Tips for an Enjoyable Hotel Stay

When staying at a hotel, knowing you got a good rate and great location are just two aspects of an enjoyable stay. The other, of course, is whether you enjoy the hotel, in particular, and your room.

Here are some inside tips to help ensure you have a safe, healthy, and happy hotel visit.

Be nice to the staff.

It goes without saying, but basic manners go a long way in hotels and restaurants. Be kind and appreciative to the staff, especially the front desk agent who checks you in. He or she, more than anyone else, can make your stay either a pleasure or a disaster.

Keep an eye on CO.

You’re probably aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO), and may even have a CO detector in your home. CO is an odorless, colorless and toxic gas. Because it is impossible to see, taste, or smell the toxic fumes, CO — often called “the silent killer”” — can kill before a person is aware of it. The effects of CO vary from person to person, but symptoms generally include headaches, dizziness, disorientation, nausea and fatigue.

When booking a room in a hotel, ask if they have CO alarms installed in the rooms. If not, don’t book or accept a room equipped with a fuel-burning device, such as a wood-burning stove or gas fireplace. If you stay there anyway, definitely do not let the unit run through the night.

Also, do not book a room that opens onto an enclosed parking area, or next to an indoor garage. There could be CO gas in the air. You may also want to invest in a portable carbon monoxide detector. If symptoms such as headache, dizziness, nausea, weakness, and/or confusion occur, get to fresh air quickly.

Think twice about valet parking.

Remember that scene in the movie, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off when the garage parking attendants took Cameron’s father’s prized 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California convertible for a joyride? “Borrowing” parked cars goes on more than you may realize. Granted, it usually happens with really nice cars, so if you’re just tooling around in a rental, you probably don’t have to worry.

Beware of bedbugs.

It’s not pleasant to think about, but bedbugs are a problem in many hotels across the nation. If you’re worried about bedbugs in a hotel, you can check for them yourself in the bed, sofa, and chairs. Here’s what you need and some telltale signs to look for:

Pack a few useful items for identifying bedbug infestations, including a flashlight and a magnifying glass. You can also use an old credit card to scrape and dig for signs of bedbugs.

Adult bedbugs are flat, brown, oval, and wingless, and measure about 1/4 to 3/8 inches long. They change from brown to purplish-red after they eat, becoming larger and more cigar-shaped. Young bedbugs look like adults, but smaller.

Check the bed’s mattress, box spring, and sheets for any signs, such as rusty or reddish stains on the bed linens, pillows and mattresses.

Look at carpeting or flooring around and under beds. Bedbug excrement leaves dark spots, about the size of a period on a printed page. Bedbug waste “bleeds” on fabrics like a pen or marker would.

Inspect the furniture for bedbug eggs and eggshells, which are white and about 1 mm in size. Open and inspect zippered coverings on furniture and pillows, and at frames and feet of sofas and chairs.

Check walls, wall hangings, paintings, clocks, baseboards, floorboards, and electrical outlets. Use an old playing card or credit card to probe and scrape out any live bedbugs, remains, or waste.

BYOG: Bring your own glass.

It’s a little known fact, but hotel housekeepers sometimes use furniture polish to ensure the hotel room glasses sparkle, and don’t have any spots. So, it’s probably a wise idea to pack your own drinking glass, or ask the hotel bartender if you can borrow a clean glass during your stay.

Ditch the duvet cover.

Most hotels wash the sheets and blankets on a regular basis, but few, if any, ever wash the duvet covers. So, do yourself a favor and strip that bad boy right off the bed when you get there. If you think you might get cold at night, call the front desk and (nicely) request a clean extra blanket.

Don’t be cheap — tip well.

Tip well, especially a bellman if he brings your luggage up or down from your room in a timely manner. Don’t forget the housekeeper who has to clean your room after you leave, and again, the all-powerful front desk agent — give this person a $10 bill when you check in, and it will help ensure you’re stay is a pleasant one.

Double check incidentals and mini bar bill.

If you’re billed for incidentals and/or the mini bar, be sure to review the bill and make sure charges are legitimate. Hotel staff has been known to steal from a room’s minibar, sticking the guest with an unwarranted bill. If the charges aren’t yours, dispute them. To avoid room extras, bring your own supplies.

