Confused With All the Travel Information on the Internet?

There is so much information available on the internet right now regarding travel. There are online travel sites for cruises, hotels, air, trains and any other type of travel. But what is the correct product for you? Is the location of the hotel where you want to be? Is the type of room or cabin the right fit for you? Is that cruise line the one you should be booking? Not all products are created equal nor are the products right for everyone. How do you tell? Contact a travel professional.

Do travel agents exist?

There have been multiple articles, and even the President of the United States, has said travel agents don’t exist or are going away. In a way they are right. Travel agents in the past were just someone who booked a trip for someone who called or came in to the storefront office of a travel agency. Storefront travel agencies are few and far between now a days as most of the “travel agents” have gone home to work. Even the term “travel agent” is going away because what they do now is different than what they did before.

Travel Professionals/Travel Counselors

Travel Agents are now more a counselor and an adviser so they are now called Travel Professionals or Travel Counselor. Even the travel industry is trying to get away from using the term “travel agent”. They no longer just book a trip for someone, they know more than what is available to the traveling client. The travel professionals now are constantly learning, constantly traveling, receiving input from other travel professionals about where they have traveled and are a resource for what is required to travel now a days.

When you use an online travel agency like Expedia, Travelocity, etc. you aren’t able to have someone protect your back. They book the travel for you and then you are pretty much on your own. Say your flight gets cancelled, who is going to book a replacement flight? You are, not them. If you use a travel professional that travel professional will do it. If something goes wrong on your trip, if the room you booked is not like what you thought it would be, who is going to make it right? A travel professional will also check constantly for price drops before final payment and whether a new promotion offered would be more beneficial than what was booked with a deposit. All these things can be addressed before final payment.

A travel professional works with you from the time you first talk to them until you are home safe and sound and any and all problems have been solved or addressed.

It Costs More to Use a Travel Professional

This is not always true. True, some travel professionals charge fees but not all of them do. This is because some vendors, like airlines and some hotels, don’t pay commission or some of the vendors have decreased the amount of commissions paid to the travel professional. In order to make ends meet, some travel professionals charge fees. I charge $50 per person for airline reservations domestically and $100 for airline reservations internationally. I will also charge a fee sometimes for hotels for the same reason or if I am putting the various sections of the trip together myself. If I book a cruise or a tour, I don’t charge a fee as the vendor pays me a commission. Remember, whether you use a travel professional or not the commission is still being paid as it is automatically included in the price from the vendor. So, why not use a travel professional and avoid the hassle and save your time?

The rules for traveling are constantly changing and it is the travel professional who is able to keep their clients on track with them.

Examples: Passports

For instance, did you know that come January, 2016 you may need a passport to travel by air domestically? This is due to a law called the REAL ID Act. This requires all travelers to have a REAL ID compliant identification that includes all of these fields: full legal name, signature, date of birth, gender, unique identifying number, a principal residence address and a front-facing photograph of the applicant. Unfortunately there are still a handful of states that are non-compliant. Do you know which states are compliant and which aren’t? Your travel professional does. By the way, outright non-compliant states/territories are American Samoa, Louisiana and New Hampshire. The states of Minnesota and New York offer an optional Enhanced ID at a cost, so because it is optional, a large percentage of residents don’t have one. Some states have applied for additional extensions, but it is unclear if those will be granted. Currently, only four states (Louisiana, Minnesota, New Hampshire and New York) and American Samoa are technically non-compliant.

Also, we still don’t know if January 1, 2016 will be the date of the requirement or will it be later? Because of this law, the passport processing time for all will be affected. All the passports issued in 2006 to meet the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative that went into effect in 2007 are now expiring, causing a slew of renewals. So, because of those renewals coupled with the possible REAL ID enforcement, passport waits are expected to further increase. As of October 11, the current wait has already increased a week to four to six weeks for standard passports and three weeks for expedited. Expedited in person could be up to eight days based on travel need.

5 Great Tips to Stop Travel Anxiety

While most of us enjoy holidays and traveling, many find the associated travel anxiety tough to bear. Travel anxiety isn’t a disease but it is rather the fear of the unknown. Fear of travel is usually caused by several factors. Some people may worry about their house and pets when they are away while others might have had unpleasant traveling experiences during their previous trips. Others are afraid of flying. Some fret that the trip will turn out to be a disaster and worry about all of the details. All of these are examples of worries related to travel that can lead to varying degrees of uneasiness. Regardless of the causes or intensity of your anxiety, it can really compromise the pleasure and excitement of your trip.

Although, travel anxiety is common in both experienced and novice travelers, most travelers have positive traveling stories to tell. Probably, they learned how to manage their anxieties and have regained the joy of travel. It is not too late; you can also overcome travel anxiety by following a little advice. The following 5 tips to stop travel anxiety could prove invaluable to you in planning your next holiday.

5 Tips to Stop Travel Anxiety

1. Spend time making Preparations Prior To Your Trip

From past experiences, to think of the details and annoyances that bothers you about traveling. For example, you think that your house will be in a mess once you step out of the door hire a house cleaner to clean your home prior to your return. If flight travels frightens you, you can equip yourself with your iPod or your favorite book to keep you busy while you’re traveling. Simply make a list of those things you think you’ll require in your trip and those things you won’t want to be left running while you are away. The time spent organizing, planning and taking care of all the details well in advance will help to stop travel anxiety.

