Every year, we at TravelPlex like to offer our readers with a list of top summer destinations since this is THE time to travel with families, couples – young and old, and independent explorers. The response to our destination advice has been very positive, and we have been asked by many of our readers to make this a quarterly topic. So, at the request of our readers and clients, we would like to present TravelPlex’s list of top summer destinations for 2017. Immediately following our suggestions, you will find USA Today’s suggestions. Some are duplicate ideas, but they are all great.

Remember, if TravelPlex can assist in your plans, we would love to help. Also, unlike web sites, we can offer lower prices, service before AND after your trip, and, many times, provide upgrades unavailable on the Internet. It never hurts to find out how much we can save you over the Internet “deals”.

So, with no further ado, and with help from a number of TravelPlex leisure counselors, we would like to present our top summer getaways.

If you’re a dedicated reader of these blogs (OK, Mom, I’ll include you as well), you’ve seen several articles in the past few months about the “Big Three” airlines’ (American, Delta and United) new marketing approach of offering “extra” low fares.

To provide a brief history of these new fares . . . they were actually torn from the playbook of the ultra-low-cost carrier Spirit and their stripped-down airfares. You know, the airline that almost all corporate travelers loathe. Spirit Airlines offers extra-cheap ticket prices with few perks and plenty of restrictions that force travelers to pay extra for seat assignments, carry-on bags, and so on and so on. It’s a business model that business flyers love to hate, but one that has made Spirit Airlines very profitable, as well as a darling of Wall Street.

Click on the 'Read More' link to learn TravelPlex's policy regarding these fares.

We at TravelPlex want to alert you to a change in the process of booking a Southwest Airlines ticket in Concur Travel. While this will not affect reservations until May, many travelers book their travel well in advance, and this could / will affect these travelers. Please read below the changes that travelers booking Southwest in the Concur Travel tool could incur: 

Southwest Airlines is migrating their reservation system from their existing Sabre-based platform to an Amadeus platform. Concur has worked diligently with Southwest for the last 6 months on migration testing to keep the level of disruptions for clients to a minimum.

The migration will impact the direct connection to Concur Travel for any bookings that traverse the migration cutover date. Southwest has announced that the final cutover date will be May 9th, 2017.

Business fliers have adjusted to many airline fees. Baggage fees; upgrades; advance boarding and Wi-Fi are all additional fees business travelers have grown to accept. There are others, however, where one must wonder who came up with the concept of the fee, and how.

TravelPlex likes to keep our clients apprised of all the new and exciting things going on in the travel business. While this blog offers neither, it is intended to advise you that another airline is playing copycat to what United began, and Delta Airlines followed, late last year. 

Effective February 10th, American Airlines will replicate the other two legacy carriers' decision to offer a “lower fare” to consumers. Like the other two carriers, these fares are not so much lower price wise, as they are extremely restrictive and very unfriendly to the business traveler.

As you may recall, almost a year ago the REAL ID Act issue was in the news. In fact, for those of you holding a Missouri driver’s license, this information really affected you. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is poised to stop recognizing Missouri driver’s licenses as proof of identification for government operated facilities. Since airports are considered a government operated facility, the TSA can prevent travelers with Missouri driver’s licenses from entering the secured gates of an airport. The primary reason; Missouri and Maine are the only states that have driver’s licenses that do not conform to security features that contain machine-readable data chips.

Unfortunately, as we enter 2017, nothing has changed. Effective next year, January 17th, 2018, Missourians could be denied admittance to airports for domestic flights. For those travelers boarding international flights, passports are required, so access will be allowed. This means, as of now, in order to board a domestic flight next year, those with Missouri or Maine driver’s licenses will need to prove their citizenship with a United States passport.

We at TravelPlex are often asked for assistance in either creating a company’s travel policy, or at the very least, updating it. This is one of the many services TravelPlex offers our travel partners. Recently, we have been asked about how to dovetail a travel policy into an expense policy, and what that might look like as a finished product.

While we don’t want to take the space (nor bore you) with more talk about an effective travel policy, we thought we would offer some tips on creating an effective expense policy. Now, keep in mind this is basic and, as we say, a “30,000-foot view”, but we hope it will include some ideas for those of you tackling the daunting – but needed - task of creating an expense policy from scratch.

