More Companies Allowing Business Travelers to Use Sharing Economies

January 30, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Business travelers who have taken an Uber or Lyft instead of hailing a taxi, or stayed at an Airbnb property instead of staying at a hotel chain, you’re among a growing majority of employees whose companies are encouraging using the emerging sharing economies.

According to a survey conducted by Chrome River Technologies, an expense and invoice management technology solutions company, 78 percent of companies with 1,000 or more employees allow their travelers to use ride-sharing services, while 68 percent allow home-sharing services.

The company asked 100 chief financial officers, controllers, and treasurers at 100 U.S.-based companies for this data in order to determine how much freedom corporations provide their employees when they travel for business.

The instantly recognizable pink mustache of a Lyft car. It's becoming a favorite method of travel among business travelers.

The instantly recognizable pink mustache of a Lyft car.

“Corporate travel and expense policies should be agile enough to address the ever-changing nature of business travel. It’s refreshing to see that larger organizations have already incorporated sharing economy services into their policies,” Alan Rich, Chrome River CEO, said in a statement.

While less than one-quarter of the officers surveyed said their company doesn’t have any policy regarding the use of sharing economy services, 17 percent have instituted policies that don’t allow the use of ride-hailing services, and 24 percent prohibit their employees from booking accommodations through home-sharing platforms. Perhaps even more surprising were the percentages regarding the mandating of such services: 13 percent of companies require their people to use ride-sharing apps, while 12 percent have dictated that travelers must use home-sharing instead of hotels for lodging.

The implementation of rules and policies for reimbursement and reporting of expenses related to these services follows the rising trend among leisure travelers. The survey data shows some are still hesitant to utilize such options.

Does your company allow you to use sharing economy accommodations or are you limited to just traditional hotel and travel brands? Tell us about your experiences in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Praiselightmedia (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 4.0)

Airbnb Announces New Tool Strictly for Business Travelers

January 23, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

If you’ve booked a room, apartment, or home through Airbnb for leisure travel and you’re considering how you might use the home-sharing platform for business accommodations, you’ll be happy to know that Airbnb has a new search function/program specifically for business travelers.

Categorized as Business Travel Ready (BTR), available properties must have a designated workspace or desk, wifi, and 24-hour check-in, although many of them often boast other amenities. The search function also highlights entire homes available for short-term use so that teams can share accommodations or individuals can have the entire space to themselves.

In order to access the BTR properties, you must link a work email address to the Airbnb account — so no Gmail, Hotmail, etc. It has to be your work email. You can sign up as a business traveler through airbnb.com/business-travel-ready, and you’re ready to find your next business travel lodging.

An Airbnb house in Santa Barbara California; they have a new tool for business travelers.

An Airbnb house in Santa Barbara, California

he has 150,000 properties listed globally, and 250,000 companies are using the site. According to a story on Travelpulse.com, David Holyoke, CEO of Airbnb’s business travel department, expected the number of people using the site for business purposes to quadruple in 2017.

While only 10 percent of their bookings are business related, the amount U.S. businesses spent on travel expenses topped $290 billion last year, and was expected to increase by more than four percent last year.

In 2016, the company achieved an industry first when it partnered with American Express Global Business Travel (GBT), BCD Travel, and Carlson Wagonlit Travel to add home-sharing accommodations to its traditional corporate travel offerings.

Have you used Airbnb for business travel? Would you do so now that they have improved their business offerings? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below, on our Facebook page, orin our Twitter stream.

Should You Let Business Travelers Book on their Own?

January 16, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

What kind of trouble could business travelers get in if you cut out the corporate travel arranger at your company and booked your own business travel? Is it encouraged, or are you required to use the corporate travel office at all costs? The ubiquitous nature of apps and websites for locating budget hotels, ride-sharing options, and flights make it easy for people to take charge of their own travel logistics.

This is something corporate accountants and managers are having to choose whether to accommodate or penalize, and the problem is only growing.

While having someone else attend to your travel arrangements used to be a luxury, a bigger issue is that those doing the booking may know nothing about the city, the proximity of the airport to the client, and the logistics required to get from the client to the hotel they’ve booked. The person who makes that kind of trip on a regular basis is by far the more knowledgeable authority on the subject, which makes him or her the logical choice to make the arrangements.

Business travelers walking through an airport. You can still fly even if you're trimming your travel budget.But companies are concerned that letting business travelers book their own travel arrangements may give them less leverage when negotiating corporate rates for hotels and car rentals if they can’t show that their personnel is using them.

However, according to research by Egencia, the corporate travel management subsidiary of Expedia, business travelers often book outside their company’s stated travel policy, especially when procuring lodging, because they need to be closer to their client or because they found a better price than their company’s corporate rate and can pocket the per diem difference.

