Category Archives: Guides

Gift Ideas For Business Travelers

2017 gifts for business travelers

Frequent business travelers are an interesting breed—they have their own techniques and tricks for just about everything travel related. Whether it’s packing know-how or airport shortcuts; they usually have their own way of doing things. That’s one reason why finding gifts that will fit into their existing routines can be a struggle. This year, we’ve asked our internal team for their reliable travel favorites or items on their wish list. Come ready this year with these tried-and-true gift ideas for business travelers.

2017 top gift ideas for business travelers

  1. Ebags laptop briefcase – This professional piece of luggage can be used for a quick day trip or a longer stay. The briefcase has a handy compartment for your laptop, with additional storage. It can be used as a briefcase, with an over-the-shoulder strap. Or, convert into a modern backpack. The best part? It easily mounts on top of your rolling suitcase, zippering around the extending poles. Ease the awkwardness of traveling with multiple bags with this gift.
  2. RFID blocking wallet –  RFID, or radio frequency identification, is the latest technology used to easily and quickly identify and scan information. You can find it in credit cards, passports, toll lane passes and other devices. Unfortunately, hackers with RFID readers can easily access this information too. If you’re worried about a loved one running into this type of scam while on the road, an RFID blocking wallet or other item may be the perfect gift. You can also find RFID blocking fanny packs, luggage, and even skinny jeans! 
  3. BlenderBottle GoStak Storage jars – This is the perfect gift for any health-conscious person on your list, especially a frequent traveler. These stacking jars fits two servings of protein powder shake and supplements, plus an extra compartment for portioned snacks. Additionally, it easily stacks together, for a space-saving solution. 
  4. Coffee subscriptions – Those always on-the-go professionals are often always with coffee in hand too! Get them something you know they’ll use with a monthly subscription of coffee. Many different subscriptions exist, all delivered to their door.   
  5. Aukey car phone mount – You’ll be surprised by how simple, small, and cheap this product is! For anyone who frequently travels by car, this is an easy solution to keep smartphones easily accessible and in place. This car phone mount simply snaps into any car air vent. A strong magnet is placed on the back of their phone, giving the driver a hands-free view of their smartphone screen.  Other reviews indicate that it can be used with even the heaviest and largest smartphones. 
  6. Anker Multiport usb wall charger – With smartphones, tablets, Fitbits, Kindles, portable speakers, etc., the need to charge multiple devices at once is at an all-time high. Unfortunately, most devices charge via a usb port, and most hotel rooms don’t provide these stations. This 4-port wall charger allows the user to charge four devices at once. So they can efficiently charge everything they need at once and get back to what’s more important.
  7. Sentri home security – Not the most exciting gift on the list, but one that provides peace of mind. Let your frequent traveler virtually check-in on their home with this camera and interface. The touch screen device, which looks like a basic clock, is also a camera. When there is movement inside the house, the user will receive an update on their phone. From there, they can look at live feed of the house or past recordings. Depending on the situation, a siren can be instigated from the phone to the device, scaring whoever may be inside.  It also connects to other smart home devices, like Nest. There are different monthly payment options, including a free version.
  8. CLEAR – CLEAR is similar to TSA Pre-Check in that it allows its members to quickly speed through security lines at the airport. Using the traveler’s fingerprint or eye scan, it verifies that it’s really them and gets them on their way. Though a higher price tag than TSA Precheck ($15 a month, compared to $85 for 5 years), it is becoming known as the fastest option, (while TSA Pre-Check is under scrutiny for slow lines and delays). Currently in 30 cities, it is also being used at sports stadiums.  
  9. Priority Pass Lounge access – This is the ULTIMATE gift for frequent business travelers. With 1000+ lounges in over 500 countries, your traveler can access airline lounges between flights. Let them relax and decompress from traveling, grab a bite to eat or drink (including free alcohol at most lounges), along with free secure wifi. It comes with three different membership tiers. Though they are continually adding more lounges, double check that their frequently traveled locations are on the list first before purchasing.

 

The First Questions To Ask TMCs – Part 1

first questions to ask TMCs

Deciding to manage travel with a TMC is an exciting transition for any company. Knowing that your travel will be in the hands of experts is relieving, and getting time back in your day back is an appealing perk too. So, now that your company is ready to move forward – where do you start?  What traits are essential for a qualified travel management company? And more importantly, which one is the right fit for your business’ specific needs?

