Finding Better Prices For Expensive Travel Vacations

Lets face it we all love to escape from the pressure and demands of our busy daily lives here in the 21st century. Whether it is for two days or two months the chance to ‘drop out’ and venture away to an exotic location somewhere in the world is irresistible. And, what’s more, you don’t have to pay ridiculous prices to enjoy an expensive travel vacation.

In many parts of the country we are hunkered down in snow and rain dreaming of a vacation paradise. We envision places where we can be pampered by ‘servants’ catering to our every need. This includes everything from umbrella adorned exotic tropical concoctions to personal guides who take us scuba diving in crystal clear, tropic oceans. Picture a horseback ride on endless white sand beaches. Imagine that you can let the child out and laugh to the splash of turquoise water, as well as feel the temperate breezes in their faces and the warmth of tropical sun on bare backs.

Expensive vacation packages often seem out of our reach. In lieu, we try to locate a travel channel or golf resort magazine that can point us to a blissful destination. We only dream of places that can quench our desires for escape. When able to pursue such a vacation, we sadly often find blacked out dates, overbooked resorts, or exorbitant fees to pay just to have the privilege to get away from it all.

Consider obtaining a membership through travel destination clubs that can give you unrestricted access to many destinations around the world. Many of these travel membership plans have no blackout dates or restricted weeks. This puts you in complete control of your next vacation spot. Whether you want to go to Hawaii in peak season or Cabo in fishing season, these memberships offer a service like no other.

As a member to such places, you generally have access anytime to top resort destinations. You will find it easy to book accommodations at many luxury resort destinations. You can even enjoy discounts on all the major cruise lines as well, depending on which membership you join.

Your best bet is to look for memberships that offer no annual dues or exchange fees. Also look out for restricted weeks and blackout dates. Avoiding these traps means you can have year-round access to the worlds top resorts in peak season. With companies competing for your business, you can find just the deals you are looking for.

When you obtain a membership, you basically get to take advantage of having your own travel professionals. These professionals know how to fulfill your specific requests including exact dates, unit sizes, and the number of travelers. This gives you complete freedom and total control to travel when and where you want. This prestigious service will be yours for a lifetime, if you choose.

If you are ready to escape this is your vehicle and your portal to that bliss you so desperately seek. Joining a travel club definitely has its advantages. Complete packages have become quite affordable over time. What are you waiting for?

Newfoundland Travel – Channel-Port Aux Basque to Corner Brook – Newfoundland

We arrived on THE ROCK via the ferry from North Sidney, Nova Scotia and spent the night outside of Channel-Port aux Basque at the visitor’s center with other like minded travelers like ourselves. The ferry arrives at Port aux Basque after everything has been closed down.

On Thursday, July 10, 2003

After the requisite trip to the visitor center, where we received everything that we needed for a stay in Newfoundland (as the lady said, “If we don’t have the information, you don’t need it”), we headed North on the TCH (the Trans Canadian Highway). We found a camping place at Cheeseman Provincial Park for $13.00 per day: no hookups. Our campsite backed up to a river estuary. Across the inlet was the Gulf of St Lawrence, separated by the old Newfoundland Railroad trail. We could see the tide in action as it covered the rocks in the river bed at high tide and exposed them at low time, about a two foot difference.

Being still early in the day, we took the advice of the lady at the visitor’s center and traveled to Rose Blanche, a fishing village forty kilometers East of Port aux Basque on the Southern shore. Route 470 provides spectacular views of seascapes on the South and small lakes, ponds, waterfalls, and rugged mountains on the North. At every turn in the bend, the scenery changed. We felt like we were transported into a different world, one of impeccable beauty and serenity. Along the road are small fishing villages with names of Margaree, Isle aux Morts, Burnt Islands, and ending at Rose Blanche with its granite lighthouse. We ate lunch at the Friendly Fisherman’s Cafe in town. The portions were overwhelming. We split a fish and chips: three four inch in diameter pieces of deep fried fresh cod and a heaping mound of French fried potatoes. When the waitress brought out the plate, our jaws dropped. We barely were able to finish the meal. We were the first customers from Illinois to have dined there. We signed their guest book and left in a very happy and sedated mood. (Read food comas.)

On our way back home, we stopped at Barachois Falls. A boardwalk, in need of repair, took us out to the falls. Along the way were rivulets meandering their way to the sea. The water, crystal clear, was browning in color due to the tannin excreted from the plants.

After the falls we stopped at Isle aux Morts to see the Harvey Trail. George Harvey, a Scottish Immigrant in the 1800s, was a fisherman who lived on one of the islands with his family of nine children. In the years of 1828 and 1838, he, his older children and their dog rescued over 160 people from two shipwrecks. He is known as a local hero and legend. A seven kilometer trail winds along the coastline. Because of the strong winds, we only went a short distance.

