Business Travel Agents Tips: A Corporate Travellers’ New York Airports Guide

New York City is one of the most popular key travel destinations for corporate travellers worldwide. The city is the center of much that’s great, dynamic and profitable in America. It is home of one of the world’s principal financial centres (i.e. anchored by Wall Street), and a popular business hub for the publishing and entertainment industry at the same time. So, it’s no surprise it features three airports, Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), LaGuardia Airport (LGA) and J. F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK). As a frequent corporate traveller you probably may have flown to one of the three New York airports at some point or another. With JFK being a major international gateway to the US, this city guide aims to provide some helpful travel agents tips for corporate travellers flying to or from JFK Airport.

New York JFK Facts & Figures

Located about 25km away from Manhattan in Queens, JFK Airport is the largest airport in the state of New York and one of the busiest business travel hubs (over 50 million travellers/year) in the US and internationally. It has six operating terminals (numbered 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8; terminal 6 was demolished in 2011, Terminal 3 in 2013). Currently, the 4th runway is under redevelopment to comply with the needs of Group VI aircraft (until December 2015 as planned so far), which may cause delays, but measures are in place to minimise them, so you shouldn’t be too much affected. With more than 90 airlines arriving and departing from JFK, various business travel solutions for flights to New York can be arranged. Points of origin and destinations include places within the US, Canada, Latin America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Pacific, Australia/New Zealand, basically all over the world. The airport offers corporate travellers a choice of non-stop flights to about 100 international destinations which may prove convenient for your next business trip. However, JFK is very susceptible to weather-related delays due to its position. Corporate travellers are well advised to consider and prepare for possible thunderstorms in summer, causing delays across the US, as well as snow, icing and assorted slush throughout the winter season. For the months between June and November the risk of potential hurricanes is increased.

In general, our business travel agents team advise leisure and corporate travellers to allow plenty of time for getting to and from JFK. Serious traffic incidents on the way between the city and the airport left many wondering whether they’ would be able to make it in time or miss their flight. Furthermore, don’t forget that this is America. Therefore, bear in mind that the TSA rules supreme over security checkpoints. So, take a deep breath and take maybe a book with you or something else to keep you busy. Make sure you arrive early.

Useful JFK terminal facilities for corporate travellers

In most public areas within most terminals, corporate travellers will conveniently find that Wi-Fi is available for free for up to 30min. You can get online near the ticket counters, boarding gates, designated work stations and food courts. The Wi-Fi access is provided by Boingo Wireless Company. If you need to use the internet for longer than 30mins., consider the following options: 1) $4.95 (£3.01, €3.77) per hour (pay as you go), 2) $7.95 (£4.83,€6.05) for unlimited access throughout a 24-hour period (day pass), 3) $9.95 (£6.04,€7.58) per month (unlimited access via a monthly subscription, to be used worldwide), or 4) if you already have a user account, simply log in using your user name and password. ATMs, currency exchange options (Lenlyn or Travelex), a rental phone shop, and more than 100 shops alongside various dining options are available at the terminals.

Ground transportation services from JFK Airport to New York City

The most convenient, stress-free way for travel from and to JFK Airport is to take the AirTrain. It is a cost efficient and helps you make sure you arrive at the airport in time, whilst avoiding possible traffic jams. You can access AirTrain services via the New York City subway system, which is also connected to the Long Island Railroad (LIRR). The journey from/to the city takes just over an hour. AirTrain is operated 24 hours on 365 days a year. Within the airport area, it connects terminals and also enables you to easily access car rental services, hotel shuttle areas and parking lots. At peak times the trains depart every 7 minutes and at off-peak times they go every 15 minutes. However, be clever in choosing your business travel route, as various routes make different stops within the airport. Good news for corporate travellers is that travel within the airport is usually free of charge. However, travel outside the airport is subject to a fee. AirTrain prices generally start from $5 (£3.04, €3.81). For more details on ticket prices are provided on the JFK Airport website under costs and tickets. If you travel via New York’s public transport network, then it is a good idea to use MetroCard, which is widely accepted and is worth to purchase for travel via subway, local trains, or buses. You can find vending machines for buying a MetroCard at Howard Beach and Jamaica Station. A good alternative for corporate travellers would be to take a taxi (for up to 4 passengers). Simply wait in the cab line for a licensed and insured cab to take you to your destination (about $52, i.e. about £31.58, €39.59, flat rate between JFK and Manhattan, excluding tips and tolls). The time for this trip should be about an hour. However, it can take much longer during rush hour.

Shared-ride shuttle services are a cheaper option than taxis, but can involve a lot of waiting and being driven around New York City to drop other people off first. You can find a full list of providers on the airport authority’s website. But remember to tip appropriately, as tipping (around 20% of transfer cost) is quite common and keep in mind that bridge/tunnel tolls are not included in the shared-ride shuttle services fares. Another option is to ask your business travel company to arrange a shuttle service for your trip from and to John F. Kennedy International Airport as prices can vary greatly depending on location and number of passengers. In this way you can ensure that you are travelling with a reliable supplier.

An express bus service is also available for a nominal fee from Penn Station (reachable e.g. by AirTrain or taxi). The service operates from early morning to late night, with buses running at least every half hour.

The airport is also home to several car rental agencies. Leisure and corporate travellers can choose between a number of car major rental companies including Advantage, Thrifty, Dollar, Enterprise, Budget, Hertz, National and Avis.

So, which mode of transport should corporate travellers choose for a trip from JFK to Newark and LaGuardia airports? Usually the best way to get to Newark Airport from JFK Airport is to simply take the AirTrain. However, if you need to travel to LaGuardia during your business trip, it we recommend to take advantage of a convenient shuttle bus service, using the free Route A (running every 10-15 minutes from 4:00am to 11:30pm) or Route B (running every 10-15 minutes from 6:00am to 2:00am). In any case, more details, also for connections to other airports, are available on the JFK Airport Connections page.

Hotels near JFK Airport

Hotel booking services for corporate travellers flying to New York JFK AirportAlthough there are no operating hotels at JFK Airport at the moment, New York provides corporate travellers a huge choice (from budget accommodation to luxury suites) of hotels and motels, which are conveniently located nearby the airport. Most hotel accommodations nearby offer shuttle services. Alternatively you can take the AirTrain to the Federal Circle station and follow the “Courtesy Hotel Shuttles” signs. There are telephone services for the hotel courtesy shuttles located at the AirTrain Federal Circle Station and in the arrival areas of the airport terminals ($5, i.e. about £3.04, €3.81, Service Charge for making reservations). The range of motels and hotels include the Hilton*, the Courtyard* by Marriott, Hampton Inn*, Sheraton*, Hilton Garden, Comfort Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Fairfield Inn* by Marriott, Days Inn, Best Western and Howards Johnson. The ones marked by an * are also offering conference and meeting rooms for corporate events.

5 Great Tips to Stop Travel Anxiety

While most of us enjoy holidays and traveling, many find the associated travel anxiety tough to bear. Travel anxiety isn’t a disease but it is rather the fear of the unknown. Fear of travel is usually caused by several factors. Some people may worry about their house and pets when they are away while others might have had unpleasant traveling experiences during their previous trips. Others are afraid of flying. Some fret that the trip will turn out to be a disaster and worry about all of the details. All of these are examples of worries related to travel that can lead to varying degrees of uneasiness. Regardless of the causes or intensity of your anxiety, it can really compromise the pleasure and excitement of your trip.

Although, travel anxiety is common in both experienced and novice travelers, most travelers have positive traveling stories to tell. Probably, they learned how to manage their anxieties and have regained the joy of travel. It is not too late; you can also overcome travel anxiety by following a little advice. The following 5 tips to stop travel anxiety could prove invaluable to you in planning your next holiday.

5 Tips to Stop Travel Anxiety

1. Spend time making Preparations Prior To Your Trip

From past experiences, to think of the details and annoyances that bothers you about traveling. For example, you think that your house will be in a mess once you step out of the door hire a house cleaner to clean your home prior to your return. If flight travels frightens you, you can equip yourself with your iPod or your favorite book to keep you busy while you’re traveling. Simply make a list of those things you think you’ll require in your trip and those things you won’t want to be left running while you are away. The time spent organizing, planning and taking care of all the details well in advance will help to stop travel anxiety.

2. Don’t Procrastinate

Some people are well aware of their travel anxieties and they’ll often avoid taking care of the details; eg. booking a ticket, packing, etc. They will make excuses, avoid and procrastinate due to previous poor experiences with traveling. Just because you have travel anxiety doesn’t mean that avoidance will eradicate your fears. If you really want to take control over travel anxiety, get yourself involved in the action by preparing early and taking care of all necessary details. Keep in mind, travel fears are just made up fears and they are never real.