2. Don’t Procrastinate

Some people are well aware of their travel anxieties and they’ll often avoid taking care of the details; eg. booking a ticket, packing, etc. They will make excuses, avoid and procrastinate due to previous poor experiences with traveling. Just because you have travel anxiety doesn’t mean that avoidance will eradicate your fears. If you really want to take control over travel anxiety, get yourself involved in the action by preparing early and taking care of all necessary details. Keep in mind, travel fears are just made up fears and they are never real.

3. Learn How to Cope Up With Flight Phobia

For those people who worry about flying, you may wan to dig a little deeper to find the root of this fear. Get to know exactly what frightens you. Are you are acrophobic or claustrophobic? Perhaps the mechanical sounds bother you or air turbulence puts the fright into you. All of these fears are irrational meaning you can counter them with rationality. Airlines have strict safety measures on board. Once you are aboard, try to listen to attendant instructions to calm your nerves. Also, use anything that you like such as music to disrupt your thoughts while you are traveling.

4. Meditate

To effectively manage their travel anxiety, many individuals use meditation to gain control. Meditation makes use of a kind of self-hypnosis, so you can calm your nerves and mind down. Various self-hypnosis scripts designed specifically to ease travel anxiety can be found online. Meditate on these scripts and your mind will be at ease during your time of travel. The scripts are great tools of converting people’s subconscious minds into a friend rather than a foe. Instead of having a subconscious mind that is deep-seated in travel anxiety, you’ll have a subconscious mind that is confident and not frightened of flights.

5. Get rid of the Unknowns

Illuminate your travel shadows by doing a research prior to your trip of things you’ll expect to encounter once you’re at your destination. Apart from visiting various travel blogs, you can also use travel guides to become well-informed with your destination point. Go online and checkout your accommodation so you will know what to expect. Have your looked into travel from the airport to the hotel? What about meals and special dietary requirements? The little unknowns add up and will add to your travel anxiety.

Besides the 5 tips to strop travel anxiety strategies listed above also ensure that you maintain proper communication using Facebook, MySpace, etc. Keeping the communication channels open with loved ones back home will keep you connected.

Observing the 5 tips listed above is a great way to start you on the path of happy travels. Best of luck!

My name is Clancy Davies and I am the creator and author of the website, “Alleviate the Anxiety”. I have specialized in the field of education and personal growth for nearly 30 years and enjoy helping people solve their personal issues and reach their maximum potential.

While visiting ‘Alleviate the Anxiety’ you will find many interesting articles on a variety of topics including; anxiety, panic disorder, shyness, stress, fears and more. You will discover many tips, remedies and solutions to help you on your path to better health.

Travel Pre And Post Internet

Travel Pre Internet:

I’ve been travelling for over 40 years – by thumb in my early days, by boots in the Scouts, a Lambretta came next and then my first old banger followed by newer old bangers to the beaches of the Costa Brava.

My thumb, boots, bikes and bangers took me all over Europe and the UK before finding that a charter flight to Spain on an old ‘Connie’ could get me to the beaches and bars a lot quicker and allow more time to enjoy the local travel opportunities by horse and cart and the occasional bus and train.

‘Go West and Prosper’ seemed to be a good idea so instead of taking an 8 hour flight I took an 8 day transatlantic crossing from Tilbury to Montreal on the Stephan Batory of Polish Ocean Lines ensuring that jet lag did not trouble my travel plans. Some years later I crossed the pond again on a ship but this time it was 5 times bigger and I travelled in style on the QE2 and dined in the Queen’s Grill somewhat removed from my earlier experience. I highly recommend ocean voyages but cannot see myself on one of the modern cruise ships going from port to port with constant line-ups to get on and off to buy t-shirts. However, I have done 10 Windjammers and a Star Clipper cruise in the Caribbean which were all memorable (let’s hope Windjammer Barefoot Cruises recover from their woes). But I digress.

I had read that Canada is a spectacular country, from sea to shining sea, and my entrance into the St. Lawrence River to Montreal and then heading west in an old Econoline van from the Great Lakes, across the Prairies to the Rocky Mountains before ending up whale watching off of the Pacific Coast of Vancouver Island was a trip of wonder to a bloke from London. Today the scenery is still spectacular and the best way to go is still by road so rent or buy a car, motorhome or motorbike, take the train or tour bus but remember the maps, a fly rod, good boots and take your time.

My favorite part of Canada / USA for adventure travel has to be Northern BC / Alaska, to hike the Chilkoot Trail in the steps of the goldseekers of 1898. The Northwest Territories to canoe the Nahannie River and the Yukon to drive from Dawson City to Chicken, Alaska. If you like the outdoors and can put up with a few bugs, cast a fly and scale a few hills or drive on endless dirt roads sharing the space with moose, caribou, elk, bears and eagles, then these are the places to put on your list. The pleasures and experiences in driving to Inuvik on the Dempster Highway or to Prudhoe Bay on the Dalton Highway or even the Canol Road can only be felt by doing them. I would have mentioned the Alaska Highway but now it is an easy drive unlike the aforementioned.

