Monthly Archives: August 2020

The Truth About Government Travel Advisories, Warnings and Alerts

If you’re like most people and you believe that government travel advisories, warning and alerts represent the most accurate advice for business travellers then you are terribly mistaken.

Here are the key elements that all business travellers and travel managers need to know regarding the validity and application of government travel alerts and travel related advice. Knowing and understanding these few simple issues will save your company unnecessary travel delays and disruptions under almost any circumstance. The main points to always consider in the wake of a renewed or updated advisory, warning or alert is the target audience, specific government resources, commercial relevance and the avoidance of evacuation scenarios.

The primary demographic for government advisories are first time travellers, backpackers, families and anyone else with little to no prior travelling experience and preparation or the lowest possible denominator. It is this group that governments aim their advice and analysis towards with the belief that if this group is adequately informed, then all remaining demographics will be covered. Unfortunately this results in an artificially low benchmark for all travellers not within this group.These other groups depend upon travel for business productivity, management and administration and the more likely to have their travel plans altered unnessesarily due to many government alerts. This is in part due to corporate risk avoidance (in the belief the government travel advisories are adequate) and insurance companies benchmarking many of their travel policy exclusions on that of government travel advice (again, in the belief the government are catering to their needs too). Unless you are a first time traveller, significantly inexperienced or lack appropriate business support while travelling, then the majority of government travel advice does not apply to you.

Detailed examination of dedicated resources aimed at travel related advice and content typically reveals little more than a handful of “specific” resources. That is, someone or department dedicated solely to the collection, analysis and dissemination of commercially relevant travel advice. Most government resources are “shared” services when it comes to travel intelligence and advice with general non-government travel a very small increment of their overall mandate. Smaller countries have no dedicated resources and simply “share” the advice from coalition partners or more populace countries, further diluting the relevance to their citizens. Most continuous travel advisory services, provided by a government, are little more than a chronology of publicly available media updates. While resources are limited in the first instance, it is the lack of commercial experience that constitutes the greatest flaw to government travel advisories.

What little resources there are that are aimed at travel intelligence typically lack any direct commercial experience. Therefore, all their apparent advice is predicated more on the interests of the government (resulting in censorship, omissions and politically correct publications) than that of any business sector or commercial demographic. When you have soldiers, government agents and police officers commenting on matters relating to commerce and business travel, you get little actionable advice due to their inability to put into commercial context the impact events may have from a purely commercial perspective rather than a transnational or political viewpoint.

Behind closed doors, most governments admit they do not maintain nor posses the resources (assumed by most of their citizens) for large scale evacuations from any corner of the globe. Regrettably many travellers have grown to assume that complete failure to take responsibility for their own safety and security while travelling will always be compensated by the government’s ability to swoop in and save then if they should so choose. This is wrong and very dangerous for those with such a belief. For those governments that would even consider an evacuation of their nationals (not very many) they will often go to great lengths to advise their citizens to leave or make personal arrangements long before any government is forced into acting. Landing troops or foreign government elements in someone else’s country is always the choice of last resort and highly prone to complications, even if it were possible.

Anything published by a government will always have the country’s national interests such as economy, trade and diplomatic relationships carefully considered before release. Anything that may threaten such strategic goals is likely to be withheld, including government travel advisories, warnings and alerts. Now that you understand the importance of being self sufficient and discerning when it comes to government travel advice you will waste less time placing priority on such updates and focus on more commercially relevant inputs. As a result, your company travel risk management process will be far more resilient and less impacted by the stop/start affect created by government updates, warnings and alerts. You may also now identify gaps that need to be filled by insufficient commercial content from government sources.

Government travel advisories, warnings and alerts focus on the wrong target demographic, lack the appropriate resources, have little commercial relevance and seek to avoid last minute acts such as evacuations. Now that you too are aware of these limitations you should be better positioned to make business decisions in the wake of crisis, emergency and dynamic events that affect a location and your business travellers. Business travel risk management is a commercial process and can only be achieved with appropriate commercial products and services.