3. Learn How to Cope Up With Flight Phobia

For those people who worry about flying, you may wan to dig a little deeper to find the root of this fear. Get to know exactly what frightens you. Are you are acrophobic or claustrophobic? Perhaps the mechanical sounds bother you or air turbulence puts the fright into you. All of these fears are irrational meaning you can counter them with rationality. Airlines have strict safety measures on board. Once you are aboard, try to listen to attendant instructions to calm your nerves. Also, use anything that you like such as music to disrupt your thoughts while you are traveling.

4. Meditate

To effectively manage their travel anxiety, many individuals use meditation to gain control. Meditation makes use of a kind of self-hypnosis, so you can calm your nerves and mind down. Various self-hypnosis scripts designed specifically to ease travel anxiety can be found online. Meditate on these scripts and your mind will be at ease during your time of travel. The scripts are great tools of converting people’s subconscious minds into a friend rather than a foe. Instead of having a subconscious mind that is deep-seated in travel anxiety, you’ll have a subconscious mind that is confident and not frightened of flights.

5. Get rid of the Unknowns

Illuminate your travel shadows by doing a research prior to your trip of things you’ll expect to encounter once you’re at your destination. Apart from visiting various travel blogs, you can also use travel guides to become well-informed with your destination point. Go online and checkout your accommodation so you will know what to expect. Have your looked into travel from the airport to the hotel? What about meals and special dietary requirements? The little unknowns add up and will add to your travel anxiety.

Besides the 5 tips to strop travel anxiety strategies listed above also ensure that you maintain proper communication using Facebook, MySpace, etc. Keeping the communication channels open with loved ones back home will keep you connected.

Observing the 5 tips listed above is a great way to start you on the path of happy travels. Best of luck!

My name is Clancy Davies and I am the creator and author of the website, “Alleviate the Anxiety”. I have specialized in the field of education and personal growth for nearly 30 years and enjoy helping people solve their personal issues and reach their maximum potential.

Are You Really A Luxury Traveler?

While most people love to travel, what type of people are considered luxury travelers? What is this type of traveling all about?

Luxury traveling means you seek out good deals and aren’t looking to spend all of your money on an expensive trip. You will spend the time planning the right trip for you because you know your own needs. You will plan a trip in a place that isn’t crowded. You are a luxury traveler if you are flexible, choose the right seat on the airplane for the most comfort, and choose hotels that will make the stay better rather than the brand name hotels.

While most people might think of this type of traveler as someone spending the most money they can, has an attitude that everyone should accommodate them, and that plans their trip to be full of activities in the best-known brand hotels, this is actually not the case. These travelers prefer relaxation, peace and quiet, and a comfortable experience.

What do Luxury Travelers Prefer?

When it’s time to plan the trip, luxury travelers will opt for the easier travel experience. They know their wants and needs better than anyone else, so they will take the time to plan the trip out in advance. They will not plan too many activities because they know that relaxing is much more enjoyable than a busy trip. They plan the trip to ensure it’s as enjoyable as possible.

If they work with a travel agent, they are picky on which agent they use. Luxury travelers want someone that understands their needs and will make their trip more personalized. They don’t want a common travel package offered to all clients; they want their own customized package.

While sometimes they’ll choose first class, other times they just want a good window seat or aisle seat to stretch out. They buy their tickets in advance to reserve their seat.

Destination, Deals & Attitude

Luxury travelers will make sure they get the best discounts. They want to stretch their dollar as far as possible so they will seek discounts. They also understand those who are serving them should be tipped well. They always tip their doorman, babysitters, waitresses, taxi drivers, and tour guides.

While some may think a this type of traveler is one with a bad attitude or one expecting to be treated as royalty, in fact luxury travelers are very courteous and kind. They understand those serving them are equal to them and they deserve gratitude and flexibility.

Having a bad attitude is not what a luxury traveler is all about. They know that having a bad attitude is not the way to having a luxury experience or a pleasant one at that.

When choosing a destination, they know brand name hotels are not the way to go. They prefer the hotel with the deal or a great all-inclusive package. They know a small boutique can be the most luxurious option over an over-crowded brand name hotel.

They don’t choose a place where they may encounter spring breakers or they know is a highly sought out place during that time of year. Instead, they will choose a quieter, rare and exotic location to explore for a unique experience.

Vacations the Luxury Traveler May Choose

These travelers prefer rare and unfamiliar locations. Luxury travelers are typically:

Younger travels between 40-55 years old using a travel agent to book the best trip
Families in their early 30’s and 40s planning adventurous trips with kids
Choosing all-inclusive vacations to take the stress out of travel and pay all upfront while relaxing during the trip
Traveling in newer ways than ever before, by river cruising and space travel

While the average traveler makes plans for a typical beach vacation during spring break, the luxurious traveler chooses a private destination. The average traveler will choose a crowded hotel, while the luxurious traveler opts for a smaller and quieter hotel.

Why Not Outlet Pricing for Travelers?

The proliferation of ‘factory outlets’ or ‘manufacturer-direct’ prices has become common place, but are we getting true ‘outlet or direct’ prices?

The middleman, agent or even retailer is suffering in our modern internet-based environment and big-box stores which appear to offer rock-bottom prices but still make enormous profits are commonplace.

The world of agents from insurance to travel to financial are feeling the crunch as they are rapidly being considered as expensive cost overheads by the producer, provider or manufacturer.

The airlines started the demise of the travel agency system when they started eliminating agent commissions and over-rides and turned to online booking systems aimed directly at the consumer, forcing some retail agencies to charge additional booking fees. Now you can find airline reservation sites charging fees for online seat selection plus anything else that they can get away with. Are the savings they are making being passed on to the consumer?

Insurance companies began advertising for direct dealings as did banks with their development of in-house financial planners (not at all independent, but merely another name for a bank products salesperson). Are they keeping the old commission for themselves or do they pass on the savings to the consumer?

Let’s focus on one of the consumers’ largest expenditures over a lifetime – recreational travel, business travel, vacations and trips and the Retail Travel Agent or Agency:

1.These were really needed before the consumer could access websites from B&B’s to Hotels,
Luxury Lodges and Tour Operators or if you wanted to pick up an expensive glossy brochure.
2.These were really needed before travel providers and tour operators enabled the consumer to
book directly with them on the internet with reservation systems and booking requirements that required little training or expertise.
3.These were really needed before airlines promoted their own booking services and became more greedy for any extra percentage or fee and wanted to be rid of travel agents as expensive and redundant overheads.

Now, these agents are only really needed if travelers want knowledge, experience and expertise of specific destinations, activities or tour companies, or of course, those travelers still not using the web.

Let’s not feel too sorry for retail agents as top-notch travel consultants are essential to travelers who have complex itineraries or who are venturing to the lesser know areas of the world. All is not dark for travel agents with knowledge, experience and expertise as consumers who need these professionals now have access to them with the web wherever they may be located and no longer need to use local agents unless they have the requisite skills. But, they still have to be found as they may not be in your local area or even in your own country.

There are various forms and levels of travel middlemen – Inbound Tour Operators, Wholesalers, Retail Agencies, all of which earn a percentage from the original travel provider for their advertising, promotion and sales efforts, these percentages can be anywhere from 10% to 25% or even more! When you see a travel advertisement offering $200 off per person and you book through a retail agent, you are still paying the commission, so by booking directly with the operator you should get the special offer and also save the commission.

Some travel operators already offer their products directly to the consumer but at the same prices as the consumer would get from a retail agent. Fair enough if these providers do not use middlemen but if they also sell through retailers their prices should be ‘net of commissions’ for direct bookers and ‘retail’ for agency sales.

When the consumer goes directly to the travel provider these middlemen percentages should not apply but the provider is sometimes in a predicament. To show a net price and retail price on their website could deter the middlemen from handling their products. Until now.

Travel providers are now able to offer net prices directly to consumers by using the TopTravelVoucher services at TopTravelSites.com. This website is in effect operating as a travel agent who does not sell travel on behalf of travel operators, but generates travelers who go directly to the providers for information and bookings. As the website does not need bricks and mortar offices, expensive glossy brochures, familiarization trips and computer reservation systems plus all the other paraphernalia of operating a travel agency, it is able to rebate sales commissions to travelers as a reward for handling their own arrangements directly with the travel operators.

This innovative consumer travel service offers travel discounts in over 70 countries to travelers who purchase their deeply discounted TopTravelVouchers. They offer their services to the global travel trade community and to the global traveler. They do not charge the travel trade for any promotion services and allow multiple listings for any kind of travel product as long as the consumer gets net pricing.