Today the costs of driving these distances may mean that sharing the journey with others is required, but RVing or simply vanning and camping is a great way to see beyond the horizon. Some enroute adventures now need to be booked in advance whereas when I hiked Denali and the Chilkoot Pass it was just a case of turning up, registering with the local ranger office and heading on out. A little more forward planning is needed for today’s traveller and cost considerations of lengthy flights or drives have to somehow be countered with more careful planning. In the days of reasonable gas prices I would not even consider the driving or flying costs and have driven to Key West from the northwest coast, down the west coast to the Baja and to the west coast from New York. I once even flew my 1946 Fleet taildragger from the Pacific to the Atlantic and back using around 5 gallons an hour of avgas. Before the oil and credit crisis I drove from Rio de Janeiro to Lima, down to Tierra del Fuego and back to Rio covering over 15,000 miles of spectacular scenery and with no consideration about the cost of gas. South America should be on your itinerary too! Some other memorable drives that may now require a mortgage with the gas companies include London to The Nordkapp, Norway, Skippers Canyon in New Zealand and the loneliness of the far north of Australia and the amazing coast of Western Australia stopping by at Monkey Mia and Wave Rock.

We tend to forget that the real cost of travelling is often less today than over the 40 years of my travels. In 1977 my round-trip airfare from Canada to Australia cost over $1700 in 1977 dollars so today it is far cheaper to fly, even with the airlines gouging for fuel, extra baggage, no service and no pleasure. The ‘Big Mac’ method of price comparison as developed by The Economist newspaper gives us a good gauge for most expenditures of today compared to yesterday but my $1500 cost to get a private pilots licence in the 1970′s seems cheap by comparison to today, but obviously not when using this Big Mac principle. Other travel costs are also far cheaper today but this should not mean that travellers should disregard the many methods of saving costs that can then be put to extended or improved travel experiences

Travel Post-Internet:

In my 40 years of travel I have had to use travel agents to make even the simplest of reservations and buy tickets, not even thinking to ask them if they had “been there, done that?” It was just a case of there being no other options to buying travel. Now we have unlimited choices and can seek out better travel agents, better prices, better selections and information about anywhere in the world for our travels – without even leaving home.

The Internet now gives travellers ideas and options of Where to go, When to go, Why to go, What to do, Who to book with and How to save money and offset costs. We can search and find experts for every travel option. If we are comfortable with the Internet we no longer have to go to a travel agent to make reservations and buy tickets except to book with some of the larger travel companies that still produce glossy brochures and offer all inclusive packages or tours that only sell through the agency system. The Internet also allows those of us who are smart enough to know when to seek out a top travel agent with knowledge, experience and expertise (KEE skills) of destinations and activities about where to find them. There is no longer any need to only use our local agents when we can find one somewhere else in the world. When we do not need ‘the knowledge’ and can do it ourselves we simply surf the web so that we can book directly with tour and travel operators wherever we have decided to go.

Some travel agents operate their own tours, some are both wholesale and retail, some limit consumer selection by only selling their ‘preferred’ suppliers and some have professional consultants with years of experience invested in gaining knowledge, experience and expertise and are worth their weight in gold to the savvy traveller. Beware though, as some are also called destination specialists and some of these designations merely require the agent to take a rudimentary test offered by tourism offices, destination marketing groups or even tour operators and in my opinion can harm the reputation of the travel industry. A specialist is not necessarily an expert.

Travel is probably the most used commercial aspect of the Internet and if retail agents want to harness this exciting medium to offer ‘the knowledge’ and their ‘kee’ skills to a global audience, not just their local community, they must embrace the changes that are happening. Travellers now have the ability to seek answers to the 5 W’s of travel and the important ‘How to’ save money and offset costs by having information just a click away.

And then it occurred to me that even internet travel prices often include a commission element even when sold directly to the consumer. If we book directly with operators we should not have to pay full retail prices as we are doing for ourselves what a retail agent would normally do for us. A dilemma for the operator is that to show a both a retail and a cost price option could deter many agents from selling the services as travellers could use an agent for free advice and book directly with the operator to get a ‘net of commission’ price. Obviously this two tier pricing is not often available but travellers who do not need advice should also not be penalized by retail pricing. A new way had to be found and I think I have found it!

The need for fairer fare prices is why I developed the Top Travel Voucher program at The Top Travel Club and I even found a dot com for it. All travel selections on the site are at ‘net of commission’ prices for members who handle there own travel arrangements directly with the operators linked on the club website using our voucher program.

I am inviting travel operators from around the world to join this program, from B&B’s, Motels, Hotels, Luxury Lodges, Eco Resorts, Beach Resorts and Tour and Adventure Operators who want to promote their products and services to travellers who are comfortable with direct bookings and reservations.

I am also inviting Travel Agents with knowledge, experience and expertise of destinations and activities to showcase their skills to a global audience of travellers and to the members of this new travel club. I am leery of ‘specialist agents’ and only want experts to showcase their services.

This opportunity is available to the travel trade at no cost except for them to offer net, wholesale or outlet prices to club members and visitors to the website using top travel vouchers. I believe this program offers fairer fare prices to direct-booking travellers. The operator would normally be paying commission anyway but now travellers get the savings because they make their own arrangements.

The Top Travel Club opened in mid-April 2008 offering thousands of top travel vouchers for travel in over 70 countries with around 150 travel operators onboard. Every week we add more travel operators with more choices for members. Currently you can get savings on accommodations, adventure travel, boat charters, culinary tours, hike, bike and dive tours, auto and RV rentals fishing lodges and guides, safaris, vacation rentals, single travel, women only and dude ranches. Members get the vouchers free of charge by paying an annual membership fee and non-members can buy the vouchers on the internet at Top Travel Sites at deeply discounted prices to the face-value. The future growth will include restaurants, travel clothing, travel insurance and the opportunity to access air ticket consolidators who want to deal directly with consumers.

The way I have travelled and the way I see travel is that consumers should have unlimited access to every travel opportunity with the ability to do their own due diligence or to find a professional who can offer quality advice and services at fair prices, and to find all of this without needing endless hours of searching.

