Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Business Travel Jobs - Getting to Grips With CRS

When you are searching through the wealth of commercial and business travel jobs out there, you will more than likely come across the sentence 'working knowledge of CRS essential', or something to this effect. But to what is that acronym referring? It could be the Cambridge Reference Sequence or Cornered Rat Software, but within the travel industry it is much more likely to be referring to a 'computer reservations system'. If you are looking to apply for commercial or business travel jobs, then a working knowledge of the most popular CRS's is imperative.

What is it?

A CRS is a computerised system used by travel agents to conduct transactions and store information about travel. It began as a system purely for airlines, but soon became a useful tool for travel agents in both commercial and business travel jobs. The larger CRS's now encompass hotels and rental cars as well as air travel, and are known as Global Distribution Systems (GDS).

There are a variety of CRS's used across the travel industry. Here is a rundown on a few of the well-known ones.

Galileo

This is one of the best-known computer reservation systems. It is owned by Travelport (a member of IATA, OTA and SITA) and in addition to being able to make airline reservations you can also use Galileo to book cruises, trains, car rentals and accommodation. Galileo provide such products as Targeted Availability Messaging, which gives travel agents the ability to make bookings directly from within a hotel's message bank, and hotels can deliver marketing messages directly to the agents.

Worldspan

This computer reservation system has also been owned by Travelport since 2006. It has excellent e-commerce capabilities for people in both commercial and business travel jobs, and offers the ability to store information and also book and make reservations for airline tickets, rental cars, accommodation and trains. Worldspan also offers major airlines IT services and product solutions. One such product is the Worldspan interactive maps, which was created to help agents with their bookings. Worldspan has ditched the usual textual booking system and use interactive maps displaying detailed and 'real time' property information, photos and availability. Agents can also book properties through this system and receive instant confirmations.

Amadeus

With its headquarters in Spain, Amadeus is a CRS enabling the sale of tickets for many different airlines. It can also be used to book train travel, car rental, cruises, ferries and accommodation. Originally, this particular CRS was created in 1987 as an alliance between Air France, Lufthansa, Iberia Airlines and Scandinavian Airlines, and today it has one of the highest number of bookings running through its system worldwide. The system assists those in commercial and business travel jobs in all areas of international and domestic travel, including fare-searching, reservations, ticketing, itineraries, airline schedules and passenger check in and departure.

Sabre

This CRS is part of the Sabre holdings group and is part of Sabre's Travel Network division. It hosts Alaska Airlines, Mesa Airlines, American Airlines, WestJet, Cape Air, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Midwest Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines. Sabre have a range of travel products which enable those employed in both commercial and business travel jobs to be able to handle high-volume bookings quickly and easily. Some of these products can help agencies to connect customers to up-to-date travel information through the use of wireless and mobile technology.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Business Travel Packing List - Essential Gadgets to Bring on Your Business Trips

When you are packing for business travel, your goal is two-fold. You want to pack light and you want to make sure you have equipment that can boost your productivity and save you time. This article contains four products you need to look at.

You need to get a Roaming SIM Card- If you get an International Roaming SIM card, you will save a fortune, especially if you are a regular international traveller. You can keep in touch with colleagues, family and friends easily from one number. If you need immediate contact with people back home, for example if important business decisions must be made instantly, then this is the best option for you when it comes to mobile communications and avoiding roaming charges. Roaming SIM cards work in nearly 200 countries and you can save up to 70% on your costs. If you use your home phone you will find that you also have to pay to receive calls. With a roaming SIM card you will avoid these costs in many countries.

You need to get a tablet device- You should travel light. What is the point of carrying excess stuff if you don't need it? Do yourself a favour and get an iPad or something that uses Android. This device gives you access to the Internet so you can check emails and it is an entertainment device. You can read eBooks, you can play games or you can watch movies. You can also store important files for work meetings and presentations. There are plenty of apps that allow you to create and edit Word Documents, PowerPoint Presentations and Excel Spreadsheets. If you get a tablet device you should be able to leave the laptop at home.

You need to get a Smart phone with WiFI Access- If you don't have a smart phone with WiFI access then you will spend more money then you have to. You should get a smart phone with WiFI access. That way you can access the Internet at the many free WiFI networks you find littered through major metropolitan cities. You can also store music on them and carry it as an MP3 player. There are also hundreds of thousands of apps available on smart phones that can improve your business or your life. There are exercise apps, language apps and all-round general productivity apps.

You need to get a Skype App on your devices- Skype, or other VoIP providers, can make it cheap and easy to keep in touch with friends, family and colleagues back home. To utilise VoIP, you will either need an Internet cafe or a Smart Phone with inbuilt Wi-Fi. The reason that I recommend the smart phone option is because you are more likely to find a free WiFI area at a time when you need it then you will be likely to find an Internet café.

This article has helped you work out 4 things that need to be on your business travel-packing list.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Business Travel Tips You Should Pay Attention To

As business becomes more and more popular through tools like the internet, and as business people are more able to work remotely, we are only going to see an increase in the number of people who travel overseas for business, or at least keep in touch with their own business back home whilst they are travelling. The purpose of this article is to share with business entrepreneurs six great tips they should pay attention to. Following these tips will make your travel easier, and help reduce any hassles that you may have.

Sign up for frequent flyer rewards and hotel points programs- If you are travelling regularly, you need to sign up for a frequent flyer program and try to fly with the same airline. There may sometimes be cheaper deals out there but if you travel regularly the frequent flyer points you redeem become more valuable as you can exchange them for further free flights down the track. The same goes for hotel accommodation. Look for an international chain with a rewards program and try to stick to that chain, no matter where you are traveling to in the world.

Get a smart phone with WiFI Access- Most major metropolises throughout the world are littered with free WiFI networks. Do yourself a favour and get a smart phone that has WiFI access so you can check your emails regularly whilst you are travelling- you might be sitting at a Starbucks or ordering at McDonalds. This means that you can avoid exorbitant roaming charges for data.

Buy a global roaming SIM card- You shouldn't use your home mobile phone when travelling as roaming charges are huge. You will also pay to receive calls. It's a huge rort. You should instead use a global roaming SIM card. Outgoing call rates will be a fraction of the cost of what you would have spent with your home phone and you will not have to pay to receive calls in many countries.

Buy a tablet device or a Kindle- Reading a book is often a great way to pass time when you are on a long haul flight. The problem with many books though is that they are bulky. Do yourself a favour and get a tablet device or at the very least, an eBook reader like the Kindle. The reason I would more likely recommend the tablet device (think iPad or Samsung Galaxy Tab) is that you can also play games or video and music files as well as read eBooks.

Buy toiletries when you get to where you are travelling- Don't pack toiletries in your bag as there is nothing worse than shaving cream or moisturizer exploding and making a mess of your clothes. Buy it when you get there or use the toiletries supplied by your hotel.

Pack light- People pack too much when they travel. Don't fall in to this trap. Pack light because chances are you'll only actually need a fraction of what you do pack or, if you really need something, you can buy it when you get to where you are travelling.

These are 6 business travel tips that you should pay attention to. If you travel regularly, following these tips is bound to make your life easier.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Some Personal and Security Advices When Business Travelling

When you travel many times a year because your business demands it, reducing travel costs, personal safety concerns, stress and other travel related issues is important, since you might save yourself many uncomfortable situations that might affect your business directly.

If you are a frequent traveler, you should be keeping track of all your frequent flyer miles and points in one secure place in order to track different awards program and take advantage of any tour packages that can be redeemed of all accumulated points because of business travel. Be aware that some programs also offer follow up points for hotels and rental cars so you can take advantage of all kinds of opportunities.

When you are at the airport, be certain to keep an eye on your luggage and personal belongings. Even though there are surveillance cameras and security systems deployed on most airports, you should always remember to carry all your belongings with you and not let any stranger to get too close to them.

By using latest communication technology, you can anticipate difficulties of travel and stay on schedule by having information and knowledge into the palm of your hand. Many frequent business travelers never leave home or office without their smart phones that help them stay informed on every part of their trip, such as flight schedules and possible delays because of weather conditions at airports. If you are always connected, even in those situations you can be connected with your office and check electronic mail and important incoming text messages. You can also tell your colleagues in advance if you will be able to arrive on time to your destination.

When you have a security system installed at home, you could also have an internet connection to surveillance cameras installed there, in order to check periodically what is happening at home when you are not around. Being connected this way, you are always in communication with your beloved ones, and can feel better about their safety when they are at home.

If you have updated information on air transport and connectivity with your colleagues, all small scheduling changes can be handled with administrative tasks that will reduce impact on efficiency of your plans and will help you manage your journey as well. This will leave you more time to deal with work related tasks.

When travelling for business, reducing costs is also an issue, so having information about hotel and non-hotel accommodations for working day periods is a common trend among frequent travelers. Many alternative accommodation facilities may appeal to executives who need to travel regularly for business.

Check security measures at hotels where you stay when travelling outside your country. A good hotel will always have security systems insalled and fully operational, in order to keep you and your belongings safe.

Some important issues such as low cost or free access to kitchen, washing and ironing facilities are becoming popular because they lower costs and increase of sense of being at home specially in case of longer stays.

