that business travelers will see all the airlines adopting this policy fairly soon.

To read the full official announcement from Delta regarding these changes, click here.

 

Categories
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.

Categories
Business Travel Travel Management Travel Tips

The Security of Knowing Where Your Travelers Are

There is something called “duty of care,” which is a corporation’s legal and moral responsibility to their employees who travel for business. It was defined by Dr. Lisbeth Claus, a human resources professor at Willamette University, as “the obligation employers have for the health, safety, and security of their employees when they travel across boarders.”
Knowing where your travelers are is crucial to maintaining this responsibility. Companies can avoid a lot of stress (and potential legal fees) by having plans in place prior to any type of emergency, whether it’s weather or terrorist related, or due to traveling in high-risk areas. There are many programs available to help keep travelers safe and help keep employers out of the court room, including large organizations such as SOS International or training provided by Kevin Coffee, President & CEO of Corporate Travel Safety.
For a corporation, the first step is creating and implementing an internal plan of action. The second step is having a tool available that will assist in locating travelers at any given moment. Christopherson Business Travel has developed (and makes available to clients) SecurityLogic®. This proprietary technology allows a company’s travel manager the ability to view real time data of where travelers are at any given time (including flights, hotels, and addresses) based on reservations booked through Christopherson. To learn more about SecurityLogic® and the many others services provided by Christopherson Business Travel, contact us to set up a demo.

Categories
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.
 

Categories
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.

Categories
Travel Management Travel News

Airline ancillary fees… Working out the frustration

I attended a webinar this week and was thrilled to discover what I think is a great step in the right direction when it comes to identifying and clarifying some of the extra costs of airline travel today.  If you have the right credit card, you can now receive reports through AirPlus International on award  fees, baggage  costs (first bag, second bag, etc.), services fees (upgrades, standby, bulkhead etc.), onboard charges and miscellaneous charges.  AirPlus is certainly taking this subject very seriously and even though it is not a perfect solution, it is the best one out there today.
“The AirPlus Ancillary Fee Reports are designed specifically for corporate travel managers to gain insight into airline ancillary fees! AirPlus is the first payment provider to offer such clarity.
A set of five detailed reports are available monthly for AirPlus Corporate Card customers and are based on a company’s card data. These reports are compiled using reporting data sent through by airlines and include hundreds of different fee types! Gain control over these fees with the transparency that AirPlus brings with these new reports.”
These reports include robust details for further data mining and reporting. They include the type of fee, the airline, the ticket/document number of the fee, the passenger name and amount. This data is useful for budgeting a company’s future travel program spend and may prove useful in supplier negotiations.

Categories
Travel Management Vacation Travel

Lost or Stolen Photo ID?

Have you ever had your photo ID stolen while traveling by air? Or have you misplaced your photo ID and then had that ‘sinking stomach’ feeling when you realize it is required to board your flight? The TSA has provided us an answer to this problem on their website along with many other ‘what-if and can I’ scenarios.
For example:
Q.  If I lose my ID during travel, what secondary forms of ID will be accepted?
A.  Passengers who do not have a valid photo ID, such as State-issued driver’s license, should bring any ID or documents they have available to assist in verification of identity.  Passengers need at least two alternate forms of identification, such as a social security card, birth certificate, marriage license, or credit card. The documents must bear the name of the passenger. Also, one of these documents must bear identification information containing one of the following:  date of birth, gender, address, or photo. If TSA can confirm the passenger’s identity, they may enter the secured area, but they could be subject to additional screening.
I found the TSA web-page of FAQs very helpful, and most certainly hope that my photo ID is always with me.

Categories
Travel Management

Duty of Care and Travel Risk Management

Companies with multi-national operations and those with employees who travel across borders are increasingly concerned about managing risk to their travelers, expatriates and assignees. When employers fail to comply with their duty of care obligations, the following situations can occur:

  • While working overseas, an employee gets sick and does not have access to adequate medical treatment 
  • During a natural disaster, a company realizes that it does not have sustainable business continuity plans, and/or employees cannot be evacuated easily and face unnecessary hardship
  • An employee travels to a country where malaria is endemic. She is not given prophylaxis or education on malaria by her employer. She contracts the disease and gets very sick.

These incidences are all avoidable. Unfortunately, the employers were not prepared and faced needless litigation, damaged reputation and interruptions to their operations.
To learn more about Duty of Care and Travel Risk Management please click on this white paper link by International SOS.

Categories
Travel Management Travel Technology

Where In The World Are My Employees?

Ever wonder how companies keep track of where their employees are when there is a catastrophic event? Like the shutdown of US airspace following 9-11 or the shutdown of Western Europe following the volcanic eruption in Iceland or even the crisis in Japan?
Companies that book their travel through Expedia, Travelocity or Orbitz, or through many traditional travel agencies, don’t have a quick and reliable means of determining that information. That means that those companies have no easy way to learn which of their employees are impacted by current events. The first hint they have of the need to get to work on making changes to their travelers’ plans is often the phone call or email from the stranded passenger. That often means these travelers are missing out on the best options to get home.
Christopherson Business Travel has developed SecurityLogic®; part of our proprietary software that allows travel managers to see where their travelers at any time. It provides a graphic display; listing all the travelers in each location, including connecting airports. What this means is if something comes up, and there is a need to get everyone out of a given location, the travel manager can see at a glance who is where and can get to work on getting them out of there.
SecurityLogic® is part of Christopherson Business Travel’s TravelAcumen® suite of tools that we provide to our clients at no charge. For a demonstration, please contact your account manager.

Categories
Travel News

Charge me a service fee, please…..

Are there service fees you would be glad to pay an airline? Here are the top five service fees people would be happy to spend their hard-earned money on.
1. Priority Takeoff. Yes, we know the airline has no control over how quickly its planes are allowed to take off. But what if – and this is strictly hypothetical – the airline could pay the tower to push its planes to the front of the line, and then pass the cost of that bribe on to the passengers? I think most passengers would be willing to scrounge up an extra $20 if the alternative were spending two hours waiting to get onto the runway.
2. Expanded Movie Selection. It’s awfully nice of the airlines to offer a selection of movies for in-flight entertainment, but you’re often stuck with a limited selection of family-friendly fare. (Even though the dancing-penguin movie makes us all want to cuddle and eat smores a flight spent with Marilyn Monroe or Marlon Brando might make the flight more…well… enjoyable). What if you could pay $5 to have your pick of any film in the Netflix collection? It would make a long flight a little more bearable if you could watch a movie you actually wanted to see.
3. Buffet-Style Meals. Now that all the airlines charge you extra for in-flight meals anyway, it’s only fair that we get a little choice in our food. So instead of paying a fixed fee for a tray with fixed portions of entrees and sides, why not set up a small buffet in the galley and let passengers pick and choose which items they want on their plate?
4. Cockpit Visit. Remember when you were a kid, and you got to go visit the pilot in the cockpit and see all the awesome buttons? That all went away after Sept. 11, but I’m sure there are some well-off folks who’d be willing to shell out to let their kid have the same experience. Our proposal: Make the parents pay to have a second air marshal on the flight who can escort the kid to the cockpit and make sure he doesn’t hijack the plane.
And my favorite….
5. Priority Disembark. It’s one of the worst parts of flying: You finally finish your flight and taxi to the gate, then have to wait 15 minutes while everyone in front of you stands in the aisle getting their carry-on luggage. What if you could pay a fee to cut to the front of the line? Imagine this: “Thank you for flying with us today. Please remain seated until our priority guests have had a chance to retrieve their belongings and exit the airplane.” Of course, any non-paying guest who tried to make a break for it would be tackled by the air marshal.
Source: Mainstreet.com

Categories
Travel News

Same Old Airport Food? OTG To The Rescue!