How to Protect Your Stuff at the Airport

When you’re flying, your personal belongings can be lost between point A and point B—but air travelers should also be aware that their property can go missing while passing through airport security.

It’s true. The Daily Mail reported that thieves are targeting tourists and other travelers at Gatwick Airport just outside London, England—they’re brazenly stealing personal items from the security checkpoint conveyor belt, such as laptops, cosmetics, jewelry and even a loved one’s ashes have all gone missing, the Mail reports.

But fear not, travelers, here are five ways to protect your stuff at security, courtesy of Clark.com and writer, Craig Johnson.

Keep an eye on those laptops

As far back as 2008, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reported that more than 10,000 laptops were stolen every day, according to PCWorld. And a 2017 study conducted by Stratos Jet Charters, an air charter service, showed that it’s extremely difficult to get reimbursed by the TSA once an item is reported as missing or stolen. Nearly 70 percent of the claims were denied, while fully-approved claims tallied less than 32 percent, according to the Stratos study.

While there are many studies and statistics on a wide array of aviation-related topics, there is surprisingly little tracked regarding in-airport theft. In fact, officials frequently count missing belongings, reported thefts and related claims in the same category.

Stay aware at the security line

A hot spot for in-airport theft is the TSA security line. Think about it: thousands of air travelers trustingly place and leave their belongings behind on the conveyor belt as they pass through the TSA security checkpoint. As owners are distracted, thieves can help themselves to valuable laptops and other items.

For example, one traveler reported that her bags made it through security quicker than she did, and that’s when she noticed her laptop went missing. After three days of emails, she finally was put in contact with the terminal manager, who told her there was nothing he could do.

What makes it even more difficult is when a traveler doesn’t realize their item is missing until after the flight and they are at their destination. Where did it go missing? Was it at the airport, during the flight, or on the ride home? Then there’s the matter of whom do you call — the police, the airline or one of several agencies in the mix?

To help protect your belongings, here are some good security tips to remember:

  • Keep a list of your belongings. To help you stay focused en route, write down a list of your belongings on a piece of paper, and keep it in your pocket when traveling. You can keep it in your hand along with your boarding pass and ID while being processed through security or even in your phone. Then when you pass through security, refer to the list and make sure you have everything then and there.
  • Take pictures of your stuff. Another quick and easy way to keep track of your belongings is to take photos of them with your phone. Before leaving for the airport, shoot quick pics of all your bags and the contents within. If you have to prove something went missing, you have proof.
  • Slow down and pay attention. It’s easy to rush when you’re traveling, but that’s when mistakes happen. Stay aware of what’s in your hands, pockets and bags, as well as your surroundings. Don’t leave your luggage unattended and do your best to keep your eyes on your stuff as it passes through the security checkpoint.
  • Use the buddy system. If you’re traveling with a friend, talk ahead of time about keeping your eyes on each other’s bags, as well as your own. Four eyes are better than two. This will be especially helpful as you pass through the security checkpoint.
  • Don’t draw attention with fancy bags. You may want to leave the Louis Vuitton luggage at home—it will attract the wrong kind of attention. Instead, opt for small, unassuming luggage that you can identify easily. When it goes through security, be quick to locate it along with the rest of your stuff.

Source: Clark.com

Bradley Airport’s Expansion Plans Underway

Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, CT is known as an “easy in and out” airport among business and leisure travelers in the region, but the small and manageable reputation of Bradley may be changing in the coming years, as they recently announced plans to transform the mid-sized airport into a major New England hub.

“It’s so much more convenient to fly out of Bradley than having to go to New York or Boston if you want to go anywhere direct,” say Roberta O’Brien, of Rocky Hill. But Bradley travelers may be in for some temporary bumps, as officials unveiled a $1.4 billion expansion plan that could make Bradley competitive with the Logan’s and the Kennedy’s of the northeast. From the terminals, to the car rental lot, to the parking garage and the roads that lead to the airport, Bradley will be under construction over the next 20 years.