Elements of a Strong Corporate Travel Program

In order to make the most of your corporate travel budget, it is critical to plan for leveraging your program for all it is worth. Telling travelers to select the lowest logical airfare is just not enough. Here are the elements that should be considered when planning or evaluating your travel program.

1. Travel policy

A well written and disseminated travel policy is the foundation of any good travel program, and I am consistently amazed that so many corporations have such an outdated and poorly conceived travel policy, if they have one at all. It is not difficult to find a well written policy. One can be found online quite easily. All that remains is that it is edited to reflect corporate culture, and disseminated within the company so that everyone understands and agrees to follow it. For this reason, it is a good idea to have everyone sign a copy of the travel policy to ensure that it is read, understood and owned by all company staff. I suggest that everyone in the company signs a copy of the travel policy, whether they travel or not. They may change positions in the company later and be required to travel. A travel policy need not be long or complex. Some of the best travel policies I have ever seen were only a few pages long.

2. Centralized travel internally and externally

Many companies do not centralize their travel program, and they pay a price in terms of a loss of expense reduction opportunities and internal efficiencies. Many companies that do not centralize travel have a fear of requiring travelers to do something they may not want to do, along with the idea that centralizing travel will require hiring a Travel Manager. Both of these may be legitimate concerns but they do not have to be in most cases. By requiring travelers to book centrally, you are not necessarily causing them to lose flexibility. You can centralize travel while still allowing travelers to book on their own, either with a travel agency of your choice, or online through a provider that you have partnered with and have confidence in. By assigning someone with the responsibility of overseeing travel, you are getting a single point of contact both internally and externally for travel issues. If your company spends less than $1 million in air travel, you probably do not need a full time travel manager. In these cases, travel oversight can be given to the finance department, human resources, or even an executive level assistant. Here is a look at the advantages to be gained by centralizing travel.

When you centralize travel with a single agency, you gain in a number of important ways. You will have a single point of contact for problems while travelers are on the road, and you will have one entity to go to for all your travel needs. This eliminates the problem of consolidating a travel report from among several sources. By bringing travel together, you will gain significantly from economies of scale. If you can measure total travel among various divisions or locations, you can get more for your money from travel suppliers. This will allow you to gain more from airline soft dollar programs, which means more free tickets and upgrades, get a higher percentage discount from our preferred airline, and get better negotiated rates from your hotel and car contracts. Your fulfillment costs will decrease as well, as your travel agency will often discount their fees for a higher overall volume of travel.

3. Mix of online booking and personal service

This is an addendum to the previous element, which calls for centralizing travel with one travel agency. This is important, but in doing so, you need not require travelers to use an online booking system, and you need not require travelers to call the agency directly. By offering travelers the option of doing either, you are accomplishing several goals. You will reduce your fulfillment costs, as online booking is cheaper in terms of a service fee. By giving travelers the option, you are giving them a sense of control, thereby increasing morale and standing a better chance of a high adoption rate. Thirdly, you leave open a best practice of using your online booking engine for less complex itineraries, and allowing senior executives, frequent travelers, and complex itineraries to be booked directly with a travel agent that can offer a higher level of service and a better overall travel experience where it is most warranted.

4. Look under every stone

While the bulk of most travel programs revolve around the air budget, there are several other areas one can investigate to find savings opportunities. There are a couple of more obvious areas to look, such as negotiated hotel rates at your favorite hotels, or car rental discounts with a favored supplier. Often your travel agency will already have discounted rates through consortia affiliations and agency car contracts. There are also some less common areas that should be investigated. For example, if ground transportation is a concern, most suppliers will offer discounted rates and a direct billing option. Direct billing arrangements with hotels and car rental agencies are also a great way to increase efficiencies and make the job of the accounting department easier.

5. Leverage hard dollar and soft dollar contracts

Most major airlines today offer hard dollar discounts as well as soft dollar incentives in exchange for company loyalty to their product. If your travel program is over $1 million in air spend, you can secure a discount off of the lowest fares of your carrier of choice in return for a market share commitment. For your secondary carriers, or if your volume is less than the minimum required by the airline, you can enter in to soft dollar programs for free tickets and free upgrades, as well as traveler status enhancements or airport club passes. These programs require little in the way of volume, but they are not well publicized so you may need to hunt for them or ask Baker Travel or your current agency to point you in the right direction.

6. Do not neglect hotel volume

Hotel volume is sometimes overlooked but it should not be. Negotiated rates can be had through your travel agency or directly with the hotel properties of your choice. Individual hotels near corporate locations will negotiate discounted rates for you in exchange for a minimum room/night commitment. By utilizing a travel agency, you are likely to receive discounts of 5% to 50% on thousands of hotels worldwide.

7. Have at least one car rental contract

Rental car contracts are easy to enter into and require little in the way of commitment from the corporation. Choose a partner that has airport locations and a reputation for excellent customer service. You can save 5-10% very easily and can also negotiate frequent renter membership for all your employees. This will make them more efficient and enhance morale. You can also enter in to direct billing agreements at the same time that can make the jobs of your travelers and accounting staff much less stressful.

8. Understand group and meeting contracts

Airlines and hotels will discount your fares and rates when you have groups traveling together or meeting at a single destination from multiple points of origin. These meeting contracts can bring you airfare discounts of 2-10%, and if you have enough travelers on a single airline, you may be able to negotiate for free tickets to be awarded at contract completion. The minimum requirement is usually 10 travelers going to the same place at the same time. Some airlines have higher minimums so be sure to ask before a contract is generated. Hotels will discount their rates in a similar way with a minimum of 10 room nights. These discounts can range from 10% to a much higher discount depending upon occupancy rate and seasonal variances.