Are you tired of the same old food and slow service at many airport restaurants? Well, OTG Management appears to be listening and it’s creating mouth watering experiences for many!
What started in the JetBlue Terminal at Kennedy Airport with Food Network is beginning to revolutionize your dining experience while traveling. OTG Management is offering cuisine instead of fast food at many airports. However, if you are in a hurry the answer may lie within the JFK Airport, Gate 15 & Terminal 3. This is where innovation is coming to life! You can ‘dine’ in a hurry or take time to multi-task prior to your flight: fuel your body, charge your cell phone, and work on your laptop all in one place.
Take a look at your enhanced options and the forward thinking of OTG Management when it comes to food and airline & airport partnerships. OTG has been listening to the rumblings of the hungry traveler’s stomach grumbling for more!

Categories
Travel News Vacation Travel

Calling All Travelers: Important Travel Safety Info

During a recent Utah Business Travel Association monthly meeting, we heard from an interesting, attention-getting guest speaker: Kevin Coffey. Kevin has been a detective for 20 plus years and is an expert on travel safety via air, rail, and car, including hotel stays and international travel. I quickly realized what a great resource Kevin and his websites could be for Christopherson’s clients, especially business travelers.
I am pretty savvy when it comes to traveling, but I learned some new and important information. During the lunch meeting, Kevin even set-up a fake scenario with a tray of dishes crashing to the floor to show our group first-hand how purses and laptops can be taken without the owner even noticing. It all happened in a matter of seconds during all the chaos of people trying to help.
To learn more about travel safety for your upcoming trip, or if you are updating your company’s travel policy, check-out Kevin Coffey’s websites. It could save your life.

Categories
Travel News

United – Continental Airlines Merger Closes

On October 1, 2010 the merger of United Airlines and Continental Airlines received legal approval, allowing the two airlines to operate under a Chicago-based holding company called United Continental Holdings, Inc.
The United Continental merger milestone happened at the end of the same week that Southwest Airlines announced its purchase of Airtran Airways. While the airline industry consolidation has been taking place for many years, the recent combination of Delta-Northwest, United-Continental and Southwest-Airtran has put the consolidation process in hyper-mode.
The merged United-Continental will be based in Chicago and will operate under the United name; it will feature Continental’s logo. The airline will be run by Continental’s CEO, Jeffery Smisek. Both carriers will begin to merge operations in 2011 and a single operating certificate from the FAA is expected by 2012.

Categories
Business Travel Travel Management

Upgrade me please…

After scanning through various articles this week I came upon one titled How to Score an Upgrade: Air, Car and Hotel on CNN Money.com.  I was so enthralled that I thought I would share parts of it with you along with some extra’s from Christopherson Business Travel.

AIR:

Your odds: One in one hundred.
Pick your plane wisely. Passengers on certain Boeing 757s (with 26 first-class seats to 158 in coach) have a better shot than those on an Airbus 320 (12 first-class, 126 coach). Check out a plane’s layout at seatguru.com.
Scope out the cabin. The more empty seats in first class, the better your chances of landing one. To check out the load factor, go to the airline website just before check-in, start to book a business-class ticket, and click “view seat map”.
Ask at the right time. The best day for upgrades is Saturdays; fewer elite travelers fly then. Go to the agent and say something like: “If you need to bump people from coach to first, please consider me. I’m low maintenance — and my back is killing me.”

HOTEL:

Your odds: One in five.  Occupancy rates for the first half of 2010 were estimated at a dismal 56% (down from 63% in ’07), reports Smith Travel Research.
Ask your Christopherson agent for negotiated specials. Christopherson has negotiated rates in various cities where you might be traveling to. For example, most likely when booking the Christopherson rate at the Hilton in Salt Lake City your chances for an upgrade are good plus you receive a complimentary loaded buffet breakfast, free parking, free internet and double Hilton points.
Stay at business hotels on weekends. You can improve your upgrade chances by staying Thursday to Sunday vs. midweek.
Ask multiple times. Use the special-requests option when booking your hotel.  Once your reservation has been made by a Christopherson specialist, call the hotel directly. Talk to the desk clerk at check-in, “We’re here celebrating special event. Any chance of an upgrade?”
Check in late. Most guests show up around 3 p.m., so arrive after 7, when the front desk knows which rooms are left.

CARS:

Your odds: One in 20. Many car vendors cut fleets in 2008 and 2009, making upgrades less common.
Choose the right car. If a company runs out of the vehicle class you reserved, you will be upgraded. Book a midsize car — it’s the most in demand.
Reserve at the right time. Friday nights and Monday mornings are peak pickup times. That means there’s less chance the car class you specify will be available.
Ask for special offers. Ask your Christopherson agent for any free or discounted weekend days (Avis coupon code TUCAO53 and mention your corporate AWD number. Exp 4/2011. Coupons available at Christopherson Business Travel while they last). Check with your credit card company or coupon travel magazines.
For more information Christopherson’s corporate competitive advantages please contact one of our account managers at allam@cbtravel.com.

Categories
Travel News Travel Technology

Mobile Phones as Room Keys

It’s been the buzz since at least May of this year, but the Intercontinental Hotel Group (IHG) has a pilot program in process allowing guests to use their mobile phones as their room keys. If this pilot program is a success, IHG will offer this as an option to those who are interested, but the standard magnetic key will remain available to their guests. In fact, you will not only have the option of one or the other, but if you would like to use your mobile phone and still have the convenience of a magnetic key when you don’t want to carry your phone, this will be an option as well.
IHG realizes that some guests will have concerns regarding the security of the MobileKey program and these issues are addressed by Open Ways (a global solutions provider of mobile-based access-management and security solutions), the technology provider.
IHG’s innovation center provides a short video describing the process along with addressing the myths and truths of this new innovative technology.

Categories
Travel News

TSA …. Get ready… Get set… Go!

Starting in May of 2009, here at CBT, we began gathering the new Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Secure Flight Passenger Data (SFPD) with each reservation and new traveler profile. Through this process, over ninety percent of our traveler profiles are TSA Secure Flight compliant.The TSA has now given a definite “effective date” for us to pass along!
Starting September 15, 2010, when you are booking travel for November 1, 2010 and beyond, if SFPD is not included in the reservation, your ticket will be inhibited. The quoted or held fare will not be guaranteed until this information is entered into Christopherson’s system. The TSA is mandating that SFPD must be present in all reservations within 72 hours of scheduled departure.

When booking a flight, passengers will be required to provide the following:

  • Full name (as it appears on passenger’s identification document)
  • Date of birth
  • Gender
  • Redress Number (if available, see below)

 
“One of the biggest challenges facing our clients is when they are booking travel for prospective employee interviews,”says Sheila Thorp, CBT Technology Manager. “Even though HR departments cannot ask for the age of a recruit, as the travel booking agency, we are required by law to have it on file in our system. If our clients are having issues collecting the required information, I urge them to contact their Christopherson account manager to set up a process.” She also reiterates, “If you have not updated your CBT profile with all the required information, please login to AirPortal or contact  an account manager at allam@cbtravel.com.”