We at TravelPlex feel it is important, and actually part of our job in managing corporate travel programs, to inform our clients of any industry changing events. A few months ago we alerted our clients of Delta Airlines' new restrictive “E Fares”. While these new fares offered a slight savings (roughly $30 - $50 per roundtrip ticket), they were extremely limiting in what travelers could and couldn’t do, such as change or cancel the flight(s). Also, middle row seats assignments were the norm, and other limitations are being imposed on traveler services, such as carry-on luggage not being allowed in overhead bins. Indications point towards frequent flyer points being removed from these fares as well. All of TravelPlex’s 100+ corporate clients asked that we restrict showing these fares to their travelers.

We have just been informed that starting January 1, 2017, United Airlines will be replicating Delta’s limited fares...

With the holidays quickly approaching, we at TravelPlex wanted to provide you with some tips for traveling during this season. While travel at this time of year can be stimulating, complete with excitement (that’s one of the words you can use) to see family and friends, it can also be….. challenging. Airports and roads are busier than usual, and you must remember that travel in November and December is much more different than the other 10 months.

To help you navigate your way through the holidays, travel wise, we have compiled a list of some tips to make your adventure a little easier.

As the holiday season approaches, most of us have expectations – and concerns – of the coming days. Many of us will get misty eyed thinking of the smooth, sweet and slightly spicy flavor of our first pumpkin pie of the year. Some of us will lean toward a more robust taste, and look forward to a plate heaping with turkey, dressing, gravy, varied types of potatoes, and homemade rolls.

TravelPlex would like to offer another opportunity to fill time with some fun – holiday trivia! Below are a few trivia questions that will surely impress even the smartest relative or friend. Enjoy, and may the competition begin!

If you’ve watched a news program or read a newspaper in the last few weeks, you’ve already heard about the Galaxy Note 7s cell phones being banned by all US (and most international) air carriers. The reason; the phones have been found to be explosive once they reach a specific altitude.

Last week, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration took steps to ban all Samsung Galaxy Note 7s from airplanes. The FAA has even threatened it will bring criminal charges and / or assess fines against passengers who ignore the new regulation.

The ban went into effect on Saturday, October 15.

Southwest Airlines recently announced two exciting news items that could affect your travel on the carrier. The first bit of news is about Cuba. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) recently approved Southwest Airlines to service Havana with daily nonstop service from Ft. Lauderdale and Tampa. Additionally, the carrier will launch service to Varadero and Santa Clara, Cuba later this year.

Southwest Airlines also announced the addition of new Boeing 737 MAX 8’s to its fleet. The new planes will enter the fleet in early 2017 and will have the capability to fly 300 to 500 miles further than current 737’s while using less fuel. The extended range will allow the carrier better options for trans-continental flights. The MAX 8 requires less maintenance, produces less noise and emissions than any engine in their fleet.

We would like to offer our second installment of our discussion about airline pricing. This blog is about what determines airline pricing.

To provide informational content, we offer a recently written Travel Weekly article that provides additional intel about the rationale behind airline pricing, as well as validates our previous blog, “The Why’s and How’s of Airline Pricing”.

We at TravelPlex are often asked questions about what determines airline pricing and why air prices are available one minute and gone the next. We’d like to address these questions. The first blog will be “The Why’s and How’s of Airline Pricing”. Our next blog will address “What Determines Airfares?” 

However, the first thing you need to realize is that to an airline, an empty airline seat is as worthless as a rotten piece of fruit. As airlines struggle to re-capture the days of record profits, the yield-management system that the airlines have employed for years has given way to a revenue based model. This program monitors each flight's profitability versus a mix of the flight's yield and flight's load.

Recently, people have asked questions about hotel pricing. We thought it was a good time that we reprinted a blog we did a few years ago about a local hotel General Manager that shared some industry insights with us. This person has been in the industry for the past 22 years and has climbed the hotel ranks, starting as a front-desk clerk, auditor, accountant, human resources director, and finally a General Manager. He has worked at several big-name hotel groups in St. Louis, and has recently relocated to Chicago. The move has nothing to do with the “spilling of the beans” either...

More than half of all U.S. travel loyalty points redemptions happen from April to August. This is, of course, the busy summer travel season and redemptions for this past summer were up 50 percent year-over-year as travelers took advantage of a growing U.S. economy.

That’s according to Connections, a company helping brands create white label loyalty programs with travel clients such as American Airlines, Marriott International, and Royal Caribbean International. The data is based on Connections’ internal analysis of 2.2 million U.S. travel loyalty program members that were part of co-branded card programs from December 2014 to June 2016. 

Three reward points discussions broken down below highlight consumer redemption behavior online and through call centers: