Stuck With an Expensive Hotel Reservation? Sell It

November 9, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Have you ever had this happen? You’re scheduled to go on a business trip and the client cancels? Or plans change and you have to push your trip out by a couple weeks. You’re outside the cancellation window for your hotel, and you’re left holding the proverbial bag, so you can’t cancel the room without paying the entire cost of the room.

Two companies want you to know there may be a solution by essentially “subletting” your room.

RoomerTravel and Cancelon have both created services that allow you to list the hotel room you can’t use for a reduced price. “The average discount is forty-five percent,” Richie Karaburun, managing director for RoomerTravel, told The New York Times.

Depending on the location of your hotel room, though, you could still recoup its full price. Sellers can ask any price for the room, although neither company guarantees its resale.

If you're stuck with a hotel reservation you can't cancel, you can try selling it.

The Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York City

Here’s how it works: A seller lists their room on either site. RoomerTravel takes a 15 percent cut for their services, Cancelon takes ten. Services are free to buyers. Potential buyers can see rooms for resale on Kayak and Trivago, RoomerTravel lists theirs on Skyscanner, and Cancelon users can also see what’s available through TripAdvisor.

The downside for consumers using these sites to book a room is that there’s no way to know whether or not the room is being offered as a resale.

Once the sale is finalized, both companies contact the hotel on behalf of the seller to make arrangements for the change to the booking name and credit card guarantee.

Both RoomerTravel and Cancelon are experiencing growing pains and travelers have expressed some concerns when they choose a room and receive confirmation from Cancelon or RoomerTravel instead of the hotel chain they thought they were choosing. But lack of brand awareness should dissipate quickly, especially as more people realize they can offload their rooms, or find rooms at a surprising price.

Right now, the hotel industry is cooperating but remains cautious. Rosanna Maietta, a spokesperson for the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA), told The Times, “the AHLA is aware that sites like this exist and is constantly monitoring new entrants like these to the digital marketplace and their impact on customers.”

Would you ever “sublet” a room through RoomerTravel or Cancelon? Or do you prefer a more proven method? What would it take for you to try one of these services? Let us hear from you in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Alan Light (Wikimedia Commons/Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0)

Making the Case for Travel Insurance

November 4, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Most people think travel insurance is a way to recoup the cost of an airline ticket in the event of a personal emergency or health situation that makes it impossible for them to complete their travels.

But travel insurance is more than just personal insurance. Consider the impact this year’s terrorist attacks in Brussels and Paris, to mention just a few, have had on the travel industry and travelers’ plans.

While travel insurance rates haven’t spiked, or changed at all, since these events, the commodity with the terrorism clause has been standard since September 11, 2001. In fact, according to an article in The New York Times, companies like squaremouth.com have a special section of their travel insurance site dedicated to policies that prospective travelers can search to find terrorism coverage.

Travel insurance vending machines in Japan

Travel insurance vending machines in Japan

Travelers should understand that insurance with this clause doesn’t provide blanket coverage. In fact, it’s very narrow. For example, it will not cover a trip already in progress, but might allow you to get a refund if an act of terrorism has occurred within 30 days of your scheduled departure. The policy may also exclude coverage in the event of a terrorist attack if you choose to travel to an area known for terrorist activity or where an attack has already happened.

According to Christina Tunnah, regional manager for the travel insurance company World Nomads, two factors determine whether or not you’ll be able to submit a claim: 1) When you purchased the insurance, and 2) How your plans were impacted by the terrorism. In some instances, for a claim to be paid, the event may have to be officially declared a terrorist attack. She always advises travelers to call.

“Traditionally, insurance doesn’t cover fear,” Tunnah told the New York Times. “Yet there are some practicalities that might cause a travel insurance company to make an exception. It’s always very case by case.”

While the odds of being impacted by an act of terrorism while traveling are exceedingly slim, knowing your options will help you make an informed, objective decision.

Do you usually purchase travel insurance? Are you considering it more now than before? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Mark Yang (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 2.0)

How to Keep Your Home Safe while Traveling

October 28, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

There’s a great deal of emphasis these days being placed on personal security while traveling. But have you thought about ways you might be “leaving the door unlocked” for thieves while you’re away from home? By instituting a few simple routines, you can keep your house secure while you’re traveling for business or leisure.