Redress – for passengers who feel they have been misidentified

Those who believe they have been mistakenly matched to a name on the watch list are invited to apply for redress through the Department of Homeland Security Traveler Redress Inquiry Program (DHS TRIP).  Secure Flight uses the results of the redress process in its watch list matching process, thus preventing future misidentifications for passengers who may have a name that’s similar to an individual on the watch list.  For more information on the redress process, visit www.dhs.gov/trip.
If you would like to know more about these changes, we invite you to visit TSA’s Secure Flight Web site at www.tsa.gov/SecureFlight where you can find a detailed program overview, travel tips, frequently asked questions and more.
 

Categories
Travel News Travel Technology Vacation Travel

In case you haven’t heard….

After a review of Avis Budget’s $1.33 billion bid by Dollar Thrifty’s board of directors, Dollar Thrifty turned down the offer.   Even though Avis’s offer is higher than the $1.13 billion dollar offer in place with Hertz, Dollar has decided to decline Avis’s offer.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has set Sept. 8 as the effective date for a new $10 fee on foreign visitors, which will help fund the new tourism promotion program created by the Travel Promotion Act.
Enterprise Rent-A-Car will start delivering electric cars to some non-airport locations in January.
The company will initially deliver 500 Nissan Leaf vehicles to neighborhood branches with the infrastructure to support the cars.
Tourism businesses in the Gulf Coast region could lose between $7.6 billion and $22.7 billion in visitor spending over the next three years, according to research commissioned by the U.S. Travel Association.  In addition to developing recommended actions for the government, U.S. Travel  endorsed an idea  earlier this month where BP would set set up a $500 million emergency marketing fund that would be disbursed as grants to local destinations for information and marketing campaigns.
Spirit Airlines… another fee?  When speaking with an airport employee becomes an option rather than a necessity, Spirit Airlines is thinking about charging for that service, CEO Ben Baldanza told ABC News on Tuesday. “When there’s a way for customers to do it themselves electronically, at that point, we could consider charging a few dollars to interact with a human,” he said. “But if the only way we can do the transaction for you is to talk to a human, we’re not going to charge you for that.”

TSA Week at a Glance: 7/26/10 thru 8/01/10 – www.tsa.gov

  • 8 artfully concealed prohibited items found at checkpoints
  • 18 firearms found at checkpoints
  • 6 passengers were arrested after investigations of suspicious behavior or fraudulent travel documents
Categories
Travel News Travel Technology Vacation Travel

Christopherson Business Travel…. on the move!

Since we are celebrating our country’s history let’s take a look at some of our own….
Christopherson Business Travel…. on the move!
Sales results 2002 – $79.9 million.  Sales were over $200 million in 2009.
Voice mail implemented April 2003 – The vote is in 75% of our clients surveyed said they would like us to have voice mail and 85% of the employees agreed!
Christopherson billboard advertising campaign 2004 –Remember those great blue billboards with those clever sayings?  “We draw the line at packing your bags”, “Hear that? It’s your bottom line saying “Thank You”, and “Travel Agency for Capitalists and their tightwad CFO’s” to name a few. 
Denver travel agency purchased 2005 – Travel Connections  was purchased which added 14 new team members and $15 million in new travel bookings.
AirPortal® trademark approved 2006– Great news!  The name AirPortal® is exclusively ours.  AirPortal was the beginning of many great things to come from our incredible technology team.
Christopherson selected as #1 in the “Readers’ Choice Awards” survey by Connect Magazine 2007 – The survey was taken among high-income readers in business decision-maker positions.
Christopherson Business Travel and Denver based Andavo Travel Announce Merger 2008 –
The combined operations formed one of the largest travel management firms in the United States and the largest national BCD Travel affiliate.

Christopherson Wins the Alfred P. Sloan Award 2009 – What a great place to work!
And now for some frivolous but ‘thought you might like to know’ facts….
A LONG TIME AGO: Nov 21, 1783 – Who thought then, at the early start of aviation history what air travel would mean. The modern age of aviation began with the first untethered human lighter- than-air flight on November 21, 1783, in a hot air balloon designed by the Montgolfier brothers.
WHAT’S A “QANTAS?” You probably recognize the name of this Australian national airline… but what’s it mean? It’s an acronym for: Queensland and Northern Territories Air Service.
ANY QUESTIONS? As printed on an American Airlines package of peanuts: “Instructions: Open packet, eat nuts.”
NO TIME TO NAP: The shortest scheduled airline flight is from the Scottish island of Westray to its neighbor island, Papa Westray. Flight time: 2 minutes!
THINK YOU LIKE TRAVELING? The world’s first travel agency was founded by Englishman Thomas Cook in 1850. Not only did he introduce the concept of the hotel reservation, Cook also personally organized and led the first round-the-world tour, lasting 222 days and covering over 40225 kilometers!
HA! HA! HA!  A young and foolish pilot wanted to sound cool on the aviation frequencies. So, this was his first time approaching a field during the nighttime.  Instead of making any official requests to the tower, he said: “Guess who?”
The controller switched the field lights off and replied: “Guess where!”
And last but certainly not least…
WHAT?!  Hijacking of airplanes was outlawed in 1961.

Categories
Travel Management Travel News Vacation Travel

Combining Business Travel with Leisure Travel

Have you ever been on a business trip and wished you could see more than just the inside of a plane, rental car, hotel room, conference room, etc.?  Well, here is your solution, at least if your business travel takes you to the beautiful state of Utah.
Did you know that Utah has 7 national parks (Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Zion, Great Basin and Natural Bridges), with many more national parks nearby including Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Canyon and Mesa Verde?  We also have 7+ national monuments and plenty of national forests.
Utah has enough to keep everyone happy and busy including everything from snow skiing to water skiing, caving to climbing, cycling to hiking, sailing to flying and ballooning to rafting.  You already know that we have the greatest snow on earth and you can be snow skiing in the morning and hiking Zion National Park in the evening all during the same season.
When you come to Utah, don’t miss out on the natural beauty that is easily within a day’s drive of where ever you may be doing business.  You also won’t want to miss out on some of our great restaurants, Café Diablo near Capitol Reef, the Bit and Spur near Zion National Park, and the scrumptuous local restaurants in the Salt Lake area such as Faustina, The Oasis, The Tin Angel, The Rio Grande and many more.
For more information, please visit the websites of the Utah Travel & Tourism or the Salt Lake Convention and Visitors Center
For travel arrangements for business or pleasure the travel agents with Christopherson Business Travel and Andavo Travel will be happy to assist you with the highest level of service.  Please contact us at 801.327.7700, 866.327.7650.   Prepare yourself for an adventure that you’ll never forget and start enjoying your business trips!

Categories
Travel News Travel Technology

It’s back – CLEAR – the Verified Identity Pass!!

I am so excited about the recent news involving CLEAR’s come-back now that the economy is beginning to recover and the long process of Alcear’s purchasing of VIP’s CLEAR assets from bankruptcy is completed.
I loved this service!! Hopefully within a year to 18 months the airports that provided the original Clear service will follow Denver’s lead. It is a much needed service for those of us who travel for business but can’t quite chalk up enough miles for the airline programs yet are on the road enough to make CLEAR’s subscription fee worth every penny!
So… all travelers who were members of Clear, those jealous every time you watched your fellow road warriors in the “Clear Lane” move quickly through the security lanes, and those who want to know more about this value-added program; go to their website and let them know which airports are important to you in providing this time-saving service.