The consumer does not have to buy before seeing the travel offer and can also buy the vouchers to be used as gift certificates. All vouchers come with a 100% money back guarantee and even if the traveler is unhappy after completion of travel the monies for the vouchers are still 100% refundable.

At present you can get TopTravelVouchers for Escorted Tours, Eco Tours, Adventure Tours, Small Boat Cruises, Lodges, Resorts, Hotels, B&B’s and new products are arriving on a daily basis.

Some tours offer a flat percentage off of the retail price while other vouchers have a fixed value. One voucher for a Greek Cruise has a value of 1,500euros and can be purchased for only $100usd and there are many escorted tours around the world offering a 10% discount on the tour price, which can be significant depending on length of tour and number of travelers. If you have a family or group of travelers you can often buy a voucher for each person (there is a particular 7 day Thai River Rovers cruise that appeals to me if I can find a few friends to join the charter).

So now, no matter where you live or where you want to go, you can book discounted travel from your home, cyber-cafe or laptop anywhere in the world. You could be in the offices of a tour operator and go online and get a voucher and then hand it over to get instant savings. Not bad eh?

This website and concept is a first for the internet and with the support of the global travel trade from the smallest of travel operators to the giants, it can only grow larger with expanded product selections and savings as this aspect of internet travel is on a seemingly endless growth path.

Travelers who go directly to travel websites must do their own due diligence, talk free with skype, 800 number, or email with the operators, read testimonials, check the latest pricing and last minute deals, make a booking and check for deeply discounted TopTravelVouchers in order to get fairer fare prices. If your tour operator does not offer a ‘net of commissions’ tour price when you do your own bookings, ask for it or suggest they start to offer these vouchers and you will start saving on your travel.

Although this service is not yet a household word for travelers the TopTravelVoucher service from TopTravelSites.com is on the way to making a difference in that we can now find true outlet prices for a lot of travel choices directly from tour operators, wholesalers and even retail travel agents who often operate their own in-house tour programs. All want to expand their reach to the ever expanding international client base of travelers comfortable with handling their own travel arrangements and who all want fairer fare prices.

Nursing And Allied Travel Jobs – The Real Story

THERE’S ALWAYS TWO SIDES TO THE STORY!

I’ve been a medical traveler for many years now and have had numerous occasions to review a large number of Travel Company web sites. Most of them contain some type of Q & A section that explains how they work and what they offer. I’ve found that the information given, while accurate, is very incomplete.

Most of what I’ve learned about the medical travel industry has been learned through the proverbial School of Hard Knocks. It occurred to me recently to write an article that expanded on the usual information given on medical travel websites, an article that presented (as Paul Harvey used to say) the “Rest of the Story.”

And so…here we go!

SALARY

Travel Company: On their web sites Travel Companies usually state a salary range that they offer depending on the type of position, your area of expertise and your experience.

Rest of the Story: What you are initially offered for a travel assignment is usually not the top dollar that is available for that assignment. Most travelers merely accept what they are offered believing the “deal is the deal” for that particular assignment. I used to do that too… but not any more!

You especially limit your chances of getting the best salary for your assignments if you choose to register with only one travel agency. When you do that, you give away all leverage to negotiate for better pay. I am always registered with multiple travel companies so I can compare several potential assignments at once and negotiate for the best over all packages.

There are numerous other “pitfalls” when it comes to getting the most compensation for your travel job. For example, it behooves you to clarify the stipulations for receiving certain types of bonuses and whether you must work solely for one company to earn those bonuses. Again, if you work for only one company, you may unknowingly forfeit higher compensation in other areas of your benefit package in order for the company to offer you those bonuses, in which case they can hardly be called a bonus.

Remember, you can always, “work your best deal,” (negotiate) with several companies while still remaining highly professional. In addition, knowing how to ask for more will telegraph to a recruiter that you know your business and will position you to receive the best offers.

HOUSING

Travel Company: Travel companies always state they will provide you with fully furnished housing while you are on your assignment.

Rest of the Story: You may be asked to share a two bedroom apartment with another traveler, even a stranger, who is working at your same location unless you know you can request a one bedroom separate apartment.

Some travelers have been “required” (because they merely accepted this arrangement) to live in an extended stay facility for the entire 13 weeks of an assignment. This is very cramped quarters and becomes extremely wearying after just a couple of weeks.

I have seen travelers deal with other conditions that were very undesirable such as having their housing located too far from the hospital. I had this experience on one assignment (before I learned to clear all that up in advance!). Each morning I had to make my way through 10 miles of early morning rush hour traffic to reach the hospital.

In addition, fully furnished means different things to different people. If you don’t know what to ask for in advance you can be stuck with things like a poorly furnished kitchen (only a few sad looking pots and pans for cooking) as well as sparse and unattractive furniture (an ugly green sofa and purple chair spring to mind).

Knowing what your options really are and how to ask for them is paramount to having a comfortable, safe, convenient and enjoyable living arrangement. Multiple considerations are there for the asking, but you definitely have to ask. By clarifying in advance what I need and expect, and by applying simple to learn negotiating techniques I’ve perfected over time, I now receive the very best housing accommodations on all my assignments.

GENERAL BENEFIT PACKAGES

Travel Company: All travel companies offer a variety of benefits besides housing and salary which can include per diem pay, travel expenses, bonuses, clothing and equipment reimbursement, insurance, continuing education, 401 K’s, etc.

Rest of the Story: Travel benefit packages are definitely not all equal! For instance, one travel company’s insurance coverage may not start until 30 days after you have begun your assignment versus a policy offered by another company that becomes effective the first day on the job. These and numerous other “small print” concerns can come back to bite you if you’re unprepared!

I’ve also talked to nurses who were never offered per diem pay (the average is $30.00 a day or $210.00 a week) but others were receiving it simply because they asked for it!
Some were told they could elect to have per diem pay but would receive fewer benefits in other areas if they chose that option. However, that was not the case for other travelers who refused that trade off. I know I continually receive per diem pay on ALL my assignments without sacrificing any reduction in other areas of compensation.

To make your travel experience the most lucrative and enjoyable, it pays (literally!) to know what is available as well as how to access those top of the line benefit packages.

TRAVEL PROVISIONS

Travel Company: Travel companies offer a variety of ways to cover your travel expenses. If you are required to fly to your assignment, your flight costs will be paid in advance and your travel itinerary arranged for you plus a rental car will be provided once you arrive at your destination. If you are desirous of driving your own car to your job site, you will receive mileage compensation and/or a flat fee amount for travel expenses.

Rest of the Story: Travel companies can save a lot of money by booking you on flights that leave or arrive at undesirable times of the day or night or that re-route you all over the place, necessitating you change planes frequently.

I had that experience early on in my travel career (oh what a novice I was then!), when after 3 stops, and long layovers, I finally landed at an airport at 1 am in the morning that was a full two hour drive away from my job site! Just to add to the misery, after that two hour drive in the middle of the night I arrived to find the hotel booked for me was the ultimate rat’s nest with a stuck heater system that turned my room into an unbearable steam bath.

I also have some rather interesting stories about the type of cars that were rented on my behalf (tin can anyone?). Fortunately I’ve learned how to avoid all those nightmares and now travel comfortably and at reasonable hours.

The point is that if you don’t know your way around the available travel options, plus know how to negotiate for the best travel considerations, you can have some pretty nasty travel experiences.

JOB LOCATIONS

Travel Company: Travel companies paint a somewhat glamorous picture of the places you can travel and the wonderful experiences you can have.

Rest of the Story: If you’re a traveling novice there is a very good chance you will end up in some out of the way place or hospital that is anything but glamorous. Travel companies are anxious to fill whatever positions that present (after all, that’s how they make their money!) and so they can offer less than desirable job locations to those who don’t know how to navigate the system. That certainly happened to me the first time I took a travel position. I landed in a miserable little town with a very boring job assignment. It made for a very long 13 weeks!

Just knowing you might get dealt the “low end of the deck” if you’re new to the game can help you avoid something really dower. However, even seasoned travelers are often not getting the best assignments that are available. Thankfully, over time I’ve learned what to ask for and what to avoid, and more importantly, how to spot a bad job location no matter how many bows are on the package.

THE BEST JOBS

Travel Company: Travel companies accurately state that a recruiter will contact you about a job opportunity and will give you a general overview of the job, its requirements, and what salary and other benefits are being offered. You will also have an opportunity to ask whatever questions you wish concerning the position.

Rest of the Story: Recruiters are going to provide the basics of the potential job assignment to you but they are not going to go into any great detail unless it is in direct response to your questions. You should also be prepared to ask pertinent questions of the hospital representative if you should decide to interview for a position presented to you by the recruiter.