It is important to choose accommodations that are near convention and conference halls, since traffic can be inconvenient in some places around the world.

One last important thing when travelling for business is to feel assured that your family stays safe at home, knowing that some security devices are installed and deployed correctly. Always check safety equipment thoroughly before travelling, bringing safety to your beloved ones.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Business Travel Insurance - Tips and Safety Information for Business Travellers

When you are considering business travel insurance remember to always look into your options. There are many different types of travel cover so be sure you talk to your agent about all of them. One of the most common types of travel insurance will have a good cancellation policy. If for some reason your trip is delayed having an insurance policy with a delay cover option will ensure you get a reimbursement. When shopping for your travel coverage go for the policy that offers medical and emergency coverage. One of the most important things to remember when buying a policy is to always have your lost or stolen items covered.

There are quite a few travel vendors that offer their own type of business travel insurance. However if that company goes bankrupt then you are no longer protected. This is why travel coverage is very important because if you want to protect your investments this is the best way to do so. Without the proper insurance you could end up losing more money than you had in the first place. Do not rush into buying a business insurance policy otherwise you may make a huge financial mistake. Understanding how your travel insurance works is also very important because it is designed to reimburse you in the event that theft or loss of documentation occurs during your business trip. How much you pay for your insurance policy will depend on which company you go with. If you have a lot invested then you should choose the maximum coverage that your insurance policy will offer you. After all, you could lose everything without protection.

If you choose your policy could cover your lost or stolen to a luggage, medical expenses, accommodation or travel delays, stolen items, and any transportation to a medical facility. You can buy your travel insurance at a travel agency or online. There are even some agencies that require you to sign a waiver if you choose to go with another company. As long as you shop around you should be able to find the best deal. If you have questions about your policy be sure to ask your agent before you sign any documents. Following these tips will ensure that you get the best business travel insurance policy that there is out there. However if it doesn't work out there are many other options out there.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Ways to Control Costs on Business Travels

Business travel is important but it can be expensive. There are ways to control costs on business travels. That is the purpose of this article- to show you how to save money. Follow the tips that I have mentioned below and you will no doubt find that you are saving money and that means you will have more money in your own pocket and your business can grow quicker.

Here are some things you can do.

Avoid International Roaming Charges- If you travel overseas regularly, don't take your home mobile phone with you. You will pay hugely inflated rates to access data and make phone calls. You will also pay to receive phone calls. We've seen customers with bills totaling thousands of dollars.

Get a global SIM card- If you must call family, friends or the office back home, make sure that you get a global SIM card so that you can make calls cheaply. In most countries you will also get free incoming calls with a global SIM card.

Get a Smart Phone with the Skype app on it- Free WiFI is becoming more and more prominent in major metropolitan cities throughout the world. Get a WiFI capable smart phone with a Skype application and then you will be able to make free Skype to Skype calls with people back home. These could be work colleagues, family or friends. Sometimes Skype can drop out on a smart phone but when it doesn't cost you anything to call back this is not the end of the world.

Book well in advance and stay at the same spot or with the same chain- You should book your accommodation well in advance (avoid peak periods when tourists travel) and you should consider staying loyal to a worldwide chain of hotels. Many of these hotels have reward programs which means that you can earn free nights if you travel often.

Be loyal to the one airline- You should also think about being loyal to a single airline if you want to control the costs of your business travels. Airlines have frequent flyer programs that you let you redeem points for flights. You can also tie this with some global SIM cards and credit cards that also offer frequent flyer points rewards.

Decide whether some of the business be done without travel- I travel a lot for work, but sometimes I make the choice not to travel. Face to face meetings are important but sometimes everything that needs to be achieved can be achieved over the phone.

In this article I have shared with you 6 Ways to Control Costs on Business Travels. Follow these tips and you should see your business grow.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Business Travel Jobs Demystified

All jobs that involve helping people make successful travel plans require a high degree of professionalism, but this is particularly the case with business travel jobs.

Anyone travelling will expect their agent to be excellent at their job: nobody likes to think that they may suffer problems that could have been avoided had their agent been a little more proficient!

But this not only applies in the context of problems. A private or professional traveller is extremely unlikely to be amused if they find that their plans were sub-optimal (e.g. overly expensive) simply because the travel agent didn't really know their trade. So, 'getting it right' and providing an exemplary service is important if you work in a travel agency. Yet in the case of corporate planning, it becomes potentially even more complicated and your customers may well be considerably more demanding.

What makes corporate travel different to recreational travel?

• Business travellers need to depart at their convenience and in line with the demands of their business, meaning that they may be very reluctant to fit in with any plans that do not conform to their needs. Compromise may sometimes be impossible for them to contemplate.

• Clients may have multiple requirements that involve them travelling around the globe, stopping and changing flights regularly - that can be a major logistical and coordination effort for the travel agent.

• Clients may need to depart at short notice and they will expect a fast, efficient and above all, knowledgeable, service.

• Sometimes vast sums of money may depend on the business traveller being somewhere at a specific date and time - if things go wrong, they may be very pointed in demanding an explanation and an alternative from their agent.

How does this affect business travel jobs?

There are some agents that specialise in providing dedicated services to corporate clients. Some other agents may offer general travel agency services but also have a dedicated department/office/team to cope with the specific challenges presented by business travellers.

Typically, agents tend to put more experienced and knowledgeable employees into their business operations, although that may not always be the case and some may offer training opportunities for beginners. There are City and Guild (plus other) qualifications in many aspects of travel and leisure, and some of these may offer specific modules or courses on business travel.

If you are interested in business travel jobs specifically but lack any previous travel agent experience, it may be advisable to consider finding a position in an agency to learn the basics of the trade, then seek further qualifications and the opportunity to move into the business field. If you would like to search for business travel jobs directly as a trainee, and without previous travel agent experience, you may find this difficult unless you can show a relevant higher academic qualification.

The route to take towards business travel jobs will depend on a number of things, such as your experience, qualifications and perhaps your overall financial position in terms of whether you can support yourself through academic studies on either a full or part-time basis.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Preparing for Business Travel

Business trips are different to holidays in many ways, so if you're going for a large conference or a small meeting, you need to think differently. Below are some tips for planning your flights so you will be prepared for any and all encounters before the big meeting.

Most business expenses can be recouped by the business or through tax, but don't let this fool you into thinking that you can travel however you want. Most business's have a limit to how much they will give back, so think twice before booking a first class seat to your destination; you may have to pay the entire thing yourself. Some business trips can be called off at the last minute due to cold feet or other issues arising, so book a ticket that can be refunded. These usually cost more, but the entire amount will be given back if you need to change it to a different time or to cancel it. Booking a ticket that can be changed will also be beneficial if the one hour meeting turns into a two day event.

You can save money by flying in hours before the scheduled meeting and leaving hours later, so you don't have to postpone a flight if the meeting runs over time. It used to be that business people would book a hotel room to store their luggage and freshen up before the meeting, but most major airlines now have business class rooms complete with Wi-Fi, showers and buffet food, so you can relax there before the meeting.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Bed and Breakfasts for Business Travel

In recent years, Bed and Breakfast Inns have become popular as a quaint, home away from home lodging for the vacationing traveler. For some who travel alone, a Bed and Breakfast offers a secure feeling in a tranquil setting. And, for those who travel for business, it is a relaxing haven after a hectic day of business and meetings.

There are very few destinations where Bed and Breakfasts are not listed in the accommodation section of the local telephone book. If business takes you to a rural location there is a greater chance there will be a Bed and Breakfast in the area before a motel or hotel.

Farms, working ranches, acreage owners, rural and city families are all diversifying their daily lives to incorporate a Bed and Breakfast business into their homes. Each providing a comfortable retreat for vacationing and more importantly, for those traveling on business.

The home, the host and the location all make sure that the accommodations will vary at every Bed and Breakfast. Heritage buildings offer a characteristic charisma of their own. Often the hosts will play on the historical side decorating with antiques and collectable items. Memorabilia used will bring back memories of childhood times visiting Grandparents and stories of days gone by. Modern homes may offer a chic clean edgy feel and others may offer rooms which are no different than those we would find in our own homes. It is common in all of these settings to have access to the internet; however, this should be confirmed prior to making reservations if this is a requirement needed while away on business.

Some Bed and Breakfasts may offer refreshments in your room and often as not there is a common area for guest to prepare beverages and have a light snack should they choose to do so. Most will also offer a selection of books, movies and board games for your use as well.

Be prepared for a wonderful breakfast. Here, too, the Bed and Breakfasts normally will offer a selection of foods and will be more than accommodating in looking after any dietary needs. Courtesy prevails here. Make any culinary requests when booking the reservation to ensure all needs are looked after.

If business requires that you leave before breakfast will be served, inquire with your host when making the reservations, regarding items of food you may be able to take with you such as baked goods or fruit and a beverage to take in your go-cup.

The morning meal at a Bed and Breakfast is a perfect time to network with others who are staying there. These people may be on business as well or vacationers traveling from all parts of the world and all walks of life. Interesting conversation and connections have been known to transpire during the time it takes to eat your morning meal at a Bed and Breakfast.