9. Use reporting to consistently improve metrics

Well managed travel programs require constant monitoring and financial controls to be properly leveraged. Insist on timely and customized reports that can be designed to bring you the information you need most. By receiving regular reporting on traveler behavior and provider contract performance, you will be in a better position to fulfill contract obligations, achieve cost reduction objectives and see where opportunities for future savings may lie.

10. Use all avenues to enhance traveler comfort and efficiency

Lastly, any well managed travel program will take in to account the comfort and productivity of their travelers. When travelers are comfortable, they can focus on their main priorities that help propel your business forward. If travelers are happy, they perform at a higher level. Ask if your travel agency can upgrade traveler status on a preferred airline. Look in to purchasing blocks of airport club passes so they can be used strategically during long and complex itineraries. There are many ways to reward travelers for the difficult and often grueling chore of travel. These kinds of rewards generate feelings of loyalty and increased productivity and efficiency.

What Travel Agents Need to Know About Corporate Travel Today

This is rightly named as the age of traveler-centricity and with the evolution of the new era of personalized travel; it is leading to research and development of a host of new so-called intelligent services. The command-and-control perspectives of traveling have changed a lot from the past and the focus has shifted more on the traveler and the productivity of each trip. It has become essential to maintain that the travelers have the greatest return on investment on each trip. New generations of young employees and managers, who have been growing up and dwelling in a digital age, are moving up the ranks as travelers. It has become essential to recognize the need for greater flexibility acknowledging that the employees who travel on corporate trips also consider a percentage of their trip to be a leisure outlet. With increasing globalization and rise in companies sending their staff overseas to network and connect with their offshore prospects/customers/suppliers, corporate travel is a highly profitable tourism segment. Before we talk about how tourism companies can better cater to business travelers, let us first look at why they prefer to use specialized corporate agencies over traditional agents

Why do businesses use Corporate Travel Agencies?

This might be the most basic question for a travel agency as to why they need to use agencies specializing in corporate travel when there are plenty of regular travel agents in the market. Here is the importance of corporate travel agencies who have online systems which allow business travelers access to their complete itinerary.

The following information is at the fingertips of the CTAs:-

full business itinerary details
up-to-date tracking details of flights (including delays or rescheduling)
transparent details about additional costs such as baggage fees or in-flight fees
travel alerts, if any, in the destined area
complete and up-to-date details about the visa procurement policies and identification required
currency requirement and conversion rates

What do corporate clients expect from Corporate Travel Agencies?

Negotiated Fares

The Corporate Agencies tend to have tie-ups with hotels, car rentals, flights etc. giving them access to lower fares which can be used only by the frequent business travelers. Discounted prices are not the only advantage though as they also offer flight upgrades, room upgrades, and VIP check-in lines as required.

In-depth information about the travel industry

Corporate travel agents have access to many travel resources and most importantly, quickly, than any other leisure travel agent. Additional information helps to make the business trips convenient and comfortable.

Changes in Itinerary

When an airline ticket needs to get rescheduled or cancelled, chances are the airline or the online service provider will charge lofty fees. When booking with a corporate travel agent, most of the times schedule changes can be done at zero or minimal extra charges.

Viable emergency contacts

It is important for the business travelers to reach the correct person at the need of trouble. Corporate travel agents have the experience and professionalism to relieve stress for both the traveler and the company.

What you need to consider as corporate travel increases?

Business Travel Barometer reported that corporate travel is witnessing an accelerated growth. However, when poorly managed, it may be no longer an advantage to companies and may, in fact become a burden. There are some factors which the corporations and CTAs must consider to get the best out of the time spent traveling.

Adopting a travel policy

The corporate must define a travel policy which is applicable to and respected by travelers at all levels. This policy should be used to establish the standards which will help to track the improvement of business travel. It will eventually help to reduce the costs of the entire package.

Do not limit the traveler’s autonomy

The management is responsible for budgeting the travel policy which helps to improve cost management however, it is also essential to give a degree of autonomy to the traveler. The policy should be flexible enough to allow the employee to adapt the trip as per the situation.

Traveler’s security should be a major concern

Business travelers need to have security in place. The company needs to stick to its definition of standards to ensure the employee’s integrity. The CTAs should have reliable partners (travel insurance, airlines, hotel chains etc.).

Mobility and automation

To optimize time and ease the processes, the administration of management platforms should have automated processes. This means they should adopt mobile solutions where search options, travel alerts, ticket reservations etc. can be accessed quickly, easily and on the go.

Corporate Travel Trends in 2016

Corporate travel trends tend to change regularly. 2016 has also not been any different and the travel management companies (TMCs) and corporate travel agencies (CTAs) are quite focused to provide steady if not strong axis all over. A growing MICE sector, investments in mobile and big data and enhanced focus on duty of care are some of their areas of focus.

Rising prices

The consolidated buzzword among global suppliers, airfares, hotel rates etc. is the rising fares. It is sometimes the move of the suppliers to generate discounts which encourage travel if there is a strong decline in demand. A positive 2016 world economy has been bringing an increase in air fares of a few percentage points, hotels are expected to see 4%-6% rise in average global rates and the competition will remain moderate in the car rental services.