The expansion, in part, is taking place due to population growth in the region. “There are 4.4 million people that live within our market area so if we can keep developing the airline services here, we’ll keep bringing passengers to the airport,” said Kevin Dillon, executive director at Bradley International Airport.

“I do believe this airport could be a 10 million passenger airport so when you start to talk about the activity of that level you really need to take a hard look at the infrastructure,” Dillon said.

Some of the biggest visible changes at the new Bradley will be at the terminals. The plan is to have Terminal B connect with Terminal A. Also, a new rental car lot will be built on the property, eliminating the shuttles.

Construction under way

Locals and air travelers in and out of Bradley will already see Bradley’s plans underway, as construction has begun on the Route 20 connector road.

According the official Bradley International Airport website, the Connecticut Airport Authority is beginning the reconstruction and realignment of the main airport entrance roadway, Route 20 and Schoephoester Road. The work will involve the realignment of Schoephoester Road along with a portion of the airport’s lower roadway system, as well as the construction of a modern roundabout.

The project will provide a new entrance to the airport from Route 20 and open up a 19-acre site for the future development of Bradley’s ground transportation center.

The construction will not interrupt access to the airport from the Route 20 connector, but there may be slight delays due to the shifting and reduction of lanes. Construction signs and variable message boards will be present along the roadway to alert motorists of any changes in traffic patterns.

The project will consist of six phases of work and is scheduled to be completed by the fall of 2018. Regular updates will be provided to the public during this time period.

When completed, this road expansion will improve traffic and make room for a new rental car lot.

International carriers like Aer Lingus have already broadened their flight offerings in and out of Bradley, and the expansion could make Bradley more attractive to other airlines and destinations.

“Any airport has to have the market to be attractive to the airlines and we certainly have that,” Dillon said.

While some travelers are welcoming the changes, others say they’ll miss the ease of navigating the smaller terminals. “I’d like to keep it on a smaller level. I like to fly out of Westchester just for the convenience of how small and how quick and easy it is to get in and out,” said Steve Confortini, of New Milford.

Bradley Airport officials say the goal is to keep the convenience level intact. The Federal Aviation Administration will need to approve this plan, but officials say they are confident it will be approved.

Source: Information courtesy of WFSB.com.

Maximizing Your Work from Home Life

More American employees are working remotely, and for longer periods, than ever before. In the spirit of spring, here’s some expert advice on how to clean up your home office, increase your efficiency, and reduce your stress, courtesy of writer NJ Goldston and Forbes.com.

According to a 2017 Gallup survey, approximately 43 percent of employed Americans say they spend at least some time working remotely. While there are many benefits—increased focus, better work/life balance—it can be stressful to stay organized if you are sharing a living and working space.

“Just as our lives change, our needs morph as well,” says Tori Springer Taylor, founder of SimplySimplify in Los Angeles. “Just as our work environments are ever-changing, and there is more of an overlap between our work/home life, you need to evolve your approach to organization.”

Famed closet and office designer of LA Closet Design, Lisa Adams, shares an interesting insight, “As more millennials enter the housing market, spaces will become more flexible and multi-functional, challenging the conventional notion of the closet. We will continue to see closets, along with every other space in the home, adapt to this more informal lifestyle. You no longer need a whole room dedicated to your desk, while your wardrobe suffers in a crowded walk-in; instead, these spaces become one.”

Here are some of Springer Taylor’s and Adams’ top tips on how to increase organization and efficiency when working from home.

Create an office command station. Springer Taylor says, “Traditional office spaces have changed and technology is making way for more ambiguous workspaces, so now people have different needs.

Adams adds, “When you’re limited on space, no square inch can go wasted. Maybe your desk isn’t a desk at all – it might be a console, coffee table, or kitchen island. Any surface where you can spread out and set up shop can be productive. Share/combine this space with another underutilized area of your home — an entryway, a kitchen, or even a closet.”

Organize your closet for home and office. When it comes to your clothing closet, Springer Taylor recommends organizing your clothing by activity, not color, as most of us do. For example, a “work” section of clothes designated for your days in the office and/or meetings, and your at-home work wardrobe for every day, work-at-home wear.