Bed and Breakfasts are not hotels or motels. Therefore, there should be no expectation to drive up to the Bed and Breakfast of your choice and presume there will be a room available for you. These accommodations are booked months in advance and in some instances years and they may have black- out periods as well.

After a day of traveling or board room meetings, avoid disappointment and plan ahead by making your reservations online or by telephone before starting your travels.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Cafes in Paris - Ancient But Modern

Among the various exciting experiences one will have at Paris, spending an evening in one of the famous Paris cafes with tables on the lovely pavements is exclusive. Though it will be an expensive affair, one should have this amazing experience at least once during the stay in Paris. The bars at the Parisian cafes offer variety of tastes. These restaurants are busy throughout day and night. The thousands of tourists who visit Paris for culture and specialized shopping make it a point to spend some time at least once in one of the famous cafes in Paris.

Most part of the Paris restaurant menu consists of high-priced cocktails. Those who are not willing to spend much will satisfy themselves with a glass of wine. The leading cafes in Paris will be opened for seven days of the week and the visitors include bikers, tourists, students and local Bohemians. For all the customers' sitting outside on the pavement terrace is the most interesting aspect of their visit to the café. The chains of cafes, restaurants, bars and boutiques have transformed many sleeping parts of Paris to centres of brisk activities. Those who are very particular of getting a place outside on the pavement will go earlier and grab their seat.

Montparnasse in Paris where Picasso, Hemingway and Modigliani lived once has undergone a massive change with the upcoming of many modern cafes and restaurants. Being a place where thousands of tourists gather, here also the Paris restaurant menu \is too costly. However, apart from eating a snacks or having a glass of wine it will be much interesting to watch around the students engaged in serious discussions on their lessons, meeting among business men and the fashion loving local people just taking a break from their busy shopping.

The narrow road between Bastille and Belleville in Paris is a calm and quiet place during the day time. But in the evening it becomes so busy with thousands of local people gathering in the cafes. Here again the table on the pavement is the preferred seat by all.

Paris had been always at the helm of culture, art, style, and food. The pavement cafes, bars and restaurants in Paris are the most ideal places to sit for some time and taste a cocktail. These were the spots where once great people like Hemingway and Picasso used to spend time daily. There are famous cafes as well as lesser known cafes. Most of the famous Paris cafes are spots for sightseeing.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Corporate Business Travel Picks Up Again

An airline industry that's for years been casting an anxious eye down the road to see if any business travelers, the cream of its trade, step up at all, is finally being rewarded for its patience. With the recession finally receding, corporate business travel is finally picking up. It is a sign of how strong the revival is that business class travel isn't just attracting rich corporations. Small business owners and executives, sales reps and everyone else who travels on business have begun choosing business class all over again.

Today, cautious travel policies born of an instinct of self-preservation in businesses all over for years, have all but disappeared. No longer are executives required to check to see if they could use videoconferencing in lieu of travel. And when they do travel, no longer do they have to restrict themselves to premium economy and three-star hotels. The airlines for their part, have thrown themselves open to the corporate business travel crowd. Airplanes have new $150,000 business class seats, special spa-like business lounges and superior menus on board. In fact, getting a free upgrade to first class can be quite difficult for any business traveler these days; first class is usually clogged with paying vice presidents. Companies today are beginning to realize that perhaps they cut back too much during the recession.

Still, not everything is hunky-dory in the hopes that airlines have for the corporate business travel. With double-digit unemployment figures, the country still isn't where it needs to be economically - even if Wall Street seems to be booming. Flight reservations have plateaued more or less. Sales have been growing by a mere couple of percentage points each month. And booming fuel prices are beginning to put a tenuous resurgence at risk. Airlines, buoyed by high demand from paying business-class customers, have used the confidence it has lent them in raising prices for economy class flyers as well.

And just to be on the safe side, the airlines are building up their services as much as they can to attract the business custom. One of the more innovative services they have in mind has to do with the use of location tracking. With these airline apps installed on your smart phone, if you happen to be stuck in traffic so that you won't be able to make it, the airline will automatically put you on the next flight. If they are about to close the boarding gates and there you are, rushing down the escalators, the app will be able to tell them where exactly you are and alert the staff manning the gate to hold on for just a minute longer. Things could get really exciting.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

How to Estimate Business Travel Expenses

Business travel expenses has to be estimated depending on the type of trip you are undertaking, for instance the duration of the trip will certainly impact the cost of the entire travel. International travel plans will also include special circumstances such as health vaccinations, etc. Before you start on your trip, it is important that you confirm each and every detail of the trip with your manager and in this way you can also research the travel destination before you take off for your trip. In order to get access to the basic information of the visiting place, you can contact your local travel agent or the visitor's bureau as well.

1) The foremost thing to do would be to conduct a thorough research on the place you are traveling to for business. You can get in touch with a local travel agency and can get information about the average cost which is associated with the transportation and sightseeing. The visitor's bureau will also help you with the necessary information and the international business expenses can also be estimated with the help of an online conversion calculator.

2) Make a spreadsheet with the expected expenses to be filled in the columns and you can approximately compute the expenses by the number of days you will be out of station.

3) In your spreadsheet, include space for both personal and professional expenses and in this way you can understand what expenses you can account for in the business travel expenditure. In this manner, you can clearly distinguish between your grooming needs such as a purchase of an international adapter for shaving or that of a new adapter for your business laptop. Also, create separate columns for tips and gratuity.

4) To understand your costs on fuel, you can make use of the Trip Calculator which will aid you in estimating your fuel expenses while driving in the United States. This tool is a very helpful one and can also be used for other international business travel destinations such as for European trips.

5) Before summing up all the expenses, you have to complete all kinds of currency exchange conversions and you can record the results into your spreadsheet. Before submitting the same for reimbursement, please make sure that you have reviewed the data once again and have included all the necessary business travel expenses which you can claim from your company.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Business Travel Jobs - Becoming a Pilot

If you want to do a job where you can travel while earning a great living, becoming an airline pilot might be a great choice for you. After all, a plane is the most economical way to travel when it comes to going the greatest distances in the least amount of time - especially when you're flying it! You'll also get a front-row seat to the best view of your destination!

Business Travel Jobs - How To Become An Airline Pilot

To become a pilot available for hire, you'll need a commercial pilot certificate. To obtain this, you need to pass commercial pilot ground school and log at least 250 flight hours, with a specific amount of time dedicated to certain conditions and manoeuvres.

Once you have logged your hours and passed the written ground school test, you'll need to pass a "check-ride," which is similar to taking a driving test, to obtain an automotive driver's licence. An examiner of your country's main aviation service will ask you to plan a flight, quiz you on aviation matters, and then accompany you on a flight. This examiner will ask you to perform certain manoeuvres and will direct your course during the flight. If you do well throughout the "check-ride," you'll receive your commercial pilot's certificate.

However, you need more than just your commercial pilot's certificate in order to be hired by an airline for these kinds of business travel jobs! You also need the following:

• A first-class or second-class medical certificate
• An instrument rating
• A multi-engine rating

The medical certificate shows that you meet the health and fitness requirements according to an Aviation Medical Examiner. The instrument rating enables you to fly at low visibility due to adverse weather and being in clouds. The process to obtain this instrument rating is similar to obtaining your commercial pilot's certificate: you need to pass instrument ground school, log a specific amount of instrument flight time, and pass an instrument rating check-ride. The multi-engine rating enables you to fly planes that have multiple engines, which most planes in service have. Again, you'll need to receive some instruction and pass a check-ride in order to obtain your multi-engine rating.

In addition to the three criteria above, to be the pilot in command of a large commercial aircraft you need an airline transport pilot certificate. You can only obtain this if you meet the following requirements:

• Pass a written test
• Have a first-class medical certificate
• Are at least a high school graduate
• Have logged 1,500 flight hours, with 250 hours as being the pilot in command

Just as importantly, you need flight experience - after all, an airline will not hire an inexperienced pilot, no matter what his/her credentials are. Your flight experience is measured by the following factors:

• The number and complexity of the aircraft you have flown
• The quantity and complexity of the flying you did (such as jet versus propeller, day or night flying, using visibility or only using instruments, etc.)
• The crew positions you have held

To work for a major airline, you'll need thousands of flight hours. Working at a regional or commuter airline may require fewer hours.

Timing Is Everything

You may have all of the credentials to be an excellent pilot, but if you enter the business travel jobs market at a time where there are few openings for airline pilots, finding a job can be extremely difficult. Unfortunately, you can't really control the timing of the airline industry as it can fluctuate wildly within the matter of weeks or months, depending largely upon the current cycle in the economy and whether it is a boom or bust period.

If you do find yourself in a shaky business travel jobs market, the best you can do is get trained up to be the best pilot you can be, and continue to gain more experience with flying all types of airplanes. This will enable you to really stand out from the crowd of other new airline pilots, and make it more likely you'll be hired to earn a solid living while also enjoying the travelling aspects of your perfect job!