We understand this venture can be overwhelming. That’s why we’ve put together these beginning questions to ask TMCs. These are questions we’re frequently asked by interested companies. We’ve also included additional tips and thoughts to consider during the process.

The first 6 questions to ask TMCs

  1. How much money are you going to save me? This is the million dollar question, isn’t it? It’s the question we hear most frequently, and I’m sure it’s the first question your CEO is going to ask you too. Yes, this is an important question, but it shouldn’t be the deciding factor either. At Christopherson, our clients can expect to save 15-18% on travel costs on average. But it’s important to also keep in mind other factors; like price of the tickets, time, stress and ancillary costs. Items like these are often not factored into blanket cost statements. Many factors go into a healthy and successful travel management program. Cost is just one of the many considering factors.
  2. What technology do you offer? What solutions are you looking to solve in a travel management software? In your research, you may find there are tools for problems that you didn’t even know existed. Our proprietary technology, AirPortal 360, is a powerful, extensive travel technology tool. With a tool set for travel managers, as well as travelers, you can rest assured that everyone is on the same page. Stay on top of your travel with tools that assist with risk management, hotel pre-pay solutions, unused ticket assistance, and much more.
  3. What is the employee turnover rate at your company? Knowing this answer before signing on with a TMC can truly save time and wasted energy down the line. It can be the difference between and happy and long-term relationship with your account manager, or skipping to new account managers every few months. Having a company by your side that not only takes good care of you, but also their employees is important when it comes to customer satisfaction in the long run.
  4. What is your client retention rate? A very similar question. A low retention of current clients can indicate an issue with performance at a travel management company.
  5. Are there additional inclusions into the travel program? Will the TMC have an initial low price, but nickel and dime you for additional features and actions? This is one reason why the ‘how much are you going to save me’ question can be misleading and necessary to dive further.
  6. Do you provide custom solutions? Is the product and travel program a simple ‘off-the-shelf’ model?  It’s important to understand if your program will have the customization you need to run an efficient travel management program.

At Christopherson Business Travel, our approach is dedicated account management with custom travel programs. Feel confidant that your business is in the right hands with our experienced team and 24/7 service. Please contact us to learn more about how Christopherson can fit your travel needs. Keep an eye out for our next addition of questions to ask TMCs.

How to Select the Right Corporate Travel Partners

selecting-corporate-travel-partners

I recently had the pleasure of attending the GBTA- North Carolina’s Education Day.  Themed ‘Bridging the Travel Gap’, it focused on helping both buyers and suppliers bridge the gaps that may exist during the purchasing process. The keynote speaker was Neil Hammond of Goldspring Consulting and he focused on Better Engaging the Buyer and Supplier Relationship. While he delivered a breadth of beneficial material, I really enjoyed his process on selecting the right corporate travel partners. By breaking it out into steps, it makes the process less daunting. It also allows for increased communication and guidelines, ensuring everyone’s needs are met for future travel management practices.

Selecting the right corporate travel partners for your business:

  1. Involve any key stakeholders to get internal support. Gaining this support is especially helpful when a introducing a new policy or changing vendors.
  2. Align your message internally in order to deliver the same message to your travelers.
  3. Educate key decision makers as necessary. Take the time to explain why vendor options are being evaluated.
  4. Define your strategy in advance of collecting a proposal. Will you be awarding a single contract or multiple?
  5. Survey your travelers. This will give you a clear picture of what travelers like and also in keeping their opinions in mind, will ensure buy-in as you proceed in the decision making process.
  6. Agree on your decision making process. What parameters are you looking for? Do these align with your company policy? Do you have a clear timeline for the implementation of this change?
  7. Clearly express your requirements to potential suppliers.
  8. Evaluate suppliers, engaging throughout the process to gain clarification and provide updates on your timeline, if necessary.
  9. Execute a decision according to the defined timeline.

While making a change to your travel program is never easy, following these steps will help you stay organized while selecting your corporate travel partners. And remember, Christopherson is always here to help. With more that 60 years experience in corporate travel, we understand the challenges that businesses face with travel management. If you would like to discuss the process of choosing corporate travel partners in more depth, feel free to contact us, or read our additional blogs below.

Is Your Driver’s License Valid For Air Travel?

The REAL ID Act, originally passed by Congress in 2005, has steadily been updating the identification processes in our nation. Already standardizing protocol in federal buildings, nuclear power plants and other facilities, the act is entering its final stages. The final focus in on passenger identification on commercial airlines, which is secured by the Department of Homeland Security. Depending on which state you live in, your driver’s license may soon not be valid for domestic air travel.

