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Business Travel Travel Management Travel Tips

Surviving a One-Day Buisness Trip

We are all so busy that, at times, a one-day business trip can have a lot of benefits. First, it saves your company money on an overnight in a hotel. Second, it takes less time away from any personal and professional duties and can make a person more productive. While the benefits are strong, the concept of doing such a trip can be daunting to some people.

Tips to surviving a one-day business trip:

1) Stay healthy. Catching an early flight, attending meetings, and then catching another flight at the end of the day is exhausting. Combat this by drinking plenty of water and eating healthy to ensure you have plenty of energy to get you through the day.
2) Dress comfortably. Without access to a hotel, you will need to wear business clothes for the entire day. Invest in some that are wrinkle free and wear comfortable shoes.
3) Pack a small “what if” bag. You’ll need to be prepared in the event that you need to stay over. Extra undergarments, travel sized toiletries and a toothbrush can put your mind at ease.
4) Take advantage of any travel perks. If you have access to an airport lounge or a business center, these can be a great place to catch up on work. If you don’t have such access, you may consider using your extra time to enjoy your destination for an hour or two.
5) Lastly, if your trip includes a red- eye flight, you might consider purchasing an upgrade to ensure you get enough sleep to continue to be productive once you land.

A one-day business trip is eventually inevitable for most professionals.  But if you tackle it strategically, you can walk away with a productive and energetic day under your belt.

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Business Travel Travel Industry Travel Tips

Sighted: A Gym In An Airport!

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

New Airport Gym

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

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

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

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

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

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Travel News Travel Technology Travel Tips

How To Get Through U.S. Customs Faster

My last experience going through customs was pretty typical. I deplaned, walked endlessly through the airport, collected my bags and then madly ran to get a spot in line at customs. Sure, you can shorten your wait time if you bring only carry-on luggage or you are an extra fast runner, but overall the process definitely has room for improvement.

Global Entry

One option to speed through customs is signing up for the Global Entry program. Similar to TSA PreCheck, Global Entry expedites you through U.S. custom lines based on your pre-approved status. Offered through U.S. Customs and Border Protection, there is a multi-step approval process needed before your trip. It is available to U.S. citizens, U.S. lawful permanent residents and accepted by a few other countries. It does have some restrictions for eligibility, including criminal convictions, outstanding warrants, or previous violations of immigration or custom regulations. If you are eligible, you can create an account on their Global Online Enrollment System (GOES), and complete the application. There is a  $100 non-refundable fee required for each applications. From there, your application will be reviewed. If it is conditionally approved, you will then be instructed to schedule an interview at a Global Entry Enrollment Center. Once fully approved, you can skip all processing lines, paperwork and significantly reduce your wait time!

Mobile Passport

The app Mobile Passport offers an alternative to the Global Entry program and is available at growing number of airports in the country. All you need to do is fill out the Customs and Border Protection form in the app on your mobile phone and enter your flight information and submit. Once this is complete, you will receive a electronic confirmation with a QR code and you can proceed to the line at customs indicated for “Mobile Passport Control”. Like the paper version of the form, the form in the app can be filled out for family members making traveling with kids just a tiny bit easier. As another benefit, it is free to use with no additional charges!

Whichever process you choose, you will make the customs process easier and less stressful. Use the comments below to tell us about your experiences using either Global Entry or Mobile Passport!

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Business Travel Travel Tips

Avoiding High-Tech Scams When Traveling

As business travelers, we rely so heavily on electronic devices to keep us on task and updated. So much so, that it can be easy to forget that others can hack these devices and prey on our need for accessibility. It seems like there are always new high-tech scams being created.

Common hacking techniques

Spoofing

“Spoofing” is when a replica is created to make you think you are safe. An example of this is when your friend’s Facebook profile has been hacked and they begin constantly posting Rayban sunglasses specials with prices listed in yen. Websites themselves can also be spoofed, ultimately tricking you into downloading harmful data. Even caller ID and GPS coordinates can be hacked using this technique!

Spamming

“Spamming” is unsolicited or junk e-mail. For example, I apparently have a rich uncle in Jakarta who wants to deposit money in my account, I just need to send him my bank number! These emails are sent to thousands of unsuspecting recipients at one time. It is often used in combination with spoofing, to make the originating address difficult to pinpoint.

Phishing

“Phishing” is the act of using spoofing and spamming to lure unsuspecting victims, hoping to deceive you into disclosing your credit card number, bank accounts, passwords, Social Security number, or other sensitive information. An example of this is a hacker calling you, pretending to be someone of authority. They then ask for your social security number or access to your computer. Or, when the credit card information of Target’s customers was hacked and stolen in 2013.