Road warriors need freedom to orchestrate their own itineraries in order to maximize their time out of the office. Giving them this latitude would reduce staff overhead, eliminate confusion, and utilize the business traveler’s knowledge of the cities and the accommodations in each. Why should a travel manager who doesn’t travel tell the employee where to stay and what time to get there? There are times that road warrior may end up cooling their heels for several hours in an unfamiliar airport because the corporate travel agent wanted to save $30 or make sure their traveler used the right airline.

For those who have control over the details of their travel budget, TravelBank has produced an app that helps estimate trip costs and customize their trip to anticipate and respond to upcoming expenses. TravelBank even rewards users when their trips come in under budget. For example, when a user’s bottom line comes in $500 under the budget, they receive $250 in credit to use with its partners in the travel industry with whom they’ve negotiated rates that rival those that corporations procure for their employees.

At Travelpro, we have the best of both worlds. I investigate my own schedule — optimal flight times and finding the hotel that’s closest to the client — and then communicating that to our travel manager and asking that they make every effort to book what I’ve requested. So far, it’s worked out great, and I’ve been very happy with the arrangement.

As long as business travelers know and comply with the company’s travel policy, allowing them to secure their own reservations only makes sense. But it also makes sense to let your road warrior experts blaze their own trail, as it were, because they already know what they’re doing.

Business travelers, o you book your own travel or do you have a corporate travel agent doing it for you? What has been the most efficient use for you? Share your ideas with us in the comments below, on our Facebook page, orin our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: MauriceBMueller (Pixabay, Creative Commons)

How Tech Has Transformed Business Travelers’ Productivity

January 9, 2018 by · 1 Comment 

If you were taking bets on whether business travelers would say their time on the road boosted their productivity, would you wager that a large percentage says it does? Or do you think most people say their travels have cut into their productivity?

If you said the former, you’d be right. According to a survey by Carlson Wagonlit Travel, 80 percent of business travelers claim that technology has greatly increased their ability to get work done while away from the office.

(Part of it may also be from not having to attend so many meetings.)

Many business travelers take their laptops with them to get work done.With a smartphone, a tablet, or a laptop — the top three “travel tools” business travelers declared they couldn’t live without — no longer do people lament over lost time spent en route to clients. The advent of wifi in the sky and almost everywhere in between, downtime is almost a thing of the past. Business travelers utilize flight time and layovers, as well as time in hotel rooms to catch up on correspondence, complete proposals, and send documents wirelessly to keep projects on schedule.

“The business traveler can be so much more productive than even five years ago thanks to technology,” said Simon Nowroz, Carlson Wagonlit Travel’s CMO told Travelpulse.com, a travel news site. “Think about the advances where a business traveler used to have so much down time between a flight, taxi and hotel. Now, they can log in and work while on the plane or wherever they happen to be. With the continued emergence of the tablet, as well as numerous apps, travelers don’t feel out of touch as they carry out business.”

This ability to continue working whenever and wherever has prompted many — 78 percent — to actively seek ways to travel for business. Nearly nine of 10 survey respondents also claimed that they gained significant knowledge and perspective as a result of their business travels.

How do these road warriors stay connected while away from the office? Email is still the prevalent method of communication with 44 percent selecting it as their primary means of keeping in touch. Surprisingly, nearly 24 percent make phone calls while only 14 percent prefer to text important information to those back at the office.

Three other modes of technology cited as helpful in maintaining connectedness with loved ones were phone calls (44 percent), Skype (24 percent), and texting (14 percent).

Business travelers, do you stay more productive when you’re on the road? Or do you find that you lose productive work time because of time in the car or in the air? How do you stay in touch with loved ones and the office while you’re traveling? Share your ideas with us in the comments below, on our Facebook page, orin our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: ChrisDag (Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0)

Top Five Little-Known Travel Apps for Business Travelers

December 26, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

When a traveler who has logged 2 million air miles and stayed 1,000 nights in a hotel offers his top five travel apps, you listen. Thanks to Maurice Freedman for sharing his “Swiss Army Knife suite of travel apps” to help all of us amateurs experience travel like a pro.

Freedman’s first app is stayconnect. It may seem like a small luxury, but being able to control the television in your hotel room without touching the remote could save you from picking up some unwanted germs. It doesn’t work in all hotels, but the 600,000 where it does makes it a worthy addition to your phone. (Plus it may help you change TV stations at a restaurant or coffee shop.)

