Category Archives: Travel News

Does Your State Driver’s License Comply With The REAL ID Act?

You have hopefully noticed the many informative signs in the airports regarding driver’s licenses. If you haven’t, major changes are coming to the commercial aircraft’s security standards that you should be aware of. Called the REAL ID Act, travelers will see the most change by potentially needing different documentation to board aircrafts in the United States. For a larger overview, read our original REAl ID Act blog post here. Now, new extensions for some states are shifting the deadlines.

What’s happening?

The REAl ID Act is an update in security standards for many federal facilities. It has been in the process of updating various minimum security standards for power plants, federal buildings and others for the past 12 years. Now entering its final phase, the focus is on federally regulated commercial aircrafts. Travelers may only board the plane with the approved forms of documentation. Compliance by states is voluntary – meaning it is the responsibility of the individual states to update their driver’s licenses and identification cards to be within the standards set by the REAL ID Act.

As of January 22, 2018, the new REAL ID Act protocols will be instituted in all United States airports. States must update their driver’s licenses by this date, or their residents will not be able to use them to board aircrafts. Many states have already updated their processes. Now, many states have extensions until October 10, 2018 to fully comply.

Can you use your driver’s licenses to board commercial aircrafts?

The image above is from the Department of Homeland Security website. Find the state in which your driver’s license or identification card is from, and see if it will be accepted under the new system.

  • States in green have already complied to the new standards. Travelers with driver’s licenses from these states can be used to board federal commercial aircrafts.
  • States in yellow have already applied for an extension in  the process. These states now have until October 10, 2018 to update their security standards. Travelers with identification from these states will still be able to use their IDs while traveling through October 10, 2018.
  • A few states, seen in blue are still under review for an extension. Their IDs are currently not compliant, and they need more time than the January 22, 2018 deadline to make this update. You may need to bring additional forms of documentation, such as a passport. 

Continue to check the Homeland Security website for updates, or additional blogs or social media posts from Christopherson Business Travel. If you are a current client, contact your account manager if you have additional questions.

New Security Screenings For All U.S.-Bound Flights

security screenings us-bound flights

New airport security screening procedures were implemented late last week due to a new announcement from the TSA. Flights entering the United States will now require stricter passenger screening, for both U.S. citizens and foreign travelers. Only airports which serve as the last point of departure to the United States need to make these updates.  This will affect approximately 2,100 flights entering the U.S. every day.

This measure replaces earlier security rules, banning travelers from certain countries from bringing laptops or large electronics into the plane cabin with them. Each airline is adjusting to the new procedures in slightly different ways.  As details and procedures are likely to change, here’s what we know so far.

The bottom line

Most importantly, allow enough time in your schedule for interviews, questionnaires, or unexpected hang ups. Though the hope is that more extensive screenings will not increase wait times, most airlines are recommending to arrive at least three hours early to the gate. And of course, have your documentation and electronics readily available.

What new procedures travelers can expect

  • Stricter passenger screenings and interviews, even for American citizens
  • Inspection of personal electronic devices
  • Not all measures will be visible to the public, though passengers may see more bomb-sniffing dogs

How each airline is dealing with the new security screenings

  • Delta Air Lines– Travelers should arrive to the airport three hours before their flight. They should head straight to their gate where they may go through additional screening.
  • Air France– They’ve developed a questionnaire given to “100 percent” of the travelers. Have begun conducting these interviews at Paris Orly Airport. On Nov 2, the same procedures will be implemented at Charles de Gaulle Airport.
  • Emirates– Will be conducting ‘pre-screening interviews’ at their check-in counters for travelers flying out of Dubai. The interviews will be conducted at the boarding gates for transit and transfer fliers. Those flying through their headquarters, Dubai International Airport, should allow extra time to check in and board.
  • Cathy Pacific– Have suspended their self-drop baggage services. Those heading to the U.S. will instead be subject to a short security interview when checking in their luggage. Travelers without checked baggage will undergo a similar interview at the gate.
  • EgyptAir- Their new measures include more detailed searches of passengers, luggage and interviews.
  • Lufthansa Group (including Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, Swiss, Eurowings and others)- Travelers may face short interviews at check-in, or documentation check at their gate.
  • Royal Jordanian– They will begin these new security procedures in mid-January, after being granted a request for delay in implementation.

We will continue to update this blog as more information and procedures are implemented. If you are a Christopherson client with additional questions, feel free to reach out to your account manager.