Categories
Travel Management

Your airline ticket… five things to remember

  1. You aren’t guaranteed travel  – You should always prepare for the worst, and make sure you know how to contact the airline and any other providers, such as a hotel or cruise line, where reservations could be disrupted by flight troubles.
  2. You aren’t guaranteed a seat – That irritating industry practice of selling more tickets than there are available because passengers with confirmed reservations on a flight sometimes fail to check in continues on.  Can you imagine showing up to a baseball game with tickets in hand, only to be told the game was overbooked?
  3. You can be kicked off a plane – Barefoot passengers, drunk and/or abusive passengers, foul-smelling passengers, or passengers who refuse to buckle their seat belt can all be removed from the plane…Yae!
  4. You can get a refund, sort of -There are two kinds of refunds, voluntary and involuntary. Voluntary refunds apply only to refundable tickets.  However, even nonrefundable tickets can be refunded under certain circumstances. If an airline cancels your flight you’re eligible for a refund or some other form of compensation. Forced situations like cancellations due to mechanical issues, and schedule irregularities that result in canceled flights are all cases where airlines are required to provide a refund or credit toward travel at a later date.
  5. Your ticket is not transferable – You can’t resell your airline ticket. Why? The industry says it’s for security reasons: Who’s to say you’re not buying the ticket for someone on the no-fly list? It could also be argued that the rule is all about forcing you to buy new tickets when you simply want to give a ticket you’ve bought to someone else.
Categories
Travel Management Travel Technology

I would like to file a Report please…..

The Account Management team at Christopherson Business Travel is constantly being asked for help in ways to enforce compliance to travel policy guidelines and rules.  We recommend travel data reports to accomplish this.
Ever wonder who is always booking last minute, continually making changes, utilizing a favorite vendor when another might be less expensive?  Want to make sure you are meeting your commitment goals with preferred vendors?  Perhaps it might be a good idea to get a daily report on tickets booked the day prior to moniter if a certain trip is necessary or five people are attending a tradeshow when three people would be sufficient.   How a about credit card reconciliation report?!
Our DATALOGIC tool powered by iBank is one of the most powerful reporting tools in the industry.  DATALOGIC reporting delivers over 120 standard reports and a virtually unlimited number of user defined reports upon demand or on a scheduled broadcast basis. With DATALOGIC reporting your can focus on Spend Analysis, Supplier Management, Policy/Risk Management, Activity Management, Spend Management and Reconciliation Analysis.
As a Christopherson Business Travel client you are given access to DATALOGIC to design, produce and deliver your own reports on the fly.  Not enough time to do this?  Not a problem.  You tell us what you need we find or create the report for you and send it out as frequent as desired.
Remember –  there is never a fee for DATALOGIC access or to receive reports.
Please let us know if you would be interested in a demonstration of how this tool can make your life simpler and less stressful.  Contact Christopherson Business Travel for a demonstration today.  allam@christophersontravel.com
Air Activity Report 101 created, broadcasted and filed.  Now go have a great day!

Categories
Travel News Travel Technology

United Now Offers Mobile Check-In

United has installed mobile check-in at its four hub cities – Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington Dulles – plus Las Vegas, Dallas-Fort Worth and LaGuardia Airport in New York. Thirty more locations will be offering mobile check-in by summer
Denver joins 43 other U.S. airports, plus Frankfurt, Germany in offering this service. In 2007 TSA introduced the pilot program with Continental Airlines adding shortly thereafter Delta Airlines, American Airlines, and Alaska Airways. For the most up-to-date information as to what airports offer the program and an airline list of cities providing this service; go to the TSA website or each individual airline’s website.
Mobile check-in saves time at the airport by letting you check in and get your eBoarding Pass right from your PDA or web-enabled phone (iPhones, BlackBerrys, etc.) within 24 hours of your departure. It’s the fastest, most convenient way to check in. You must first go to the airlines website to start the process. At the airport, TSA security officers use hand-held scanners to validate the authenticity of the boarding pass at the checkpoint

Categories
Business Travel

Shall I drive my own car… or rent one?

Owners, financial guru’s and sourcing managers, mileage reimbursement is a huge expense when employees drive their own cars for work purposes.  Did you know that based on a reimbursement rate of $0.50 cents anything over 120 miles driven by using a personal car is more expensive than renting one?   Companies both large and small that require their employees drive their own cars are reevaluating the reimbursement process and switching to renting cars instead.  Enterprise and Hertz (their off airport locations called Hertz Local Edition) both have programs that will bring your rental car to you.  The car will be delivered to your home in the morning and then you drop it off at the rental office and they will take you home.  It’s very slick and easy.  Here are a couple of other reasons why renting a car makes more sense then driving your own.  1- Less chance of breaking down on the road.  A rental car will usually have less miles and the necessary maintenance will have just been done.  Plus if it does break down you don’t have to foot the bill for the repairs.  Yes!!!  2- Less wear and tear on your own car.  Consistant long distance driving will wear your car out much faster than normal.  Save those miles on your own car and put them on a rental.  3- Renting a vehicle will give you the opportunity to try out a car you might want to own some day.  With National Car Rentals “choose your own car” program you get to decide from several makes and models which car to drive.  Perhaps a PT Cruiser… or a hot Dodge Charger has been on your list to try out.
Here is a mileage calculator link by Enterprise Car Rental that will help you determine if driving a personal car versus a rental car would be the greatest value.  Plug in the numbers and it will automatically calculate it for you.  Rental rates are based on current Enterprise daily rates and are also changeable.
To reserve your rental car contact any one of our professional travel consultants at 801-327-7700.  You’ll drive away happy!

Categories
Travel News Vacation Travel

Christopherson Andavo announced as 2010 Ritz Carlton STARS member.

February 2010 saw the addition of Christopherson Andavo Travel to the exclusive ranks of the Ritz Carlton STARS program. The hotelier renowned for combining luxury and hospitality invited Christopherson Andavo to this elite group making it one of ONLY TWO travel companies in the United States with this distinction.
As a member of the STARS program, Christopherson Andavo clients will now enjoy unparalleled recognition and amenities at Ritz Carlton properties worldwide.
Whether you are planning a corporate retreat, a business stay, a vacation or even a wedding, contact one of our travel advisors to find out just how much value this new partnership can bring to you.

Categories
Travel News

For all those business travelers caught in the recent snow storms–listen up!

If you were that business traveler, had booked your travel through Christopherson, and were stranded in any of the recent east coast snow storms; you were in good hands. Why—because the last time you were stranded we took exceptional care of you then. This situation happens every year and every year our agents amaze me in how they service our clients. Here are just a few ways they assisted stranded passengers over the past few weeks.

  • Made the calls to the airlines and were on hold for hours—one agent 5 hours changing an international flight.
  • Provided clients with waivers from the airlines to obtain refunds when they were either unable to make the trip (meeting cancelled) or half way through their trip their return flight was cancelled. If you booked through the airlines websites or online agencies, you had to make the call to the airline and stay on hold for hours. One agent tried for an entire day to change a clients booking through the airline while his client went about his usual work schedule.
  • When passengers leaving to catch a flight, checked the airline websites, and found flights were showing confirmed (not cancelled); contacted us just to make sure. In numerous instances our computer system indicated the flights were cancelled. We then rebooked, reissued, and the traveler showed up at the airport with no surprises. That trip to Florida was made after all to close the business deal.
  • If you were lucky enough to have the airline call and explain just how they had re-accommodated you on another flight to return home only to find out it was two days later than originally ticketed, our agents were able to get you back much sooner.
  • Our after-hour emergency number was available on the weekend allowing for the same type changes, processing of refunds, and rescheduling.