Tips to avoid being scammed

So, what can you do to avoid being a victim? The Federal Trade Commission recommends a few tips to avoid getting “hooked.”

  1. Don’t email personal or financial information.
  2. Use trusted security software and set it to automatically update.
  3. Be cautious about opening attachments and downloading files from emails (especially emails with subject lines like “Hi” or “Open Immediately”).
  4. Type in an organization’s website first, rather than automatically replying, and look for a URL that begins with https (the “s” stands for secure).
  5. Review credit card and bank statements as soon as you receive them to check for unauthorized charges. If your statement is late, call your provider.
  6. When using wireless hotspots, send information only to sites that are fully encrypted, and avoid using mobile apps that require personal or financial information.
  7. Last but not least, as much as it may be a pain to update or change your passwords, keep your passwords strong, secret, and safe.

 

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Business Travel Travel Tips

Corporate Travel Hotel Safety

At a recent Association of Corporate Travel Executives’ (ACTE) Education Day, Detective Kevin Coffey outlined a number of best practices for business travel safety.

Most business travelers know the basics of hotel safety, but situations may arise where this isn’t the case. For example, maybe you’re staying in an unfamiliar hotel or forgot to check whether or not there were in-room safes. Here are 10 things you can do to be safer.

Top 10 safety tips for staying in a hotel

  1. Arriving at the Hotel – If you arrive at the hotel by bus or cab, stay with your luggage until it is brought into the hotel lobby. Keep a close eye on your luggage, purse, etc. when checking in. Thieves often use the distractions of a busy lobby to lift others’ belongings.
  2. Checking In – Ask the front desk personnel not to announce your name or room number. In recent years, hotels have become accustomed to writing the room number on the room key sleeve (rather than saying it aloud), but they often continue to call patrons by name. While this is friendly customer service, it unfortunately allows those around you to learn your name, and a stranger could easily call the hotel later to reach you. Also, be mindful to not leave your credit card on the check-in counter and always make sure the clerk has given back your credit card.
  3. Hotel Address – Get the hotel address and keep it accessible, whether that’s with a business card, matchbook, or digital notation in your phone. Trying to get back to your hotel when you don’t know where it’s located can be frustrating, particularly if you are staying at a chain brand with multiple hotels, or in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language.
  4. Room Selection – Avoid the ground floor. If you have no choice, choose one facing a courtyard or interior of the hotel. When possible, avoid rooms above the sixth floor, as this is generally the maximum height that fire department ladders, especially overseas, can reach.
  5. Elevator Safety – Observe all passengers in elevators. Board last and select floor buttons last. If someone suspicious boards an elevator, exit as soon as possible.
  6. Entering the Hotel Room – Check all closets, bathrooms, showers, etc., to make sure there isn’t anyone there. Examine all locks to make sure they are working properly.
  7. Inside Your Room – Keep the deadbolt or latch locked at all times. You may even want to travel with a doorstop–they’re small and can be packed easily–to wedge the door shut from the inside. Become familiar with the nearest exits and stairwells in case of an emergency. Keep your key in the same place, preferably next to the bed.
  8. Visitors at Your Door – If someone comes to the door unexpectedly, do not open it, even if they say they’re hotel staff, housekeeping, or maintenance. Ask who they are, what they need, and then call the front desk to verify.
  9. Valuables – The safest place for valuables is usually in the front desk safe. Get a receipt of items left and remember to ask if the hotel will cover any losses. When using your in-room safe, know that some safes can be opened with a master key or code. If no safe is available, lock your items in your luggage using a Milockie lock, or purchase a portable locking travel safe.
  10. Leaving Your Room – Leave the television on and place the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on the doorknob. If you would like maid service while you’re out, call housekeeping and ask them to keep the sign on the door. Take minimal cash and carry bait money for potential thieves. Wear minimum jewelry, especially women. Always keep these four things “on” you: 1. your ID (passport if traveling internationally, copies when you are out), 2. a credit card, 3. a cell phone, and 4. essential prescription medications. That way, if you lose everything else, at least you have the things that cannot be replaced quickly and easily.

Read our previous blog Part 1: Corporate Travel Safety On-Board an Aircraft

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Business Travel Travel Tips Vacation Travel

Car Rental Hidden Costs – Are they DRIVING you Crazy?

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

Taxes and Airport Surcharges

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

Insurance

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

Gasoline Charges

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

Drop-Off Charges

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

The 24-Hour Clock

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

One Day Surcharges

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

Age Penalties

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

Frequent Flier Fees

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