TSA protocols for valid identification will be updating

Surprisingly, many frequent travelers are unaware of the impending identification changes coming to commercial air travel. It has been the responsibility of the individual states to update their driver’s license to be REAL ID compliant. Even with detailed timelines and deadlines given, many states are still in flux.

Read our inforgaphic below to see if your state is compliant to the impending REAL ID Act changes.

Is your drivers license valid for air travel

 

Have more questions? Read our blog on the Real ID Act.

Christopherson Business Travel takes the frustration out of travel management for busy companies. Learn how our travel technology and consultative account management does just that by scheduling a demo today.

Travel Packing List For Dummies: Use Carry-on Luggage For EVERY Trip

Passengers gathering at the gate prior to their boarding time is strange to me. My first thought is often, ‘why stand in line before you are called, cutting into time that could be used for work, a preflight meal, catching up on a phone call?’ But then I remember that these travelers, like me, are terrified of not finding a space for their bag on the plane. I pride myself on using the same international sized carry-on for every trip, no matter how long. In fact, I wrote a blog on my favorite packing tips a few years ago.  Since I wrote this, I’ve continued traveling for business and leisure and know even more about packing light. I’ve discovered a few easy tips that are especially helpful as we move into the cooler months.

Carry-on packing tips for business and leisure travelers

1) Invest in packing cubes. They not only help you separate your clothes, but they really do keep everything compact. They are especially useful for sweaters!
2) Boot season is upon us and while they look great, knee-high boots can take up an entire suitcase. If boots are part of your wardrobe, wear them on the plane to save space.
3) Try wearing items that you have packed a few times during the same trip. A scarf or tie can really transform an outfit, and nobody will even notice that you had worn it the previous day.
4) If you plan to use the hotel gym, invest in a good workout outfit that is made of nylon. This material gets really small when folded and you can even roll the items and store them inside your workout shoes.
5) If you buy your cosmetics from a mall department store, do so when you can get a promotional gift. The bags that come with these gifts are often the perfect size for travel and the samples are usually travel sized.

Overall, I’ve learned that even with the stressful pre-boarding line, carry-on luggage is the best option for plane travel. Especially if you have an established packing routine with usable tips and tricks.

Looking for more helpful tips on business travel packing? Check out our other blog posts:

Christopherson Business Travel is a corporate travel management company. We’ve worked passionately for more than 60 years to bring travel solutions to busy businesses. Learn more about our specialty travel technology or consultative services that save our clients time and money.

Guide To Creating An Effective Company Travel Policy

company travel policy guide

We’ve said before that the cornerstone of an effective travel management program is the travel policy. Travel policies that are practical and easy to understand have a higher compliance rate and save more money for the company. But where do you start? No business is the same, and neither is their travel policy. Whether you create your own policy or with the help of a travel management company, we developed this guide to familiarize professionals with the basics of creating corporate travel policies.

What is a travel policy?

A travel policy is a set of guidelines to be used by companies, travel managers and employees for travel and its related planning. The main objective of an effective travel policy is to keep travelers safe while also adhering to the company’s guidelines, including budget. If your policy is easy to understand, oversees traveler’s security, and up-to-date; compliance will likely be higher as well.

What are the benefits of having a travel policy?

There are many advantages of utilizing a travel policy for your company. One of the most valuable is establishing clear guidelines. For example, your company might decide to allow business class seating, but only for international travel. This is then stated in the travel policy, so your present and future employees will understand its stipulations.

Travel policies also regulate cost control and savings for your budget. By regulating your traveler’s travel, you can have a better understanding of your budget and where to save moving forward. For example, just by outlining when business class tickets should be used can positively affect your travel budget! Additionally, duty of care responsibilities and safety protocols can be established and outlined. In case of an emergency, these protocols can be immediately adhered and followed.

Is every travel policy the same?

No. Every travel policy should be created specifically for the company’s needs. No two companies are exactly the same, and neither should be their travel policy. Actually, some companies find they don’t even need a defined travel policy. How often employees travel and who pays for the travel are two important factors. If only one employee travels a couple times a year, you may be able to budget and communicate effectively without needing a full travel policy. Or, if your clients are billed for travel, budget may not be a large concern for your business model. Take a look at your company as a whole and see if it makes sense to create a travel policy. If you find you don’t need one, it’s still important to outline duty of care and safety procedures. 