Returning to Port aux Basque we visited the Newfoundland Railway Museum; a narrow gauge railroad which operated across the island to St. Johns. The railroad closed in the 1980s, being replaced by the TCH. Today you can still hike the 500+ mile railroad bed from one end to the other.

Friday, July 12, 2003

Another beautiful sunny day. We went to visit Codroy Valley. Directly outside the entrance to our campground is a large sign: high winds for the next 20 k. This is an area known as Wreckhouse, where the winds have been known to blow more than 120 mph. The winds are compressed between the set of mountain passes and explode in velocity through this area. Any truck, train, trailer or large camper trying to travel through there is at great risk. Lauchie MacDougall lived there and was called the “human wind gauge”. He had a special knack for predicting high winds in the area. He would often notify the railroad by telephone that a blow was coming. After being warned a couple of times and having their trains blown over, the railroad started to believe him and hired him to warn them of impending blows. Plans are in place to reconstruct the house in which MacDougall lived. A parking lot is there now with trails that lead to the rail bed and a four kilometer boardwalk to the Table Mountains across the bog. We took the table mountain trail, an invigorating hike. Lots of moose tracks in view but no moose yet.

The Codroy valley boasts a designated wetlands, where many birds stop off in their migrations. We were fortunate to have seen two whooping cranes in flight. The valley has many small farms which dot the hills. To the East are the Table Mountains and the West is the sea. This is definitely a very charming area.

Later that day we took Mo for a walk to see the piping plover, an endangered species, which nest on the shore in Cheeseman Provincial Park. We walked over a mile looking for the elusive birds. We saw many birds, most probably gulls. But every time we got close to them they flew farther away.

On the way back we took an alternate road , which lead us to Cape Ray and its lighthouse. Archeological excavations show that Paleoeskimo Dorset People were there more than 7,500 years before. The had built dwellings and left many artifacts, e.g., arrow and spear heads, etc. They were hunters of seal, whale and other animals. They left the area during the global warming during the Middle Ages.

Saturday, July 12, 2003

The weather changed, with rain and high winds. Instead of braving Wreckhouse, we stayed put and rode out the storm. Speaking to some of the rangers, who drove through Wreckhouse that day in their cars, we were very happy to have stayed put. Some campers tried to brave the winds and were almost blown off the road. They pulled off before the worse part of the wind tunnel.

Sunday, July 13, 2003

The winds subsided and we broke camp and drove through Wreckhouse without incident. The mountain tops were shrouded in a cloak of morning clouds and fog, changing the landscape from the other day. We traveled to Stephenville, The Acadian Village, about fifty miles up the TCH. This was an air base for the US during W.W.II, which now acts as a regional airport. Beyond the town is Port au Port Peninsula, also called the French Shore, because of the ancestry of the inhabitants. The road travels fifty miles around the peninsula. Because the area was fogged in, we decided to forgo the trip and continue on to Corner Brook. When we arrived at Kinsman Campground in Corner Brook and talked with a visitor from Montreal. He said that we did not miss anything. Port au Port was a boring trip.

Corner Brook started as a paper and pulp mill town on the Humber River. It is the second largest city in Newfoundland. We took the Cook Trail, the Southern shore of the Humber River which leads out to Lark Harbor at the mouth of the Gulf of St Lawrence. The scenery was beautiful all along the way.

Monday, July 14, 2003

Drove the North shore of the Humber River out to Cox Cove. The view from this side is different from the South side. You see the snow still on the Northern faces of the mountains across the waters rising behind the town. At Cox Cove the Bay Islands are visible in the haze and the beginnings of Gros Morne Park are visible.

Drove up to the Captain James Cook Memorial overlooking Corner Brook, the Humber River Valley, and the Bay Islands. In 1767 he was commissioned to survey the Newfoundland Coast after the Seven Years War. The French had ceded the Lands of Newfoundland and the Maritime Provinces and most of the fishing rights. The British, not trusting the French, had the area surveyed. Because Cook did such a good job, he was rewarded the opportunity to do the same in the South Pacific, where he lost his life. Students from the drama department of Memorial University of Newfoundland in Corner Brook give a free comedic performance about Cook’s exploits in the Humber Valley.

That evening we attended a dinner theater presentation by the same group in town. It was entitled, A Concise History of Newfoundland and Labrador in a funny revue. The food was good, cod or chicken, and the show was very entertaining.

Travel Channel – The World at Your Fingertips Through Satellite TV

Travelling the world is something most everyone dreams about. Distant, far off exotic locations, tropical paradises, obscure villages in Borneo, fantastic glaciers in Patagonia, Norwegian fjords, Balinese beaches and South American pampas are just some of the alluring destinations that dazzle our minds. However, the economy being what it is, and the fact that travel has never really been that cheap, many of us are left standing idly by the sidelines. While the jetsetters rush off on their private planes equipped with HD screens the size of your kitchen window and private bars, we common folk must find some other ways to indulge in our wanderlust. Satellite TV is a great way to travel without going anywhere. You can get a taste of Tuscany or see the sights of Seville without having to spend a dollar or get on a plane. Simply tune up the satellite TV system and click on the Travel Channel, there the world is at your fingertips. Don’t miss out on these great programs.