Christopherson Business Travel is a corporate travel management company with more than 60 years of experience. Known for our proprietary travel technology and dedicated account management, we’re always working to make business travel easier. Please contact us to learn more about our approach and corporate travel packages

Delta Releases Automatic Check-in and In-Flight Messaging

Delta automatic check-in

With the use of cutting-edge technology, Delta Air Lines always seems to be at the forefront of traveler innovation. Their tracking technology has eased the stress of checked baggage. And their on-time landing rates are outstanding due to internal adjustments. Delta’s continual commitment to travelers often involves facilitating convenience. That’s why it’s no surprise that Delta’s recent updates yet again ease the burden of travel for their customers.

Automatic Check-in

Most recently, Delta has announced that travelers who have downloaded and logged into the Delta Fly app, will be automatically checked-in to their flight and sent a boarding pass. That’s right, potentially gone are the days of setting a 24 hour reminder before your flight. Or hurriedly using a ticketing kiosk at the airport before heading to the security line. Now, you’ll just to open your app to retrieve your boarding pass.
Currently, the automatic check-in is only available for flights traveling in the United States, Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands. Delta has not yet announced how it will handle additional details, like checked bags and seat changes. They’ve also listed circumstances in which the feature is not compatible. This includes reservations with a delay or cancellation present. Reservations without a seat assignment at the time of check-in. And reservations that include special service requests, like wheelchair service, unaccompanied minor travel, or pet traveling in the cabin.

In-flight messaging

Another venture in which Delta is innovating with technology to ease the stress of their flyers, is providing in-flight free messaging. Now, travelers can stay connected with friends, family and co-workers while onboard. Through their wifi, travelers can use iMessage, Facebook Messenger and What’s App, as long as they have downloaded the app prior to boarding. It also will only be available on wifi enabled flights. Just remember to select the “Free Messaging” pass once you logged on to the Delta wifi through your browser.

Christopherson Business Travel is a corporate travel management company with more than 60 years of experience. Contact us to learn how our proprietary technology helps relieve burdens for both the travel manager and the traveler.

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.

CHOICE Expedition – Tammy’s Story

choice-corporate-partners

Christopherson Business Travel is a proud corporate sponsor of CHOICE Humanitarian. In addition to voluntary employee contributions and matching program, Christopherson annually sends a group of employees on a week-long humanitarian expedition. Based out of Salt Lake City, CHOICE Humanitarian works in seven countries to help those in extreme poverty.  Using a village-centered approach, they work to improve quality of life through self-sufficiency.  This year, our group employees visited a small village in the Buena Vista region of Guatemala. Tammy Irvin, a corporate travel advisor from our Alabama office was selected to volunteer on this trip.

Tammy’s story with Choice Humanitarian

The CHOICE Humanitarian expedition to Guatemala is a trip I will never forget. This trip brought out so many emotions in me—laughter, sadness, heartbreak, and amazement. I cannot thank Christopherson Andavo enough for the opportunity to participate.

I arrived to the hustle and bustle of Guatemala City. It was a little overwhelming at first, but our trip leaders made me feel at ease. We were treated to a great meal at a local restaurant and a trip to the Market. Once the rest of the team members arrived, we went to our first stop, a resort called Rio Dulce. There, I met Amy, my roomie for the week and the other Christopherson Andavo team members, along with the other expedition participants. We enjoyed dinner together and had a great time relaxing at the pool.

The next day, we went on a boat ride and then boarded two small buses. I am extremely afraid of heights, so I was not looking forward to this part of the trip. We wound around the mountainous roads and finally, we arrived—to the “drop-over- the-edge-and-you-will-die point.” I got a few heckles, but my fear faded and I was fine.

Finally, we arrived at Sikaab’e. Sikaab’e is a vocational training school in the Polochic Valley. Sikaabe is Q’eqchi for “seek your path.” We were lucky enough to stay in their dorm for the week! The next day we began our work of digging trenches, building chicken coops, and painting the dorm. We took a day to visit with the women in a neighboring village and teach hygiene, while the men bonded with the local soccer team. Every day was an adventure. As the week went by, we slowly realized that you can disconnect, be unplugged, and you will survive.

In short, we ate, laughed, cried, made new friends we will never forget, and helped someone make it through one more day. The trip is actually helping me make it through one more day. I know it’s not what you have, it’s what you give—in whatever way you give it. I have never seen so many happy people—so many people that didn’t have much, but what they had, they were grateful for.

I have a million memories and for that, I am thankful.

