Top E-Travel Technology Trends to Watch in 2019

op E-Travel Technology Trends to Watch in 2019In today’s digital era, business travel planners are increasingly turning to technology to gain an advantage, whether in price, commute speed, convenience, or securing unique accommodations. Forty-one-percent of business and 60% of leisure travel arrangements are made in the digital travel ecosystem. Top travel management companies know how to use this technology to their advantage, staying on top of up-and-coming e-travel services to deliver the results travelers are searching for and provide a delightful, unique travel experience.

What Evolving E-Travel Tech Ensures an Edge Over the Competition?

  • Personalization
    Forgoing the cookie-cutter experience, travelers are in search of the unique, whether traveling for leisure or business. A top priority in the travel and tourism industry, the personalization services of forward-thinking brands such as Delta are delivering account-specific messages to corporate clients, with special offers for highly-loyal clientele. Via a newly-introduced guest services tool, the company is also providing customized recognition, guidance, gate and connecting flight information, delivering a truly personalized travel experience.
  • Online Booking
    Experiencing constant growth, this segment of the e-travel marketplace exceeds $92.5-million annually nationwide, and is anticipated to top $11.5-trillion in the next decade. Fifty-seven-percent of traveling reservations are made online. Ease of viewing and booking, as well as the opportunity to quickly and easily sort a variety of deals by preferences ranging from price to setting peculiarity, make online booking an ever-popular option. Small business travel management companies who allow clients to peruse, purchase, and pickup itineraries online are achieving not only customer favor but market dominance.
  • Mobile Apps
    Easy to implement, mobile apps make up over half of online booking operations, making securing reservations a breeze. In 2019, however, the use of mobile apps will expand even further into travel arena, however, facilitating the use of amenities within accommodations via the internet of things (IoT) and allowing for the wireless control of features such as heating and air conditioning, lighting, music, jacuzzi temperatures, and more.
  • Voice
    Voice-activated communications are the biggest disruptor in the travel sector, improving guest convenience from making reservations to adjusting hotel room settings to meet guest needs.
  • Robots
    Artificially intelligent robots are helping drive customer self-service opportunities, including check-in/out procedures, security scans, luggage delivery, maintenance and concierge functions, and more.
  • Chatbots
    Chatbots, another form of AI geared toward online customer support, are revolutionizing many industries. Stepping in for their human counterparts with pre-programmed answered to FAQs, they provide rapid responses to an array of travel related questions.
  • Augmented Virtual Reality
    Among the most promising travel technology trends, augmented virtual reality simulations are inexpensive to implement. VR’s ‘little brother,’ these programs allow travelers to easily ‘visit’ and experience the surrounding of an intended destination in real-time without ever setting foot in an airplane or vehicle. Quickly facilitating an emotional attachment between a traveler and a potential accommodation or destination, AVR can be a key tool in ensuring and enhancing each customer’s travel experience.

Looking for corporate travel planners that can improve the travel experience with the latest in e-travel tech? Experience the future in business travel management with GTI Travel today.

Airlines are Quietly Changing Standards for Elite Status. Does that Affect You?

Airlines are Quietly Changing Standards for Elite Status.For those frequently traveling for work, ‘elite’ business class status is a welcomed perk. This perk, however, may be short-lived. Earlier this fall, airline programs began to quietly change the way customer loyalty programs awarded elite status, leaving some flyers by the wayside, and travel planners scrambling for business travel solutions to keep frequent travelers within the top tier requirements.

The High Life Now Requires Higher Expenditures

Does your corporate travel policy now make elite business class status more difficult to achieve? For United Airlines passengers, elite status qualification required travelers to fly 100,000 miles and spend $12,000 in 2018. In the coming year, expenditure requirements will soar 25% further to $15,000. Other airlines have quickly followed United’s suit, with American Airlines requiring the same of its top-tier Executive Platinum Diamond-tier members. Driving the changes: The hope of leveling the playing field with Delta, who requires top-tier travelers spend $15,000 and fly 125,000 miles for Diamond status.