Anthony Bourdain-No Reservations: This show, starring the one and only Anthony Bourdain, chef and traveler extraordinaire gives you a glimpse at not just foreign lands, but also at local cuisine. It’s a two in one treat really. Follow the unconventional chef as he heads off to the Azores or as he gets caught in the center of a Middle Eastern conflict. Don’t miss out.

Art Attack: So you love art, but just don’t have the cash to jet off and tour all the museums in the world-we’re not all highly paid sports stars or financiers after all; well, at least you can see your favorite works of art via satellite TV with Art Attack. The show takes you to some of the coolest art galleries around. Follow host Lee Sandstead as he explores iconic artworks and historical paintings and sculptures.

Bridget: Explore the world’s most beautiful beaches with one of the world’s prettiest faces-Bridget Marquardt, former play-bunny. Bridget has an infectious personality and there’s no experience that’s too intimidating for her. She’ll dive off a cliff and eat fried bugs. Catch all of this in splendid HD detail.

Forbes Luxe 11: This program takes you on tour of the most affluent escapes in the world. This is the stuff you dream about. Vicariously jet off to Scotland to enjoy a round of golf, join the high rollers in Sin City, or take a cruise around the French Riviera. It’s all there waiting for you.

Samantha Brown: Do you want to know about the best weekend getaways? Then join host Samantha Brown as she explores quaint, off the road locations around the US for the perfect weekend escape.

China: Here’s a show dedicated to the great country we call China. You will get inside glimpses into China’s high-rise cities and its most rural villages. The show will take you to all the best hotels, restaurants and shopping areas.

Mark and Olly-Living with the Machigenga: Two friends travel to the Peruvian Amazon to live with the Machigenga, a small and remote tribe that lives from the river.

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Taking the Trip of Your Life With the Travel Channel on Satellite TV

In the last hour, you just summited the tallest peak in South America, celebrated Carnaval with millions of party goers in Rio de Janeiro, and strolled along some of the most pristine beaches in the world. All of this was accomplished in the comfort of your own home, without suffering from jet lag or having to get a painful malaria shot. How is this possible? With high definition television, the Travel Channel opens an entirely new world for global viewing pleasure. With a crystal clear picture, it feels as though you are actually in an exotic place, experiencing the sights, sounds, smells, and sensations. Get close to your favorite animals, swim in the seven seas, and trek huge distances across deserts and mountains without ever having to leave the comfort of your home.

The Travel Channel has programs geared towards all ages, budgets, and a variety of interests. The goal of each show is to bring the viewer as close as possible to the culture of a distinct place. This is accomplished through food, music, or breathtaking scenery. Since half of the fun of travel is discovering and trying new foods, there are a plethora of shows devoted to finding great eats on your travel adventures. For those with a strong stomach, Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmerman gives you an up close and personal approach to different “delicacies” throughout the world. Since sampling rare foods may not be up everyone’s alley, the Travel Channel also airs shows on where to pick out the best breakfast or cheap eats.

Although food is a crucial part of sampling another culture, the Travel Channel aired on satellite TV also gives an up close and personal look at some of the world’s best travel destinations. Watching the countdown of the most fabulous beaches worldwide will make anyone suffering in from the winter blues want to jump aboard an airplane or cruise ship and head south! If bronzing yourself on the beach all day long is not your thing, take a walk on the wild side with a safari through the Sahara Desert, or trek through the Alaskan wilderness with knowledgeable and insightful guides. While some of these programs highlight the most extravagant vacations imaginable, there are also programs geared for budget travelers and backpackers wanting to see the world without breaking the bank.

To travel is to experience and know all the different sectors of a culture and at the Travel Channel, they know how to cover their bases. Whether you want to witness extreme sports such as paragliding, basin jumping, or deep sea diving, or would rather watch a program about the best jazz bars in Manhattan, the Travel Channel has a program to suit your travel needs. Although travel can be geared towards a unique experience for the individual, programming also highlights some of the best travel for couples and romantic getaways for honeymooners. The next time you want to see the world from a whole new perspective, tune into the Travel Channel to witness the wonders of the world from the comfort of your own home.

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Live a Travel Channel Life – 5 Tips For Global Nomads

There is a growing number of people around the world throwing their cares to the wind, quitting their jobs, and making a new life for themselves on the open road traveling from country to country. Whether you are making an all-out lifestyle change or easing into it a little at a time, there are tricks and techniques for doing it right.