This first one may seem a bit obvious, but in our oversharing culture it’s worth noting: Do not post on social media when you’re going out of town. Disable the “check in to favorites” and “check in to recent places” on your Swarm/Foursquare app or Facebook, so those apps do not automatically display that you’re in another state.
Keep your house safe while you're traveling
Also, avoid posting vacation pictures until you return from your trip so those who search the Internet for this kind of information can’t easily target your home. One good use of technology: a simple text sent to neighbors you trust, telling them you’re leaving town and asking them to keep an eye on your place, may raise someone’s suspicion if they see unusual activity around your home.

Home automation is another technology method, but we’re long past the days of the automatic timers that shut off all the lights at exactly the same time every day. A free web service called IFTTT (which used to be If This, Then That) allows you to use its partnerships with various manufacturers’ products to control your house’s lighting, heating and cooling, and alarm system remotely.
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Flight Etiquette 101: Seat Reclining Courtesies and the Golden Rule

October 26, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

It’s one of the biggest causes of conflict on a flight, and you’ve probably encountered it more than once if you’re a frequent business traveler: Should you recline or not recline your seat?

The topic is a hot button with seasoned travelers, so we thought we might suggest a few ways you can be considerate of others as you contemplate whether or not to push that little button on your armrest.

Which are the best seats on planes you can get?First, consider the Golden Rule, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” In other words, think about how your actions could impact the person directly behind you, and then wonder if you would like the same thing done by the person in front of you. If you’ve ever felt hemmed in, or had your laptop slammed shut, because someone else exercised their “right” to recline, ask yourself, what would you have liked done before they leaned back into your space.

That’s possibly the biggest courtesy in seat reclining: Offer the person behind you the same courtesy you want from the person in front of you.

Of course, that may mean there are times when you shouldn’t exercise your right to recline, like during beverage and meal service. Imagine not being able to eat because you can’t see your tray, or get your drink past the other person’s seat back.
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What Battery Pack Do I Need for my Travelpro® Crew™ 11 Bag?

October 24, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

One of the new innovations for the Travelpro® Crew™ 11 Collection is that several models, including our popular 22″ Expandable Rollaboard®, feature on-the-go charging for electronics. The luggage has an external USB port and a dedicated, zippered Power Bank pocket on the side designed to hold a battery pack. This means you can charge your mobile phone or tablet while you’re waiting for your next flight.

You’ll need to provide your own charging cable, which you connect to the external USB port on the back side of the bag, just below the Powerscope extension handle. That port connects, through a hard-wired connector cable inside the bag, to a separate battery pack placed inside the Power Bank pocket.

Travelpro Crew 11 USB PortHowever, the Crew 11 bags do not come with a charging battery. So what should you consider when purchasing one to drop into the pocket whenever you travel? A wide variety of chargers are available on the market, and each has its own pros and cons. In our opinion, sufficient power for charging multiple devices is the most important consideration when looking to utilize this feature of the luggage.

You want to look for the number of milliamp hours (mAh) the battery has. The higher the number, the longer the battery will last between charges. Travelpro has partnered with battery maker Incipio to offer a thirty percent discount card for those who purchase the Crew ™ 11 models with the charging feature. Incipio’s batteries range from 1500 to 8000 milliamp hours (mAh).

So, you’ve purchased the 22″ Expandable Rollaboard and the battery to suit your needs. Here are a few tips for making the most of this feature:
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How to Get into Any Airport Lounge With an App and Credit Card

October 21, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Years ago, an airport lounge used to be an exclusive privilege available only to passengers of a certain status or with a specific type of ticket. No more! With the click of a few buttons on a few apps, and a credit card, you too can escape the hustle and chaos of the general waiting area in the terminal, and enjoy the comfort and convenience of a quiet and clean lounge.

What amenities do they offer that make them worth the price?

Oslo Airport Lounge - Gardermoen Airport

This is the Oslo Lounge at Gardermoen Airport.

For one thing, they’re quiet and comfortable. That can be a major benefit if you’re a business traveler on an extended layover and you want to remain productive. You’ll have access to a table at which to sit, instead of balancing your laptop on your legs and fighting with other passengers for the charging station.

Or if you’d rather relax, the chairs are very comfortable and conducive to a quick nap. There are a few TVs — which you’re actually able to hear — and they offer food and drinks; premium lounges have upscale amenities such as showers, hair salons, and even oxygen bars.
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Avoid Higher Airline Prices for “Open Jaw” Flights

October 19, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Recently, the country’s three major airlines each implemented a little change to their pricing models that, if you’re not careful, can end up costing you a lot more per flight.