Why the Multi Corporates Choose to Travel By Business Jets

Business jets or private jets can be called a totally new addition to the panache and needs that big corporate giants feel and like to have. Fast moving jets specially designed in modest size to provide private aviation to the business sector. The word “business jet” serves two fold purpose–some people buy or hire business jets to incorporate them in their business, and the second are the companies who offer business jet services to organizations, either through rentals or partnerships. These services offered by companies extend their expertise and equipments to evacuation of casualties, express parcel deliveries, governments or the armed forces, and sometimes for total private use. However, we will focus our discussion more on the specific versions of these business jets, which are popularly known as corporate jet, executive jet, or VIP transport.

It is not worth much to relate the advantages of business jets to the corporate sector, as almost all the excelling companies are aware of the need and necessity of private aviation in the present scenario that has opened many opportunities and have also imposed many limitations: open marketing has propelled the companies to send their personnel frequently to other cities for presentations, seminars, surveys, and other business related matters; however, in the wake of security threats, scheduled aviation has become very cumbersome and time-wasting. This is what business sector can never stand with–time is the most precious thing for any company, and they can’t afford to lose it.

Privacy, security, flexibility of time, scheduling as per your requirement, same day returning if needed, and convenience are some of the major factors that combine to counter the cost of the business jets. However, companies offering business jets also offer partnership schemes and rentals for organizations that are not willing to afford the total cost of buying business jet. Companies can easily decide which option they want to choose.

If the travelers need to make multiple presentations or seminars in one day, and have to move to different places, business jets serve the cause in best way. Scheduled aviation can never achieve this end. It is obvious that a lot of time and money is wasted in hotel booking, ground transportation, and going through the security checks of airports. However, with business jets, you are free from such tensions, and you can even return to your place the same day. This facility often caters to the cost of business jets in terms of time saved.

Not surprisingly, many organizations and companies still are doubtful about the idea of business jets; but it goes without saying that those who have used it and know its value, would never like to use scheduled aviation again, if circumstances permit them!

Customer Service Secrets for the Travel & Hospitality Industry – Nine Principles to Success

If you want to learn how to get your clients to do your selling for you through exceptional customer service, read on. Learn these simple – yet powerful customer service principles from successful tourism professionals, apply them to your business or career and you are guaranteed to prosper.

1. Be a Good Listener – Most important, listen to your customers’ concerns and complaints, as well as their praise. Discover what it is they want. Your guests are your best source of information in assessing your services and performance. Well-written guest surveys are invaluable for getting feedback, testimonials, and referrals. Help prospects qualify themselves before signing up. Make sure they understand the rigors, responsibilities, and dangers, as well as the level of exertion, entailed in the experiences you offer.

2. Exceed Expectations – Under-promise and over-deliver on a consistent basis with exceptional service. This is what they’ll remember and tell their friends about. It is amazing how small details can make a big impression. You work hard and spend big money to get qualified prospects to call your office or e-mail you. How professional, informative, and timely is your response? That first contact can set the tone and significantly impact a purchasing decision.

3. Practice Safety – Clients want to know the destination and activities are safe. They will feel more at ease during real or perceived risks if they have been educated about their new activities or environments in advance. Unfortunately, if most human beings’ fears or worries are not addressed, their minds will grow weeds, not flowers. Advise on plant, animal, and natural resource cautions. Let them know that there is generally nothing to worry about if they respect the environment and heed your advice. Brief guests on your safety procedures for any excursions without staff away from home base.

4. Provide Great Food – Guests must eat well, never be hungry, and have adequate water and drinks. Fresh food with ample portions served at a scheduled time can make any adventure more memorable and satisfying. If meal service is going to be delayed, provide a little snack to tide guests over.

5. Cater to Sleep Needs – Guests need and want comfortable and peaceful sleep. Make sure everyone is comfortable with his or her bedding. Cater to individual needs by offering single accommodations. Charging an extra cost is okay. Provide easy access to bathrooms with safety procedures for nighttime use. Separate late evening social areas from sleep areas by distance and/or trees or a hill. Hand out earplugs if necessary.

6. Think Comfort – Provide first world standards when possible. Bathroom breaks and bathing is important on a regular basis. Give people every opportunity for comfort: hammocks, beach chairs, portable toilets, whatever you can provide. Never go too long between bathroom breaks. Some guests may have weak bladders and need more frequent breaks to feel comfortable and relaxed. Make sure everyone has adequate water, as well as appropriate clothing and footwear.

