Travel News Vacation Travel

London Vacation Recommendations

My family recently returned from an amazing spring break vacation visiting London and Paris.  Having visited these cities before, we planned the trip through the eyes of our teenage son- mixing culture, history, and Harry Potter.

Our Hotel In London

A great hotel in a convenient location was key to our itinerary. That’s why we chose  Anthenaeum Hotel and Residences. Recently renovated, it’s located in Mayfair overlooking Green Park. The hotel is also close to Buckingham Palace and St. James Palace. It was truly an excellent choice for us in London. The hotel rooms were quiet and provided five star amenities with beautiful views.  The onsite restaurant, Galivan, is the latest restaurant from Michelin star rated brothers, Chris and Jeff Galvin. It has an inviting atmosphere and delicious meals, including afternoon tea and all day dining.  We also enjoyed restaurants in charming Shepherds Market, which is just blocks from the hotel.

Events In London

Another great resource for this trip was our Virtuoso partner, Sincerely Paul.  Paul was my hero in locating sold out tickets in London. This included the critically important WB Studio Tour – The Making of Harry Potter. He helped me avoid a near parental fail for not securing tickets months in advance.  We look forward to working with Paul on our next visit to enjoy additional experiences beyond the city.

Working in the travel industry has a few perks and in the case of this trip, that was working with exceptional travel professionals in our organization that directed my travel plans and put my family on course for a memorable experience together.

Business Travel Vacation Travel

A Guide to the Olympic Games

The Olympic Games may be the greatest show on earth, but for travel managers, it’s creating quite a difficult situation as the search for reasonably priced business travel accommodations in London during the 2012 Summer Games is proving to be a grueling one.
The Olympics are scheduled from July 27-Aug. 12, a period when the city’s hotels are overstretched even during a normal summer. The London Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (which run from 29 Aug. 29-Sept. 12, 2012) has reserved two-thirds of the city’s entire 53,000-room stock for the event.
Are you ready? Here are some things to consider:
1. Act today!
If you’ve not acted yet, you must take immediate steps to have any chance of helping their travellers during the Olympics (July 27-Aug. 12) and Paralympic Games (Aug. 29-Sept. 9).
2. Review your London travel needs
Ask all departments to outline their anticipated demand for travel to London in July, August and September. Are meetings planned? How many of your travelers usually visit the city during this period? Are there any major corporate projects that will require trips into central London?
3. Consider imposing a blackout
Communicate across your organization that travelers should — or must — stay away from London during the Games.
4. Find alternative locations
If employees need to meet during the Games, but the location is flexible, direct them to cities elsewhere in the United Kingdom. If they need to be in London for daytime appointments, look for accommodation within an hour’s rail journey, in Oxford or Milton Keynes, for example.
5. Talk to your top hotel suppliers
Companies that must have accommodation for business travelers during the Olympics should talk to hotel suppliers with whom they have the strongest relationships. Some hotels are working very closely with corporate customers to accommodate regular clients’ needs.
6. Consider extended-stay properties
Some extended-stay brands are imposing only marginal increases on their apartments during the Games. They consider the Olympics an excellent opportunity to persuade potential corporate clients to try their product.
7. Remember the impact on air travel
Increased demand is tightening summer flight availability to and from London. Corporate agreements can really make a difference in getting seats for your travelers, so talk to your suppliers now.
8. Prepare for potential disruptions
At best, London will be a difficult city to move around during the Games, owing to the exceptionally high number of visitors and heightened security. If officials issue any security alerts, journey times could stretch even longer. Remind travelers to allow plenty of time between appointments and to create contingency plans for getting around London.
9. Keep everyone in the loop
Communicate your plans and protocols to everyone who will be affected and send updates as the Games get closer.
10. Take advantage of helpful resources
Check out the London 2012 ‘Travel Advice for Business’ site.

Business Travel Vacation Travel

Why Now Is A Great Time To Travel

I know many people are planning on staying close to home during these tough economic times in order to save money or just because it seems like the right thing to do. Actually this is a very good time to travel for a variety of reasons, ranging from lower costs to smaller crowds to fewer competitors calling on clients. And I’m sure that there are other reasons that I haven’t thought of but apply to many people.

Let’s take a closer look at some of these reasons starting with the last one first.  As many companies opt to cut their travel expenses they are removing the sales call from their sales staff’s bag of tricks.  While it is true that much can be accomplished via the phone, webinars and the like, there is an equally important truth, which is when you actually visit the client face to face it gives you the opportunity to actually meet the client, see what the client needs and wants, as well as create a relationship based in part, on the perception that you consider this client important enough to show up, even when times are tough.  I have heard of a number of companies that have cut their travel by as much as 70%.  This means that a significant portion of their sales force isn’t traveling and as such isn’t competing at the personal level.  Airfares are down, hotel stays are down, even car rental rates are down, so this is a very good time to go.  As an example, the Marriott Marquis at Time Square in NYC, was $450.00 and up per night, this time last year, now the rates start at $254.00 a night.  This time last year, the lowest one way fare from Los Angeles to New York City was $161.00, today you can get it for $109.00.  Those are pretty typical savings that are available right now, which means that it is a much better deal to travel for business right now.

In terms of vacation travel, this year is shaping up to be a great year to go on vacation.  With so many people opting to do staycations, many of the places that are normally packed with tourists during the summer months, such as Disneyland and Disneyworld, Europe, Hawaii and cruises, are looking like they will be relatively uncrowded this summer.  So if you’ve always wanted to visit the Louvre in Paris but the thought of the massive crowds kept you away, this may be the best time to go and not have to be in line for hours.

This coupled with the discounts that are being offered the airlines, hotels, tour companies, cruise lines, etc., it makes this summer look like a terrific bargain.  When you compare prices between last year and this year, the difference is amazing.  Just before the end of March, there were roundtrip airfares between New York City and London, starting at $68.00, plus taxes and surcharges.  Now, they start at about $90.00 roundtrip plus taxes and surcharges and yes, there are very limited number of seats available at these prices and they do require a Saturday night stay and travel must commence no later than May 26th, 2009 and they have a number of other restrictions, such as the tickets must be issued within 72 hours of making the reservation and ticketed no later than 5 days prior to departure, whichever comes first.  However when compared to 2008, where the lowest roundtrip fare was $236.00 roundtrip plus taxes and surcharges, this year’s fare looks awfully enticing.   Then when you look at the difference of the relative strength of the US Dollar vs. the Euro and other European currencies, Europe looks much more affordable.

This clearly is the time to go because who knows when prices will be this low again.  So if you’ve been saying to yourself I want to go on a cruise but I want a really good deal or if you want to go to Disney or Europe or really anywhere, now is the time to go.