I remain astounded at the number of even experienced travelers that either do not ask many questions concerning a potential job assignment or don’t know what to ask to find out the “nitty gritty” of what the job really entails. As a result, there are many travelers who are quite “surprised” (and not in a good way!) about the real facts once they reach their job destination. And of course, like it or not, they are bound by a legal contract to fulfill their assignment.

How to Understand, Start and Run a Successful Home Based Travel Business

Why this is such an excellent choice for a home based business, and How To Get Started

Are you seeking information on a Home Business, or possibly you’ve read a whole lot and now you are trying to sort out what might be the BEST home based business? This is a long article, but stick with it all the way and we’re very confident you’ll have your answer(s).
Are you looking for the Best Home Based Business ? Recent polls show that over 70% of people who search the Internet are looking for such an opportunity. But does something like this really exist?

Here’s the problem: if you asked ten different people what the “best” home business was, you would probably get ten different answers. The truth of the matter is it really comes down to finding the best one for YOU.

We are all coming from a unique background. Each of us first has different wants and needs, and a want or need will determine what is best. Then we all have different abilities, and yes.. your abilities DO match up to what might be the best for YOU. What’s best for a friend or neighbor and might work for them might be a total mismatch for you. This article will give you a good insigte and provide a direction on what is one of the most universally agreed upon as a “Best” business.

We all have different interests and personalities, interests , abilities, and personalities. We have different strengths and weaknesses. We also come from all sorts of different circumstances. So it makes sense that not all of us are going to be interested in the same home based business model.

If there was truly ONE business that was for everyone, can you imagine how competitive that field would be? It would be VERY difficult for anyone to make any money!

You have probably seen advertisements all over the internet about THE #1 income making opportunity. Don’t get fooled by all the hype and so-called ways to make easy money. There is no such thing.

That’s where this article comes in. This article is NOT a comprehensive list of reviews of the thousands of home based business ideas out there. It’s an article that tells you some parameters of a good home based business, then discusses the travel industry. We give you the pros and cons both of a job and being in business; we tell you the history of our industry, and then why it’s so good and the place to be right now as it rides two major trends: Travel and the Internet.

I have researched and tried (sometimes failing miserably) many home based businesses, both online and in the real world, BUT, I have found and chosen something that is a legitimate way to make a great income from home. That’s what this is about. It’s a great fit for me, but because you are NOT me and probably have a different personality (thank heaven!), it may not be for you.. and that’s ok. But if you see things as I do, and as is presented here…

The best home based business for ME is a HOME BASED TRAVEL BUSINESS. I know it will also be for many of you.

But other than the fact that I’m just a normal, ordinary guy with no special talents.. and in fact, I’m probably older than most readers at 69 and I started this just last year, this article is not about me. It only points out that about anyone can easily get involved in the home based travel business. This is about YOU and what YOU want from life and your “working hours”, whether you are a stay-at-home-mom, a retiree, or any other category.

So the question becomes, out of all the various choices: Why start a online travel business?

We are going to discuss first the “Why”, then a little about the various types, and then the “how”. This will take some time, so grab a beverage of your choice and read on. In fact, I suggest you print this out while the coffee is brewing so you can really digest it. Mark it up. Pencil in questions.. and let’s get going!

First and foremost, when choosing a home based business, it’s really important to ask yourself “Why” are you doing this, and are you prepared to take it seriously and treat it like a business? That means regular hours of commitment of time and a commitment of money as any and all businesses you own are going to require some degree of investment.

This is probably as good of a time as any to differentiate between a JOB and a Business. ..

A job, including a home based “job” is one where you are going to essentially be trading time for money, and the assumption is that you have an employer of some sort who is going to pay you either on a dollar value per hour spent, or some dollar value for certain production. That production could be sales production as it often is; it could be manufacturing production, or it could be service production.. so many envelopes stuffed; so many calls made, so many of about anything done. That person is going to pay you for that, but you know that person or company is only doing this because they are going to make a certain amount of money on you. You are essentially paid what the job is worth; what the employer could get a replacement for you for. Regardless of your skills, you are not being paid what YOU are worth, but what the job is worth. For accepting this, you get some degree of security knowing that if you do “the assignment” or “the job” you are going to receive a certain, predictable amount of money. You may even receive some benefits. But the “security” is a joke because everyone knows that there is very little security. First the employer must remain in business. He must have a market for whatever it is you are doing, and markets change.

Next, your value is relative! Maybe that employer has a cousin who would like to do your job, or maybe someone comes along willing to do your job for less money. How secure are you? People tell me every day, “I don’t want the risks of a business.” Guess again everyone! You certainly have RISK as an employee as well!. And as to investment… well, many businesses have employee borne expenses, and even the IRS recognizes this. It’s just that there are SOME “out there” that don’t require any CASH investment, but don’t kid yourself.. you ARE making an investment, only it’s hidden in the fact you’re paying it in work and in the sense that you’re not being paid as much as you might if you absorbed certain expenses yourself.

In contrast, a BUSINESS, including a home based business, is one where you choose and control what ever it is your business makes or does. It could be virtually anything, and probably the best business is one where you control the product or service. Here on the internet, Information products are tops; these are followed by service products. Then comes those things you manufacture or make, and finally, there’s the category of items someone else controls but makes available to you for resale. Affiliate programs fall into this category. But you really need to be aware that if you are going to have a BUSINESS you are going to have business expenses, even a homebased business. These are the expenses of the office first, and then you may need to have some product or have been a user of some of the service so you truly KNOW what you have and can do business from a credible point. The product or service should be one of value that if you were the buyer, you’d consume it yourself at retail. Watch the line though… you don’t want to is get into a business where you are required to purchase X dollars amount of product every month, whether you can use this or not. That’s not a legitimate business.

Depending on your philosophy, you’ll probably agree that it is very important to choose a business that interests you. Pick one that you will enjoy doing, ideally something you are passionate about. Think about it, if you are going to start a business from home, it makes sense to choose something that you will enjoy. And if you enjoy it, then you’ll probably learn more quickly and have your heart more into it when the going is tough.

But we’d put just a couple things ahead of this and put “enjoyment” as a luxury. Those things are market size and market growth. Where is your business product or service in terms of life cycle? Is your market expanding and you can ride a wave, or is it declining. And what is the market size and potential. Will there be a business available for you in 5 years? Ten?

Then lastly, we’d probably mention that the business should be ethical and compatible with what you believe. Many people who research businesses, particularly Internet businesses, know that the porn and gambling industry meets the criteria of growth and market size. You may be tempted to look in those areas, and if you are, kindly close this report or article and tear up you paper copy. This is not a part of the business world we want anything to do with. Money and income is just not that important to us.

After evaluating many, many, many businesses and participating in several since 1969, including an early successful involvement with Amway, then Free Life, and a couple others, including a few that just didn’t “go” for us, we became aware of the opportunities in the online travel business. This is a business model that has just evolved over the past few years, and is now in full momentum.

It is also important to be a part of trends. Fortunes are made by riding trends. Currently, travel is a trend to the tune of 6 trillion dollars a year! By 2010, that number is estimated to be 14 trillion dollars!

Think of all the baby boomers that will be retiring in the coming years. And what do people like to
do when they retire? What would you like to do when you retire? If you’re like me, travel is probably very near the top of that list.

That is why the travel industry provides the perfect business for opportunity seekers. It is simply taking advantage of a trend that is just starting to gain momentum. When looked at as a home based business, it rides the second trend: the growth of the Internet as a business medium.

Let’s look at how and why this has evolved into a viable Internet Based Travel Business.

People “booking travel” for others has evolved possibly in three stages. We also should consider the two major market segments: Business travel and personal or leisure travel, and in the later category, we’d include as a very close association, travel and leisure and recreational activities and lodging. We are going to focus on personal leisure travel and recreational travel market.

STAGE 1: Probably dates back about 75-80 years when the primary mode was train and ocean liner. There were no condos, few motels, and little air travel. But there were many lodges and luxury hotels. We’ve all heard of the Biltmore and others. And there was some degree of business travel, but not to the extent we had a few years ago before travel (particularly sales meetings) became so expensive. Other than those vacations to places like Atlantic City, travel was really more in the hands of the more wealthy part of the population, and most of THOSE people just did not want to be bothered making their own arrangements, or even checking places out. A small cadre of “travel agents” was born, although they probably had many more duties along the line of concierge, personal assistant, etc. In large companies, specialists were brought on board to do those arrangements… and seek out bargains and discounts for their companies.