Additional Security Measures for International Flights to the U.S.

additional-security-international-flights

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced today that flights arriving to the United States will undergo additional security measures. This is response to increased threats on commercial aviation as a whole. Starting later this week, passengers flying to the United States should expect additional security measures.

 

These security measures include:

  • Enhanced screening of travelers
  • Increased security screening of aircraft and passenger areas
  • Heightened screening of electronic devices that are larger than a standard smartphone
  • Being prepared to remove these devices from protective cases or packaging if asked.
  • Using additional technology
  • Expanding canine security
  • Establishing additional preclearance locations

 

This heightened change effects 105 countries and approximately 280 airports that serve as the last points of departure to the United States. This affects 180 airlines, an average of 2,100 flights per day and 325,000 daily passengers on average. The DHS and TSA will be working with airline stakeholders over the next weeks and months to ensure these security protocols are fully implemented. Stakeholders that fail to adopt these requirements within certain time frames will run the risk of additional security restrictions being imposed.

Google and STR- Giving Hotels More Data

google-str-hotel-data

Here’s good news for hotels – preferred hotel properties are getting even smarter. STR, the leading travel industry data provider, recently partnered with Google to study the association between Google searches and hotel demand. This study found there is a strong correlation between Google search trends and hotel bookings.

The STAR report, STR’s leading product for hotels, allows hotels to study their individual property performance and benchmark against their competition. Specifically, the product allows individual hotel properties to follow trends in ADR (average daily rate) and RevPar (revenue per available room) to ensure they are performing well in contrast to their competition.

The study

Using London and New York City as their case study locations, they tried their theory. Both cities are global hubs with existing high traffic. They both also have achieved occupancy levels above 80% for at least the past seven years.

They were able to conclude that higher Google search volumes can be associated with higher STR demand levels. With the positive conclusion of this study, hotel executives can look to Google in combination with STR benchmarking data to make a more accurate prediction on hotel occupancy levels.

Whether you are a hotel executive, travel agent, or vender, this is a sign that if you aren’t promoting on Google, you may be missing out. With this high correlation of hotel rates and Google searches, other travel searches may have similar correlations. Staying relevant and easy to find online is becoming more and more important for businesses.

How to use Google to get more searches and bookings

  • Promote your website on Google or through a booking site.
  • Use all of Google’s available tools to help differentiate. Add your phone number, official website and any positive reviews to Google.
  • Try out Google’s new ‘Plan a Trip’ tab. It easily allows users to plan each step of their trip within Google.

For more information and access the entire study, click here.

 

Add Wellness Travel to your Business Travel

wellness-travel

I recently came across this article from our luxury travel consortium, Virtuoso, about new wellness travel trends.  I hadn’t heard of many of them (although plenty of our Andavo Travel advisors specialize in wellness travel), and found them fascinating.  Perhaps for a stressed-out business traveler, one of these wellness trends may be just the ticket for your next vacation.

Wellness Travel ideas for business travelers

Hygge

Pronounced “hoo-gah”, this Danish concept is catching popularity. Roughly meaning “the pursuit of coziness” – it’s an established time to curl up with a good book and hot mulled wine. In wellness travel, this could be stepping away from the chaos. Enroll in forest walks, classes in reading or writing haiku, watercolor classes, and alpine treks.

Conscious Eating

Sometimes the food is the highlight of a vacation. In our society of diets and fads, it’s easy to feel guilty about indulging, even when away. Conscious eating is less about sticking to a regime, and more about being mindful. The focus is instead on where food comes from, how it’s produced, how your body will respond to it, and if it’s the best choice for you.

 

Digital Detox

Staying connected is becoming more and more important these days. With emails, social media, news feeds etc, it can be impossible to get away. Hence, the latest in wellness trends, digital detox. Resorts offering a digital detox often ban technology in public areas, and some don’t offer Wi-Fi at all. Other places require guests to surrender their devices upon arrival, returning them only after the program or stay is complete.  They’ve found that guests sleep better and are more present  overall.

Mindful Meditation

Meditation is practiced around the world, but it has recently reached critical mass stateside, with apps zooming to the top of the Apple App Store best-seller list and pop-up, pop-in studios sprouting across the country to help busy people calm their minds.

Whatever the individual practice, the benefits of meditation are grounded in scientific fact: A recent study reported that mindfulness meditation provided a cure for pain relief, while devotees report reduced stress, clearer thinking, and diminished anxiety.

High-Tech Wellness

These spas blow the traditional spa out of the water.  Focused on identifying and addressing chronic health concerns,they use advanced technology to do it. Some use stem-cell biotechnology to help treat autoimmune diseases. Or full-day medical intakes that incorporate a body composition analysis, blood draw, and metabolic rate test. Vitamin deficiencies, allergies, and food intolerances can be spotted and treated, while more pervasive conditions have a chance to be identified and addressed through a combination of traditional and holistic treatments.

For guests suffering from persistent but vague ailments that have eluded diagnosis or treatment, high-tech wellness facilities are the perfect place to drill down and get to the root of what ails you.

Equine Therapy

Horses have long been recognized as therapeutic for those working through trauma or emotional issues. Many luxury resorts have started incorporating equine therapy programs as a source of creativity and connection. Some programs focus more on communication rather than riding. Popular as team-building exercises, they facilitate better listening and communication, while also reflecting human behavior. Other popular options include painting classes on the live canvas of the horse, to express emotions and center energy.

No matter how you de-stress, there is a wellness option out there for you. If interested if finding your own relaxing vacation away, please contact our Andavo Travel advisers.

JetBlue Returns to Hartsfield-Jackson Airport

JetBlue-Atlanta-Airport

After more than 13 years, JetBlue has returned service to Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson airport. The carrier is offering just one destination, but already has plans to expand. The industry will be watching closely, as this is the second time JetBlue has tried to break into this competitive airport. 

The saga of JetBlue and the Hartsfiel-Jackson Airport

In a drama similar to soap operas, JetBlue was pushed out of the Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in 2003 by rival airlines. Offering flights from Atlanta to Long Beach, CA, AirTran Airways and Delta Air Lines immediately released cheaper deals to the same region. JetBlue was unable to establish themselves and soon discontinued service from Atlanta. Now, as a household brand with a bigger footprint, they are entering the playing field by starting again with one destination. The flight to Boston will run five times a day. Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and New York Kennedy will soon be added.

JetBlue has distinguished itself with by providing extra perks, such as free unlimited snacks like Cheez-Its, Craisins and Terra gourmet potato chips, and free Wi-Fi. It will also sell seats with additional leg room.

I think this is a great time for jet blue to re-enter the Atlanta market. It’s always great to have a few choices when looking to fly out of Atlanta. Seems as though the prices originating out of Hartsfield have increased significantly over the last few years and with the added competition maybe we can expect to see a decrease in fares in the near future. Jet blue plans to use the airbus A-320 for the Atlanta – Boston routes.

Read next:

 

Christopherson Business Travel is a corporate travel management company with offices across the nation. We are passionate about finding solutions for companies, reducing wasted time and additional costs. To learn our multi-faceted approach, contact us to schedule a personalized demo.

Peloton Bikes Available In Room At Westin Hotels

Peloton-available-westin-hotels

I’ve always been one to exercise while traveling for business.  My stress level is higher than normal and needs to be under control when business is the mindset.  So when I read the USAToday article about Peloton exercise bikes being made available in some Westin Hotels, I was so EXCITED!!

Peloton Bikes come to individual hotel rooms

Guests are now able to choose a hotel room with a Peloton bike as a “room category” for their stay. Currently, this is only available in select cities including; Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles and Boston. They will have access to 5,000 on-demand classes taught by instructors through the bike. But these Peloton options are growing fast. In other locations like Austin, Detroit, Denver, New York City, Palo Alto, Philadelphia, San Francisco, San Diego and Seattle, the Peloton bikes will be available in hotel’s fitness studios.

Business travelers looking for more exercise options

As it turns out, I’m not the only one exercising while on the road. A recent study found that 65% of travelers say they exercise less while on the road. Though they do try — 83% said they factor in wellness programs into their travel planning. As Millennials begin to travel more, they are also pushing for more exercise options. Nearly 40% of Millennials traveling planned to cycle while on the road. Easy access to Peloton bikes appears to be a no-brainer for the future of hotel amenities.

High-scale exercise options to hotel guests are the new rage. Hotels around the world are teaming up with the hottest and trendiest studios.  Boot camps, spin classes, hula swimming, and personal training sessions are popping up across the globe. Could this be the latest in hotel networking and mingle hours provided by hotels?

Perhaps gone are the days of getting up before dawn to claim a treadmill or elliptical machine alongside other stressed-out travelers. With an in-room bike or scheduled class, exercise can take place at a more reasonable hour with more fun.