Barbara Kolosinska (MREC CertRP) is a Sales Director for C&M, a leading travel recruitment agency who specialise in finding their clients the perfect business travel jobs across all sectors of the travel industry. C&M have access to the largest choice of business travel jobs from the UK's top travel employers.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Business Travel Tips - When Dealing With Business Travel Expenses

These business travel tips will approach the topic of business travel expenses in general terms. You must always follow your local laws and regulations and seek professional advice as applicable.

Business travel expenses are cost that occurs while you are travelling on business. Sounds simple enough... but unfortunately it isn't. When is the cost of a trip deductible as allowable business expenses? Can you deduct all the cost of getting there and while there? What if you take your family with you?

What Are Business Travel Expenses?

The first golden rule of business travel expenses is that they must be ordinary and necessary. This leaves some room for interpretations but in principal its typical travel expenses that you need to incur in order to operate your existing business or to satisfy your job duties.

Secondly your business travel expenses must be reasonable. This again leaves some room for interpretations as first class flights and limousines can be very reasonable for some but not for others.

The business travel tips remind you that the expenses must be for business purposes only. Like expenses incurred in order to gain new customers or meet current customers, or to seek new investors, etc.

Allowable business expenses must be incurred for an existing business only, i.e. you can't deduct travel expenses related to acquiring or starting a new business. Those travel expenses should be treated as part of the capitalized startup cost.

When you travel on business internationally then all your travel expenses related to getting to and from your business destination are deductible. If you spend part of your time abroad on personal business then you must check if you are can deduct all your travel expenses or if you must allocate them proportionally between business and private expense.

When you travel on business domestically it makes difference if your travel includes an overnight stay away from your tax home or not. If it doesn't include an overnight stay then it's considered a local same day business excursion and you must make sure your trip qualifies as such, i.e. must be a reasonable distance from your tax home and for clear business purposes.

Your tax home is generally the entire area where your main place of business or work is located, regardless of where you maintain your family home. So if you live in one place and work in another then your travel cost is not for business purposes.

You might want to combine travelling for business and pleasure. That's fine as long as you know what allowable business expenses is and what isn't. Business travel tips reminds you that all tax authorities do look out for taxpayers that might be tempted to classify a nondeductible personal trip as a deductible business trip so always make sure you follow your local rules to the letter.

Normally you can deduct your travelling expenses to and from the destination only if the trip is primarily related to your business. If your trip is primarily personal in nature than you can't deduct any of your airfare, accommodation and other travelling expenses... even if you engage in some business activities while there. You can however deduct any particular normal business expenses you incur while there and are directly related to your business, i.e. taxi fare for your business appointment.

It's the facts and circumstances that decide if your trip is primarily for business or pleasure. The amount you spend on your business activities compared to your private activities is usually the deciding factor. Always play by the rules.

Few Practical Business Travel Tips

Keep your records up to date and in perfect manner. In order to claim business travel expenses you must keep adequate records of your travels and be able to show the invoices and prove the existence, amount, and business purposes of your expenses.

Business travel tips recommend keeping all business receipts in one place when travelling, you might want to use a special wallet or envelop for them.

Make a habit of organizing / claiming your business expenses as soon as you get back. That way you are less likely to lose any receipts or mix your expenses up with your next business trip.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Business Travel Jobs Explained

All travel agent work can be exciting and demanding - but perhaps business travel jobs especially so. Why is this?

If you are providing general travel agent services to the public for things such as holidays and weekend breaks, then although challenges and problems will arise, there may be a core stability around the travel plans that is unlikely to change. For example, someone booking a holiday to Thailand is unlikely to call you on only the second day there and say that they now want to travel immediately to another holiday in Australia. Yet with business travel jobs, that can happen - and fairly regularly!

Global business is characterised by the frequency of how things change. A business traveller may be actually en-route to Hong Kong and suddenly his or her employer will call you to say that, upon arrival, their employee must now travel immediately to Los Angeles. If you think that is simply a question of arranging other tickets from Hong Kong to Los Angeles, then you are mistaken. All existing accommodation arrangements in Hong Kong may need to be cancelled and car rentals and connections likewise. Then you have the problem of trying to arrange those same things to all be in place and ready for when the person arrives at LAX. Just as you finish making all the revised arrangements is the time that your client normally calls you again to ask you what you can do about the fact that the person in transit doesn't actually have a US Visa!

If that sounds an unlikely scenario, be warned - in reality it happens regularly in business travel jobs. That is also why travel agents are typically demanding in terms of their requirements for people going to work in business travel sections. It is an exciting, dynamic but also potentially highly pressurised environment that may not suit everyone.

Some employers prefer to offer junior and trainee positions in business travel to those who already have general travel agent experience. Others may be willing to offer trainee roles to people without any experience of the travel industry, but they may look very favourably upon those applicants that hold higher academic qualifications in a related travel and leisure field. There is now a wide range of courses offered by numerous colleges, universities and other educational institutions, in various aspects of this industry sector. These may offer qualifications at BA or HNC level and some are accredited by organisations such as IATA and ABTA.

Some employers may be willing to offer business travel jobs to trainees on the proviso that they have reasonable GCSE results, particularly in geography and English although maths is also usually very well received. Employers will also be looking to see evidence that you are the sort of person who:

• enjoys pressure;
• is a natural problem solver rather than problem creator;
• is a gifted communicator (verbally and in writing).

Business travel jobs offer a pathway to success for the right individual. They can be well rewarded, and successful individuals are usually very sought-after by both travel agents and their corporate clients.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Three Most Common Reasons for Business Travel

A lot of people think about business travel in a very abstract, detached way. When someone hears the word "business travel", they typically think of nothing but fat executives going to some desolate location, doing business in a state of misery and utter boredom. However, there are legitimate and indispensable reasons for business travel, and that is what we will be discussing in the following paragraphs.

A meeting, a conference, or a convention is the first common reason for engaging in business travel. Although teleconferencing technology is now highly developed thanks to broadband internet, studies show that there is still that special touch which face-to-face business meetings offer. Teleconferencing is found to be quite impersonal, and often employed only within company ranks. However, for more conservative cultures, there is no other option but to fly.

An exhibition or trade fair is another popular purpose. These means clumping a group of business in a single place and making them show off what products or service or services they have to offer, so that the market can be better acquainted with them. This is very important for start-up companies who wish to improve their business networks, or for companies who provide competitive products so that consumers can easily make value judgments, as they can easily compare one product to another.

Training courses is third on the list. These means staging special seminars to educate the public, or maybe local distributors and field agents, about the mechanics of a certain business process, or the nuances of a particular product. Although video training modules are often used by many businesses, these modules do not allow a "question and answer" portion at the end of the presentations. Most of the time, information gained by the seminar participants through that process, can spell the success of a business venture, or its doom.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Business Aviation Part 91 Operational Control

As the FAA defines it regarding a flight, operational control means the "exercise of authority over initiating, conducting or terminating a flight. "The FAAs definition of operate is to "use, cause to use or authorize to use aircraft, for the purpose... of air navigation including the piloting of aircraft, with or without the right of legal control (as owner, lessee, or otherwise)."

As a result, Part 91 operators, including aircraft owners using the services of management companies, need to ask themselves the following questions concerning each flight:

- What entity makes the decision on the aircraft that will be used for the flight?
- What entity makes the decision to assign flight pilot/s and crew members?
- For what entity do the pilots work as direct employees or, alternatively, as agents?
- What entity makes the decision to initiate, manage and terminate the flight?

The same answer to each of the questions identifies the entity that has operational control. It is usually not the aircraft management company. According to FAA requirements and regulations, it is usually the aircraft owner.

Duties

Safety is the most important consideration in any flight. A clear, unquestioned line of authority helps to avoid any misconceptions or misunderstandings while at the same time achieving the highest degree of safety possible for air travel.

Whoever has operational control also has responsibility for FAA regulatory compliance for the flight. Through its employees, aircraft management company or other authorized agents, the person with operational control has to be able to manage all safety responsibilities and have oversight and knowledge of all aspects of flight operations including flight crew eligibility.

Liability (in the event of an accident) for aircraft operation is also the responsibility of the person with operational control. This requires that the individual with operational control has up-to-date insurance, makes sure that the required licenses are in force and that the aircraft is being operated in a manner consistent with its stated use.

Aircraft Management Companies

A common misconception is that an independent aircraft management company (if one is retained), has operational control of the aircraft. This is not true unless the management company has:

- A Part 135 certificate

- Contracted with the owner to operate all passenger carrying flights including those for the owner, as commercial operations under Part 135.

Operational control considerations are as important for noncommercial (Part 91) operators as for commercial (Part 135) operators. This is especially critical in situations where a company's aircraft is managed by a Part 135 certificate holder and used for both the company's Part 91 operations and the certificate holder's Part 135 operations.

Please note that these types of arrangements are not typical in the aircraft management business and are the exception rather than the rule.

This article should be only viewed as an overview of operational control. Always seek advice from knowledgeable aviation counsel for specific questions on how operational control may apply to your situation.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Business Travel Expenses - What Every Businessperson Needs to Know

Travel can be very expensive. When you travel for business, many of your expenses can be written off at tax time. This will save you a lot of money if you know how to do it correctly. But you don't want to overdo it and risk being audited. It's a careful process and some areas have thin lines. You'll want to know exactly what you're doing.