Our many resources provide a “peace of mind” to business travelers whether they are our special numbers to make changes quicker; or, the ability to process airline waivers when changes are necessary so you don’t have to stand in line at the airport. We can provide options, for instances, rebooking your desired flight on another airline and processing the refund for your unused ticket. Time is money. For the price of our low service fee—we’ve got you covered!

Categories
Travel News Travel Technology

What is your Travel GPA?

How do you stack up in the travel market place?  As a company did you meet your travel goals and expectations for 2009?  Did you uitilize your hotel and car rental contracts to the fullest?  How do you compare to companies of similar travel spend and patterns?  What about compliance?  Are your travelers adhering to preferred contracts and vendors?  Is Travel Policy compliance in your focus this year?  What is your Travel GPA?  Do you think you deserve and A or the dreaded F?
Christopherson Business Travel has recently teamed up with a company called….. Travel GPA.  By utilizing this program we will be able to determine the strengths and weaknesses of your travel program.

A+ points of Travel GPA:

  • Faster, more meaningful travel data. The data is live and can be scored against internal goals or benchmarked against the GPA database of over 20,000 companies.
  • Pinpoints actionable ways to save money. As an analytical dashboard tool, Travel GPA benchmarks against hundreds of KPI’s (key performance indicators) based on company’s air, car and hotel spend.
  • Grade your supplier contracts vs. Industry Benchmarks. This helps travel managers evaluate effectiveness of negotiated rates in a given market or segment.
  • Drive your program with the ONLY real-time reporting & dashboard. Travel GPA transforms reports in to graphical charts while providing global reporting and analytics solutions in several languages and currencies. Drill down from any data point within a report or dashboard and instantly customize any report by adding or deleting metrics and report parameters.

Christopherson Business Travel and Travel GPA put the world’s most actionable business travel data right in your hands.
Don’t miss the bus!  For more information on how you can become a valued client of Christopherson Business Travel and create your own Travel GPA please contact a Business Development Specialist at allsales@christophersontravel.com.

Categories
Travel Management Travel News Travel Technology

New Respect for TSA

In our recent Utah Business Travel Association’s January luncheon, Ronald Malin, Deputy Federal Security Director, Transportation Security Administration, DHS, spoke to us about TSA. To my amazement, he brought along a number of prohibited and actually confiscated items they had found during the past 7 days at the Salt Lake International Airport. Here’s the short list:
• A small portable propane tank (full) for a camp stove
• A taser, stun-gun type item
• Toy gun exact size and look of a very dangerous one
• Large, heavy crescent wrench
• An item shaped and similar in appearance to a hand grenade
• Belt buckle with shape and look of a grenade
• Fire crackers and other fire works
• Ammunition, sometimes just a few but often times numerous bullets
• Knives of different shapes and size
There was also a very long, large knife enclosed in a leather case that was actually attached to a person on his belt as he entered security. Ron also passed around the room a man’s shoe they use for training showing what it looks like when a bomb is placed in a shoe. It could have come from any male’s foot in the room!
During Ron’s presentation he also explained the different levels of security; as to how, why, where they are stationed, some even trained to closely watch the behavior of oncoming passengers making it very clear to me the importance of it all. There of course were some questions about the Christmas attempted bombing. We talked about the “human error” aspect. Ron further explained that at the Salt Lake International Airport, TSA employees are stationed to monitor at all times with no one being left alone at certain stages to more carefully avoid as much human error as possible. I seriously felt very lucky to have our Utah Airports under the direction of Ron. Yes, truly a new respect for TSA.

Categories
Travel News

Attention all rental car drivers

Cashless toll roads are becoming a huge problem for car rental companies who in turn are hiring third party collection agencies. These agencies then tack on outrageous fees which show up on a renter’s credit card bill sometimes months later.
For instances on my last trip to Denver I did not sign up for the daily toll road access fee figuring I would not need to travel on E-470 (cashless toll road) which is exactly what happen. What if, however, at the last minute my meeting ended late, there was a horrific accident on I-225 backing up travel for hours; what would I have done? Most likely wanting to get home that evening I would have taken E-470 in order to make my flight and then worried about the fee later. With some rental car companies you have a choice of a daily toll fee of $8.95, or $32.95 a week…OR… by declining a fee and then driving on a cashless toll road receiving fines long after your expense report has been completed, approved, and paid.
In Jeffrey Leib’s article in The Denver Post, Nov 29, 2009, “Cashless E-470 takes toll on rental-car drivers in the form of fines,” he talks about how irritating the problem can be and how one traveler was fined $125 – only $11 being toll fees.
Christopher Elliot on his blog, www.elliot.org discusses this same problem, http://www.elliott.org/blog/are-car-rental-companies-overbilling-customers-for-toll-violations and how charges and fines are also showing up months later for supposed traffic violations, http://www.elliott.org/blog/help-my-car-rental-company-charged-me-for-running-a-red-light.
In other words – BE AWARE!!

Categories
Business Travel Travel News

2010 Travel Forecast…Doom and gloom or back on the fast track!

Christopherson Andavo Business Travel is a member of the National Business Travel Association.  The below article is one of the many we have received from them with regards to travel forecasts in 2010.
The National Business Travel Association (NBTA) — the leading global business travel organization — has provided its members with the 2010 U.S. Business Travel Buyers’ Cost Forecast. This latest installment of the widely-respected annual tool for the U.S. corporate travel industry forecasts the following ranges for changes in travel rates/fares:

Average U.S. Domestic Rates / Fares
Average
rates/airfares
2009
% change
expected for 2010
AIR $299* -2% to +3%*
HOTEL $136 -2% to – 8%
CAR RENTAL $46 -1% to -3%
* Airline ancillary fees may increase the cost
of an airline ticket by 30% or more

With air travel and car rental costs expected to remain nearly flat and hotel rates expected to decline, businesses expect to travel more. That growth in travel is expected to lead to increases in travel expenditures.

  • Nearly 7 in 10 (69%) of travel managers responding to an NBTA survey expect business travel volume to grow in 2010.
  • 56 percent of travel managers project their total travel spend to increase in 2010; another 31 percent expect their total travel spend to remain flat year over year

Travel and meetings buyers also expect to see an easing of travel & meeting reductions in 2010.  Compared to the previous year, the percentage of travel managers expecting to see cuts has gone down in the following areas: number of meetings (-27%), non-essential travel and conference (-20%) and event attendance (-15%).
In the new business travel environment, corporate travel managers expect to drive good values with preferred travel suppliers:

  • 70 percent of buyers expect to negotiate better hotel discounts for 2010.
  • More than 30 percent forecast better discounts with airlines, and car rental companies.

Methodology
The  NBTA 2010 U.S. Business Travel Buyers’ Cost Forecast is based on primary findings from an online survey completed by 180 U.S.-based NBTA Direct Members (corporate travel buyers) between the dates of August 13 and September 24, 2009, as well as additional analysis of data collected from sources such as the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Smith Travel Research, IHS Global Insight, and the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Categories
Travel Management Travel News Travel Technology

My 1st experience with the advanced imaging technology at airport security

The last time I traveled in early September, the new full-body scanners were not in the Salt Lake City International Airport (at least not to my knowledge). When I encountered them a few days ago at TSA security check point in Terminal Two, I was pleasantly surprised. My curiosity being peaked, I checked out what it was all about and here is what I found:

  • New state-of-the-art advanced imaging technologies detect a wide range of threats to transportation security in a matter of seconds at airports across the country to protect passengers and crews.
  • The pilot program has 46 units at 23 airports across the US
  • This whole body imaging technology is 100 percent optional to all passengers
  • Facial features are blurred for privacy and the image is displayed on a remote monitor for analysis
  • The technology cannot store, print, transmit or save the image
  • Passengers with joint replacements or other medical devices who would regularly alarm a metal detector prefer this technology because it is quicker and less-invasive than a pat down

To see what the image looks like in the remote analysis room, list of airports where the pilot program is being tested, and anything else about the new technology; please go to:
http://www.tsa.gov/approach/tech/imaging_technology.shtm

Categories
Business Travel

Do I have to sit here?