She suggests formal attire live in a completely different closet if this option is available to you. Approaching your wardrobe by activity is more streamlined and is especially helpful with black items (which we all have too many of!) as they tend to blend. This concept can be applied to shoes as well as clothes.

Schedule your life like you’re an executive. Springer Taylor advises mapping everything from social engagements, children’s activities (if you’re a parent), dinner parties, etc., and then working backward. For example, if you need to study a particular topic for a presentation, or bake a cake the day before a birthday party, put that action item on that day.

Add action items to your calendar so you are not up all night worrying about preparatory actions. This will help reduce stress by increasing your ability to manage multiple responsibilities calmly and more efficiently. The bottom line is to “approach your personal schedule as though you are an executive, whether you are or not,” she says.

Plan your days in advance. Never underestimate the value of a daily routine that you plan out the night before. This is especially important when you work from home. Structure your day, or else it’ll get away from you, and keep to the schedule. Springer Taylor recommends that you start on Sunday evening and lay out all weekly events. Then detail your very next day by the hour, starting with the most dreaded items first. That way, if a call runs over or something else pops into your day, hopefully, the most pressing tasks have been completed early on and uncompleted tasks can carry over into the following day.

Keep digital in one area. Adams recommends creating a digital and charging area in your home, so everything is together, and ready to go at a moment’s notice, including laptop, phone, and tablet. She also suggests keeping a mobile digital office kit at the ready. This saves you the time of packing up your operation every time you have to take a meeting. When a set of essentials can go with you, your workspace has no walls.

Commit to going digital. This seems so obvious but maybe it’s not. Bulky binders and notebooks are inefficient for an on-the-go professional, and take up valuable space when traveling. Files, notes and calendars can all live online, meaning they don’t weigh a thing, and they’re always at your fingertips during business travel. Just don’t forget your chargers. It’s also more eco-friendly to use and print less paper.

Be prepared for emergencies. Remember that emergencies happen. Have an emergency packing list ready and posted in your home. It should include key items for you and your family, items for your safety and convenience, anything you need for your pets, and all your important documents prepacked in a duffel and ready to go at a moment’s notice. As the Girl Scouts say, “Be Prepared.”

Source: Forbes.com

Take Your Career to the Next Level in 2018

The New Year is always a time for reflection, when we look ahead and set personal goals, such as losing weight, spending more time with family, or quitting smoking. But January is also a great time to re-solidify work goals for the coming year. Here are some professional resolutions to consider to help you make 2018 your best year yet—both personally and professionally.

Resolve to keep learning.

Thinking about going back to school or just taking a class? Let 2018 be the year you make it happen. There is something incredibly valuable in expanding your knowledge and learning something new on a regular basis. Successful CEOs know this. Consider the correlation between Mark Zuckerberg’s personal educational goals and Facebook’s annual successes. In 2010, Zuckerberg committed to learning Mandarin in the hopes of fulfilling Facebook’s mission of “making the world more open and connected” and Facebook exceeded 500 million monthly users and became the largest social network. In 2015, his goal was to read a new book every two weeks, and the next year, Facebook grew as a major publishing platform. Think about ways to incorporate new learning into your life on a regular basis, whether that is reading a book for 20 minutes a day, taking a new class, or even learning a new word each day. Think you’re too busy? Remember that knowledge fuels success. Think you can’t afford it? Many companies offer tuition reimbursement for their full-time employees.

Do work that truly inspires you.

Successful people usually have a good idea where their “zone of genius” is—that place where you’re doing what you’re best at and most enjoy, lose track of time and produce your best and most satisfying work. Wouldn’t it be awesome to go there more often? To be more in sync with your job and purpose, and at the end of the day feel more energized than burned-out? Make it a priority this year.

Raise your community profile.

“My resolution is to do more publicity and public relations this year,” says a president of a Manhattan-based event-planning agency. “I’m going to focus on doing more press — because press equals exposure, which equals money.” What kinds of PR and public events can you get involved with in your local community? There are many opportunities out there, from sponsoring a Little League team to helping out at a soup kitchen. The great thing about charitable events is you’re doing something good for the world, while meeting potential clients in a relaxed, positive environment.