Mobile phone being used by a woman with red painted fingernails, accessing her travel appsYou don’t have to depend on the hotel’s concierge for restaurant recommendations or to get reservations if you have the OpenTable app. You can search by location, cuisine, or price, and reserving a table is simple as pie. You can book and cancel without penalty too, which is great when your plans change on a dime. The only downside to this app is that not all dining establishments use it.

Don’t want to leave your hotel room to eat because you’re already in your comfy clothes for the night? Room service is not your only option. With Seamless, you can scroll through over 12,000 delivery menus for restaurants with 80+ kinds of cuisines, pay online (including tip), and then sit back and wait for your food to come right to your door.

If your phone comes with a weather app, you may question Freedman’s next recommendation. But does your weather app tell you when it’s going to rain in your specific location and how long you can expect that precipitation to inconvenience you? If you purchase Dark Sky, you won’t be caught without an umbrella when you need it, and you can set it to notify you at a specific time each day so that you know whether to expect blue or cloudy skies.

Texting is great until you have to leave the country. Then how do you communicate if your phone plan doesn’t cover international travel? What’sApp is your perfect solution. It works regardless of carrier or phone type and over one BILLION people enjoy its free service. All you need is wifi or a data plan to talk, text, or share locations.

What are your favorite little-known travel apps? What have you been using on your most recent travels? What’s the most esoteric-but-useful one on your mobile phone? Share your best travel apps with us in the comments below, on our Facebook page, orin our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Skeeze (Pixabay, Creative Commons)

Five Ways to Stay Healthy While Traveling

December 21, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Those who travel regularly know that maintaining their routines helps them be at their best. If you’re an infrequent traveler, here are the top five things you need to do while on your business trip to come home as healthy as you left.

Eat right. When we’re away from home, we’re out of our comfort zone. We’re with people we don’t know well, and we’re navigating a different city and its unique dynamics. While food is often equated with comfort, don’t buy into the myth. If anything, try to eat healthier while you’re away from home than you do when you’re at home. Don’t eat the heaviest meal, just because it’s on the company’s dime. Eating fruits and vegetables will help your digestion and keep you from feeling uncomfortable or run down.

Avoid alcohol. Not to be a killjoy, but we all know that consuming alcohol decreases your mental sharpness and gives your body one more thing to try to process while out of its normal rhythms.

A hotel gym is a great way to work out and help stay healthy.

The gym at the Onego Palace Hotel (Intourist Hotel Group) in Petrozavodsk (Republic of Karelia, Russia)

Exercise. Keep doing it. If you belong to a fitness chain or franchise at home, you can usually go to the same one in whatever city you’re visiting without paying any more. If you work out at home, use the hotel’s gym or pack whatever you need to work out in your room. No need to lose momentum just because you’re out of town. If you’re not an exerciser, consider making choices that will increase your physical activity, like taking the stairs to and from the lobby of your hotel or office, getting outside for a walk at lunch or after dinner. Even these small periods of movement will help alleviate stress and stretch muscles often kinked from sleeping in an unfamiliar bed or sitting too long in a meeting.

Get enough sleep. Be sure you get enough rest each night. While getting enough shut-eye in a hotel can be difficult, give yourself the best possible odds by doing a few things. Don’t eat too late. Late-night digestion can keep you from getting into REM sleep. Don’t stare at screens. Turning off your devices and the television 30 minutes before you retire will signal your body to begin shutting down for the day. Use a white noise generating app to drown out the unfamiliar sounds of your environment (or just the loud blower on the heater) to help you go to sleep.

Stay hydrated. If you’re not in the habit of drinking water throughout the day, pick up a bottle and make yourself drink it. Flying dehydrates us, and when we don’t give our systems enough water, they just don’t function as well as they need to. Coffee, soda, and fruit juice may be liquids, but they’re not as good as water when it comes to proper hydration, so stick with the H2O as much as possible.

All these tips are really just common sense, but it will take some planning to incorporate them into your trip. Be good to yourself and treat yourself well by trying to stay healthy. Life isn’t all about work, and you want to stay healthy for the downtime you’ll have earned by the time you get home.

How do you stay healthy when you’re traveling? Do you have any special strategies or tricks? Tell us about them in the comments below, on our Facebook page, orin our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Онега Палас (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 4.0)

5 Ways to Make Your Coach Travel More Comfortable

November 14, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Air travel is becoming more about price and efficiency, and less about comfort, especially if you’re not flying business or first class. Coach travel means seats are a little narrower and a little closer together, so it may be a tighter fit than you’d like.

That doesn’t mean you can’t find some comfort if you’re flying coach. You don’t have to sacrifice complete comfort for the sake of a cheaper ticket. Here are a few ways you can find a little comfort on your next coach flight.

This is what coach travel looks like - seats closer together, not a lot of leg room.