STAGE 2: Now we have more cars, the DC-3 and early airlines are starting to emerge. We have reliable telephones; we have some early forms of fax but the telegram was the primary means of communication on short notice as mail took longer, and people are becoming aware that they can earn money booking travel for others. Providing essentially two services: Knowledge of destinations and Administrative tasks such as actually buying the travel arrangements on behalf of a third party. That third party could be a business or an individual.

Natural business evolution follows and at first small partnerships were formed because now two people might have the knowledge and experience of two different travel destinations, but as a single entity (the travel agency) be able to offer clients more options. Then this single agency could bring more volume to a travel provider such as an airline, hotel, etc than a single person, and hence negotiate better discounts, or as more often was the case, better commissions as not all discounts got passed on. Everyone benefited.

Airline traffic was particularly challenging to book, and in the late parts of Stage 2, computers began to come more and more into play, although they were both expensive and highly specialized. The affordable home computer had not yet really evolved and there were limited travel networks. Travel agencies could afford these computer systems and gain access to the various vendors, which at that time were mainly airlines, and book travel conveniently and easily. This was about to change!

STAGE 3: Change took place almost over night. The airlines deregulated as one part, and competition evolved to a point where commissions were almost non existent to the agencies. The Internet and access to travel databases within the airlines and hospitality industry literally exploded into being, and now EVERYONE had at least almost nearly equal administrative access to the services and could bypass the agencies which started going out of business at an alarming rate. The one thing certain agencies DID retain was a cadre of people who HAD traveled and did have personal experience with various providers… resorts, cruise lines, etc. But as profits to the providers themselves started to decline, so did the availability of FAM trips, and there were fewer agencies.

But along with this evolved another trend! The population is growing and there’s more travelers available, particularly in the leisure market than ever. And many of these travelers just don’t have the time to really do the research, or even to truly shop for the best and lowest costs.

But individuals devoted to and loving to travel such as stay at home moms in travel find that they can provide the same services that the old large agencies did!

All they needed was a vendor willing to work with them, and at this time, new vendors started to emerge.

The emergence is primarily in the area of recreation and resorts as unlike the airlines which have cut back and in many cases have a SHORTAGE of seats and product, resorts (and cruise lines) have continued to build and expand where today, they have an excess or surplus of inventory except for very limited times of the year.

The question becomes: How do we fill these empty rooms? These empty staterooms? These empty golf courses? These unused campsites?

The answer is: Through You!

But you don’t know where they are, or how to negotiate the pricing.. but a newly evolved list of consolidators do! Currently there are three major consolidator groups doing business in the USA, and one stands out above the other two as it has more contacts, more experience, more inventory, and essentially a better pay plan offering the customer more options. What YOU have is a list of contacts or the knowledge and time to introduce the traveling public to these options. Because you are working with the suppliers of SURPLUS inventory who is willing to fill these vacancies at deeply discounted rates, you can pass these rates on, if only you knew how to get your hands on them.

Actually, about anyone can get their hands on any one location at any time at a discount, and many people have been doing that using services such as Orbitz, Travelocity, and others But these are very sharply targeted and focused, and deal much more with just hotels, car rentals, and to some extent, airline travel. One can pick up a major magazine or metro newspaper and find condos for rent from owners, at discounts. But again, this is very limited.

How Do You Get Started?

First, you learn about the 3 major consolidator firms offering travel, and if you just let the word out that you are looking for a homebasd travel agency or company, you’ll find that these people find you very quickly. Or you can do an Internet search using terms like that and find them. Most of the firms have a fairly similar makeup in that they are offering an entire travel package or membership for a fee. This entitles the purchaser to the inside track on deeply discounted travel services.

If they are essentially all the same, what do you look for? We focus in a legitimate business first on product, so we look for product value. We look for a company with flexibility and a product mix. Not all people want to travel internationally, so is there just a domestic package? What is offered that you or your customer can do when they get to a destination? Are there name resort and theme parks? Golfing? How about great meal discounts, as we all “eat out” when we travel? We know cruising is “big” but we know the cruise lines vary from very family oriented to “swinging singles”. Is there a good mix? How about time limitations on the travel package?

As a business, what kind of support tools are available? Training is a must, and is it real, and in real time, with real live people you can talk to and ask questions of? A solid, reliable web site is a must. Does the firm you are looking to join provide one? None will do a good site free, but is this a fair and reasonable cost?

Will you have access to a personal mentor? Can you become a certified, card carrying travel agent as well if you want?

These are but a few of the questions.

The “How Do You Get Started” in the home based travel industry is best summarized by 3 words: “Do Your Homework”

Well, now that you know some of the history, let’s look at a couple more things, starting with some of the advantages of this, particularly in comparison to other options you may have selling nutritional products, informational products, skin care, diet products, or many others.

Aside from the money making potential in our industry, there are many other advantages.

It is easy to start. This facet never ceases to blow me away With the invention of the internet, businesses that have traditionally always been brick and mortar establishments are now available to all of us. The internet makes it easy for everyday people like you and me to start a small business online. We can reach people all over the world, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from the comfort of our own home. People can be checking out your business while you are sleeping, on vacation, or whatever. Phone services like Skype let us actually talk to people all over the world (one of us might be sacrificing some sleep due to time zone differences, but technically, it’s possible!)

Your business is relatively inexpensive to start, particularly compare to a more standard travel agency business. Because you no longer need a regular office, insurance, and employees, businesses. In fact, if you set up a legitimate IRS qualifying home office, many of the costs you have at your current home now become tax deductible (see your accountant, and if you don’t have one.. get one. Maybe you can even barter some travel services for HIS services).

Your potential clients include almost everyone. Who doesn’t like to travel or need a vacation? And if the economy slows, your business grows! Previous travelers who thought nothing of paying full price now start to look for discounts.

You can save a lot of money on your own travel.

What’s the point of owning a business if you don’t get some fringe benefits? With a home based travel business, you become eligible for some incredible discounts. And because you are your own boss, you will have more free time to go on vacation and take advantage of these discounts.

Is there a downside to a home based travel business? Sure, there is in any business.

Travel is a very competitive industry.
In order to have an edge, you have to differentiate yourself from the rest by branding yourself with a superior product. Those who read this article and find a specific interest and contact us as the author will be given some very specific knowledge on how to do this and succeed.

Elements of a Strong Corporate Travel Program

In order to make the most of your corporate travel budget, it is critical to plan for leveraging your program for all it is worth. Telling travelers to select the lowest logical airfare is just not enough. Here are the elements that should be considered when planning or evaluating your travel program.

1. Travel policy

A well written and disseminated travel policy is the foundation of any good travel program, and I am consistently amazed that so many corporations have such an outdated and poorly conceived travel policy, if they have one at all. It is not difficult to find a well written policy. One can be found online quite easily. All that remains is that it is edited to reflect corporate culture, and disseminated within the company so that everyone understands and agrees to follow it. For this reason, it is a good idea to have everyone sign a copy of the travel policy to ensure that it is read, understood and owned by all company staff. I suggest that everyone in the company signs a copy of the travel policy, whether they travel or not. They may change positions in the company later and be required to travel. A travel policy need not be long or complex. Some of the best travel policies I have ever seen were only a few pages long.

2. Centralized travel internally and externally

Many companies do not centralize their travel program, and they pay a price in terms of a loss of expense reduction opportunities and internal efficiencies. Many companies that do not centralize travel have a fear of requiring travelers to do something they may not want to do, along with the idea that centralizing travel will require hiring a Travel Manager. Both of these may be legitimate concerns but they do not have to be in most cases. By requiring travelers to book centrally, you are not necessarily causing them to lose flexibility. You can centralize travel while still allowing travelers to book on their own, either with a travel agency of your choice, or online through a provider that you have partnered with and have confidence in. By assigning someone with the responsibility of overseeing travel, you are getting a single point of contact both internally and externally for travel issues. If your company spends less than $1 million in air travel, you probably do not need a full time travel manager. In these cases, travel oversight can be given to the finance department, human resources, or even an executive level assistant. Here is a look at the advantages to be gained by centralizing travel.

When you centralize travel with a single agency, you gain in a number of important ways. You will have a single point of contact for problems while travelers are on the road, and you will have one entity to go to for all your travel needs. This eliminates the problem of consolidating a travel report from among several sources. By bringing travel together, you will gain significantly from economies of scale. If you can measure total travel among various divisions or locations, you can get more for your money from travel suppliers. This will allow you to gain more from airline soft dollar programs, which means more free tickets and upgrades, get a higher percentage discount from our preferred airline, and get better negotiated rates from your hotel and car contracts. Your fulfillment costs will decrease as well, as your travel agency will often discount their fees for a higher overall volume of travel.