Duty of care

Risk management is one of the major points of emphasis for corporations. Corporate customers are allowing new policies and improved technologies to monitor employees’ location in case of an emergency, especially when they are travelling to foreign destinations. For instance, Concur Risk Messaging helps to identify the travelers moving around in the world and alerts them with alternate travel arrangement as and when needed.

Focusing on MICE

Meetings industry is a major growing sector and the corporate travel trend is developing on it. The corporate travel agencies should better start aligning the various meeting procurement methodologies with its transient travel sourcing. One of the ways could be to broaden the variety of meeting services by incorporating incentive trips within it.

Investing in technology

A sharper focus on increasing value and becoming more traveler-centric can be done by bringing in mobile friendly technologies. Mobile and big data are definitely the two most significant technological investments which any corporate travel agency must focus to make their platform more appealing.

Business travel analysis after Brexit

Following Brexit, ACTE and CAPA shared their speculations. According to them, the greatest short-term effects on the travel industry will come from the weakening of the pound against other world currencies. Greeley Koch, executive director for the Association of Corporate Travel Executives said that the business travel industry will trend on currency fluctuations; with some companies taking advantage of the weaker pound and traveling more, while others may withhold business travel until world markets find their own level.

Impact of terrorism on corporate travelers

Travel policy makers and administrators need to be guided by rising terrorism scare. For executives and staff undertaking travel on behalf of businesses, the travel agents and corporate travel agencies (CTAs) should prove the reassurance for their safety through the travel policies. It is more than likely that the surveys conducted over corporate travelers reflect the general concern of the global business travelers about the spate of terrorism. However, there is no denying the fact that terrorist threat is changing the patterns of business travel. The key impact of this is to keep in mind that the companies providing travel services for business travelers need to enhance their focus on security and the associated risks in delivering the services to corporate clients. According to a recent finding, travel managers have higher estimation of their policy’s effectiveness in addressing risk compared to skeptical business travelers.

Concluding

Although the corporate travel sector has continued to progress, there are a plethora of challenges faced by the industry. A rapidly changing consumer market, the emergence of new business models, the impact of technology, man-made and natural crises are some of the fulcrum points that need to be considered before planning corporate trips.

Travelling Tips for the Disabled

Unlike in the past, today people with disabilities have been recognized, and are less discriminated against. In many countries there are legislations that protect them and make their life a little easier. Also many public buildings have been designed or renovated in order to accommodate people with disabilities.

With all these improvements, people with disabilities are now able to travel for vacation or a business trip to places far away from their home. However, with all these improvements we have made, travelling for people with disabilities is still a challenge for them, especially when they are travelling alone or, they are travelling to an unknown destination. Below is a guide to help people with all forms of disabilities to travel safely.

1. Plan well in advance
Planning is key to any form of success. This is very important because it reduces chances of getting stranded and being inconvenienced. Booking flights and hotel rooms are the top priorities, however if you are going to stay at a friend’s or a relative’s house; notifying them in advance is very important. Then they can be prepared and even pick you up from the airport.

2. Book hotels that are disabled friendly
Hotels with disabled friendly structures are very convenient as they allow disabled individuals to move freely with minimal effort. Most of these hotels also have special emergency protocols that ensure disabled individuals are not left behind in case of an emergency, unlike some hotels where these issues are over looked.

3. Use a travel agent that offers travel packages for disabled travelers
Booking flights and hotel rooms with travel agents that offer travel solutions to disabled people is advantageous in a number of ways. They ensure they book for their disabled clients airlines and hotels that are disabled friendly. They strive to offer services and suggestions that will ensure their clients travel comfortably.

4. Understand and know your rights when at the airport
Travelling, for people with disabilities, is very hectic, especially when they arrive at the airport. They face the challenge of getting proper information and directions. This is further aggravated by the huge number of people traveling and long queues. In airports, there are attendants that are supposed to attend to the needs of those travelling with disabilities.

Disabled travelers should not, and are not, treated differently when they go through security measures. They are also protected from any form of discrimination from any airline. Disabled travelers are advised to be very conversant with their rights to avoid and report any form of discrimination when travelling.

5. Bring extra medication
There is no harm in carrying an extra dose of medication when travelling. People do lose their luggage as they travel so, having an extra dose will act as a backup when one dose gets lost. This also ensures that when travelling, a disabled person does not run out of their medicine forcing them to start looking for a drug store when travelling. These medications should be stored properly to ensure their safety.

6. Take a doctor’s note and contact information when travelling
A doctor’s note contains important information about a condition that a disabled person is facing and this will help doctors save a lot of time on tests in case of an emergency. Contact information for your doctor allows other doctors to get important information from your doctor should the need arise. This small, but vital, information can save lives.

7. Use direct flights
It is very hectic and tiresome for a disabled traveler to use connecting flights. Using connecting flights exposes them to loss of their luggage and even injury as they get in and out of a plane. Using a direct flight cuts all these risks down and saves a lot time and energy when travelling. Direct flights also ensure that those travelling with disabilities are not stranded in an airport as they wait for a connecting flight.

8. Disabled travelers are advised to have some knowledge about where they are travelling to
There is nothing more difficult than looking for directions to a place you do not know about. This is even harder for disabled travelers so, it is advisable to have at least some knowledge and understanding about their destination. This will give them an upper hand when moving around and the knowledge to know where to go and where not to go. This will be very helpful when they are stranded or experience an emergency situation and need urgent assistance.