Many of us as frequent fliers and are always looking for that desirable seat, you know, the one that has the most leg room, the one that reclines and even the one that includes … you guessed it an empty seat next to it. Even though I don’t mind visiting with people I like to take the time that I fly to reorganize my thoughts, read a good book or even take a nap (less the drooling and snoring of course). But as luck would have it many times I’ve ended up in a middle seat only to be entertained by the head bobbing of the person trying to stay awake on one side and the person that thought it would be okay to not take a shower that day on the other. On top of it, my seat doesn’t recline and the person’s in front of me does! I’m thinking the cargo area or even a seat strapped to the wing would be a better option!
Never fear! As a Christopherson client we will do everything in our power to make sure your flight is as comfortable as possible. Even though you may  not be eligible for seats up front in coach or an exit row we will do what we can to get you in that desired seat. Our agents have many years in the industry and have learned the “tricks of the trade”  that allow them to make sure your seating accommodations are pleasing and satisfactory.  We may not be able to perform miracles every time but we will do our best to make sure the extra mile has been taken for you.
If you are interested in plane configurations and where the “best” seats are located on a particular aircraft check out www.seatguru.com. It goes in to great detail to let you know where you should and should not be sitting. Did you know that on  CRJ 50’s that there is a compressor above seats 5 A and B that drips water during take off and that on the CRJ 700 that the window’s  on row’s 14 -17 are all misaligned and looking out of them is difficult? These and many more seat facts can be found on this site.
For more information on what Christopherson can do for you, contact us. Our agents, account management and technology are a perfect combination for your travel program to be a successful one.

Categories
Travel News Travel Technology

Considerations when making changes to your travel policies for 2010

4Q09 is here and budgets will soon be reviewed again for 2010. If you are like most companies, you have cut your travel budget considerably this year and intend to stay as lean and mean as possible with most forecasts indicating increased airfares of 1% to 6%; hotels decreasing more; and rental cars increasing around 4%. With these facts in mind, what should be considered when making changes to your travel policies for 2010?

  • Airfares – look at ways to improve your advanced purchase bookings. With improving demand and carrier capacity cuts, the airlines will not hold those low fare seats open for booking as long as we have seen in 2009. Booking early will become more important in 2010.
  • Car Rentals – as rental car companies continue to cut fleet capacity consider consolidating to one vendor.
  • Hotels – with decreased rates continuing, properties are more open than ever to offer special corporate rates to companies with fewer total-room-night qualifiers.

Christopherson Business Travel makes reports available to indicate where you can improve your advanced booking practices with individual travelers and/or departments thereby maintaining your 2010 budget. Our account managers work with your preferred car vendors to decrease your rates or at the very least keep the rates in check; or, suggest other vendors to consider. We also review and analyze all your hotel rates and options to locate additional savings and added amenities for your travelers.
Christopherson’s AirBank® provides real-time views by travelers, travel arrangers, and travel managers in our single sign-on AirPortal® as to outstanding unused tickets available to insure your use of every travel dollar invested. Car and Hotel Re-Check® monitors your reservations a few days prior to arrival for lower rates, again, insuring you of every savings possible that will positively affect your ROI.

Categories
Travel News

Professional, Knowledgeable, and Experienced Travel Agents

Recently while preparing information for an RFP (request for proposal), I was amazed at how much experience Christopherson’s travel consultants possess. Of our 21 corporate agents located at our Salt Lake City Reservation Center:
• Average years of experience is 24
• This experience runs from one agent with 10 years up to another with 33 years
• Average tenure with Christopherson Business Travel is 10 years
• Agent tenure runs from one with 3 years up to another with 16 years experience
• Every corporate agent is experienced in international travel
What does this mean for you – the CFO, company travel manager, travel coordinator, or traveler?
• Cost savings through experience and special programs
• Assured accuracy within your reservations
• Hassle free experiences
• Peace of mind
Add Christopherson’s exclusive travel technology and pro-active consultative account management to the mix of our professional, knowledgeable, and experience travel consultants and you receive services from the best and the brightest travel people in the industry today.

Categories
Travel News

Coming to the Skies this Fall

As we are fast approaching the autumn travel season, the one where family vacations are over and it’s back to business travel, let’s take a look at what we can expect.
This autumn I expect that we will see a continuation of the current trend of the airlines reducing capacity and slowing increasing the average airfare. Yes, there will still be deals and there will be some markets that see increased capacity however overall I expect that there will be a decrease. This decrease will show up in a couple of ways. First, elimination of some flights and fewer frequency of flights in some markets. For example, Delta has already announced that they are eliminating the Salt Lake City to Tokyo nonstop for the season. At the same time and not as widely heralded, they have reduced the frequency of the Salt Lake City to Paris nonstop from 7 days a week to 5 days a week, starting September 1st. Equally surprising is the reduction in the frequency of flights on the new route between LAX and Sydney Australia, which started at daily service and is already being reduced to 6 times a week. It’s not just Delta that is doing this, United has reduced service between Denver and London Heathrow and the other airlines are doing the same thing.
The second way that the airlines are reducing capacity is by switching to smaller aircraft. For example, United used to fly nothing but 737 or A319’s between San Francisco and Salt Lake City, now they are using regional jets for most of the flights. On the international front you see it where airlines like Qantas and Emirates have stopped flying their new A380, double deckers to and from the US and replaced these aircraft with 747-400s and 777s. Taking that step reduces the number of seats available on any flight by as much as 35%.
What does that mean to the business traveler? It means that the already crowded skies will become even more crowded and that getting your advance seat assignments will be more important than ever. Additionally, it will mean that business airfares will increase as the number of empty seats decreases. It will benefit travelers to plan ahead in terms of cost and availability.
This autumn will see an increase in the rates that travelers pay for car rentals. Additionally, the number of hidden surcharges will continue to climb. Don’t think that the “Energy Recovery Fee” is going away and that it isn’t going to develop new siblings. Think of baggage fees applied to car rentals. Why car rental rates will increase is simple, demand is up and supplies are down. There are fewer car rental agencies and their fleets are smaller. This means that the rates will go up.
The bright spot will be in the cost of lodging. In most markets the rates will either hold steady or slip a little bit lower. The hotel industry continues to struggle with overcapacity in many markets and this means that business travelers shouldn’t have to pay so much. It’s much harder for the lodging industry to reduce capacity on a temporary basis since hotels are permanent structures.
In order to get the maximum value out of a travel budget, one should utilize the expertise of Christopherson Business Travel’s experienced agents, who have access to a variety of discounts on airfare, car rentals and hotels. Our agents have the resources, skills and tools to help you reduce your expenses when you travel.

Categories
Travel News Travel Technology

Could You Be A Christopherson Andavo Client?