The most important thing to know is what is deductible and what isn't. A lot of things can be written off as business travel expenses, but you don't want to get ridiculous with it or you could find yourself in trouble. Ask yourself if your trip is primarily for business, or pleasure. Even if it is primarily a business trip, things you do for pleasure on the side may not be deductible.

When a purchase IS business related, you can write it off. Nearly anything counts. Hotel rooms, airfare, travel documents, meals, cab fare, dry cleaning, and business related long distance calls. But you'll need to save all the documentation. This mostly pertains to receipts. While you may not need to send the receipts with your tax claim, you will need to have them in case you get audited so that you can back up your claims if they are called into question.

Don't use the tax write-offs as an excuse to go crazy with your expenses. Getting the most expensive meal on the menu every night and sleeping in a penthouse suite the whole time can cause trouble if you try to write that off. That doesn't mean you have to eat fast-food every night, either. There's no set dollar amount as to what counts as a basic meal and what counts as an overly extravagant luxury. Just try to use your common sense. Another thing to remember when it comes to meals is that typically you will only be able to claim 50% of the meal as a business expense. Percentage amounts may apply to other niceties as well; the IRS changes these amounts every so often.

If you stay on the trip longer than what it takes to conduct business, your deductible expenses only count for the business portion of the trip. If business is concluded a day early, almost anything you do on this last day cannot be written off.

Even if business is still in motion, certain things you do that do not pertain towards business cannot be written off. For example, going to a theater by yourself will probably not be a valid claim. But if you treat your business contact to a local play and business is discussed before and after; you may have a valid claim.

If you bring family or friends along for the trip, only your own expenses are deductible. When going to restaurants and hotels, you may want to request your own bills be put on a separate ticket to simplify things when it comes time to file a tax claim. The only exception being if your friend or family member is also a business partner and you can prove this fact.

It is essential that you keep very good records of your business travel expenses. Tax laws can be confusing and they are changed often. If you have questions, your safest option is to consult a tax specialist.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Cruises and Incentive Travel

Companies are constantly looking for new ways to reward their top performing employees while motivating others to accomplish desired goals. Cruises are a unique vacation experience where an individual or group may visit amazing destinations with every need met right on board. Incentive programs include achievable goals and expectations participants must meet to obtain a reward for their hard work. Travel plans are an amazing organizational tool used to gain dynamic results. Employees require ongoing encouragement to not only perform well but also excel past status quo work. Incentive travel cruising is an affordable business option that provides the motivation employees need to accomplish decided goals.

Incentive Travel: The Benefits of a Vacation by Sea

While a four or five day vacation in France may not be financially suitable for every company, a cruise offers the same great experiences at a lower cost per person. Food, fun, child care, and various other amenities provide a more affordable price. They make a great choice when an organization wants to provide larger rewards to top performing staff members without dipping too much into the budget. Keeping it interesting is one of the largest problems faced when planning out an incentive travel reward. How does a company offer a motivational reward, remain within a budget, and gain the same positive results in following years or quarters? Cruises are an easy answer to this question because they are affordable and allow a business to change up visited locations as frequently as desired. The problem of offering something different each year can easily be resolved by choosing this incentive direction.

An incentive can be created for a variety of reasons including as recognition for meeting sales targets, safety accomplishments, attendance, customer service improvements, or as a loyalty reward to customers. Cruise programs take care of themselves once appropriately booked. A business has a wide range of locations at price points that easily fall within a budget. Multiple departure points, itineraries, and levels of accommodations allow an organization to set up an award significant to the achievement with enough incentive to make it happen. Cruises include highly desirable locations such as Hawaii and the Caribbean. Staff members receive a memorable reward with a relaxing yet fun itinerary, great food, and one of kind accommodations. Incentive travel programs provide the ideal reward for valuable work achievements as well as encourage continued progress.

Cruises are also a great way to hold inspiring group meetings because they offer extensive conference rooms with all necessary audio visual equipment. A self-contained boat provides less outside distractions, increased opportunities for networking, and encourages better attendance. These facilities may be used to broadcast the winners to provide additional motivation for those who did not reach outlined goals. Incentive travel cruising programs are a great way for increasing sales totals or turning around unsuitable staff behavior. An organization can implement this type of program to achieve better retention, encourage improved performance, or as a morale booster. Travel reward programs fit many scenarios and provide the motivation necessary for business gains. An experienced professional simplifies the process by setting up a unique cruising experience with an itinerary full of fun.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

How Corporate Incentive Tours Are Influential Motivators For Personnel

Corporate incentive tours are exceptional opportunities to motivate personnel with a tailor made trip that increases their unique experience. Special venues are selected to increase the promotional visibility of product launches, conferences, staff training, seminars and award giving events. It is a fact that the corporate body requires a fresh perspective from time to time and the opportunities to meet at special venues helps to rejuvenate the team.

Various venues are available such as ocean cruises where the team can meet onboard in well appointed conference rooms with audio-visual equipment without additional fees. Privacy and security are easily ensured when the ship casts its lines. Attendees participate in group activities while their world is constantly changing as the ship sails its course.

Only approximately 13% of Americans have ever taken an ocean cruise so that in all likelihood most will be experiencing this type of venue for the first time. To facilitate the planning special professionals are available to design and help guide their clients every step of the way. Transitioning from land to sea will require the expertise of those who understand the special requirements to bring novices to the marine environment.

There are many different kinds of groups that have successfully enjoyed meeting onboard mega yachts, riverboats and ocean liners to name a few. Education planners, associations and motivational speakers are just a few who have recognized the benefits of travel as a means to educate and motivate. The duration of the trips varies from a few days to a few weeks. Guests can be transported to unfamiliar climates and cultures within a few hours.

Cruises can take on certain themes such as the popular theme of chocolate. The subscribers to a certain chocolate magazine would be able to participate in dozens of chocolate-themed activities such as lectures on chocolate making and chocolate tastings. Experts on chocolate are available to answer questions about the topic of chocolate.

The ship offers many opportunities to diversify their activities such as a spa, workout facilities and a swimming pool. Evenings can be filled with casino games, dancing and dining. Movies and live entertainment are also venues that provide participants opportunities to dress up and make new friends in a relaxed, fun setting.

Guests onboard have many opportunities to go ashore and enjoy the different ports of call where they can explore by foot or on bicycle to name a few. New islands and continents are available for them to discover where they may never have had a chance to learn about before. Their return to their ship will provide them with a homey feeling while still taking part in their group activities.

Corporate incentive tours can be managed on a small, medium or large scale. The hospitality consultants have the experience to manage any need. They are the bridge between the management of the venue and the organization that is producing the event. The ship not only becomes their home away from home but it is also their corporate venue and entertainment destination. It is all things under one deck.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Pet Transport Tips for a Smooth and Safe Journey

There are many rules and regulations that surround transporting your pet anywhere outside the UK. In this day and age it is possible for us to take our beloved pets on holiday with us all around the world. Unfortunately it's not as easy as going to the airport getting through customs and jetting off, there are certain laws that surround pet transport.

I'm going to run through a few quick checks you need to have made before you go booking your holidays with the intention of taking your dogs, cats or any other pets you may have with you to a far away country because it's always better to be safe than sorry.

The main body which regulates the import and export of animals and pet transport is Defra. Their main concern is keeping our country and animals free from rabies and thus conduct a scheme known as PETS. Animals that are brought back into the UK from EU territories and other listed countries before the 31st of December 2011 must meet UK PETS re-entry preparations and have received PETS documentation. Here are the main things you need to have done before traveling -

Rabies Vaccinations - Rabies is a horrible disease and could be devastating to our country if we had epidemic, you can get a rabies vaccination from your vet.

Micro-chipping - All pets have to be micro-chipped before traveling, again your vet can do this for you

Blood Sampling - All the necessary blood samples have to done also. Blood tests are done to make sure the rabies vaccine is sufficient enough to protect your animal. The rabies vaccine should be equal to or more that 0.5IU/ml. Make sure your vet gives you the documentation showing this.

These checks should have been done either before you have your pet leaves the country or before the pet transport agency bring your animal back. There are many other government and non government organizations that you can ring or contact that have helpful information regarding moving your pets to and from the UK.

The best and safest thing you can do is make sure that you have all your documentation and vaccinations done before you leave the country this will make the transition easier for your and your animal. Most animal couriers companies will have all the details your require before you travel and if you have not already made the prior arrangements then more often than not they can even get all the documentation and boosters etc sorted out for you.

Try not to avoid any of the laws that are set out by Defra as not complying to the rules set out can end up in your pet being put into quarantine for a minimum of six months.

Visit our site for more pet transport information. We're based in the UK and can transport animals in and around, out of the UK and over to France. All details regarding pet transportation and how we can help you with anything you need you can visit our site and contact us via email or phone.

Monday, October 10, 2011

What About the Leather Courier and Messenger Bag?