9. Carry the appropriate luggage
Disabled travelers are advised to carry luggage that they can manage when they are travelling. Unless they have company, travelling with a huge amount of luggage is not easy. Traveling lightly enables disabled travelers to be more flexible to situations that arise besides, a large amount of luggage can also easily get lost.

10. Enjoy travelling
Many disabled people do not travel often because of a lot of limitations which discourages them. However modern technology ensures safe travel for all regardless of their condition. Travelling should be enjoyed by all since it is a chance to experience new things that are different than what they are used to.

15 Travelers That I Have Met

There are really as many type of travellers as there are people. Here we take a tongue in cheek look at some of the common types.

1. The Complete Budget Traveler

The complete budget traveler travels on a strict budget and does not vary from it, no matter how exciting the recently discovered opportunity is. No extra drinks for this traveller unless someone buys him/her one.

2. The Perennial Party Animal

The perennial party animal has one focus and that is to have fun usually at a bar. These travellers find places to party where others cannot. Perhaps they should be partnered with the complete budget traveler!

3. The Flexible Go-anywhere Traveler

The flexible go-anywhere traveler just chills out where-ever he/she is. There is no need for planning – everything is good. They go with the flow and to not need to know where they are going. Perhaps the traveller that enjoys any experience.

4. The Methodical Planner

The methodical planner does not do anything that is not pre-arranged. Every second is planned and when things go wrong as they inevitably do, they feel unloved. They will always be found where ever the plan tells them to be.

5. The Modern Techie

The modern techie can only travel if he/she has the latest travel accessories and gadgets. Stay close to the modern techie to learn what items works and what items are a waste of money for your next trip.

6. The Avid Souvenir Buyer

The avid souvenir buyer has money to spend and anything that he/she wants to remind them of the holiday. The head for the markets and shops and not interested in spending any time with the perennial party animal. Usually has trouble with baggage weight limits on the homeward journey.

7. The Know it All Traveler

The know it all traveler studies everything from the guidebooks and internet prior to travel. He/she finds great joy in asking the most in-depth questions of the guides or continually interrupts the guide with statements of “fact”. Not sure who the know it all traveller should travel with.

8. The Fancy Photographer

The fancy photography will probably have the most expensive camera (and don’t forget the lens) and take the longest to take any photograph. Other travellers are always waiting for him/her at any special sight. They also like to get out very early to “catch the light.”

9. The Constant Complainer

The constant complainer finds everything on the tour not to his/her usual standard. Usually claim to be frequent travellers and often want to “talk with a higher authority”. Probably should stay home and enjoy the things that are there!

10. The Helpless Traveler

The helpless traveler finds everything a little too much. He/she will ask the most unusual and often useless questions. Often there will be someone on the tour who takes the helpless traveller under their wings to protect them from the others.

11. The “I am looking for myself” Traveler

The “I am looking for myself” traveler is searching for something. It is something unique for each or the “I am looking for myself” travellers. Beat to let them find themselves but make sure that they get about safely.

12. The Incessant Talking Traveler

The incessant talking traveler does not leave anyone alone. They crave a discussion on almost any topic. Often they are quite interesting people but enough is enough.

13. The Travel Light Traveler

The travel light traveler needs only one cabin bag to see the world. They a proud of their achievement but their travelling companions struggle when there is no time for washing clothes. They tend to like to borrow things.

14. The Repeating Traveler

The repeating traveler goes to the same place or holiday each year. He/she can provide at least 101 reasons why you should join them. They take pride in telling you that they have seen three management changes at the hotel and the last manager was better than the current one.

15. The Exercising Traveler

Finally, the exercising traveler rises every morning to a vigorous physical workout. Only stay at hotels with gymnasium and swimming pool. Usually fussy with food and claim to eat “healthy” until the free wine is put on the table.

Whatever type of traveler you are or come into contact with – enjoy the experience and learn from them. Even the most tedious travelers will have something interesting to say.

Travel Insurance – A Must-Have For International Travellers

Travelling is one activity that every individual must undertake at one time or the other; it does not matter what the purpose of travel is, or whether the travel is local or international. A lot of people actually look forward to travelling to other parts of the world for various reasons and purposes, including but not limited to business, tourism, vacation, pilgrimage, education and for medical attention.

The euphoria to travel outside of one’s domain usually comes with a lot of preparations, and more often than not, a great deal of resources are deployed to ensure that the travel is actually takes place; and these include acquisition of an international passport, medical tests (where applicable), expensive visa processing fees, flight booking and hotel reservation.

A lot of people will do anything and everything just to actualise their international travel ambition. And to be very candid here, international travel is actually fun and something to look forward to. Travelling, especially international travels, is a form of education for the travellers as they have an opportunity to see new environments, meet new people, and learn how things are done elsewhere.

International travel affords the traveller a lot of opportunities irrespective of their original purpose of travel. These include business opportunities, educational opportunities, employment opportunities and even marital opportunities. Unfortunately, however, it is only these and many other opportunities that these (would-be) travellers see. They seem to be ignorant or care less about risks that are embedded in international travels, so they don’t take any steps towards mitigating such risks.

At this juncture, you may be tempted to ask the question: “What are those risks that are associated with international travels?” Very good question. Just read on, as most of those risks are discussed in the following paragraphs.

Risks Associated with International Travels

As interesting, fun, enjoyable, profitable and educative as international travels may be, they also come with their own downsides – the risks – just as every other thing in life. And very fortunately for travellers, most of these risks can be transferred to professional travel insurance providers, by way of buying a travel insurance – also referred to as “travel health insurance” or “travel medical insurance”.