7. Be Sensitive to Capabilities – Never exceed physical or mental capacities of guests. Always ask groups and individuals if they are comfortable with the activity and exertion level before and during the activity. Be sensitive to the slowest as well as strongest in the group. Splitting the group into two smaller groups is a good option. Rest as needed. I believe in a trip rating or difficulty system that allows guests and outfitters to jointly participate in selecting the most appropriate trip.

8. Be Fun – Be friendly, helpful, courteous, and fun! Make sure your staff is there for the guests and not for themselves. Good storytellers, jokesters, and musicians can distinguish your staff and company from other companies. Be sensitive with humor and with families with kids. If you cater to kids, employ staff that loves kids. Guests sometimes need encouragement or guidance to try an activity. You are the guide and activity director combined. Discuss activities or mini- classes in advance so guests will know what is happening and when.

9. Provide Information – An informed guest is safer and more relaxed, and has more fun. Our guests are educated and want to learn about their new environment. Assume that guests know little or nothing about their surroundings. Look for opportunities to provide a minimum of three details about each type of surrounding element during any outing. Be prepared to talk about the plants, animals, birds, trees, rocks, geological formations, fish, marine mammals, and shells. Include information about local culture, economy, and history, too. The more we can share, the more value we are providing our guests.

Like other businesses I know and have worked with, you, too, will experience more repeat clients and referrals by applying these details of great customer service. Your business, in time, will prosper like never before!

Business of Leisure & Components of Leisure Travel and Motivation

Leisure is the time available to the individual when work, sleep and other needs have been met. Leisure as a construct involves a number of dimensions.

· Absorption and concentration of ongoing experience

· Lessening of focus on self

· Feelings of freedom and lack of restraint

· Enriched perception of objects and events

· Increased intensity of emotions

· Increased sensitivity to feelings

· Decreased sensitivity to passage of time

The Components of Leisure Motivation

Beard and Ragheb identified four motivational needs derived from Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. These needs form the components of leisure motivation. They are –

· Intellectual component

· Social component

· Competence mastery

· Stimulus avoidance

Intellectual component is the extent to which individuals are motivated by mental activities such as learning, exploring, discovering, thought, imaging. This can be a primary high need (a visit to Madurai to study temple architecture) or a low need triggered by a specific event or environment.

Social component is the need for friendship, self-esteem and interpersonal relationship. The holidays are not only status- or ego- enhancing experiences. There is also a sense of belonging with the place visited. People tend to identify with a place visited. This is higher for people who are more satisfied with their holidays and for those with three or more visits. The relationship not only involves social identification but also a relationship with the geographical place.

Competence mastery component is in order to achieve, challenge, master and compete. This is often physical (i.e. sports) but also includes fine arts and other intellectual pursuits. Competence mastery is coupled with other components of leisure motivation. A course in wind surfing (competence mastery) can also mean meeting like -minded individuals (social need).

Stimulus avoidance is drive to escape and get away from over-simulating life experiences. The most obvious component of leisure motivation, a chance to rest and unwind.

The components of leisure motivation vary within holidays and between holidays. On a holiday, a tourist may rest for few days (stimulus avoidance); thereafter explore the place (intellectual component). The holidaymaker may assign different purposes to holidays. One holiday might be family centred (social need), the other for playing golf (competence mastery) etc.

Just Win the Rat Race by Utilizing Travel Reservation Software

If you are running a business in the travel and tourism industry and handle every task manually, you may not win the race as you are most likely to be surrounded by countless competitors. With the fierce competition in the travel and tourism industry that is increasing with every passing day, travel agency owners need to provide alluring packages and deals to their customers if they wish to gain an edge over the rest and this is the reason utilizing innovative technology is simply indispensable for every business from this industry.

Travel reservation software is a perfect solution for travel agency owners to enhance their customer base. It is a specifically designed and developed solution aimed at cutting down the cost of process and reducing the efforts of travel agents, hotel managers and other travel professionals. With the help of such a solution, long working hours are no longer required to fulfil the various requisites of a travel business. This is because with such a solution, everything can now be easily managed online in no time.

Let’s discuss some of the importance benefits of this software, as it is beneficial in several different ways. To begin with, it has wide-ranging specifications and capabilities. If we talk from the point of view of the travel agents, they can utilize it to maintain and organize their client data, travel itineraries, as well as the current prices of the travel amenities, as all of the required information can be gathered in just with a few mouse clicks.