To life like a star of the travel channel, try these 5 tips:

Tip #1: Carry only the essentials from country to country:
When you embark on your journey, you may find yourself packing two nice, big suitcase full of clothes and goodies from REI. Hint: try narrowing your luggage down to what will fit in a backpack or a single suitcase. Either way, as you travel from country to country, you will notice that your list of essentials grows shorter. All you really need is a bit of cash or travelers checks, your passport, maybe a good travel guide and a couple changes of clothing.

Tip #2: Buy cheap:
If you are going to make a life or significant hobby out of living the travel channel life, you need to learn the insider secrets to buying cheap airfare. Do the research ahead of time. For you, airfare will become as significant an expense as is a mortgage and car payment for your more sedentary friends and family. Do your homework now and save thousands and thousands down the road.

Tip #3: Know the best countries to visit for saving your cash:
As you can imagine, the cost of traveling and living in the various countries of the world differs dramatically from country to country. If you are planning to life for months or years away from home, plan your global route according to your budget. For example, if you are planning to travel Asia, visit South and Southeast Asian (e.g., India, Thailand, and Vietnam) when you are low on cash. If you just made a withdrawal from the bank account in your native country or got a paycheck from your online business, head to East Asia (e.g., Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan) to see the sites there. The same pattern applies in the Americas, Africa, and Europe as well.

Tip #4: Double up when you can:
If you are traveling along, you will find that it is usually very easy to meet people on the road. When you do have the opportunity to meet up with someone you can trust with whom you can share accommodations or even a taxi ride to the airport, I highly suggest doing so. At the same time, you will need to say goodbye to these travel bodies not infrequently, so be big enough to say “I have to go my own way now” then the time comes.

Tip #5: Use Internet cafes to maintain a travel blog:
Traveling this big world can be pretty lonely sometimes. A great option that global travelers have today that was not there even a few years ago is to keep a travel blog. Your regular entries of text and (when possible) photos will give you a sense of continuity and will give your friends and family back home a much better sense of what is going on with you as you have the time of your life.

To live a travel channel life, make sure you educate yourself about how to buy cheap airfare and accommodations. Be sure to pack only the essentials and educate yourself ahead of time about which countries will be cheaper to live in. And, take advantage of the Internet to keep yourself centered and your family and friends up to date.

What Travel Agents Need to Know About Corporate Travel Today

This is rightly named as the age of traveler-centricity and with the evolution of the new era of personalized travel; it is leading to research and development of a host of new so-called intelligent services. The command-and-control perspectives of traveling have changed a lot from the past and the focus has shifted more on the traveler and the productivity of each trip. It has become essential to maintain that the travelers have the greatest return on investment on each trip. New generations of young employees and managers, who have been growing up and dwelling in a digital age, are moving up the ranks as travelers. It has become essential to recognize the need for greater flexibility acknowledging that the employees who travel on corporate trips also consider a percentage of their trip to be a leisure outlet. With increasing globalization and rise in companies sending their staff overseas to network and connect with their offshore prospects/customers/suppliers, corporate travel is a highly profitable tourism segment. Before we talk about how tourism companies can better cater to business travelers, let us first look at why they prefer to use specialized corporate agencies over traditional agents

Why do businesses use Corporate Travel Agencies?

This might be the most basic question for a travel agency as to why they need to use agencies specializing in corporate travel when there are plenty of regular travel agents in the market. Here is the importance of corporate travel agencies who have online systems which allow business travelers access to their complete itinerary.

The following information is at the fingertips of the CTAs:-

full business itinerary details
up-to-date tracking details of flights (including delays or rescheduling)
transparent details about additional costs such as baggage fees or in-flight fees
travel alerts, if any, in the destined area
complete and up-to-date details about the visa procurement policies and identification required
currency requirement and conversion rates

What do corporate clients expect from Corporate Travel Agencies?

Negotiated Fares

The Corporate Agencies tend to have tie-ups with hotels, car rentals, flights etc. giving them access to lower fares which can be used only by the frequent business travelers. Discounted prices are not the only advantage though as they also offer flight upgrades, room upgrades, and VIP check-in lines as required.

In-depth information about the travel industry

Corporate travel agents have access to many travel resources and most importantly, quickly, than any other leisure travel agent. Additional information helps to make the business trips convenient and comfortable.

Changes in Itinerary

When an airline ticket needs to get rescheduled or cancelled, chances are the airline or the online service provider will charge lofty fees. When booking with a corporate travel agent, most of the times schedule changes can be done at zero or minimal extra charges.

Viable emergency contacts

It is important for the business travelers to reach the correct person at the need of trouble. Corporate travel agents have the experience and professionalism to relieve stress for both the traveler and the company.

What you need to consider as corporate travel increases?

Business Travel Barometer reported that corporate travel is witnessing an accelerated growth. However, when poorly managed, it may be no longer an advantage to companies and may, in fact become a burden. There are some factors which the corporations and CTAs must consider to get the best out of the time spent traveling.