Leather courier and messenger bags have been around for a long time. I have seen people, in writing or in verbal explanation, attempt to distinguish the difference between the two leather bags. Actually, there is little or no difference between the two cases. The dictionary usually uses one term to synonymously define the other.

The courier or messenger bag is distinguished from other leather briefcases and bags by the size, shape and style. They usually have a flap from the top of the back over the main compartment to one-half or full coverage on the front. This flap provides protection and a place to put another zippered pocket or to attach smaller compartments to organize and store smaller gadgets. They can be a horizontal or vertical format and be as small as a man bag or document case; or as large as a laptop case or satchel - such as a mail bag.

In my opinion, more important issues lie in determining the history of the two bags and explaining their usefulness. Couriers or messengers have been deployed in times to war to carry important documents from one commander to another. Courier bags have consisted of little more than a leather pouch with a pocket large enough to hold paper sized documents, and possibly contained a map pocket or plastic window to protect the map in adverse weather conditions (in more modern applications - WWII and on).

Another type of messenger case has been developed by those supplying electrical and telephone line men. They have used a shoulder bag with a flap, from one-half to full overlap. The bags have been made of canvas, leather or a combination of the two materials. They were used to carry tools and heavy metal fasteners up the poles, while keeping the line man's hands free for climbing and working.

Postal carriers have used a large leather bag fashioned in the same configuration. The Pony Express even used a leather messenger bag so the weight of the mail could be evenly distributed for a comfortable ride, protect the mail from rain and dust, and be handed-off quickly. Bicycle couriers in the large cities have also used this style and format to dispatch their mail and documents around the major cities.

The leather courier or messenger bag is durable, versatile and stylish. They fit nicely on Wall Street or the Santa Fe Trail. On horseback or in the air, they protect and organize your gadgets, computer, documents, I Pad, pens, cameras, or even a change of clothes. You are always in style when you choose a leather courier or messenger bag that wears well and improves with age.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

SharePoint Consultants You Should NOT Risk Hiring For Your Microsoft Project Needs

Choosing SharePoint consultants to help you with your Microsoft Project needs has to be done properly. As these people are really effective at assisting your company to maximise the benefits of the integration of Project 2010 with Microsoft SharePoint - the wrong consultants would not only endanger the success of your projects, but also put your business operation on hold.

Thus, when you're on the market for consultancy firms that promise to help you manage Office Project 2010 better, it would be helpful to learn about the most common mistakes people commit when hiring SharePoint consultants. This way, you can avoid them and grant your company the certainty that you'd never suffer due to these mistakes.

The following are what you should stay away from if you want to make sure that you'd end up choosing the best possible consultancy company you can find:

1. Absence of accreditation. SharePoint consultants are people who have the ability to significantly affect your projects and your business. Thus, you just cannot choose them if they don't have the certificates of recognition that they should come with. No one wants to trust someone who does not have the right background.

And in the case of SharePoint experts, you won't go far with a firm that is not acknowledged. Skills and expertise are the makings of a great consultancy firm, and those traits are better proven by accreditation from the right companies.

2. Lack of experience. It is easy to find companies that claim to be experts in Microsoft Project and Microsoft SharePoint. And, to be sure that you would get nothing less than that, check the company's success stories and case studies. These things can prove that the company has indeed worked for a lot of companies such as yours and it has done an excellent job.

And, if the company is really as good as what it's claiming to be, there would be a lot of proofs to back it up. Good consultancy firms which are blessed with good words from their clients would display them.

3. Unreasonable rates. You don't have to think that in order to get great service, you'd have to pay with an arm and a leg. There are plenty of competent and credible SharePoint consultants who can do a very good job for you - without asking you to pay outrageous amounts. These companies would be able to help you out a lot in your Microsoft Project requirements, but at affordable rates. Don't make the mistake of believing that you have to spend to get high quality and excellent service.

Keeping the above-mentioned into account would help you stay away from them. This way, you'd be able to get the service you wanted to get, and your Microsoft Project needs would be answered accordingly.

Also, avoiding committing them would guide you towards the consultancy firm and the SharePoint consultants - that you can hire to truly help you not only manage your projects better, but also improve the way you operate and do your business.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Culture Shock in Bakken Country

There has been a huge amount of attention on the Bakken Oil Field and North Dakota, and rightfully so. The Bakken is huge news for North Dakota because of the wealth and changes it's bringing. And it's big news for an oil hungry U.S. that could have Middle Eastern oil supply issues any day. All of this news and information about what is happening in northwest North Dakota is bringing in thousands of people from other states and other countries. Below I will discuss how I reacted to moving to northwest North Dakota.

In the early nineties I was hired by the North Dakota Highway Patrol and went through the HP academy in Bismarck. I had always lived in relatively high population areas, and was use to the pace of life in bigger cities. To my dismay, the Highway Patrol decided to station me in Stanley, which is about fifty five miles west of Minot, in the middle of the Bakken Oil Formation area. At that time Stanley had a population of approximately 1500.I wound up finding a house to rent south of town, out in the country - way out in the country. Looking out the windows at night and realizing the closest light was over a mile away was a shock.

Back then, there was oil drilling and exploration going on, but nothing like today. Occasionally you might see a workover rig, and I only remember seeing an actual drilling rig once in the three years I was stationed in Stanley. The Bakken and Three Forks oil formations were not in the news or a topic of conversation. My only real contact with the oil industry happened when I stopped a crude oil truck for speeding or being over loaded.

My first day in Stanley was memorable. When I opened the curtains on the picture window in my living room that first morning and looked outside I couldn't believe my eyes. There, in my front yard, was a herd of animals that I could not identify. They looked like something that belonged on the plains of Africa, not in a farmyard in North Dakota. The longer I watched the animals, the more certain I was that they had escaped from a zoo. Of course, later that day, I found out that the animals were common pronghorn antelope!

Monday, October 3, 2011

What to Look For In an Incentive Travel Company

Numerous choices exist when a business decides to offer an incentive program to their employees. Travel rewards operate much like any other type of motivational item; however, they offer a bigger payoff for individual or group accomplishments. A company can set up these programs themselves or seek the help of experienced professionals for the magnitude of planning required. Finding the right outsourcing provider is not as easy as doing a quick online search and choosing the first incentive travel company shown in the results. An organization must put forth the same diligence in this selection process as would be applied during processes such as employer or supplier evaluation. Businesses receive better service when the provider solely works in the trade of travel awards. Any organization attempting to find a helpful company in this industry should stick to a specialized provider in order to gain increased insight and a better overall program.

Incentive Travel Agency: Certain Qualities Lead to Improved Program Success

Specialization is only one of many important qualities an organization should seek in an incentive travel agency. The reward is the most important factor when developing an incentive program. These items allow a business to capture not only the interest of individuals but also their imagination. It is a motivational approach which is beginning to take over the industry because trips are the one reward many employees either do not have the time or the money to achieve outside of the workplace. An organization should seek an incentive travel agency with vast experience that can offer one of kind destinations and sufficient planning dedication. If the provider throws out a few pre-planned trips and expects a choice, the trip is not going to offer the experience necessary to motivate employees to reach a common goal. A provider should devote time to learning about the desired objectives as well as the organization who has hired their services. This information allows the program to be tailored to the organization rather than being a standard vacation package which could be offered to anyone.

How much experience does the proposed company have within the industry? The answer to this question is very important because it will play a part in pricing, the destination, and other features of the trip. Those companies with little experience will not be able to negotiate airfares or be capable of creating the unique reward being sought. An exclusively tailored program requires dedication, experience, and knowledge not easily found with a basic incentive service. An organization will gain more when the provider has the right connections as well as skills to create a reward with enticing accommodations, entertainment, and dining. They can make certain all the basics are covered as far as the airfare or other travel means required to reach the destination. Companies typically receive more benefits when the work is left to qualified professionals. Budget restrictions, goals, and the nature of the program are all taken into account in an effort to deliver a special motivational tool for desired business objectives. These qualities should be a top priority when choosing an incentive travel company for any upcoming reward program.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Ireland: A Top Incentive Travel Destination

Ireland is a beautiful location surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, Celtic Sea, and Irish Sea. It is a prime incentive location full of lush green scenery as well as an abundance of unique experiences. Travel rewards are tricky because they must appeal to a broad group of people with varying tastes. The destination has to be somewhere people may not otherwise have the opportunity to visit. Ireland incentive travel rewards are a once in a lifetime experience where long-lasting memories can be made. This island location lies to the northwest of the European continent and is separated from the island of Great Britain by the Irish Sea. Surroundings include low-lying mountains, rivers, the ocean, and lush vegetation. The Irish culture adds to this particular travel destination due to language and musical heritage predominance. Western culture such as music has also made its way to this island location thus providing a unique mix of entertainment and activities.

Incentive Travel Services: What Types of Experiences Can This Location Offer?

