- August 15th 2012
More Airlines Arriving on Time
This week in travel, it was good to hear that more US airlines are arriving and departing on time. The US Department of Transportation reports an improvement for the 15 biggest airlines, along with a reduction in incidences of flight cancelations and misplaced luggage. According to the DOT, the improvement results from tougher government rules and more oversight resulting in increased accountability. In contrast, airlines say their own work on improving both efficiency and customer service is responsible. Read the full story in the LA Times.
New Hotel Eco-Initiative
A group of 23 hotel companies has recently launched to Hotel Carbon Measurement Initiative, a standard way to measure hotels’ carbon emissions. HCMI 1.0 looks at energy consumption, total square footage, heated or air-conditioned space and carbon emissions data. Entering this information into a spreadsheet provides the result. At the moment the tool focuses on the corporate sector and allows calculation of the carbon footprint on a per hotel basis (rather than for an overall hotel group). It also allows attendees to know what their own carbon footprint is when they attend meetings and stay in a hotel. Read more in HotelNewsNow.
Tool for Business Travel Planners
Hipmunk has released a new tool to help those who coordinate group travel. It’s called Hipmunk Business Class. It allows a travel coordinator to see travelers’ Outlook and Google Calendar schedules when making travel plans and then get their approval for an itinerary from within the system. The new tool is intended to reduce the amount of communication needed for travel planning and eliminate errors. More on this on USA Today.
- December 12th 2011
What are your 2012 business travel plans looking like? If we’re to believe a recent study commissioned by Deloitte it looks like many business travelers are expecting to take at least the same number of trips next year, if not more. The breakdown is largely age divided with only 16% of travelers over 45 planning to take more business trips next year while 27% of those aged up to 44 think they will travel more. Looking back at the figures for last year it seems that a lot of those surveyed anticipated that this year they would take the same number of trips or more than 2010 also 19% expected to travel less either because of the recession because they had changed jobs.
The survey also revealed some interesting trends in accommodation preferences among the respondents. In the 18 to 29 age group 46% of respondents expressed a clear preference for their favorite brand of hotel even if the location was not quite suitable while that figure fell to 37% for those above 30. Related to that, 49% of those in the over 30 age group felt that levels of service and hotel facilities varied widely among hotels in the same group. Only 39 % of those under 31 felt that way.
There was also interesting data on how business travelers use hotels, with 67% saying that they spent time working in their rooms. However, many of the younger business people spent time in executive lounges and lobbies for work. The younger respondents showed a preference for using automated check-ins but this was only a favored option for 19% of those over 45.
How have business travelers reacted to hotel price increases? By expecting better services and better amenities. This was the view of 61% of respondents. In addition 77% said that they wanted free Internet access as a priority. Like other travelers business travelers are concerned about flight and security delays at airports and these are even bigger issues for them than staff and amenities at hotels. Read the full story here.
(Image: Maurice Koop)
- December 9th 2011
Whether you are a seasoned business traveler or on your way out to represent your company for the very first time, it’s important to know how to conduct yourself—particularly if you are traveling overseas. While people are people no matter where you go, the British, in general, are known for being more reserved. If you are traveling to the UK it may help to be aware of etiquette and protocol in world of British business.
- Firm handshakes will be given with no consideration for gender. Men and women are expected to conduct themselves in the same manner and are treated as equals. Expect to shake hands, both upon entering and leaving a meeting.
- Eye contact is considered proper throughout the greeting but holding prolonged eye contact should be avoided; it will make your British colleagues uncomfortable.
- Mr., Mrs. or Miss and the person’s surname should be used until you are invited to use a first-name. This tends to be particularly true of members of older generations.
- Plan to exchange business cards at first introduction with little fanfare. Business cards are not studied; rather they are simply tucked away in a wallet or jacket pocket. Don’t be offended if you don’t feel the proper attention is paid to your card.
The British tend to be a direct lot, particularly if you are seen as an equal. While not rude, their direct approach can take a little getting used to. As with initial greetings, be sure to use a person’s title and surname throughout your conversation unless you are invited to do otherwise. Using first names, especially among the older set, is seen as quite disrespectful. Once a Brit feels more comfortable with you their style of communication will become less formal.
Written communication is handled in much the same way as spoken communication. Titles and surnames are standard and abbreviates are rarely used. Should you pepper your communications with slang you will be looked upon as a bit vulgar.