Adopting a travel policy

The corporate must define a travel policy which is applicable to and respected by travelers at all levels. This policy should be used to establish the standards which will help to track the improvement of business travel. It will eventually help to reduce the costs of the entire package.

Do not limit the traveler’s autonomy

The management is responsible for budgeting the travel policy which helps to improve cost management however, it is also essential to give a degree of autonomy to the traveler. The policy should be flexible enough to allow the employee to adapt the trip as per the situation.

Traveler’s security should be a major concern

Business travelers need to have security in place. The company needs to stick to its definition of standards to ensure the employee’s integrity. The CTAs should have reliable partners (travel insurance, airlines, hotel chains etc.).

Mobility and automation

To optimize time and ease the processes, the administration of management platforms should have automated processes. This means they should adopt mobile solutions where search options, travel alerts, ticket reservations etc. can be accessed quickly, easily and on the go.

Corporate Travel Trends in 2016

Corporate travel trends tend to change regularly. 2016 has also not been any different and the travel management companies (TMCs) and corporate travel agencies (CTAs) are quite focused to provide steady if not strong axis all over. A growing MICE sector, investments in mobile and big data and enhanced focus on duty of care are some of their areas of focus.

Rising prices

The consolidated buzzword among global suppliers, airfares, hotel rates etc. is the rising fares. It is sometimes the move of the suppliers to generate discounts which encourage travel if there is a strong decline in demand. A positive 2016 world economy has been bringing an increase in air fares of a few percentage points, hotels are expected to see 4%-6% rise in average global rates and the competition will remain moderate in the car rental services.

Duty of care

Risk management is one of the major points of emphasis for corporations. Corporate customers are allowing new policies and improved technologies to monitor employees’ location in case of an emergency, especially when they are travelling to foreign destinations. For instance, Concur Risk Messaging helps to identify the travelers moving around in the world and alerts them with alternate travel arrangement as and when needed.

Focusing on MICE

Meetings industry is a major growing sector and the corporate travel trend is developing on it. The corporate travel agencies should better start aligning the various meeting procurement methodologies with its transient travel sourcing. One of the ways could be to broaden the variety of meeting services by incorporating incentive trips within it.

Investing in technology

A sharper focus on increasing value and becoming more traveler-centric can be done by bringing in mobile friendly technologies. Mobile and big data are definitely the two most significant technological investments which any corporate travel agency must focus to make their platform more appealing.

Business travel analysis after Brexit

Following Brexit, ACTE and CAPA shared their speculations. According to them, the greatest short-term effects on the travel industry will come from the weakening of the pound against other world currencies. Greeley Koch, executive director for the Association of Corporate Travel Executives said that the business travel industry will trend on currency fluctuations; with some companies taking advantage of the weaker pound and traveling more, while others may withhold business travel until world markets find their own level.

Impact of terrorism on corporate travelers

Travel policy makers and administrators need to be guided by rising terrorism scare. For executives and staff undertaking travel on behalf of businesses, the travel agents and corporate travel agencies (CTAs) should prove the reassurance for their safety through the travel policies. It is more than likely that the surveys conducted over corporate travelers reflect the general concern of the global business travelers about the spate of terrorism. However, there is no denying the fact that terrorist threat is changing the patterns of business travel. The key impact of this is to keep in mind that the companies providing travel services for business travelers need to enhance their focus on security and the associated risks in delivering the services to corporate clients. According to a recent finding, travel managers have higher estimation of their policy’s effectiveness in addressing risk compared to skeptical business travelers.

Concluding

Although the corporate travel sector has continued to progress, there are a plethora of challenges faced by the industry. A rapidly changing consumer market, the emergence of new business models, the impact of technology, man-made and natural crises are some of the fulcrum points that need to be considered before planning corporate trips.

Base Tendriling Travel Expenses

As business travel expenses nose upward, companies are realizing that better cost-management techniques can make a difference

US. corporate travel expenses rocketed to more than $143 billion in 1994, according to American Express’ most recent survey on business travel management. Private-sector employers spend an estimated $2,484 per employee on travel and entertainment, a 17 percent increase over the past four years.

Corporate T&E costs, now the third-largest controllable expense behind sales and data-processing costs, are under new scrutiny. Corporations are realizing that even a savings of 1 percent or 2 percent can translate into millions of dollars added to their bottom line.

Savings of that order are sure to get management’s attention, which is a requirement for this type of project. Involvement begins with understanding and evaluating the components of T&E management in order to control and monitor it more effectively.

Hands-on management includes assigning responsibility for travel management, implementing a quality-measurement system for travel services used, and writing and distributing a formal travel policy. Only 64 percent of U.S. corporations have travel policies.