The destination is very significant when utilizing incentive travel services for an objective oriented program. If the individuals or group has no interest in the location, an organization will not receive the desired productivity required for the reward. A trip to a nearby metropolitan area, for example, will not get everyone to jump out of bed and work harder throughout the workday. However a trip to Ireland may be the motivation needed to achieve widespread organizational goals or to encourage individual improvement. What does this location offer over the traditional island getaway? It provides the chance to experience a unique culture, breathtaking scenery, and to see a distant location. Anyone can make a weekend trip to the beach or the city, but numerous individuals may not be able to plan this type of traveling very easily. Cost, time-frames, and various other factors make it impossible for people to plan these trips on the fly or in some cases to ever plan them at all.

Incentive travel services offer an organization the chance to provide a reward worth each staff member's time. The company in turn receives increased productivity, a happier workforce, and can achieve necessary objectives geared toward a higher degree of success. Ireland offers a chance of discovery not provided by many other common travel destinations. Visitors can explore legendary myths or see a landscape of bounteous beauty. Locals enjoy revealing the hidden stories of the area and provide the guidance needed to create epoch memories. The Irish culture is full of traditions involving certain foods, special holidays, music, and dancing. It is truly a one of a kind experience for any individual wanting to participate in something different. Events are common throughout all times of the year meaning visitors get to see these items firsthand as well as have the chance to participate in the fun. There is no other experience like a trip to this breathtaking destination. Ireland incentive travel rewards are a winning choice when an organization is seeking the right motivation for boosting employee morale, meeting sales goals, or acquiring productivity gains.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

GPS Fleet Vehicle Tracking

Increased financial pressures, world economic downturn and austerity measures are all leading to companies taking a serious look at their operating costs and practices for savings. One area that can lead to greater control and increase cost control, especially with larger businesses, is through GPS vehicle tracking.

Through the use of GPS vehicle tracking, the monitoring of the precise locations of a company's fleet vehicles can make it easier to allocate resources effectively. GPS vehicle management records a number of vehicle parameters that can be used to organise cost effective delivery routes, economical distribution of workloads based on a vehicles proximity to jobs and the analysing of a driver's habits, speeds and journeys to make more efficient use of time.

Many GPS vehicle tracking systems include live vehicle tracking which makes response times quicker and allows Fleet Managers the luxury of knowing exactly where their resources are at any one time. Live GPS trackers are particularly useful for companies and services where response times are critical or essential for customer satisfaction. Health service providers, where patient care is of vital importance, or taxi services when customers demand a fast response are all aided by the installation of a vehicle-tracking network.

GPS vehicle management systems allow for the monitoring of multiple resources simultaneously and produce up to the minute data so that Fleet Managers can instantly respond to circumstances. Whether that be a life threatening emergency or a change in customer demand, for instance when a theatre turns out or an airplane lands, it gives controllers the opportunity to react immediately.

Modern GPS vehicle trackers are able to record a number of such parameters as speed, direction, location and status. The Fleet Manager can discover when a vehicle is stationary, if it moves and whether it enters or leaves predetermined geographical zones. For instance if plant machinery leaves a building site, or a parked vehicle suddenly moves, the controller can be alerted to the fact that there is an abnormal situation occurring. These security facilities can warn of theft but also aid in tracking down the stolen vehicle as well.

Companies have found that with these safety features and the cost savings on fuel and maintenance made possible by monitoring vehicle performance and usage are good for business. The fitting of GPS management systems means more efficient allocation of tasks and leads to less workforce stress, while the controllers are able to guide drivers around problem areas or towards difficult destinations, this all leads to a more productive, customer focused service and increased business.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

What the Greeks Can Still Teach Us

I think that one of the overwhelmingly consequential stories of 2011, was that of the Greek financial and social turmoil. With such continuous and focused reporting on it (rarely, actually proportionately to the seriousness of the situation), I am guessing that just like me you will have mixed emotions about my fellow countrymen.

On the one hand, the irregularities (ranging anywhere from innocent mistakes all the way to blatant stealing - from both Europe, but also from the poor to give to the rich) have happened within the country itself. Unquestionably it has been the Greeks making their own bed (albeit messing up everyone else's as a result) and that apportions blame squarely and wholly somewhere within the country.

On the other hand, under several very misguided and very unfair governments for almost 30 years now, it is typically the "non-thieving" hard-working type of Greek (majority) that is paying a very disproportionate price for all the irregularities that went on. Which is also hard to forget...

To use some culinary parallels to explain my views: whatever your position on the matter, I believe that the whole mess can be boiled down to a few key ingredients that have been cooked by certain people (from what in Greece is now called "the elite") for almost three decades; unfortunately these were the same people that also happened to be in control of the books which were also thoroughly cooked.

From these few ingredients, the one that is very easily underestimated is complacency. And in my experience complacency is a very contagious disease.

"The Greek physics law of Inertia" - AKA the Greek version of "mañana"

The one thing for which I will dare to "throw a stone" to my countrymen is that us Greeks are pretty much governed by some cultural imperative, similar to the physics law describing inertia. When we aren't doing anything, we are very likely to maintain our state and continue not doing much. (Incidentally, although much more rarely, the opposite also applies: when we somehow find ourselves in motion, we can find it difficult to stop). All this can make us relaxed company and great party friends, but in business it can be a disadvantage...

During the autumn of 2007, when our BABEL Multilingual product was still in its infancy, I was starting talking to hotels about multilingual versions of their websites, and international marketing packages. Knowing that Greece attracts people speaking foreign languages in their millions every year, I did some research in new hotels in the country that were more likely to use and benefit from our services.

Amongst many potentials, I remember finding a wonderful candidate. It was a five star property with some 450 rooms, in a prime location in Crete, near an airport (but far enough) and by a superb sandy beach. The hotel was independently owned, and only on the second year of its operation - which to me it meant that there would normally be a lot of room for growth of business. To cut a long story short, this property's vital statistics made them an excellent candidate. According to my guestimations at the time, they could find themselves generating some pretty impressive profits within the first season of using us. I couldn't wait to talk to them..

Unfortunately, my initial enthusiasm quickly evaporated by the hotel's lack of a booking engine on their website. In fact, there was no way to make a reservation at that hotel, other than calling them, or emailing them and hoping for the best. Obviously there is very little point in pursuing, finding and getting visitors to your website from abroad if you don't have a way to convert them to customers!

For those of you that aren't familiar with the issue of booking engines, I should briefly highlight here that for such a property having a booking engine is an absolute necessity. I don't want to send anyone to sleep talking about a the different pricing models of agencies and the comparative costs; so let's just say that in a country like Greece, a decent-sized independent hotel of this type on its second year of operation, would easily pay the equivalent of 30% for a reservation in commissions to all manner of agencies. Forgetting about the numerous benefits that further enhance the argument and necessity for a booking engine, I will just mention that when someone books a hotel on the hotel's own website, the commission costs for that hotel would drop to anywhere between one and five per cent. It is relevant to mention here that agencies already squeeze hotels as much as they can, and as hotels have costs associated with servicing a room, bookings over the hotel's own website represent a staggering benefit in profit levels - a 25% reduction in commission payments could be very nearly the entire profit on a room sold!

So why on earth would anyone not have a booking engine - I hear you ask. I didn't know either and I was too curious to let this go, so I decided to find out. I picked up the phone, got through to the General Manager, and basically asked the question.


"Well, someone would have to manage it.." - came the answer.


[What? As opposed to bookings from agencies that are OK to be left unmanaged?!!]

I was shocked. That was a prime example of (these days already hard to find) old-style Greek public-sector complacency having permeated the private sector. Of all the people to show such lack of interest in the hotel's well being, to hear such a blatant statement of laziness from a General Manager... To me, that was just wrong.

A year after this conversation took place, the financial world imploded. Today travel agents control the business for that hotel (and so many other hotels like it) and have forced the General Manager to drop her prices and increase the commission she pays to them. The owners were probably far too removed from the day-to-day decisions to identify the missed opportunity, and have now fully blamed the Greek corrupt elite for their misfortunes. Complacency and lack of understanding are a poisonous mixture for a business.

Following that incident (and a few more like it), and seeing the suffering of Greek hotels in these trying times for Greece, I have quickly developed a strong aversion to complacency. It is therefore with considerable worry that I share with you my suspicion that this affinity to a "mañana" approach to life is not entirely alien to Britons either...

Having worked with hotels from all over the world [and aware that I have no other evidence than our own contacts with the markets (hardly a statistically acceptable sample)] I would suggest that British hoteliers are on average less keen to move forward with international marketing than their international counterparts.

Despite us being a firmly UK based company, today only 23% of our clients are located in the UK - the rest are based pretty much everywhere else around the world. The hoteliers around the world to whom we sell our services seem to be much more aware that hoteliers sell to travellers and that these days travellers don't come from the hotel's neighbourhood, and they don't always speak the neighbourhood's language.

Looking at the flickering lights of the world economy today, I am strongly advising hoteliers to go after international business even if they do well domestically. Every incremental demand point is of benefit not only to the hotel's pricing and yielding flexibility. It is also another point of safety in an unsafe world.

If the pessimists of this world are correct, there is a lot of pressure for everyone in the not too distant future, and it will be only those who are prepared that will stand a chance to thrive.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Incentive Travel Companies: What Do They Do For Business?