Business meetings in Britain follow many of the same rules as business meetings anywhere, though they seem a touch more formal. Follow these general rules and you’ll have a successful meeting.
- When using an agenda, forward it to anyone that will be attending the meeting at least one week in advance. This will give everyone a chance to have input and recommend changes.
- Be punctual. Just as you wouldn’t want to be kept waiting, neither do your British counterparts. It is understood that emergencies arise but if you are going to be more than a few minutes late, phone and advise the attendees of your expected tardiness.
- If the people attending the meeting are on equal footing, ideas and comments will flow freely. If there is someone of rank in the company attending the meeting, they will generally lead the discussion and should be deferred to.
- Keep the small talk to a minimum. While Americans tend to want to make friends straight away, the British do not. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss business; stay on track.
- Presentations should be professional. Be prepared with facts to back up any statements that you make. The British do not make emotional decisions when it comes to business. If you come to the meeting unprepared you will almost certainly lose whatever it was you had hoped to gain.
When conducting a meeting with your British counterparts, formality and preparedness rule. Try not to put so much stress on yourself that you’re a nervous wreck. Be respectful, avoid the tendency to be overly friendly too quickly, but be yourself and know that honest faux pas will be overlooked; you are a foreigner after all.
UK resident, Tom Blanchard, is a finance consultant and suggests you check for bargains while visiting and shopping on Coupon Croc, a well known UK discount site.
- November 30th 2011
A couple years back, I was taking a lot of business trips to attend conferences and exhibitions. As I arrived at the hotel check-in desk with what I thought was a modest sized suitcase, I glanced across at the people next to me and saw that some of them had managed to pack for a four day trip with a carry-on. One guy was just carrying a suit-bag – that was it! It was obvious that I was missing a trick. Here’s how some of them did it.
1. Accept that you need less than you think you do. Unless it’s summer, if you’re a guy, it won’t kill you to wear the same suit for three days and just take a couple of spare shirts. That won’t work for the ladies, but try two mix and match outfits to give you four combos. Pair that with no more than 2 pairs of shoes and, for the guys, two ties, and you’re all set.
2. Make clothes do double duty. If you’re a PJs kind of person, and you also like to hit the hotel gym in the morning, then let your workout wear double as sleepwear. Shorts and a T-shirt are very versatile. If you get the light ones with wicking, you can rinse them in the shower and they’ll be dry by nightfall, so one set will be enough.
3. Leave lotions at home. For the ladies especially, lotions and potions can take up a lot of room, but how many of those do you really need? This is the time to pack your most versatile makeup and body lotion. Even better, leave the lotion at home and pick up a travel size when you arrive if there’s none at the hotel. Unless you have sensitive skin, you can survive for a couple of days.
4. Change your laptop. There’s no point in downsizing your luggage needs if you still have to lug a behemoth of a laptop around with you. Switch to a netbook or, even better, a tablet, which is light, ultra-portable and has apps, games and an e-reader as well as all your business stuff. After years of traveling with a huge Dell laptop, I found the netbook a nice change and I currently have my eye on an Android-based tablet (Samsung Galaxy, perhaps?) when next I upgrade.
These four changes will make a big difference to the weight you have to carry around when you travel. What tips would you add?
More on this: Achieving Minimalism in Business Travel.
- November 25th 2011
San Francisco is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and popular cities in all of America. Unfortunately, the city does not lend itself to easy travel, particularly for newcomers. If you’re planning a business trip to San Francisco, here are some tips for navigating the city without using your entire expense account for tolls.
San Francisco is home to a top-rated International airport. If you’re a frequent traveler, you should have no problem navigating your way through the airport. If you don’t travel, getting in and out of the airport can be a bit daunting. The best tip, in this case, is to make use of either the airport’s shuttle service or a taxi. Hiring a professional will take the stress out of leaving the airport and finding your way to your hotel.
Where to Go
If you’re given a choice of where to stay, head to Market Street. The street runs from the northeastern edge of the city, through downtown and continues southwest through the city. Not only does Market Street give you a true taste of all that is San Francisco but it virtually eliminates the need for a car.
If you have a bit of time to explore, hop aboard one of the cable cars, horse-drawn streetcars or trolleybuses and head out on the town. Market Street is home to everything you’ll need on your trip so there’s really no need to stray far. From shops and restaurants to cafes and pubs, walk out of your hotel and you’ll be only a block or two away from whatever you’re looking for.