Become a mentor to a young person. 

Another key to success in work and life is mentorship. Positive and productive mentorships help employees learn, become more engaged and reduce work attrition. This year, make a point to find or reconnect with a mentor, and also give back by mentoring someone else. It doesn’t have to be a huge time commitment. The key is to be involved and engaged—this is the most important factor in a successful mentor relationship. And enjoy the unexpected benefits. Many mentors say they become better at their jobs by teaching others.

Focus on long-term goals.

In work and life, stop focusing on the immediate bottom line and reward and look toward long-term success and sustainability. When you focus on the long term, you shift your focus to making proper investments in your time, money, and goals. Think forest from the trees. You might not see immediate returns at first, but going about your days with long-term goals in mind will help you stay on track with what you ultimately want from your career and life, and help avoid spending endless hours putting out fires or regretting short-term decisions.

Take time to meditate.

The research and evidence on the benefits of mediation is truly extensive, and top CEOs are taking note. Meditation increases immune function, mental focus, positive emotions, empathy, increases social connections and much more, according to Psychology Today. The best part is it’s free and doesn’t take much time at all each day.

Resolve to recharge.

“This past year taught me that taking time to regroup and recharge is essential to being able to give my gifts and effectively wear all of the hats that I wear every day,” says a career coach and strategist. This year, focus on working more efficiently, so you get more done and don’t burn out. Exercise, eat well, and go to bed and wake up at consistent hours every day. Periods of restorative rest can help reset the brain, so you’re even more efficient and creative on the job. If you need a vacation, prepare ahead of time, talk to people, and don’t feel guilty about it. You deserve some time off, and taking time away responsibly can also show managers and coworkers that you respect healthy boundaries when it comes to work and personal life.

Source: Monster.com

New study: Business Travelers More Productive Thanks to Technology

If you travel for business, you might be feeling more productive lately. According to a new study released August 24 by Carlson Wagonlit Travel called the CWT Connected Traveler Study, business travelers are feeling more productive when on the road, thanks to technology and the use of more devices.

The CWT Connected Traveler study included 1,900 International business travelers aged 25-65 across 16 countries in the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa (EMEA) and Asia Pacific (APAC). To qualify, participants had to have made more than four business trips in the past 12 months.

Business travel study takeaways

  • The survey of more than 1,900 business travelers found that more than 80 percent of business travelers across the globe rely on their phones to conduct business.
  • On average, business travelers carry four different types of technology—mobile phone, tablet, laptop, etc.—with the smartphone being the one travel tool they can’t live without.
  • Not surprisingly, 54 percent of those surveyed said that they bring too many devices with them while traveling.

Benefits of business travel

The CWT study shows that business travelers still view “being there” in person as highly important, despite time spent away from the office and family, and the discomforts of traveling.

  • Further findings showed that almost all (93 percent) of those surveyed find that the positives of business travel outweigh the negatives when it comes to building and maintaining relationships at work, and 77 percent say this also applies to their home lives.
  • CWT finds that 86 percent of business travelers believe that travel can help build knowledge and perspective and 80 percent say travel actually boosts productivity.
  • A majority of travelers (78 percent) actively seek opportunities to travel for work, and 72 percent find that business travel is stimulating.

Tech makes it easier to navigate

  • The CWT survey reveals that 88 percent find business travel easier to navigate today thanks to technology.
  • More than half (55 percent) of travelers apply prior travel experience while planning trips, and rely on hotel (54 percent) and airline (50 percent) websites to fill the gaps.
  • Almost half of travelers surveyed (45 percent) actively use airline and hotel apps as their primary travel technology and 41 percent also rely heavily on map apps.

Devices shorten the gap

  • The business travelers surveyed also actively use technology to limit the “disconnect,” or time away, with co-workers and family.
  • To stay connected with family and friends most (44 percent) will call, but 24 percent use Skype and 17 percent use text messages as their preferred communications.
  • To communicate with co-workers, most (44 percent) will use email, 24 percent will call and 14 percent will use text messages.