3. Mix of online booking and personal service

This is an addendum to the previous element, which calls for centralizing travel with one travel agency. This is important, but in doing so, you need not require travelers to use an online booking system, and you need not require travelers to call the agency directly. By offering travelers the option of doing either, you are accomplishing several goals. You will reduce your fulfillment costs, as online booking is cheaper in terms of a service fee. By giving travelers the option, you are giving them a sense of control, thereby increasing morale and standing a better chance of a high adoption rate. Thirdly, you leave open a best practice of using your online booking engine for less complex itineraries, and allowing senior executives, frequent travelers, and complex itineraries to be booked directly with a travel agent that can offer a higher level of service and a better overall travel experience where it is most warranted.

4. Look under every stone

While the bulk of most travel programs revolve around the air budget, there are several other areas one can investigate to find savings opportunities. There are a couple of more obvious areas to look, such as negotiated hotel rates at your favorite hotels, or car rental discounts with a favored supplier. Often your travel agency will already have discounted rates through consortia affiliations and agency car contracts. There are also some less common areas that should be investigated. For example, if ground transportation is a concern, most suppliers will offer discounted rates and a direct billing option. Direct billing arrangements with hotels and car rental agencies are also a great way to increase efficiencies and make the job of the accounting department easier.

5. Leverage hard dollar and soft dollar contracts

Most major airlines today offer hard dollar discounts as well as soft dollar incentives in exchange for company loyalty to their product. If your travel program is over $1 million in air spend, you can secure a discount off of the lowest fares of your carrier of choice in return for a market share commitment. For your secondary carriers, or if your volume is less than the minimum required by the airline, you can enter in to soft dollar programs for free tickets and free upgrades, as well as traveler status enhancements or airport club passes. These programs require little in the way of volume, but they are not well publicized so you may need to hunt for them or ask Baker Travel or your current agency to point you in the right direction.

6. Do not neglect hotel volume

Hotel volume is sometimes overlooked but it should not be. Negotiated rates can be had through your travel agency or directly with the hotel properties of your choice. Individual hotels near corporate locations will negotiate discounted rates for you in exchange for a minimum room/night commitment. By utilizing a travel agency, you are likely to receive discounts of 5% to 50% on thousands of hotels worldwide.

7. Have at least one car rental contract

Rental car contracts are easy to enter into and require little in the way of commitment from the corporation. Choose a partner that has airport locations and a reputation for excellent customer service. You can save 5-10% very easily and can also negotiate frequent renter membership for all your employees. This will make them more efficient and enhance morale. You can also enter in to direct billing agreements at the same time that can make the jobs of your travelers and accounting staff much less stressful.

8. Understand group and meeting contracts

Airlines and hotels will discount your fares and rates when you have groups traveling together or meeting at a single destination from multiple points of origin. These meeting contracts can bring you airfare discounts of 2-10%, and if you have enough travelers on a single airline, you may be able to negotiate for free tickets to be awarded at contract completion. The minimum requirement is usually 10 travelers going to the same place at the same time. Some airlines have higher minimums so be sure to ask before a contract is generated. Hotels will discount their rates in a similar way with a minimum of 10 room nights. These discounts can range from 10% to a much higher discount depending upon occupancy rate and seasonal variances.

9. Use reporting to consistently improve metrics

Well managed travel programs require constant monitoring and financial controls to be properly leveraged. Insist on timely and customized reports that can be designed to bring you the information you need most. By receiving regular reporting on traveler behavior and provider contract performance, you will be in a better position to fulfill contract obligations, achieve cost reduction objectives and see where opportunities for future savings may lie.

10. Use all avenues to enhance traveler comfort and efficiency

Lastly, any well managed travel program will take in to account the comfort and productivity of their travelers. When travelers are comfortable, they can focus on their main priorities that help propel your business forward. If travelers are happy, they perform at a higher level. Ask if your travel agency can upgrade traveler status on a preferred airline. Look in to purchasing blocks of airport club passes so they can be used strategically during long and complex itineraries. There are many ways to reward travelers for the difficult and often grueling chore of travel. These kinds of rewards generate feelings of loyalty and increased productivity and efficiency.

If you would like to learn more about how your company can better leverage their travel program to benefit your bottom line and the satisfaction of your executive level, feel free to contact me. I am delighted to point you in the right direction.

A Short Note About the Variety of Travellers

Traveling is a fruitful entertainment. It gives utmost pleasure to the travelers and makes them enjoy their life time by traveling to different destinations. Traveling is the basic activity got closer to the life of human. Humans started traveling even before the ancient civilization grows up. Hence, it is the activity mingled with the human nature. So traveling is not the newly invented entertainment. In this article, I would like to explain the different categories of travelers. Generally, travelers have been categorized with respect to their needs, shapes and gender. Let us see the different variety of travelers in detail.

Backpacker:

A traveler packs all of his or her stuffs into a backpack is called as “Backpacker” These stuffs include food, water and shelter to sleep. They carry these gears in highly compacted mode as a backpack. Backpacking is a combined activity of hiking and camping in a single trip. Generally, a backpacking trip must include at least one night stay in the wilderness.

Women Travelers:

You can understand the meaning and the type of travelers from the title itself. It refers to single female traveler or a group of females traveling together.

LGBT Travelers:

LGBT is the abbreviation of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgenders. Travelers belongs to those category are known as LGBT travelers.

Disabled Travelers:

You can understand the variety of traveler from this title itself. People who travels even with their disabilities are called as “Disabled Travelers”. It is necessary for them to take enough medications. The visually impaired travelers would be helped by the Royal National Institute of the Blind to hail taxis but a simple sign up is required before you start traveling. There are no restrictions and limitations for the disable. Anyone can enjoy their tour.

Festivals abroad:

People who would travel to any country with the purpose of festive season are known as the kind of “Festivals abroad”. They would be starting for the vacation and they will be back after the season.

Winter, water and extreme sports:

These are all the travelers who travel on that particular season in order to participate in the sports. For ex: Travelers who are all going to Christmas Ski or bungee jump or any winter sports etc. They should carry appropriate medications and fully prepared to avoid the injuries.

Overseas weddings and civil partnerships:

These categories of travelers are the people who are willing to get married in other countries. They may need to travel to that country and have to be clarified with the legal terms. In such cases, perfect documentation is required. Hence, planning far before the date of wedding is necessary. Some process would take few months.

Hajj pilgrims:

Hajj Pilgrims are a variety of travelers who travels from a country to Hajj, the largest annual pilgrimage in the world. They are a kind of spiritual travelers. Only the people who belong to Muslim religion would travel to Hajj.

Visiting friends and family abroad:

These types of travelers start their travel to other countries to visit their friends and family.

Traveling abroad for medical treatment:

People who are traveling to abroad for the special medical treatments would come under this category.

Traveling football fans:

People who travel to other countries to enjoy the football tournament comes under this kind.

Cruise ship passengers:

People who travel through cruising are called as Cruise ship passengers. It is one of the safest mode of traveling.

Antarctica visitors:

Antarctica is a unique travel destination and highly protected place on earth. People who are all traveling to Antarctica is called as Antarctica visitors.

Get the Most Out of Your Travel Agent

Booking air travel, making hotel reservations and arranging vacation travel in general has changed completely with the advent of the internet and many people try to be their own travel agents. While you can arrange seemingly most of your travel yourself, you can’t do as well as your travel agent in a long run!

Travel processionals, whether your local travel agent, tour operator or destination specialist still possess contacts that you as an industry outsider do not have. As in number of other professions, travel agents, whether in a shopping center near your home or an online agency, wherever they may be located, do know something you do not, have way to book and arrange travel for you in ways unavailable or unknown to you.

Traditionally you could contact a travel agent and ask for a quote, whether a price of an air ticket, hotel or a vacation package. For the most part travel agents still provide that kind of information, although there is a limit how much information they may disclose as not all information is readily available to them.

First of all, most travel agents indeed may have at their fingertips routine cost of air ticketing, hotel rates or certain vacation packages available and will be happy to provide the price information to you instantly when asked. But once your travel request will need to be somewhat customized, whether tailored to your dates of travel or your other travel preferences, to find a relevant answer will be time consuming. Because of this time element involved, do not automatically assume an agency is keen to spend the time to furnish the information you seek when there is no commitment you will travel at all.

Look at the situations from the following perspective. In the old days if you had a problem with your car, you’d drive it to your neighborhood car mechanic and asked him to see what was wrong with it. You would drop the car off at the garage, the mechanic would have a look and tell you what the problem was. He would also give you an estimate and it was up to you to decide if you wanted him to fix it right then and there, wait or seek another opinion and another quote. His services cost you nothing.