If you answer, “Yes, I want this service,” to any of the statements listed below, you should contact us immediately!!

  1. Have professional travel consultants available 24/7.
  2. Be able to book travel whenever and wherever.
  3. Have the flexibility and convenience to book a trip with an agent or through an online booking tool of choice.
  4. Provided one place to view all my past, present and future travel, all my department’s past, present, and future travel, plus travel for the entire company in one location, online with one singe sign-on.
  5. Know when an unused ticket is available, if it is reused, and if not, why.
  6. International travel specialists with 20+ years experience managing complex itineraries and providing special services worldwide.
  7. Re-check hotel and car bookings a few days prior to arrival date for lower rates and then rebooking them.
  8. Receive detailed and/or summary report on savings found by my agent(s).
  9. Special hotel and car discounts available through an agent OR booked online.
  10. In the case of an emergency, know within minutes the detailed whereabouts of your company’s travelers worldwide to act quickly.
  11. Proactive and consultative account managers working hard to maximize your ROI.
  12. Thorough meeting, incentive and conference planning.

Christopherson Business Travel is ranked the 14th largest travel agency in the nation (by Business Travel News) and therefore have exceptional relationships with ALL vendors so when you need some extra support or challenges need extra assistance – we definitely can help!

Categories
Travel News

Those hidden charges when you travel

As I was sitting here trying to come up with a good topic for today’s article, I took a call from a client who wanted to know why the airfare that I quoted yesterday had gone up $50.00 and why the advertised price on the airline website showed a lower price until it was booked, when the price jumped up considerably.
I explained to my client that airfares are not guaranteed until the ticket has been issued.  He said that he knew that but he couldn’t believe that the airlines would raise the fare that much and that quickly.  I then pointed out that domestically the airlines change fares about a million times a month according to a number of industry reports.  Sometimes they go up and sometimes they go down but they change constantly.  What was harder to explain was the fact that the base price of the airfare had remained unchanged overnight, what changed was the fuel surcharge.  The fuel surcharge is a means for the airlines to cover the higher cost of fuel without having to raise the fare.  Why would they want to do that?  It’s really a case of marketing and nothing more.  The airlines have learned that if you can advertise a low fare, you get increased business, even if the actual cost include taxes, surcharges, etc. is significantly higher.  People plan on going and once they get into the process of booking, they don’t like to back out, even if it is more expensive than they had originally thought that it would be.  There are those out there who accuse the airlines of bait and switch, I’m not one of them because they aren’t offering one thing to get you in the door and then switching to a more expensive item, no, I think what they are doing is deceptive but it doesn’t really fit the traditional definition of bait and switch.
Let me give you an example of what I mean.  Right now, Icelandic Air is offering a roundtrip fare from New York City to London and back for $68.00.  That is the advertised price.  There generally is an asterik that directs your attention to the fine print.  Some restrictions apply, the price doesn’t include taxes, fuel surcharges, etc. and so forth.  This disclaimer allows the airlines to advertise one price but that price doesn’t include a lot of what you might expect to be included in the price of an airline ticket.  In the case of Icelandic Air, the base fare is $68.00, there is currently a fuel surcharge of $111.00 in each direction or $222.00 roundtrip, so just for the seat and the fuel, you are looking at $290.00.  Then comes the taxes that are levied on your airline ticket.  There is the $5.50 Customs User Fee, the Immigration and Naturalization Service Fee of $7.00, the US tax of $32.20, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Fee of $5.00, the USA Passenger Civil Aviation Security fee of $2.50, then there is the British tax of $73.42, the Air Duty fee $34.59 and last but by no means least, the Passenger Facility Charge of $4.50.  That’s $156.55 in government imposed taxes and fees.  That brings your grand total to $468.55 for the airline ticket that is advertised at $68.00 roundtrip.
And to be fair, we can’t single out the airlines for this, the car rental companies do the same sort of thing.  The daily rate for your car rental might be $45.00 a day, plus taxes and surcharges.  A couple of weekends ago when I rented a car and they were running down the list of fees, which included a fee for recovering the cost of doing business at the airport and an “energy surcharge”.  When I asked about that one I was told that it had to do with covering the cost of filling the vehicles up.  I pointed out that I return the car full or they charge me some outrageous amount per gallon to fill it up or if I’m going to be doing a lot of driving I take the prepaid fuel option.   Either way, I’ve already covered the cost of filling up the car.  I don’t think it is right to ask me to pay to cover the cost of me filling up the car.  When I asked the representative of the car company, he told me that it actually goes to cover cost of things like lights and such.  When I pointed out that was part of the cost of business, he told me that the car rental companies are afraid to raise their rental rates for fear of driving off customers and so they have followed the airlines lead in tacking on fees that hide in the fine print.  And here again, let’s not forget the 12% to 20% in taxes that State and local governments impose on car rentals.  It isn’t unusual for taxes and fees to make up 35% of the final bill on a car rental.
Lest you think that this trend is confined to just airlines and car rentals, hotels are just as guilty for adding charges, like resort fees for amenties that you may or may not use or a fee for “free local” calls, even though you are using your cell phone or a number of other creative revenue sources that hotels believe that they can bill their customers for without it negatively impacting their bookings.  The problem with most of these fees is that the hotel doesn’t allow you to opt out of them, which would seem to make them part of the room rate.  And then you get the taxes and fees charged by State and local governments that are used to build sports arenas or are used to fund other local projects that the local voters don’t want to pay for.  This is called taxing those that can’t vote you out of office.  There is a downside, if these get to be too painful, conventions and tourists will stay away.
While I understand and truly appreciate the need to turn a profit.  I think these companies are underestimate the ill will that these practices generate among consumers.  If you visit any number of consumer travel related websites and read the comments or follow travel discussions online, you see a lot of comments alluding to the fact that customers feel like they are being taken advantage of by many businesses in the travel industry.  While the consumer may be powerless when all the airlines or all of the car companies, etc., adopt the same practices, it doesn’t mean that they like it and it certainly isn’t viewed as good customer service.
I would suggest that it makes sense to unbundle certain costs however when one unbundles fuel from the cost of a flight, I have to ask, exactly what is the customer paying for with the base fare?  Shouldn’t that be included in the airfare?  Likewise, if it is unbundled, doesn’t that imply that the fee or item is optional and the consumer should be able to opt out of it.  For example, the fee for each checked bag allows passengers who travel light to choose not to check a bag, whereas those who need to take more along on their trip, can pay for it.  With some of these fees, the consumer is not given that option, in which case, I believe that cost should be included with the base rate charged for the service.
As far as government imposed taxes and fees, I understand the motive of taxing those that don’t have a say however one needs to be careful not to kill the goose that lays the golden egg.  If the taxes and fees get to be too burdensome, people will decide to go elsewhere.  Anyone remember New York City when their room taxes and fees were hitting 20% and conventions and tourists started going elsewhere.  And when you have taxes and fees on an airline ticket that are double the base fare, that seems excessive.  While there aren’t many options to flying transatlantic, it may discourage people from traveling and that is bad for all of us.
So next time you think that the price you are paying is too much, take a look at the breakdown of what you are being charged.