Furthermore, preparing itineraries can be a complicated task for travel professionals as they are required to manage a wide array of requirements. Therefore, it takes a great amount of time and sometimes when there is excessive work pressure, the itineraries may also become messed up. This advanced software works well for travel agents in creating intricate itineraries, as they can easily save the various details of the client itineraries in this software.

By utilizing a travel reservation software solution, itinerary can be made up-to-date and everything can be properly directed. Therefore, clients can happily look forward to the offered deal. Moreover, it assures quick and easy booking of travel tickets. In fact, this software helps in reducing confusions and miscommunication between the clients and travel agencies.

On a concluding note, it can be said that with exponential benefits of this wonderfully designed software, travel professionals can keep their regular clients happier and catch the attention of potential clients.

How This Woodland Is Telling You That You Need Travel Expense Management Software

Woodland in autumn. A peaceful afternoon. Sun finds its way through the canopy onto the floor. One glance tells you everything there is to know.

Except that it doesn’t. All you’re getting from a single glance at our picture is an impression. Sure, you can tell it’s a picture of trees, but how many are there? What species? How old? How many to the hectare? Are they healthy?

See? With every question I ask about this simple picture, you realise you know a little bit less than you thought. In the end, you’re down to the first three words in this post. It’s woodland in autumn.

And so it is with travel expenses. You know they exist because you keep authorising business travel. You may even know what you spent last year, or for the year to date. But is your business getting good value for that spend?

Interrogate the data

The only way to answer that with anything like confidence is to interrogate the data and tease out the information that’s lurking in there. That sounds like a complex exercise, and no doubt it is – if you’re starting from scratch with a pile of receipts and expense claims with the travel data rolled up inside everything else.

And that’s why the dashboard system of oversight built into so much modern software is so valuable. The clever developers behind the software powering your favourite app have set it up to do the hard work for you, and to tell you instantly where there are peaks and troughs in whatever system it is that’s being monitored. If it’s staff absence, you may find that there are lots of people who don’t make it on Monday morning for example.

And if it’s travel, you may find that three employees who went on the sales trip to the major client travelled together but have all claimed mileage as if they went alone. Sadly, it happens. Even if it doesn’t in your business, you may find better ways of accomplishing the task, like getting it done without spending quite so much on travel. For example, is the cheaper flight from a different airport actually cheaper in real terms, once you’ve factored in the mileage for getting to the airport and the overnight hotel stay because of awkward flight times? And how much time does your business waste on travel in the first place? What’s the hourly cost of employing whoever is going on the business trip in the overpriced scenario I’ve just outlined? Could their time be better spent? In short, is there a better way? Travel and expense management software will help you to find out.

Claim and pay more accurately

Good travel and expense management software sets down the rules, and makes it easier and faster for employees to claim in an accurate and timely manner, which makes approving expenses simpler and faster too, leaving you more time to get on with generating revenue – and isn’t that what you’re in business for?

By adopting the use of travel and expense management software you’re making the best use of available tools, empowering you to be more effective by interrogating data automatically, turning up gems of information from the impenetrable mass before you.

As my father was always prone to say: “You can’t see the wood for the trees.” I guess what he meant was that there was so much detail it was impossible to get a clear view of what really mattered in the scene.

Have another look at our picture. Thinking about what I’ve said, doesn’t it look a little different now? And are you going to find – and use – some travel and expense management software?

Serviced Apartments Can Take the Strain Out of Business Travel

The way that many professional people conduct their working day has changed over the past decade. Many businesses require employees to be less office based and require them to travel great distances to see clients and spend time away from home as part of their jobs. To many the thought of spending anything from one night to several weeks away from home in a hotel room can be unappealing particularly if the budget does not allow for a more luxurious booking. An alternative, which has experienced an increase in demand, is the serviced apartment industry.

City centres are regularly frequented by the business traveller visiting a wide range of companies and corporates. Serviced apartments located in both city central and residential locations, offer many additional features that hotels of equal standards offer and often for less cost. What could be better than a home away from home just when you need it the most?