Even with senior management’s support, the road to savings is rocky-only one in three companies has successfully instituted an internal program that will help cut travel expenses, and the myriad aspects of travel are so overwhelming, most companies don’t know where to start. “The industry of travel is based on information,” says Steven R. Schoen, founder and CEO of The Global Group Inc. “Until such time as a passenger actually sets foot on the plane, they’ve [only] been purchasing information.”

If that’s the case, information technology seems a viable place to hammer out those elusive, but highly sought-after, savings. “Technological innovations in the business travel industry are allowing firms to realize the potential of automation to control and reduce indirect [travel] costs,” says Roger H. Ballou, president of the Travel Services Group USA of American Express. “In addition, many companies are embarking on quality programs that include sophisticated process improvement and reengineering efforts designed to substantially improve T&E management processes and reduce indirect costs.”

As companies look to technology to make potential savings a reality, they can get very creative about the methods they employ.

The Great Leveler

Centralized reservation systems were long the exclusive domain of travel agents and other industry professionals. But all that changed in November 1992 when a Department of Transportation ruling allowed the general public access to systems such as Apollo and SABRE. Travel-management software, such as TripPower and TravelNet, immediately sprang up, providing corporations insight into where their T&E dollars are being spent.

The software tracks spending trends by interfacing with the corporation’s database and providing access to centralized reservation systems that provide immediate reservation information to airlines, hotels and car rental agencies. These programs also allow users to generate computerized travel reports on cost savings with details on where discounts were obtained, hotel and car usage and patterns of travel between cities. Actual data gives corporations added leverage when negotiating discounts with travel suppliers.

“When you own the information, you don’t have to go back to square one every time you decide to change agencies,” says Mary Savovie Stephens, travel manager for biotech giant Chiron Corp.

Sybase Inc., a client/server software leader with an annual T&E budget of more than $15 million, agrees. “Software gives us unprecedented visibility into how employees are spending their travel dollars and better leverage to negotiate with travel service suppliers,” says Robert Lerner, director of credit and corporate travel services for Sybase Inc. “We have better access to data, faster, in a real-time environment, which is expected to bring us big savings in T&E. Now we have control over our travel information and no longer have to depend exclusively on the agencies and airlines.”

The cost for this privilege depends on the volume of business. One-time purchases of travel-management software can run from under $100 to more than $125,000. Some software providers will accommodate smaller users by selling software piecemeal for $5 to $12 per booked trip, still a significant savings from the $50 industry norm per transaction.

No More Tickets

Paperless travel is catching on faster than the paperless office ever did as both service providers and consumers work together to reduce ticket prices for business travelers. Perhaps the most cutting-edge of the advances is “ticketless” travel, which almost all major airlines are testing.

In the meantime, travel providers and agencies are experimenting with new technologies to enable travelers to book travel services via the Internet, e-mail and unattended ticketing kiosks. Best Western International, Hyatt Hotels and several other major hotel chains market on the Internet. These services reduce the need for paper and offer better service and such peripheral benefits as increased efficiency, improved tracking of travel expenses and trends, and cost reduction.

Dennis Egolf, CFO of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Louisville, Ky., realized that the medical center’s decentralized location, a quarter-mile from the hospital, made efficiency difficult. “We were losing production time and things got lost,” he says. “Every memo had to be hand-carried for approval, and we required seven different copies of each travel order.” As a result, Egolf tried an off-the-shelf, paper-reduction software package designed for the federal government.

The software allows the hospital to manage travel on-line, from tracking per-diem allowances and calculating expenses to generating cash advance forms and authorizing reimbursement vouchers. The software also lets the hospital keep a running account of its travel expenses and its remaining travel budget.

“Today, for all practical purposes, the system is paperless,” says Egolf. The software has helped the hospital reduce document processing time by 93 percent. “The original goal focused on managing employee travel without paper,” he says. “We have achieved that goal, in part due to the efforts of the staff and in part due to the accuracy of the software.”

With only a $6,000 investment, the hospital saved $70 each employee trip and saved almost half of its $200,000 T&E budget through the paper-reduction program.

Out There

Consolidation of corporate travel arrangements by fewer agencies has been a growing trend since 1982. Nearly three out of four companies now make travel plans for their business locations through a single agency as opposed to 51 percent in 1988. Two major benefits of agency consolidation are the facilitation of accounting and T&E budgeting, as well as leverage in negotiating future travel discounts.

A major technological advance that allows this consolidation trend to flourish is the introduction of satellite ticket printers (STPs). Using STPs enables a travel agency to consolidate all operations to one home office, and still send all necessary tickets to various locations instantly via various wire services. As the term implies, the machinery prints out airline tickets on-site immediately, eliminating delivery charges.

For London Fog, STPs are a blessing. London Fog’s annual T&E budget of more than $15 million is split equally between its two locations in Eldersburg, Md., and New York City. Each location purchases the same number of tickets, so equal access to ticketing from their agency is a must. With an STP in their two locations, the company services both offices with one agency in Baltimore. Each office has access to immediate tickets and still manages to save by not having to pay courier and express mail charges that can range up to $15 for each of the more than 500 tickets each purchases annually.