The change, says The New York Times, could make it up to seven times more expensive for those who fly what’s called an “open jaw” route.
british-airways-boeing-747-400-g-civh-departs-london-heathrow-11apr2015
That’s where you fly to a particular destination, but return home from a different one. For example, if you flew to Miami, but flew home from Orlando, that’s an “open jaw,” or multi-city flight.

We don’t want you to be caught unaware, so here are some things we suggest you do before you purchase a multi-city or open jaw ticket.

  • Check into the cost of two one-way tickets. There’s a very good chance the two tickets will cost less than the one open-jaw flight. The example we saw in the Times story showed a $1200 price tag for a Jacksonville, FL to Los Angeles/San Francisco to Jacksonville. But as two separate tickets, it was $400. Read more

Planning for Your First Business Trip

October 17, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

You’ve just found out from your boss that you’re being sent on your first business trip. Don’t panic — we’re here to help! Here are several tips we’ve compiled from our veteran road warriors to get you off on the right foot as you learn the ropes.

First, plan your trip according to your company’s policies. If you have an internal travel agent, make sure you connect with them to get your flights and hotels booked. If you need to handle this yourself, that’s a bonus! Investigate which airlines go where you need to go and consider becoming a loyalty member. There are numerous online reviews that will provide you with details about seat width, legroom, and on-time records.

Pick an airline that will become your favorite over your business travel career.

A few things to consider: Try to pick an airline that you will make your favorite, since you could be flying with them for years. And don’t always pick the cheapest airlines out there. Some of them are the cheapest for a reason.

Download the carrier’s mobile app so you can check-in online and have your boarding pass right on your phone. Going paperless means you have one less thing to manage. The app will also alert you to any changes in your flight’s status.

If this is the first of what will become many business trips, invest in TSA’s PreCheck. It’s only $85, and it lasts for 5 years. That’s $17 per year of not wasting unnecessary time standing in the security lines.
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How Airports Can Get Rid of the TSA

October 14, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Who hasn’t thought while standing in a slow-moving TSA security line, “Couldn’t somebody do this better than the federal government?” There actually is somebody, and there may be a way for your airport to replace the TSA with a private firm.

And after a very hectic travel summer, with reports of up-to-three-hour waits at some security lines, a lot of people started asking that question.

A relatively unknown program, actually operated by the TSA, called the Partnership Screening Program, allows the federal agency to receive bids from private security firms to replace the TSA’s services at the nation’s municipal airports. The private contractors provide screening under federal oversight, and must offer similar wages and benefits for their employees.

The TSA Security lines at Denver International Airport

In fact, the option to fire the TSA dates back to the inception of the agency in 2002 after the September 11 terrorist attacks. At that time, five airports were allowed to contract with private firms as a way for Congress to assess and compare its approach with one offered by the private sector: San Francisco; Kansas City, MO; Rochester, NY; Tupelo, MS; and Jackson, WY.

Kansas City and San Francisco’s international airports were the only two major airports in that original five. But since then, 17 other regional airports around the country have fired the TSA and, with the exception of Kansas City, contracted with Trinity Technology Group, a Department of Homeland Security Safety Act certified company, for their security screening process. Kansas City works with Akal Security.
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Five Helpful Tips to Get a Hotel Upgrade

October 12, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Some people live by the motto, flattery will get you everywhere. While this may not work in all situations, it helps when traveling and actively seeking out an upgrade. Especially if you’re on the road a lot for business, every little comfort and consideration can go a long way in helping you feel more comfortable and relaxed.

There are ways to get an upgrade to your hotel, your flight, or your rental car when you’re traveling. A lot of it is just a matter of asking, or remaining loyal to your different travel companies.

We share these with the following caveat: If you try to get a hotel upgrade using any of these methods, you should exercise the utmost courtesy and expect nothing. Upgrades are a gift, and not done in exchange for your niceness.

The hotel front desk at the JW Marriott in New Orleans, LA. This is where you ask for your hotel upgrade.

The hotel front desk at the JW Marriott in New Orleans, LA.

Loyalty does have its privileges, but what if you’ve become a regular at an independent lodging establishment that doesn’t have a rewards program? Send an email to the owners to let them know how you found their hotel and what you enjoy about staying there, or write an online review of your experience.

When you’re traveling in order to celebrate a special occasion — a milestone birthday, an anniversary, your honeymoon — invite others into your party by mentioning it as you check in. You might also call the hotel and tell the reservations person instead of making your reservations online. Special notes don’t always get shared with the individual hotels, so you’re more likely to get that hotel upgrade if you call your hotel directly.
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