These international travel risks are many and varied, and they include, but not limited to:

Sudden illness in the country of destination requiring urgent medical attention and/or hospitalization.
Involvement in an accident leading to bodily injuries, temporary or permanent disability, or death
Loss of checked-in baggage
Loss of valuable items such as international passport, drivers’ licence, national identity card, etc.
Personal liabilities abroad
Emergency dental cases
Hijacking
Arrest by law enforcement agencies requiring bail and legal defence

Another question that may be asked at this juncture is: “Do travel insurance policies cover all the above-mentioned risks?” And the answer is a big YES, and so much more.

Covers and Benefits Provided by Major Travel Insurance Policies

Below is a list of most of the covers and benefits provided by travel insurance policies – depending on the providers. So the next time you buy a travel insurance policy, look out for these covers and benefits.

Medical Expenses and hospitalization abroad
Emergency Medical Evacuation
Repatriation after treatment
Emergency dental care
Repatriation of family member travelling with the insured
Travel of one Immediate Family Member
Emergency Return Home following Death of Close Relative
Repatriation of Mortal Remains
Medical Assistance
Legal Assistance
Pre-Departure Services
International General Assistance
Abroad Information Assistance about lost Luggage and Passport,
Delivery of Medicines
Legal Defence
Advance of Bail Bond
Hijacking in means of Public Transport
Loss of Passport, driving license, national identity card abroad
Compensation for in-flight loss of checked-in baggage
Compensation for delay in the arrival of luggage
Delayed Departure
Location and forwarding of baggage and personal effects.
Accidental Death
Permanent Disability
Personal Civil Liability
Trip Cancellation Expenses

Risks Not Covered By Travel Insurance Policies

Having talked about the covers and benefits afforded by travel insurance, it is also important to consider the risks that are not covered by most of these policies, as listed below:

Participation in criminal acts, or as a result of his/her fraudulent, seriously negligent or reckless actions including those actions of the Insured in a state of derangement or under psychiatric treatment costs for which are themselves excluded;
Natural phenomena such as floods, earthquakes, landslides, volcanic eruptions, atypical cyclonic storms, falling objects from space and aerolites, and in general any extraordinary atmospheric, meteorological, seismic or geological phenomenon any other type of natural disaster;
Events arising from terrorism, mutiny or crowd disturbances;
Events or actions of the Armed Forces or Security Forces in peacetime;
Wars, with or without prior declaration, and any conflicts or international interventions using force or duress or military operations of whatever type.
Participation in bets, challenges or brawls, save in the case of legitimate defence or necessity;
Pre-existing Illness or injuries
Participation in competitions, sports, and preparatory or training tests;
Motor racing or motorcycle racing, horse riding, climbing, pot holing, boxing, wrestling in any of its modes, martial arts, parachuting, hot air ballooning, free falling, gliding and, in general, any sport or recreational activity that is known to be dangerous;
Participation in competitions or tournaments organised by sporting federations or similar organisations.
Hazardous winter and/or summer sports such as skiing and/or similar sports.
Work-related accidents
Internationally and locally recognized epidemics.
Illnesses or injuries arising from chronic ailments or from those that existed prior to the inception date of the policy;
Death or injuries as a result of suicide or attempted suicide or any self-inflicted injuries.
Illness, injuries or pathological states caused by the consumption of alcohol, drugs, toxic substances, narcotics or medicines acquired without medical prescription, as well as any kind of mental illness or mental imbalance;
Illness or injuries caused by pregnancy and childbirth or any complication therefore or voluntary termination of pregnancy;

Where to Buy Travel Insurances

Travel insurances can be bought online – and there are many travel insurance providers to buy from. All you need to do is locate your preferred provider, and complete the online form or questionnaire, and make your payment, and policy is made available to you for immediate printing or sent to your email address.

You can also buy travel insurance offline from a local insurance company or travel agency. whatever method of purchase you choose, you can rest assured that you will be fully protected against insurable gravel insurance risks.

Using Your Travel Insurance

After you have bought your travel insurance policy, whether it is self-purchased using the provider’s online portal, at a travel agency or through a local insurance company, you should make sure that you do not forget to take the document with you while travelling. This is so important because you may be required to produce that document by relevant bodies.

You should take particular note of your policy number (if possible copy the number somewhere else) as it will be required by the service providers to property identify you when you call them for assistance.

Another thing you should take note of on your travel insurance certificate or policy document is the Assistance Company’s telephone numbers that you need to call when you need help. These numbers are always conspicuously written on the travel insurance document – so take note of them.

You should endeavour to read as much of the document as possible so as to understand the covers provided, the terms and conditions of the policy as well as its exclusions. And very importantly, when making a claim on your policy, be honest and avoid every form of fraudulent practices.

Summary and Conclusion

There are other benefits that travel insurance policies provide which cannot be exhaustively discussed here. But having read the few benefits discussed above, you will agree that really, Travel Insurance is a must-have for a successful trip. So the next time you are planning an international travel, make the purchase of a travel insurance a top priority. It is quite affordable, and anyone can buy it. The peace of mind and the protection it will afford you are enormous.

Anthony Ekanem is a professional with over 15 years working experience within the insurance industry. He is a graduate of Management and an author of various genres. Writing is his passion and he spends a great deal of time researching and writing. His published books, which are available in print, electronic and audio formats, can be bought online on Amazon, iBooks, Google Play, Barnes and Noble, Scribd, Audible, iTunes, and other major online bookstores worldwide.