Categories
Travel News Travel Technology

How Christopherson Finds Additional Savings on Hotel and Car Reservations for Our Clients

In today’s economy, finding addition savings with business travel is upper most on CFO’s, travel managers, and business travelers’ minds.  One way Christopherson accomplishes added savings for our clients is through some of our proprietary technologies, in particular, Hotel Re-Check® and Car Re-Check®.  Similar to the airline industry, hotels and car rental companies are raising or lowering their prices based on excess “distressed” inventory.  Our tool automatically re-checks the rates booked in a reservation for a business traveler a few days prior to arrival.  If a lower rate is found, your reservation is changed to that lower rate thereby taking advantage of increased savings to your travel budget.  Whether you company’s policy is to book travel 14, 7, or less days from travel dates, Christopherson’s tool provides additional savings otherwise not realized.
Unlike monitoring air fares after purchase for a lower rate; when a lower rate is found, the airlines add an additional (exchange) fee.  Your savings, in this case, are diluted considerably whereas hotel and car companies do not charge an exchange fee.
Christopherson then tracks these savings through our ValueLogic® report keeping you apprised of all savings realized.  It is common for a company to save anywhere from $25-50 per night on a hotel.  For example just last week a client was sending several travelers to a convention.  Hotel Re-Check® found a few days prior to arrival the hotel room rate had decreased $40 per night—saving them $1,416 dollars!

Categories
Travel Management

Why People Should Use A Travel Agent

A few weeks ago, I spent cooped up in a travel trailer watching the rain come tumbling down for two days straight.  I was trapped in the trailer with my daughter, her friend and her friend’s parents, who had invited us to go to camping with them.  While sitting around waiting for a break in the weather we talked about a wide range of topics, including employment and travel.
He is in the military and she is a nurse and apparently they travel a couple of times a year, generally within the US.  When they learned that I worked for a travel agency, he asked me the usual questions about all the places I’ve been and isn’t wonderful how I get all these great deals on travel (the only advantage I have is that I see the specials when they first come out allowing me to be one of the first people to purchase the ticket, rather than one of the last) and then he asked me why people should use a travel agent.
I took a moment to compose my thoughts and then I explained why I would say that people should use a travel agent rather than doing it yourself.  I started with service.  Travel agents are service providers, you call and tell us what you want and we do the work to get you that service.  We are there to take care of you throughout the entire process of booking, traveling and even after you get home.  If you have a problem with an airline or a hotel or a car rental and you booked it yourself, do you know what your rights are and do you where to start?  Your travel agent does.  Not only does your travel agent have lots of contacts in the business, your travel agent has a relationship with the vendors that allows your agent to get special treatment for you at no additional cost or at a reduced cost. 
The next reason is knowledge and that is a big one.  Most professional agents have traveled extensively and have access to news about vendors,  resorts, hotels, etc., that the general public may not be aware of or they may not be aware of the importance of the news.  For example, a co-worker of mine had a client that was setting up a trip to fly between two cities in Southeast Asia.  There were two airlines flying the route, the customer asked for one and my co-worker had just read where that carrier had been banned from flying to/from the EU and the USA due to safety concerns.  My co-worker told the customer about the ban and talked the customer into flying on the other carrier.  It turns out that the original flight that the customer requested crashed, killing all on board.  Needless to say, the customer was very thankful that he had listened to his agent.   
Additionally agents get feedback from their customers which allows the agent to remain current about new situations that arise.  Sometimes this may be something as minor as having a customer tell you that a hotel is changing brands or that the visa both in the Istanbul airport has moved from the right side of the hall to the left side and is now a little further away from the stairs.  Or it could be something important like a construction project is starting next to a hotel and therefore the agent knows to steer people to other hotels or to request rooms on the opposite side of the hotel from the construction.
Then comes the biggest one, value.  Yes, you pay a service fee to use a travel agent however over time a professional travel agent will save you money and ensure that you get the greatest value for the money spent.   How does this happen?  It is a variety of things, ranging from insuring that you frequent flyer number is transmitted to all the partner airlines and car companies, to using connections to get you an upgrade on a cruise or a room at a resort to dealing with preferred vendors who offer amenities at no extra cost to the customer to just being diligent and checking repeatedly to see if the price has dropped.  Sometimes it simply knowing that an option exists.   Many people say there isn’t a good reason to use a travel agent on domestic travel because it is so simple, I disagree that  a travel agent can’t bring value to a trip, even if it is so simple to book.  Let me give you a couple of examples, a traveler is flying from Salt Lake City to Atlanta on Delta.  The traveler is departing on Monday morning and returning Wednesday night, the airfare is $1259.71.  If you book your own travel, you may think that this is the only option since that seems to be the lowest fare no matter which combination of flights you pick for those dates.  A professional travel agent can take a look at the fares and quickly determine that if you were to either fly into Atlanta on Sunday or return Thursday, you can drop the fare by as much as 50%!  That will cover the costs of a decent hotel and extra meals and still save you money. 
The other example would be if you are traveling to Orlando or other resort destination, your professional travel agent can easily compare the cost of doing everything ala carte or getting a package.  Packages may include a car rental and a hotel stay, admission to attractions,  in addition to the airfare.  The nice thing about packages is that you know the total cost, including taxes and fees, which may not sound like much until you get the bill.  Hotel room taxes in many resort areas are in excess of 10%, so on a six night stay at room rate of $150.00 per night, that’s an extra $90.00. 
I have a friend in the entertainment business who travels extensively.  Much of her travel is international and for several years I tried to get her to do her travel through me, instead she opted to do it herself.  A couple of years ago she visited the United Kingdom to attend a wedding of a good friend where she was going to perform a couple of songs.  She had listed the date on her website as a private performance, which is was, however when she arrived in the UK, she told Customs and Immigration that she was there as a tourist.  About 9 months later, she was returning to the UK, this time to be the opening act on European tour.  She landed in Heathrow, got to Customs and Immigration and was detained when she declared that she was a tourist.  Apparently, the authorities had discovered that she had visited the UK several times before and worked without the proper visa and this time they weren’t going to let her into the country.  They put her in a small room, where they kept her for 8 hours, then they handcuffed her and escorted her onto a flight out of the country.  She later told me that she hadn’t thought that she needed a work visa because she wasn’t taking a job in the UK, she was just passing through.  She no longer can visit the UK because of her error.  Now she calls me to set up her travel overseas and I make sure that she gets the appropriate documents so that she doesn’t have any additional issues.
Last one, about a month ago a friend of mine told me that she wanted to go to Bali this summer and that the best airfare that she could find was about $1500.00 from Los Angeles.  That was more then she wanted to spend.  I spent less than 30 minutes working on her itinerary and got her tickets, for the dates she wanted for $859.00.  Not only is she saving over $600.00, even adding in my fee, she’s flying on one of the ten best airlines in the world.  She has been advised of the passport and visa requirements, reminded of baggage limitations, had seats assigned, told how much time she needs to allow to check in and has been given access to a 24 hour, toll free number to call if she encounters any problems, just to name a few of the additional services that she received by booking through a travel agent.
So the simple answer to my friend was simply that without a travel agent, you’re on your own.

Categories
Business Travel Travel News

New Client Maximizes Return on their Travel Investment (ROI)

This new client found us on Google.  Not being satisfied with their present provider’s service or the cost for that service decided to make a switch to Christopherson Business Travel because CBT offered additional services, exclusive technology, and competitive transaction fees.

This new client was very surprised at how soon and how much they were able to save in just the first month with CBT.  Their initial goal was to convert most of their travel to our online booking tool.  While waiting for the online booking tool to be customized for them, our full service agent was able to save them an average of 23% on each trip (air, car, hotel, and fees). Our experienced, knowledgeable, and professional agents provide exceptional customer service AND positively affected this company’s bottom line. Now—that’s something to talk about!