Health and well-being on the road

  • While 67 percent of travelers said they believe travel is safer today, 46 percent still expressed some concerns in this area. As a result, 68 percent said they “sometimes or always” buy travel insurance.
  • Business travelers also said they find it difficult to “maintain personal well-being while traveling,” with 54 percent saying that travel disrupts exercise and wellness routines.

The CWT Connected Traveler Study was created by Carlson Wagonlit Travel and conducted through Artemis Strategy Group March 30-April 24, 2017. It was conducted with the purpose of understanding how business travelers stayed connected to both work and home while on the road.

Source: CWT Connected Traveler Study

How to Stay Safe Online, On the Road

One in five travelers has been hit by cybercrime while traveling abroad, according to Kaspersky Lab, a global cyber security company. To help avoid being hacked, read these expert tips for practicing safe Internet use when traveling, courtesy of consumer advocate Christopher Elliott and USA Today Travel.

Only use HTTPS – “Never trust open Wi-Fi networks that require no passwords,” says Michael Canavan, a Kaspersky senior vice president. What’s wrong with an open network? “Hackers may set up fake Wi-Fi spots masquerading as a genuine hotel network,” says David Balaban, an expert on ransomware. “They create duplicate Wi-Fi networks using the hotel’s branded online materials. They use stronger signals and lure users to connect to them instead of the genuine hotel network.”

To be safer, only use HTTPS — Hypertext Transfer Protocol (http) with Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) — when you’re online, especially when you’re on the road. “It’s a more secure option set up by a website that knows security is essential,” says Robert Siciliano CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com. Look for https:// in the address bar, signifying it’s a secure page. Even on an open, unsecure wireless connection, HTTPS is more secure.

If you have to be on a public Wi-Fi network, always use VPN while connected on any public Wi-Fi network,” say cyber security expert Sanjay Deo. “This will encrypt your communications and help reduce chances of being hacked.”

Update your device – Another common error: hitting the road with obsolete operating systems or software. Before you go, remove unnecessary information from your laptops and mobile devices and backup all the data you want to keep and set your web browsers to the highest security setting possible.

Also make sure your devices are updated with the latest versions of your applications, anti-virus, anti-malware and other software updates. To protect your devices while on vacation, secure them with a lengthy PIN number or strong password, and encrypt any data locally stored on those devices.

Internet safety expert, Darren Guccione also recommends activating anti-theft applications such as “find my phone” that allow you to lock the phone if it’s stolen. “So if your phone or tablet is stolen, you can track it, disable it and change all the passwords,” he says.

Don’t advertise you’re away – Don’t post location updates or geo-tagged photos on social media. They can reveal your current and future travel plans to criminals and ne’er do wells. The latest threat: virtual kidnappings, which are becoming more common in Latin America. Cyber stalkers contact your family, claim you’re their hostage, and demand immediately a sum of money, usually affordable and easily wired,” says Mark Deane, CEO of ETS Risk Management.

Don’t leave your device unattended. “The biggest danger travelers have is losing their devices,” says Jason Hong, a professor at Carnegie Mellon’s School of Computer Science. “Don’t leave your devices unattended in public places, because they can be quickly and easily stolen.” Pro tip: Put your name on your device, in case someone returns it to lost and found. Hong tapes his business card to the bottom of his laptop.

Source: USA Today Travel

Business Travel Accommodations Getting More Homey

Travel for business? You may be among a growing group of people who crave more home-like accommodations on the road. While traditional hotels have been the standard accommodation for corporate travelers, interest in and the use of home-sharing—renting someone’s house for a short stay—for business travel is on the rise.

Read about this growing trend, and how home-sharing companies such as Airbnb are responding, courtesy of Travel Weekly. 

The future of business travel is … a house.

The sharing economy has connected millions of individuals looking for alternatives to traditional services and there’s a growing trend among business travelers to want to stay in a real home versus a standard hotel room via home-sharing companies, such as Airbnb.

Why? For one, a home “hotel” can be less expensive than an executive hotel. A more convenient location is another reason business travelers may opt to stay in someone’s house.

The home-sharing marketplace is evolving at a rapid pace and demand for home-sharing accommodation is on the rise, but business travelers should make sure their company travel policy allows such properties in their travel policies.

