Here at TravelPlex, we are often asked what the best airline frequent flyer program is, or what benefits can be earned from a car rental company. While both of these have been addressed in previous blogs, we have yet to really address our travelers' questions regarding what the best hotel frequent guest program is. With that in mind, we did some research and came across a recently published article in airfarewatchdog. A well written and detailed article by Keri Ann O'Riordan outlines the major hotel programs and the benefits travelers can gain from each. The biggest programs, as you can imagine, are not always the best. 

Have you ever been on a plane and remembered you forgot something in your carry-on? Or gotten to your hotel and realized you left something at home? We all have. In order to limit the times this may occur, TravelPlex, with some help, would like to provide you a check list of sorts to make sure you always remember needed items.  

Mark Orwoll and the good people at Travel & Leisure magazine recently published a list of items that everyone should have with them when they travel, whether domestically or internationally. While some are obvious, the list does include some good tips.  In no specific order, they are;

This month’s Memorable City takes us east to the Steel City, better known as Pittsburgh.

What many outsiders don’t know is that Pittsburgh is also known as the “City of Bridges”, boasting over 446 bridges.  Pittsburgh has also been named America's “Most Livable City” by Places Rated Almanac, Forbes, and The Economist.  National Geographic and Today named the city a top world destination.

Have you ever wondered just how that $35 daily car rental rate morphed into a $60 a day rate? Well, TravelPlex would like to give some explanations for these sometimes confusing fees.

Airline fees: few things get a traveler’s blood pressure boiling more than a discussion about the growing list of fees that airlines charge travelers. Comedians create entire stand-up routines on the traveler’s frustrations and airline elation at additional fees. Most of these fees cover services that were formerly included in the price of a ticket, including checked baggage, actual airline seats (or even boarding preference) and in-flight meals. 

However, the most aggravating fees are the ones that don't have any rational justification.

The most frustrating airline fees, in no particular order, are:

There are few things that are inevitable. Death, taxes, and the airlines coming up with yet another fee of some sort to throw at travelers. So, what will the next revenue stream for the airlines be?

A recent survey of 2,300 travelers conducted by FlightView may provide clues as to what the airlines are planning. At least, the survey indicates what travelers are willing to pay for.

If you are one of those travelers who like to take the first flight to a new destination, or the last one, you might want to mark October 17th on your calendar. That is the day American Airlines will shift to one reservations system and the current US Airways' reservations system will be deactivated.

If you fly, undoubtedly there have been times you have tried to fall asleep on the plane, and just couldn’t. That’s happened to most of us, and we’d like to give you some advice on how finding sleep on a plane isn’t as hard as you might think – IF you follow some of these helpful hints.

YOUR TIMING IS OFF – Try and avoid scheduling flights for the time of day that you tend to be most awake. Early-morning flights are great for this reason. Or, book a ticket that departs after dinner-time. The key here is to board the plane tired. That may mean you need to wake up extra-early that morning, or if you can get in a hardcore workout during the day, do it.

This month’s Memorable City takes us to the great northwest and the city of Seattle, Washington. Seattle, more commonly known to the locals as The Emerald City, is a city woven together by many neighborhoods. Most visitors view Seattle as an urban, outdoorsy, artsy city, where rain is a usual nuisance to be dealt with. It rains between 150 and 200 days a year, but because of this, the city offers plenty of things to do inside.

As a public service, TravelPlex would like to provide you with some truly useful travel tips. 

  1. Forgot Shaving Cream? Use the little bottle of conditioner that is in each hotel room. The conditioner will soften the skin and provide a good alternative to shaving cream.
     
  2. Dull Shoes? Again using a hotel supplied item, wipe some body lotion on the shoes and wipe the lotion with a wash cloth or dry cloth. Shoes will shine like they’re new. 

Every six months or so, we here at TravelPlex like to toss out a few ideas to help manage, and limit, your company’s travel expenditures. In the recent edition of Business Travel News, Julie Sickel provides six travel tips for small (under $250k in air spend) and midsize (under $1m in air spend) companies and six tips for working with suppliers.   

A few of her travel tips include:

Focus on your travel policy – this is the single most important element to a managed travel program. If your policy has not been revised in the last few years, it’s time. TravelPlex can assist you in this venture and offer suggestions to maximize the effectiveness of your policy.

Effective this October, United Airlines is moving all its transcontinental flights from New York JFK to its Newark hub. The move was made possible by a gate swap with Delta Air Lines.

United will trade its JFK landing slots with Delta in exchange for more slots at Newark. This is, of course, subject to regulatory approvals.

As a (business) traveler, one of the few perks for enduring long check-in lanes, pat downs by TSA personnel and sharing an armrest with a complete stranger are the “points” airlines award you. You have visions of taking your significant other on a trip to Europe, or, maybe the family to Orlando. You plan trips in order to fly a specific carrier, and even take that 6:00am flight in order to receive an extra 1,000 frequent flier points.

We at TravelPlex are often asked which airline has the “best” frequent flier program. While one airline shines above all others, this airline might not be a right fit if your end objective is to take a trip to Rome, or Hong Kong.

TravelPlex’s Destination of the Month takes us north to the second beer capital of the U.S. – Milwaukee. With the warmer summer weather upon us, Milwaukee is a nice reprise from the mid-west heat and offers a number of things to see and do. People visit the city for all kinds of reasons: visiting friends and family; attending a business conference; or simply enjoying the area’s beauty and great mid-west location.

In the past few weeks we’ve received a number of complaints from clients about their negotiated hotel rates not being available. Whether they tried to make a reservation on Concur, or through their TravelPlex counselor, their negotiated hotel rates are nowhere to be found. From a Tennessee hotel jumping $75 a night, to a California property asking for an additional $59 over a negotiated rate, hotels all over the country are bumping prices. The reason is simple – it‘s because they can. Occupancy rates are in the mid-90’s for many main brand properties, and a decrease in demand is not on the horizon anytime soon.

As you know by now, TravelPlex counselors are asked a number of different travel related questions. Usually we have an answer for them. However, a recent question required a little more investigation in order to unearth an answer. The question posed was, “Is there a secret to getting a checked bag any faster at the end of my flight? Would checking in early mean a bag would be the last off the plane? Or, would waiting until the last second to check my bag guarantee it would be one of the first off the carousel?"

The short answer, unfortunately, is neither of those assumptions is correct. Or wrong. However, the long answer is much more interesting.