An incentive is given as a reward for accomplishing a specific goal, improved productivity, or individual accomplishments. Travel programs offer organizations a way to supply a unique experience when certain objectives are appropriately met. Companies must create a productive program upon deciding to use this type of reward over others. Choosing an appropriate destination, meeting budgeting requirements, and providing the push needed for goal accomplishment can be difficult for any sized organization. Incentive travel companies are available to assist with the important planning aspects of these programs. Businesses receive better results when this process is outsourced to a dependable provider. This is because the planning of a travel award can be very extensive.

Flights, accommodation, itinerary, food, and various other items must be planned according to a set budget. This may involve negotiating prices with several businesses in the defined location in addition to numerous transportation suppliers. An organization will also have to set objectives, entice workers toward achieving them, and supply information on how to receive the set reward. It can become too much for an already time constrained business. Travel reward professionals handle a significant portion of the workload, assist with budget constraints, and ensure every aspect of planning is covered.

Incentive Travel: Immense Professional Knowledge Improves Program Success

An incentive travel program will only be successful with the right planning, and finding a company to assist with this process is essential. A dependable company eliminates the stress added during planning. The chosen provider should work hard to gain an understanding of company goals to accomplish the creations of a one of a kind achievement program. Organizations receive better service when employee dynamics such as destination preferences are known. When a provider actively inquires about this type of information, it is a good indicator of their outsourcing reliability. This kind of involvement shows a true interest in putting together an exclusive program designed around the specific motivational needs of an organization. These qualities should be sought out prior to hiring an incentive travel service.

Industry connections allow incentive travel providers to receive better flight pricing, lodging, and itineraries. A vast amount of experience in this type of motivational planning delivers a more individualized program. Every travel reward must be unique and tailored to the needs of the organization. Incentive travel companies have the knowledge necessary to make certain the reward is something people will strive hard to receive. They also take into account the objective, goals, and company nature to make certain the planned trip reinforces why the reward was given. Organizations intending to offer multiple trips gain more by working with a seasoned professional.

Long term relationships may be built with suppliers for future pricing discounts. Professionals are familiar with suppliers in this industry and ensure the best services are obtained for the trip. When the incentive service strictly works with travel programs, an organization receives increased dedication to the goal at hand. These qualities allow a business or group to create a well thought out, financially acceptable, and solid program for any set of desired objectives without time being taken away from critical operations.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Incentive Travel Programs Make the Workplace a Fun Place

Many companies are beginning to realize the positive effects of an enticing incentive for work achievements. Travel programs are increasingly being chosen over alternative award choices since they allow an organization to provide a unique and memorable experience. Organizations begin reaping the benefits of this choice long before the program reaches its end. Incentive travel programs provide a direct means for encouraging further employee engagement and offer a healthy yet competitive environment where individuals obtain something exceptional for putting out the additional effort. Businesses typically see a significant change in employee attitudes when these programs are put into place. A trip to locations such as Rome, Paris, or even the California Coast greatly surpasses the short term effect and motivation of a small monetary reward. These types of rewards also make it easier for a company to incorporate fun throughout the duration of the objective portion of a program. In today's strained business environments, workplace fun is a must and can be better justified when it is centered on a business oriented task such as goal achievement.

Incentive Travel Provides a Good Excuse for Office Related Amusement

A business has to consider the frame of mind of employees in order to understand the direct productivity impact of incentive travel. Individuals actually jump up in the morning ready to do their best since they have been given the chance at obtaining something they see as worthwhile for all their hard work. As a result, organizations receive an increasingly productive workforce who is striving together to reach necessary goals for widespread business success. Each staff member is so involved with accomplishing their responsibilities to receive the end reward that their day passes by with ease. They are more relaxed, have a positive attitude, and have additional pride in the work they complete. This in turn improves attendance, timeliness, and output throughout the organizational workforce.

An incentive travel plan creates a fun and competitive environment where employees strive to achieve company goals in order to meet their own personal objective of receiving the offered reward. An organization can create a fun place to work without harming desired performance or taking away from the completion of individual responsibilities. The organization receives the productive improvements needed and the winners receive a unique prize for their efforts. Incentive travel articles offer supportive fun ideas such as themed snack tables at the end of the week, posters, drawings, little games, or various other activities that require minimal time but provide increased excitement about upcoming travel possibilities. Conference rooms may be decorated with destination supportive items or emails may be sent with enticing information about trip itinerary events. These little morale boosters encourage an already driven workforce to work even harder. Professional service providers are a great source for encouragement practices throughout the duration of the program. They are also beneficial when an organization wants a great program but does not have the time or resources to plan it accordingly. An experienced professional makes certain essential details are covered for a motivational destination without overextending the organizational budget.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Myanmar and Its Emergence Onto the World Stage

I was very pleased to read the news article inferring that Myanmar is now prepared to join the world's community of nations, which means I hope that they are ready to treat their nationals with respect and dignity. The Burmese are on the whole a lovely gentle caring race of people, For the people of Myanmar have for far to long relied on their community and spiritual way of life to ensure that they are equipped to travel beyond the woes brought upon them by the oppression that they have endured at the hands of their military. For the Burmese people have had their calm and spiritual persona exploited to the extreme by the military junta that has controlled this country, we the west have stood by and allowed this oppression to happen.

Back in the 90's I had the privilege to work in Yangon as a consultant to their fledgling mobile telephony network, albeit my work lasted only for a short period of time, a matter of a few months. For one fleeting moment, about 12 to 15 years ago it looked as though they were about to rejoin the democratic world order, as they tried to embrace democracy. Global hotel chains rushed to Yangon to build and operate spectacular hotels of incredible quality, sadly as they did keep to the democratic discipline, these hotels have stood largely empty.

As for my reason to be there it was to advise them on the requirements required to implement a mobile telephony network across Myanmar. As they were attempting to embrace mobile telephony, as it looked as though they wanted to put in a network, then they were beginning to open up the country again.

During the period that I traveled to and from Myanmar, a journey that I found to be fraught with difficulty due to all of the procedural requirements to obtain visa's etc., I saw an infra-structure that was reminiscent of the war years across Europe. There were old Bedford lorries and buses which were easily 50 years old and were still operating as originally intended, it was as though the world had not moved on. For me this brought a kind of charm to my trips that was enjoyable to see and experience, but I left the country for better facilities so never really had to experience the practical impact for any period of time.

However, what was a surprise to me; was the presence of French nationals plying their trade. The French were involved in areas such as; Telephone exchange systems through to restaurants. I was advised by colleagues that I worked with to keep my own council should I be in any bars during my evenings, they were indicating the existence of French intelligence, a service who were there in Myanmar to protect French businesses from foreign competitors. I have no idea as to whether I brushed along side these guys so had no experience to say if this was true or not. But, I had certainly been advised to keep my own council and particularly around the bar of the Strand Hotel, a bar where the few expats that were in Myanmar frequented, I count embassy personal amongst the expats.

During one of my evening trips I had the good fortune to travel outside of Yangon, traveling on a main route for approx 10 miles, at which point we turned off the road and followed a dirt track for at least another 2 miles. Eventually we came across a beautiful newly painted white colonial house, this house was in the middle of a plantation, it had an arch stretching out from the front door/entrance whereby cars could drive through and stop underneath, this arch was reminiscent of a by gone era. You can imagine that in the days when colonial carriages were in use, that these carriages would draw under the arch and come to a complete halt, the colonial elite would then alight from such carriages. The front porch would then pass into a grand hall complete with sweeping staircase. This rather splendid building was an exclusive French restaurant, it came together with a French chef/owner, the food was of unbelievable quality. The restaurant was not over populated with tables but the tables that were there positioned in the various rooms, were all full with diners.

I have digressed, it is interesting that the exploiters were indeed the exploited at the end of the day, as the Chinese were using Myanmar's resources to generate power and then send that power back to China netting little benefit to the Burmese. I would suspect that the military regime of Myanmar had long enjoyed the support of China. But this aside and for whatever reason they, the junta, have now come to the table and the people of Myanmar can take a breath and heave a sigh of relief. As for the west we should now embrace them and help them join the civilized community of nations. In so doing we should not dismiss the sacrifice that Aung San Suu Ky gave to support her people throughout this difficult period, for we should acknowledge her fortitude, her resilience her grace and poise as she endured those years confined to her home. Aung San Suu Ky deserves a role on the world stage as I am sure we have a new world states person in the guise of Aung San Suu Ky, she has displayed great humility, great dignity seen only when Nelson Mandela was released after years of confinement. Like Nelson Mandela she has not called for her oppressors to be brought to book for their oppression for she has sought to unify this country. I believe she has great courage and dignity a person who has respect for the values of the ordinary people! Indeed the world should look to her for guidance at this difficult time.

I hope we see this country quickly move forward, that they, the people improve their security, bring peace and stability, that their living standards quickly improve. I also believe that this country should open its doors so that many of us can easily see the temples that have formed the very spiritual backbone of the people of Myanmar. I hope that we can all experience the Shwedagon Paya (Pagoda) for this is a world renowned Buddhist Temple, located on a hill as it watches over all of Yangon. For this temple was built and established before the time of Christ. I for one am lucky enough to have visited this wonderful monument.