Some travel managers cautious about home-sharing

In April, the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) released a report, “Many Business Travelers Staying at Home-Sharing Properties Unsupported By Travel Policy.”

The study called “Home-Sharing and Travel Policies – A Shifting Landscape” conducted in partnership with AccorHotels, revealed that home-sharing properties are allowed in one out of every six travel polices (17 percent). But more than double the number of business travelers are under the same impression (37 percent), meaning many travelers are booking and staying in properties unsupported by their travel policy.

Why are some travel managers slow to approve home-sharing? The study revealed they’re most worried about the safety and security of home-share properties (87 percent) as they have a responsibility to maintain duty of care for all travelers, compared to 55 percent who have this same concern for traditional hotels.

Similarly, three in five (61 percent) travel professionals are very concerned about the unpredictability of home-share property conditions, while about half as many say the same about hotels (33 percent). Still, many companies are making an effort to review home-sharing options before making a decision to include or exclude them from travel policies.

Oracle, a database management company, takes an as-needed approach and has a process in place for situations in which a traveler may need to stay in home-share properties. In the case of unapproved usage, the company reaches out to the traveler to understand the driving factors behind their decision and determine how to modify the current program to meet traveler needs in the future.

Home-Sharing Companies Responding

On the other side of the equation are home-sharing companies, such as Airbnb. Over the last two years, Airbnb has made it a priority to grow their business travel, and has developed new tools for both corporate travelers and travel planners designed to help do just that.

“Where we really saw the opportunity was to create a really unique and different experience that would help companies manage employee travel and help travelers make the most of their time on the road,” said an Airbnb representative.

In 2014, Airbnb began working with Concur on programs designed to make it easier for corporate travelers to expense Airbnb stays. Concur said that Airbnb listings will have detailed property information, such as ratings and the number of reviewers, number of bedrooms, included amenities and a property description provided by the host. Reviews and full-sized property photos will be viewable via a pop-up screen. It is the first time one of Airbnb’s corporate travel partners will add Airbnb inventory to its accommodations search.

Source: Travel Weekly

Getting Smart about Hidden Travel Fees

So you got a great rate on an airfare or hotel. Watch out, there may be hidden fees lurking in the shadows. From baggage fees and extra leg room to late check-out fees and expensive water, ancillary fees from airlines and hotels are an ever-present threat to the frugal traveler.

Here’s how to combat hidden charges and get the most for your travel dollars, courtesy of CNN.com.

Be aware of ancillary airline fees

By one estimate, airlines across the globe brought in almost $60 billion in 2015 from extra fees alone. Charging extra fees began with low-cost carriers, and it’s often why they can charge lower ticket fares.

Full-service airlines have followed suit in this push to charge passengers more whenever possible, including devising more categories of seats, allowing for more a la carte fees.

“What we’re seeing is about five different strata of cabins from first-class downwards,” says George Hobica, president of airfarewatchdog.com, in a CNN.com story. “If you buy one of the super-cheap fares, you’re going to be in the last row by the bathroom.”

“I think one of the worst ones is the change fees,” Hobica adds. “It used to cost nothing to change a ticket or a schedule. Now it’s $200. It doesn’t cost the airline $200 to change the ticket. You actually do it yourself.”

Getting less from loyalty programs

Frequent travelers have long relied on airline and hotel loyalty programs for perks such as free upgrades and checked bags.

But elite status doesn’t buy what it used to. “It used to be that the number one reason to be loyal to a particular airline was the free upgrade.” With airlines selling more of these seats — and some airlines routinely overselling — “it’s almost impossible now to get an upgrade,” Hobica says.

Hotels are doing it, too. Their ancillary fees can include everything from charging for bottled water, to high connection fees for Wi-Fi and the hotel room phone.

Also beware of the “resort fee” — an additional mandatory charge that supposedly covers the upkeep of hotel facilities and can be as much as $30.

Tips on beating charges

To not fall prey to ancillary charges, travelers have to be ever vigilant, especially when booking the flight or hotel.

Don’t assume it’s free. Never make assumptions that something is complimentary — read the fine print of each airline or hotel before you travel, and be careful and proofread what boxes you check when booking online.