But not anymore. These days, no garage, no car repair mechanic is willing to spend time trying to find out what’s the problem with your vehicle without charging you at least one hour labor upfront. Pay and he will look and tell you. Up to you if you will decide to take your car to another shop or have him fix it, he has covered his time spent diagnosing what’s wrong with your car.

Similarly, many travel agencies and professional travel planners and tour operators will charge you an upfront travel planning fee if you are requesting travel arrangements that first of all are time consuming, or there is no guarantee you will book anything. All you are after are essentially private tailor-made travel arrangement s and there are no simple answers or options to give you, and the only way to find out will be for the agent to dig and consult all sorts of different sources he has at this disposal and then present the travel alternatives to you for you to decide upon.

When working with a travel agent, travel planner or any other travel professional such as a knowledgeable destination specialist, keep in mind that a certain protocol will assure you will get not only the kind of travel arrangements you want in general but also you’ll gain a true partner that will always work in your best interest whether you’ll travel away from home on business or for pleasure.

1. First of all, when contacting a travel agent, whether in person or online, don’t hesitate to give them your name – don’t worry, most agents won’t spam you back. Without your name when you’re asking for a valuable travel advice most agents won’t take your request too seriously. Call if you wish but most agents prefer not to take notes, email is a way to go and for an agent to look up a fare often a time means he has to plug in a name, so might as well that name will be your real name. If you decide not to accept the booking the reservation will expire and no harm done. If you decide later to purchase the reservation the agent does not have to rekey it into the system all over again.

2. If you’re trying to be you own travel agent, even in part, say you plan to book your own hotels online, disclose it to the agent your are contacting for assistance, he/she may still be interested to help you with the rest of your travel arrangements. Don’t hide your intentions from the agent as agents don’t like to be used for information gathering purposes only.

3. If at all possible, always contact your travel agent or destination specialist as soon as you know when and where you wish to travel, not last minute before your intended departure. That is even more important when you’re planning a trip to a lesser frequented destination.

4. Don’t book your flights and hotels online and ask a travel agent to do the rest, namely the difficult parts, such as complex transportation connections, travel arrangements in remote locations or to book segments that you just feel are not safe for you to book online yourself. Give your agent to design and book your entire trip for you. The worst you can do is design your own vacation package, then copy and email the same request to dozen different agents to see who may be the lowest bidder. Yes, the internet is perfect for that kind of information gathering but look at this from a perspective of a travel agent. If he/she knows you are sending the same request to dozen agents many of them will not be too interested in dealing with you. Then again, telling them the truth they will appreciate knowing what you are doing and approach the whole thing quite differently and in the end they just might offer you a deal.

5. If you’re after booking shoe-string cost of travel, for example wishing to book the lowest type of accommodations, best be your own travel agent. Do realize that agents can’t book services that are simply too cheap to begin with, not to mention that that kind of suppliers do not pay agent s any kind of commission. The agent may still help you but keep in mind he will be doing you a favor and will be working for you at no charge. If so, appreciate it, email your thank you.

Do realize that to ask an agent million questions, get all the answers, including time consuming quotes, only for you to never replay again is definitely rude and turns agents off completely. If you are polite and respectful many will often work without any commitment on your part, providing you with information you need, working for free. But because of those that just siphon info out of agents so they could possibly book travel on their own leaves not only a sour taste in agent’s mouth but certainly induces the decision to charge au upfront planning fees when a next inquiry comes.

6. On another hand, when it comes to upper end accommodations keep in mind these hotels routinely offer discounts to agents that agents can markup and still offer you room costs below hotel rack rates. Genuine agent is not interested in selling you a higher end hotel in order to make a higher commission but to tailor in a better trip experience for you where he deems it desirable.

7. Keep in mind that there is a difference between a travel agent and a so called Destination Specialist. Most travel agents use online reservation systems to book transportation, hotel and vacation packages. They essentially book or resell ready-to-sell travel offers from a variety of suppliers that do not require more than filling in your name and dates of travel. When it comes to you needing customized arrangements, they will need to contact tour operators and destination specialists that are either part of their consortium or a network they belong to. Depending on the connections they have they will or will not be able to help you.

8. Destination Specialists pride themselves in really knowing their destinations. Many of them have indeed not only traveled extensively but know a particular destination inside-out so they can arrange travel logistics for you based on knowing, rather than looking it up in a brochure or some kind of data base. Many Destination Specialists specialize in difficult, custom designed itineraries and do not sell travel packages. Often a time though not always that kind of service reflects higher markup.

9. Last, please note that many destination specialists as well as travel agents work 110 or more hours per week because especially custom-design travel is indeed very time consuming. Being good at travel logistics does take experience and while with the internet it seems second nature to be able to arrange travel on your own, many travel professional are indeed very good at what they do! They do know more about travel than you, give them a chance, they can save you not only money but also many headaches and above all, they can assure not only that you’ll travel worry-free but that you may have a trip of your life! Keep in mind, a good agent is not after selling you a single ticket or a package tour, they want you to become a repeat client, their go-to-travel processional for rest of your life.

Traveling To America? New ESTA Registration Mandated January 2009

For years, visitors from certain foreign countries have been able to travel to America without first getting a formal Visa sticker placed in their passport. Implemented in 1998, the “Visa Waiver Program” (VWP) has allowed for visitors of several countries to come to America for tourism or business purposes for up to 90 days without getting a Visa put in their passport. During 2007, more than 15 million visitors from VWP countries arrived in the United States.

As of January 12, 2009 America’s new ESTA program requires Visa Waiver Program visitors coming to the U.S. for tourist or business purposes via a plane or ship to “register” online before entering the United States to see if they pose a law enforcement or security risk to the U.S. ESTA is not required for land crossings. Officials are asking that the ESTA registration be done at least 72 hours prior to leaving, but theoretically it is possible to register at the last minute. An ESTA Travel Authorization is free, valid for 2 years, and valid for multiple entries.

Here are some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for ESTA Travel Authorization:

What Countries Are in the Visa Waiver Program?

Andorra, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brunei, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

Where Do I Apply for an ESTA Travel Authorization?

A website, operated by the American government, is where you register for ESTA: esta.cbp.dhs.gov. The ESTA information you submit via the computer is compared with certain American law enforcement databases and then either approved or denied. Foreign travelers will not be able to submit ESTA applications at American airports after arriving or at a U.S. Embassy in their country.

What if I Don’t Have Plans to Travel to the U.S. Yet?

VWP travelers are not required to have specific plans to travel to the United States before they apply for an ESTA Travel Authorization. As soon as VWP travelers begin to plan a trip to visit the U.S., they are encouraged to apply for travel authorization through the ESTA website. Applicants are not required to update their destination addresses or itineraries if they change after their ESTA Travel Authorization has been granted.

Does the ESTA Travel Authorization Guarantee Entry to the U.S.?

An ESTA Travel Authorization only authorizes a traveler to board an airline or ship for travel to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program. After they arrive, travelers who obtained an ESTA Travel Authorization may still be denied entry (also called “admission”) at a U.S. port of entry, such as an American airport. An approved ESTA is not a guarantee of admissibility at an American airport. In all cases, the American airport officers make the final determination whether a foreign traveler can enter the U.S. or not. You still have to establish to the satisfaction of the inspecting officer that you are entitled to be admitted to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program.

Can I Change My Travel Itinerary?

It is possible to change an itinerary on an existing ESTA Travel Authorization; ESTA is designed so that you can update parts of it at any time. Travelers who did not get an ESTA approval may be denied boarding by the airlines, experience delayed processing, or be denied admission to the U.S. at the American airport.

What If I Already Have a Valid B1/B2 Visitor Visa?

While the ESTA Travel Authorization is completed online with no interview, there are Visas that require a U.S. Embassy interview. The Visa process has separate procedures, which generally require an appointment, travel to a U.S. Embassy, an interview with a Consular Officer, processing time, and the payment of an application fee. If a foreign national already went to the U.S. Embassy and has a valid B1/B2 Visitor Visa pasted in their passport it is not necessary to get an ESTA Travel Authorization because the traveler will be entering with a B1/B2 Visitor Visa and not through the Visa Waiver Program. Keep in mind that an approved ESTA Travel Authorization is not a Visa.

Can I Re-Apply for an ESTA Travel Authorization if Denied?

Yes, but you must wait at least 10 days to reapply and your circumstances must have changed. Unless there is a change in a substantive fact, re-application will not change the result. Keep in mind that applying for an ESTA Travel Authorization with false information can cause a foreign national to be permanently barred from ever entering America. The ESTA system is designed to try to prevent individuals from changing and manipulating an ESTA entry until they receive an approval.