Benefits of Serviced Apartments

The cost of staying in an business stay apartment is often less than a hotel, one reason of which is based on the fact that there isn’t a reception desk as all bookings are done through an office that manages a number of apartments. But, despite this most reputable serviced apartment companies have security systems to ensure that safety and security is paramount for all their guests. This could be via secure video entry systems, a twenty-four-hour concierge service as well as site wide CCTV to ensure that guests have total peace of mind for the duration of their stay and can feel relaxed knowing that their possessions are safe.

By choosing serviced apartments you can remain close to all of the amenities that you need such as the railways station and restaurants. Apartments are generally stylish and of an open plan design, with a fully equipped kitchen or kitchenette, which offers much more than just the standard tea and coffee making facilities found in many hotels. Colleagues can share a two or three bedroom apartment together, saving the cost of having to pay for a second hotel room while sharing all of the amenities without incurring any added extras.

Consider the cost incurred when relocating staff from one part of the country to another; using serviced apartments could be the answer to a lot of relocation problems. It would mean that you would have your staff where you need them, in comfortable accommodation where they can stay until permanent accommodation is organised.

A Real Alternative

Serviced apartments do offer a viable alternative to hotel accommodation, particularly when staying for more than a couple of nights. They offer high quality accommodation with all of the convenience of a home away from home. As with hotels they range in price and therefore what they offer from luxurious accommodation through to modest, affordable apartments. They are also available from one through to three bedroomed with en-suite bathrooms for the master bedrooms, a separate bathroom for a second guest and plenty of space in the living/dining area. Business travellers have reported that they find serviced apartments to be business accommodation at its very best. Some also offer the benefit of a residents’ only gym facilities and private courtyards or balconies. They offer many features required to make a business trip as comfortable and relaxing as a short city break. Apartments offer the flexibility and freedom that is lacking in hotel accommodation, as well as much more space in which you can actually live, work and relax.

Top Tips for Successful Luxury Coach Business Trips

It’s not unusual to find a company that has hired a coach to take its employees to a seminar, conference or simple social event but who have subsequently been disappointed with the results.

Here we’ll examine some of the common causes and their solutions.

Poor turnout / response to invitation

This is a commonly expressed frustration in many organising departments.

Ignoring mechanical causes (such as poor communication of the “we weren’t told” variety or insufficient notice) this is often attributable to:

  • low morale in the company;
  • a lack of interest in the event concerned;
  • conflicting priorities (your event has been scheduled at a time which clashes with other things).

There is no easy answer to this and simply making attendance mandatory isn’t likely to be the answer. You may need to analyse the causes in more detail.

Dissatisfaction with the quality of transport

In the 21st century, professional people expect corporate transport to be modern and comfortable.

If an “old banger” of a coach arrives at the outset, then already your session is in trouble due to creating the wrong impression.

Be prepared to spend a little money here to get a comfortable limo bus.

Impacting personal lives

Today, most people expect and demand a professional / personal life balance.

So, anticipate dissatisfaction and disgruntled attendees if they’ve had to get up at 4am to make your planned departure time and/or they won’t be getting back home until the early hours of the morning.

A luxury coach might help alleviate some of this through comfort during the journey but it won’t, in itself, be the solution.

Impacting professional lives

On a similar theme to the above, asking people to get back very late to their homes, while expecting them to be back in the office at 8am and firing on all cylinders, is likely to be a recipe for ill-feeling.

Provide or arrange for refreshments

If people have been asked to get up unusually early and been on a coach for some time, then it’s really good psychology to provide (or stop for) some refreshments.

A little caffeine and a calories boost can ensure people arrive at the destination eager to get started rather than tired, jaded and looking for reasons to complain.

Railroading

Ideally, your corporate event should be so desirable by its very nature that your colleagues should be fighting for the chance to participate.

Only use “attendance is mandatory” approaches as an absolute last resort, as touched on earlier.

If you see a lack of interest and voluntary participation, something is wrong and a re-think is required. People typically don’t respond well to being forced to attend company events.

Relate to the wider world

Remember that a corporate event will be seen by many against a much broader backdrop of the wider business world you share with your colleagues.

So, expect a very negative reception for (e.g.) a company team-building exercise held at an expensive external venue, if just a few days before the company has announced major ancillary benefits cuts for employees due to the prevailing economic circumstances.