Conde Nast Publications’ annual T&E budget of more than $20 million is allocated among its locations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New York and Detroit. Since 1994, travel arrangements have been handled by a centralized agency, Advanced Travel Management in New York City, by installing an STP in each of these five locations. In addition to increased efficiency due to consolidation, Conde Nast now has the ability to change travel plans at a moment’s notice and have new tickets in hand instantly.

The real benefit is that the machines are owned and maintained by the travel agency., so there is no cost to the company. Due to the major expense involved, however, STPs remain an option only for major ticket purchasers. “STPs are a viable option in this process for any location that purchases more than $500,000 per year in tickets,” says Shoen.

As airfare averages 43 percent of any company’s T&E expenses, savings obtainable through the various uses of technology have become dramatic. For example, the ability of corporations to collect and analyze their own travel trends has led to the creation of net-fare purchasing-negotiating a price between a corporation and an airline to purchase tickets that does not include the added expenses of commissions, overrides, transaction fees, agency transaction fees and other discounts.

Although most major U.S. carriers publicly proclaim that they don’t negotiate corporate discounts below published market fares, the American Express survey on business travel management found that 38 percent of U.S. companies had access to, or already had implemented, negotiated airline discounts. The availability and mechanics of these arrangements vary widely by carrier.

What’s the Price?

Fred Swaffer, transportation manager for Hewlett-Packard and a strong advocate of the net-pricing system, has pioneered the concept of fee-based pricing with travel-management companies under contract with H-P. He states that H-P, which spends more than $528 million per year on T&E, plans to have all air travel based on net-fare pricing. “At the present time, we have several net fares at various stages of agreement,” he says. “These fares are negotiated with the airlines at the corporate level, then trickle down to each of our seven geographical regions.”

Frank Kent, Western regional manager for United Airlines, concurs: “United Airlines participates in corporate volume discounting, such as bulk ticket purchases, but not with net pricing. I have yet to see one net-fare agreement that makes sense to us. We’re not opposed to it, but we just don’t understand it right now.”

Kent stresses, “Airlines should approach corporations with long-term strategic relationships rather than just discounts. We would like to see ourselves committed to a corporation rather than just involved.”

As business travel expenses nose upward, companies are realizing that better cost-management techniques can make a difference.

US. corporate travel expenses rocketed to more than $143 billion in 1994, according to American Express’ most recent survey on business travel management. Private-sector employers spend an estimated $2,484 per employee on travel and entertainment, a 17 percent increase over the past four years.

Corporate T&E costs, now the third-largest controllable expense behind sales and data-processing costs, are under new scrutiny. Corporations are realizing that even a savings of 1 percent or 2 percent can translate into millions of dollars added to their bottom line.

Savings of that order are sure to get management’s attention, which is a requirement for this type of project. Involvement begins with understanding and evaluating the components of T&E management in order to control and monitor it more effectively.

Hands-on management includes assigning responsibility for travel management, implementing a quality-measurement system for travel services used, and writing and distributing a formal travel policy. Only 64 percent of U.S. corporations have travel policies.

Even with senior management’s support, the road to savings is rocky-only one in three companies has successfully instituted an internal program that will help cut travel expenses, and the myriad aspects of travel are so overwhelming, most companies don’t know where to start. “The industry of travel is based on information,” says Steven R. Schoen, founder and CEO of The Global Group Inc. “Until such time as a passenger actually sets foot on the plane, they’ve [only] been purchasing information.”

If that’s the case, information technology seems a viable place to hammer out those elusive, but highly sought-after, savings. “Technological innovations in the business travel industry are allowing firms to realize the potential of automation to control and reduce indirect [travel] costs,” says Roger H. Ballou, president of the Travel Services Group USA of American Express. “In addition, many companies are embarking on quality programs that include sophisticated process improvement and reengineering efforts designed to substantially improve T&E management processes and reduce indirect costs.”

As companies look to technology to make potential savings a reality, they can get very creative about the methods they employ.

The Great Leveler

Centralized reservation systems were long the exclusive domain of travel agents and other industry professionals. But all that changed in November 1992 when a Department of Transportation ruling allowed the general public access to systems such as Apollo and SABRE. Travel-management software, such as TripPower and TravelNet, immediately sprang up, providing corporations insight into where their T&E dollars are being spent.

The software tracks spending trends by interfacing with the corporation’s database and providing access to centralized reservation systems that provide immediate reservation information to airlines, hotels and car rental agencies. These programs also allow users to generate computerized travel reports on cost savings with details on where discounts were obtained, hotel and car usage and patterns of travel between cities. Actual data gives corporations added leverage when negotiating discounts with travel suppliers.