What If I am Denied an ESTA Travel Authorization and Have No Changed Circumstances?

There are three types of responses to an ESTA application; approved, pending or travel not authorized (denied). Applicants who receive a “pending” response are advised to check the website 72 hours later. Applicants who are denied will be required to go to a U.S. Embassy to apply for a formal nonimmigrant visa, such as a B1/B2 Visa, which may take months.

Can a Traveler Find Out the Reason Why an ESTA Application was Denied?

The U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security has stated that travelers may contact the DHS Travel Redress Inquiry Program (DHS TRIP at dhs.gov) but there are no guarantees that information about a denial will be divulged. U.S. Embassies and Consulates are not required to provide details about an ESTA denial nor resolve the issue that caused the ESTA denial.

What If I Have a Criminal Record?

Only those qualified to travel under the VWP are eligible to pre-register through ESTA. Persons who have been arrested and/or convicted are generally not eligible for VWP and probably require a formal Visa, such as a B1/B2 Visa, to travel to America. If a foreign national has received tickets for speeding (which don’t usually result in an arrest or conviction) they are probably still eligible for the VWP and ESTA. If a foreign traveler has been denied entry into or deported from the U.S., they require a formal Visa.

Do Any Other Countries Have a Similar Program?

Australia has a program called the Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) that mandates travelers to submit an ETA application electronically through a website requesting permission to travel to Australia. Airlines may refuse to accept passengers who do not have either an approved ETA or Visa to enter Australia.

How Long Will the ESTA Application Data be Stored? Who Can Access It?

The ESTA Travel Authorization is valid for two years or until the traveler’s passport expires, whichever comes first. The American government will maintain the information for at least 15 years to allow retrieval of the information for law enforcement, national security, or investigatory purposes. Information submitted through ESTA can also be shared with any U.S. government organization.

What Information Does the Airlines Get?

Airlines will receive confirmation of a passenger’s ESTA status visa the “Advance Passenger Information System” (APIS) which shows whether the ESTA authorization has been granted for a Visa Waiver Program traveler. It is recommended that the traveler print out the ESTA application approval in order to maintain a record of their ESTA application number and to have confirmation of their ESTA status.

What About Children?

Accompanied and unaccompanied children, regardless of age, are required to obtain an independent ESTA Travel Authorization.

What if a Mistake was Made on the ESTA Application?

The ESTA website will ask applicants to review their application before submitting it. Also, there is an update function for certain information such as email address, telephone number, or flight information. If an applicant makes a mistake that cannot be “updated,” he will need to submit a new ESTA application.

What if I Only Have a Connecting Flight Through the U.S.?

Visa Waiver Program visitors who have a connecting flight in the U.S. are required to either have ESTA Travel Authorization or a Visa from a U.S. Embassy in their passport to travel through the U.S. even for a one hour stop. If a traveler is only planning to stop in the U.S. en route to another country, the traveler should enter the words “In Transit” and his final destination in the address lines under the heading “Address While In The United States” on the ESTA application.

What Are the Questions on the ESTA Travel Authorization Application?

The traveler must provide (in English) biographical data including name, birth date, country of citizenship, country of residence, email address, sex, telephone number, passport information, destination address in the U.S., travel information (round trip airline ticket, flight number and city where you are boarding) as well as questions regarding communicable diseases (chancroid, gonorrhea, granuloma inquinale, HIV, leprosy, lymphogranuloma venereum, syphilis [active], tuberculosis [active], and others), physical or mental disorders, drug addiction problems, arrests, convictions, past history of visa cancellation or denial, and prior deportations from the U.S. The traveler will also be asked whether they are seeking work in the U.S., have ever been deported or tried to get a visa by fraud or misrepresentation. The traveler will be asked if they have ever detained a child of a U.S. Citizen granted custody of the child, and whether they have ever asserted immunity from prosecution.

Do I Select “Business” or “Pleasure (Tourist) at the Airport Port of Entry?

After the ESTA Travel Authorization is granted, the foreign traveler will be interviewed by government officers at the first American airport they land. The officer will ask what the foreign traveler will be doing in America and the questioning can take up to four hours in a detained setting called “secondary inspection.” The officer may ask the traveler “what else are you doing in America?” repeatedly to try to get “the real” answer. If the traveler is only going to be a tourist, they are not allowed to do any business, including meeting with any attorneys, applying for a bank account, meeting with real estate agents, or other business consulting activities. Even though the traveler is going to conduct just one business meeting while in America, they are required to report it and enter as a business visitor. The business visitor is allowed to participate in tourist activities, but the tourist visitor is not allowed to participate in any business activities. Therefore, if any business might be conducted while in America, it is best to tell the government officers about it at the airport to avoid being accused of lying, put immediately on a plane back to your home country, and barred from America for life.

What Else Do Can the Airport Officers Make Me Prove After I Land?

The airport officers will ask the traveler proof of a foreign residence (address on foreign driver’s license), whether their intention is to depart at the end of the visit (round trip airline ticket), whether the traveler has a job (letter, paystub, business card) and family in their home country, (marriage certificate, childrens’ birth certificates), and whether the traveler has the money to travel around America (bank statement or credit cards with bank letter showing credit limit). The airport officers are also required to ask where the traveler will stay in America (hotel reservations or friends/relatives’ homes) and have been known to pick up the phone to verify all of the aforementioned information.

Can I Be Searched in the American Airport? Am I Entitled to Legal Representation?

While being interviewed at the American airport, all luggage (even locked bags) can be searched, as well as the traveler’s body and his/her cell phone (including text messages and phone numbers) and laptop (including hard drive). The officers may “google” a traveler’s name and check out their myspace, Facebook or hyves pages. The traveler is not allowed to be represented by an attorney or even call their attorney while in “secondary inspection.” Bathroom visits, water and food may be limited, so it is best to prepare for such an occasion while still on the plane before landing.

Do I Still Have to Go Through the “US-VISIT” Program at the American Airport?

Foreign travelers arriving at American airports and seaports must still be photographed and fingerprinted every time they enter the U.S.

Who Should I Ask For Help to Fill Out the ESTA Application?

The information a traveler provides on the ESTA application can remain in their file with U.S. authorities for a minimum of 15 years – probably longer. If a foreign traveler has some questions about how to answer the questions so as not to be permanently barred from America, it would be prudent to them to pay for a legal consultation with an American Immigration Attorney who is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). Beware of unauthorized private websites that offer ESTA application assistance for $49.99 – they are usually not authorized to practice immigration law and are asking travelers to pay for a copy of the application questions, which are free on the dhs.gov website.

If I Am Denied the ESTA Travel Authorization Will it Effect My Ability to Obtain a Visa at the U.S. Embassy?

When the ESTA Travel Authorization is denied, the foreign traveler must make an appointment at a U.S. Embassy in their country to apply for a formal Visa. The U.S. Embassy is operated by the U.S. Department of State and there are no expedited procedures for those who have been denied ESTA Travel Authorization. Because the ESTA program is so new, it is impossible to predict how badly a denial of the ESTA Travel Authorization will impact a traveler’s application for a Visa at a U.S. Embassy or impact their future travel to America in general. American Immigration Attorneys are in close contact with their foreign clients and will share the denial information with each other starting in January 2009. Currently there are no government policies regulating this area of the law, or opportunities to appeal a denial.

When Is the a “New” ESTA Travel Authorization Required?

A new ESTA Travel Authorization is required during the two years if (1) the traveler is issued a new passport (2) the traveler changes his name (3) the traveler changes his or her gender (4) the traveler’s country of citizenship changes or (5) the circumstances underlying the traveler’s previous responses to any of the ESTA application questions requiring a “yes” or “no” response have changed (such as a new arrest).

Can an American Immigration Attorney, Travel Agent or Employer Fill Out the ESTA Application?

A third party, such as a relative, travel agent or American Immigration Attorney, is permitted to submit an ESTA application on behalf of a VWP traveler. Be aware that the traveler is still responsible under the law for the answers submitted on his or her behalf by a third party.

Over 68,000 travelers have already voluntarily registered by using the ESTA online system in the last few months. Applicants are reminded to obtain a new “e-passport” which has an integrated computer chip capable of storing biographic information from the data page, as well as other biometric information, when registering with ESTA.

The author is Attorney Danielle Nelisse, owner of the Law Offices of Danielle Nelisse. She has been practicing U.S. immigration law since 1999. She specializes in U.S. citizenship, lawful permanent residence through marriage, and work visas. She has a staff of translators who speak German, French, Spanish, Dutch, Russian, Chinese, Japanese and other languages.