How do travel policies differ?

Policies should be comprehensive and consistent, but also consider cultural nuances. This is done by differentiating between global and local policies. As the Business Travel Buyer’s Handbook 2016 said, ‘The global policy should rule, and local policies should be stricter.’ If your company is worldwide, you will have conditions that apply to everyone. Then, consider local laws and constraints for travelers in different locations.  What works best for people in the U.S. may be less advisable for people in Asian markets. You can try creating regional travel policies for countries with similar travel management needs. 

How strict should your travel policy be?

Policy rules often depend on the level of control your company wishes to exercise.  For example, some companies stipulate that the cheapest ticket must always be purchased, as long as a layover does not exceed three hours. This policy is focused on cost savings, but pretty strict. Other companies decide not to drill down as harshly. Consider what is most important to the company and the best way to accomplish that objective. Be aware that overly strict policies can hinder compliance and even your traveler’s happiness. If your frequent business travelers have three hour layovers multiple times a week, how will that affect their productivity and job satisfaction? Consider your company culture and its future before implementing a strict policy. 

What is important to include in a travel policy?

This depends on your objectives and scope of control.  Below are common items often listed in travel policies: 

  • Air travel – Will your travelers have a budget? Should the lowest priced ticket always be purchased? Should non-stop vs. direct flights be defined? 
  • Travel approval – Will managers approve the travel itinerary before it is booked? How will this be done?
  • Hotel suppliers – Will employees always stay with the same hotel supplier? What happens when there is a lower priced room at a different hotel?
  • Car rental – Should you specify what type of cars are allowed as rentals? Compact cars vs. limos? What about using sharing economy cars like Uber? 
  • Reimbursement systems – How will employees be reimbursed for travel expenses? Or will they use a company credit card? Are there repercussions for not submitting receipts? 

Who should create the travel policy?

Input from every department works the best. Having input from a CEO or stakeholder often speeds up the process, as their approval is usually needed anyway. Discuss with HR, accounting, IT and heads of other departments to ensure their cooperation and input. Also, discuss the needs and experiences of current travelers and road warriors. What they consider important may be different than the stakeholders. 

Who is covered under a travel policy?

Travel policies should cover everyone who travels on behalf of your company. Additionally, and this may be the most important tip – keep the policy brief and clear so everyone is covered and understands the policies. Compliance will go out the window if no one understands what’s in the policy.  

Specific details can be outlined for individuals or departments. Some companies differentiate policy guidelines with special consideration for high ranking execs. You probably won’t have interns flying first class, but you also aren’t going to make the CEO fly coach either. Some companies mitigate potential disaster by not allowing more than two or three executives to fly on the same plane should disaster strike. These particular policies are often drafted in an executive level policy, so they are not known to lower level employees.

Road warriors often have their own stipulations. You can specify mileage, reimbursement, or overnight stay threshold within the travel policy too.

Other things to consider when creating a travel policy

Customized and personalized experiences are becoming more important to travelers. Mobile devices and apps are being used more frequently, catering to specific experiences. If you want compliance to stay high, make it as easy as possible to comply with your policy. Using mobile apps or alternative communication often increases compliance. 

 

What Is The Right Size For Carry-on Luggage?

Just the other day I was looking for a new piece of luggage.  I frequently travel for business, and I’ve found carrying on luggage is the most convenient for short trips.  I’m also upgrading to a piece of luggage with four wheels.  As I began my search, I realized how tough this new quest is, considering the varying size specifications between airlines.  Not only are these size requirements often changing in general, but they vary by airline too.

With these varying size requirements, I think it is best to stick with the Delta Air Line, United Airline, and American Airline’s size requirements (22 X 14 X 9 inches).  The size is smaller than permitted by other airlines, but it seems to be the average size used. Some airlines do allow slightly larger luggage, like Southwest or Air Canada.  If you decide on a piece of luggage, you then need to consider if a future flight will be with an airline like United or Delta. If so, you will be required to check your new ‘carry-on’ bag with these airlines.

Our new cheat sheet about carry-on luggage facts provides additional information. Keep it handy for carry-on dimensions based on the airline you are flying.

LuggageInfographic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christopherson Business Travel is an award-winning corporate travel management company. With more than 60 years of experience, we provide our clients superior mobile travel technology and individualized customer support. Contact us to learn why we are different.

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