“When you own the information, you don’t have to go back to square one every time you decide to change agencies,” says Mary Savovie Stephens, travel manager for biotech giant Chiron Corp.

Sybase Inc., a client/server software leader with an annual T&E budget of more than $15 million, agrees. “Software gives us unprecedented visibility into how employees are spending their travel dollars and better leverage to negotiate with travel service suppliers,” says Robert Lerner, director of credit and corporate travel services for Sybase Inc. “We have better access to data, faster, in a real-time environment, which is expected to bring us big savings in T&E. Now we have control over our travel information and no longer have to depend exclusively on the agencies and airlines.”

The cost for this privilege depends on the volume of business. One-time purchases of travel-management software can run from under $100 to more than $125,000. Some software providers will accommodate smaller users by selling software piecemeal for $5 to $12 per booked trip, still a significant savings from the $50 industry norm per transaction.

No More Tickets

Paperless travel is catching on faster than the paperless office ever did as both service providers and consumers work together to reduce ticket prices for business travelers. Perhaps the most cutting-edge of the advances is “ticketless” travel, which almost all major airlines are testing.

In the meantime, travel providers and agencies are experimenting with new technologies to enable travelers to book travel services via the Internet, e-mail and unattended ticketing kiosks. Best Western International, Hyatt Hotels and several other major hotel chains market on the Internet. These services reduce the need for paper and offer better service and such peripheral benefits as increased efficiency, improved tracking of travel expenses and trends, and cost reduction.

Dennis Egolf, CFO of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Louisville, Ky., realized that the medical center’s decentralized location, a quarter-mile from the hospital, made efficiency difficult. “We were losing production time and things got lost,” he says. “Every memo had to be hand-carried for approval, and we required seven different copies of each travel order.” As a result, Egolf tried an off-the-shelf, paper-reduction software package designed for the federal government.

The software allows the hospital to manage travel on-line, from tracking per-diem allowances and calculating expenses to generating cash advance forms and authorizing reimbursement vouchers. The software also lets the hospital keep a running account of its travel expenses and its remaining travel budget.

“Today, for all practical purposes, the system is paperless,” says Egolf. The software has helped the hospital reduce document processing time by 93 percent. “The original goal focused on managing employee travel without paper,” he says. “We have achieved that goal, in part due to the efforts of the staff and in part due to the accuracy of the software.”

With only a $6,000 investment, the hospital saved $70 each employee trip and saved almost half of its $200,000 T&E budget through the paper-reduction program.

Out There

Consolidation of corporate travel arrangements by fewer agencies has been a growing trend since 1982. Nearly three out of four companies now make travel plans for their business locations through a single agency as opposed to 51 percent in 1988. Two major benefits of agency consolidation are the facilitation of accounting and T&E budgeting, as well as leverage in negotiating future travel discounts.

A major technological advance that allows this consolidation trend to flourish is the introduction of satellite ticket printers (STPs). Using STPs enables a travel agency to consolidate all operations to one home office, and still send all necessary tickets to various locations instantly via various wire services. As the term implies, the machinery prints out airline tickets on-site immediately, eliminating delivery charges.

For London Fog, STPs are a blessing. London Fog’s annual T&E budget of more than $15 million is split equally between its two locations in Eldersburg, Md., and New York City. Each location purchases the same number of tickets, so equal access to ticketing from their agency is a must. With an STP in their two locations, the company services both offices with one agency in Baltimore. Each office has access to immediate tickets and still manages to save by not having to pay courier and express mail charges that can range up to $15 for each of the more than 500 tickets each purchases annually.

Conde Nast Publications’ annual T&E budget of more than $20 million is allocated among its locations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New York and Detroit. Since 1994, travel arrangements have been handled by a centralized agency, Advanced Travel Management in New York City, by installing an STP in each of these five locations. In addition to increased efficiency due to consolidation, Conde Nast now has the ability to change travel plans at a moment’s notice and have new tickets in hand instantly.

The real benefit is that the machines are owned and maintained by the travel agency., so there is no cost to the company. Due to the major expense involved, however, STPs remain an option only for major ticket purchasers. “STPs are a viable option in this process for any location that purchases more than $500,000 per year in tickets,” says Shoen.

As airfare averages 43 percent of any company’s T&E expenses, savings obtainable through the various uses of technology have become dramatic. For example, the ability of corporations to collect and analyze their own travel trends has led to the creation of net-fare purchasing-negotiating a price between a corporation and an airline to purchase tickets that does not include the added expenses of commissions, overrides, transaction fees, agency transaction fees and other discounts.

Although most major U.S. carriers publicly proclaim that they don’t negotiate corporate discounts below published market fares, the American Express survey on business travel management found that 38 percent of U.S. companies had access to, or already had implemented, negotiated airline discounts. The availability and mechanics of these arrangements vary widely by carrier.