Pack carry-on only. An increasingly popular travel option is to pack carry-on only, if possible. Not only will you save on baggage fees, you’ll exit your destination airport a lot faster.

Don’t be afraid to haggle. According to many travel experts, consumers can haggle almost anything, especially in person at a hotel. Depending on how much effort you’re willing to expend, you could get a fee dropped or even an upgrade.

Use helpful travel apps.  We live in a digital, mobile world, and it often pays to download helpful travel apps to book online, find free Wi-Fi hotspots nearby, and sometimes be eligible for special online- or app-only discounts.

Possible fees to come

Airline expert Hobica thinks parents might eventually have to pay for a seat for very young children, even if they spend the trip in an adult’s lap. He also predicts more airlines following the lead of low-cost carriers Ryanair and easyjet by charging for the use of a credit card, as airlines have to pay 2 percent to 4 percent to the credit card company when consumers use a credit card.

Hotels may also start charging for the option to select the room of your choice. Some people prefer to have a room near a fire exit or ice machine, for example.

And now that many hotel chains have apps that allow you to check in and out electronically, without seeing a human, this will likely soon become the default offering. Travel experts predict we’re going to start paying more for human contact and help.

Source: CNN

The Unexpected Benefits of Traveling for Business

Traveling for business can be a drag, but it can also lead to both professional and personal growth. Here are some things you’re learning from your travels, whether you realize it or not.

You’re meeting new people.

Relationships are absolutely essential to the human experience. It can be pretty tough to nurture new ones when you’re around the exact same people every day, not all of whom you might enjoy the presence of completely. When you travel for business, you’re meeting new people all the time and learning from the experiences. A few may even turn into a great friend, significant other, or future employer.

You’re discovering great restaurants.

Eating on the road can be really bad or really good. If you’re into food from different places and cultures, traveling for business is a great way to experience meals in cities and towns you never would have otherwise. You may even be able to expense the cost back to the company! Before you hit the road, get online and research the best restaurants, food carts and hole in the wall diners around the country — or the world.

You’re creating new life experiences. 

In addition to great restaurants, traveling for work is also a great opportunity to see and do things you wouldn’t otherwise. Have you always wanted to try stand up paddle boarding? A hike through snow-capped mountains? Explore the Everglades? If you’re a history buff, it means limitless visits to museums and historical sites. Make sure to schedule room in the itinerary for some R&R, and then maximize it. Research the sites and attractions before your next road trip.

You’re getting great at packing.

Nothing makes a great traveler like frequent flying and hotel stays. Now you can pack for a week away with a moment’s notice. When you’re a business traveler who’s got packing down pat, you know how to prepare and travel like a pro.

You’re building up miles and perks.

Frequent traveling is an opportunity to build up lots of free personal miles using your own credit and airline cards—even if you get reimbursed for your trips. The more you fly and stay in hotels, the more likely you’ll also be eligible for elite and VIP status.

You’re honing your adaptation skills.

Successful travelers prepare well and know how to adapt and handle challenges when they arise, such as a delayed flight or hotel issue. You’re building problem-solving skills that can apply to every area of your life and learning how to be a more adaptable person.

You’re learning to prioritize health. 

If you’ve ever been sick on the road, you now know the importance of staying healthy when away from home. You know the importance of good nutrition, drinking enough water and getting enough sleep, and working out to keep your strength up. Building up healthy habits will serve you in every area of your life.

You’re recharging out of the office.

While traveling for business can be a drag, it’s also a great way to get out of the office and break up the doldrums of the same old 9 to 5 work week. Next time you have a trip, make a point to see some sights and do something new and interesting to refresh your body and soul.

You’re setting yourself up to work remotely.

We live in a digital remote world, and those who successfully travel for business are proving they are effective even while traveling. You can use that to secure a telecommuting or virtual office job down the road because you’ve already proven you’re reliable out of the office.

You’ve got tax write-offs galore.

A smart traveler knows a good accountant and takes advantage of legal tax perks such as how to write off business class, food and entertainment when you’re traveling for work.

Source: Inc.com