  1. Pay for comfort seating. While the cost is usually minimal, the benefits are so worth it. There’s additional legroom between you and the seat in front of you. You’ll also be at the front of the plane, so you’ll deplane earlier, and there’s often dedicated overhead bin space too. It’s still coach travel, but it’s better than sitting in normal coach. If you can’t spring for this, look for exit row seating to snag some extra legroom without the extra cost.
  2. Adjust the overhead vents so that they’re blowing in front of you but not on you. Doing so will increase airflow, and some experts believe you’ll decrease the risk of inhaling germs from that seatmate who’s not covering their coughs or sneezes very well.
  3. You may not have thought of this one, but wearing loose-fitting clothing can help create a little comfort when the seat can’t. You may not be able to do anything about the width or the pitch, and or the lack of recline, but if your clothes aren’t binding or pinching you as you’re confined for a few hours, you’ll deplane feeling better.
  4. Consider packing a jacket or pashmina if you tend to be cold when you fly. Even if you just use it as a drape until you warm up and then stow it behind your back for additional lower lumbar support, controlling your climate will help you control your mood.
  5. Pack earplugs or noise canceling headphones. You can’t change how close you are to fellow passengers, but you can create a noise buffer so that you’re not forced to overhear their movie, music, or conversation.

Coach travel may not have the same perks and comfort as one of the fully-reclining seats in first class, but that doesn’t mean you need to suffer either. Follow these tips and you can easily manage any coach flight you take.

How do you ensure that you’re comfortable during coach travel? Do you do anything special or take any special steps? Share them with us in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Vincent Desjardins (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 2.0)

How to De-stress during Business Travel

October 10, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Business travel is inevitable these days, as companies hire fewer people and give them bigger territories to manage. Bigger territories translate into stress that accompanies your travel like its own baggage; if left unattended, it can lead to some serious health issues. Just because you have to be on the road doesn’t mean it has to be stressful. Here are some effective ways to de-stress on the road.

1. Your itinerary. Make it a point never to fly into a city the same day you have a meeting or are scheduled to speak at a conference. Too many things can go wrong, and when (not if) they do, you’re setting yourself up for increased anxiety and distraction. Going in the night before allows you to start the day refreshed, prepared, and organized. Feel free to fly home the same day the meeting ends, but don’t schedule your travel so tightly that you’re frazzled by the time you meet your client.

Your business travel doesn't have to be stressful. Silhouette of a man walking through an airport.2. Create a strategy for the airport. Scout out an off-site parking facility that takes reservations and provides efficient shuttle service to and from the terminal. Doing so will save you time and energy traversing the parking lots looking for a spot. Next, as if we haven’t said this enough, get TSA PreCheck. Again, time saved is mental energy gained.
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Which is Better for Air Travel, Aisle or Window? Your Choice Says a Lot About You

October 5, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

The debate has raged since the dawn of air travel: Which is better, the window seat or the aisle seat?

A few years ago, Expedia polled their readers to find the majority preference. The results may surprise you.

Fifty-five percent of those surveyed said they prefer the window seat, while only 45 percent say they always choose the aisle seat. Almost no one wanted the middle seat. (No great surprise there.)

According to University of Washington psychology professor Jonathan Bricker, these choices say things about each traveler. Those who choose the aisle value their freedom, he said. They can get up and go to the bathroom without asking anyone. They’re also all business. This means they’re probably going to be up working or reading a book. They also tend to be claustrophobic. Proponents of this seat choice also cite access to overhead bins, the ability to get up and walk around on long-haul flights, increased legroom, and priority exiting when deplaning.
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The Benefits of Bleisure Travel for Business Travelers

October 3, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”

That proverb has a lesser-known second phrase which dates back to 1825: “All play and no work makes Jack a mere toy.”

With so many people spending significant amounts of time away from home on business, family relationships can suffer. What if there was a way to bring the family along on a trip, build in some leisure time, and come back from the trip not only accomplishing your purpose but getting away as well? You can do that, and it’s called bleisure travel, a portmanteau of business + leisure. And it’s a great way to make business travel a little more enjoyable for you and your family.

Here are several ways to plan bleisure travel.

Bleisure travel can happen anywhere, but it's especially fun if you're near Orlando. This is the Geosphere at EPCOT.

Bleisure travel can happen anywhere, but it’s especially fun if you’re near Orlando. This is the Geosphere at EPCOT.

If you’re going to a popular tourist area, say Orlando, for business, the company is paying for your airfare and your hotel. Why not take your family with you? If you do that, you’re already down there, and that’s one less airline ticket you’ll buy personally. Plus, the room is already paid for, regardless of who’s in it. (If the hotel charges more for more guests, you can personally pay the difference.)
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