The Good

Some don’t mind the new changes, viewing the $12,000 to $15,000 bump as minimal, especially when traveling on the company dime. For event travel services, international business flights, and tickets booked on relatively short notices, meeting the ramped up elite status obstacles won’t be tough to surmount – even for those utilizing multiple carriers. Still more welcome the changes, believing there are too many elites gumming up the works. With fewer elites in the pool, it is hoped that the lounge and boarding zone congestion will clear, granting the best customers easier access to high-end perks and upgrades.

The Bad

Some aren’t so thrilled with the changes, however. For those on a budget, who must book flights ahead to ensure the cheapest possible ticket price, top-tier status will be difficult to achieve – even for those flying over 100,000 miles. Due to the increased difficulty of earning elite status on the two carriers, some corporate flyers are attempting to book their own travel arrangements, in search of travel policy loopholes that can help them stay in the top tier of travelers by keeping their sky miles and dollars under the same carrier umbrella.

The Ugly

Such under the radar changes have also left a bad taste in the mouths of many budget-minded consumers, leaving them to feel airlines don’t care about those who don’t shell out for business class tickets anymore. As maintaining status is near impossible for tight-fisted travelers, this has led to rapidly waning carrier loyalty. As budget-minded travelers give up the ghost, only time will tell how these changes could affect overall ticket sales.

No one likes the cheap seats. Is your travel management company making decisions in the best interest of your employees? Ensure enjoyable, comfortable travel arrangements that fit within your budget with the help of GTI Travel today.

How Does Duty of Care Fit Into Your Travel Risk Management Plan?

How Does Duty of Care Fit Into Your Travel Risk Management PlanBoth corporate and leisure travel can be unpredictable–inclement weather, canceled flights and hotel reservations, and serious events like terror attacks, natural disasters and civil unrest may all throw a wrench in the most carefully-laid plans. Being unprepared for unexpected events can pose avoidable risks to your employees and your business, and expose your organization to unnecessary scrutiny and liability. These circumstances are just a few of the reasons why it is vital to have an effective travel risk management plan in place.

What is Duty of Care?

Duty of care is a business’ moral and legal responsibility for its employees’ welfare. It is an important aspect to take into consideration when it comes to making policies that affect your employees’ well-being not only when traveling, but when they’re working at the office or at home as well.

Travel Risk Management

With advances in technology and an increasingly mobile workforce, the world of corporate travel is constantly changing. Travel risk management is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to effectively practicing duty of care. Being prepared and having solid policies and procedures in place for mishaps, pitfalls and dangerous situations can help your company avoid serious liability issues and keep employees safe, healthy and happy. Many business travel agencies not only help organizations with travel arrangements, they provide business travel services that include advice and assistance with developing travel risk management plans that address duty of care as well.

Corporate travel agents can also help when there are disruptions in travel plans due to global events or disasters. Knowing that there are dedicated agents available 24/7 can enable your employees stay calm in the face of disaster, and help them adhere to your company’s travel expense policy guidelines more easily, which cuts down on stress and saves your organization money. For example, if flights are delayed due to a terror attack, corporate travel agents will call your business travelers and offer valuable information, reassurance, and assistance that can make travelers feel safe and let them know that your company’s got their back.

Designing Your Corporate Travel Policy

Your organization’s corporate travel policy goes hand-in-hand with how your company practices duty of care. Identifying at-risk areas and ensuring that business travelers are informed about any specific or foreseeable dangers as part of the policy will help to ensure that your organization is practicing effective duty of care, and can lead to increased employee satisfaction and cost savings. Frequently reviewing and updating policies is also vital to keep up with unpredictable events or new threats that pop up and to reassure employees that you are looking out for their best interests.

The elements that go into practicing duty of care can be complex, and developing travel risk management strategies and policies that work takes patience and time. Corporate travel agencies have the global connections, knowledge and technology to help your company effectively identify risks, monitor threats, respond to incidents as they arise, and properly prepare travelers for whatever lies ahead.

 

Fraud in the Travel Industry – Things you Need to Look Out for

Travel scams are on the rise, so it is vital to do your homework when booking all aspects of business travel. Travel risk management is an essential part of ensuring that employees stay safe, happy and healthy when they’re on the road, and these tips can help make sure that any business travel arrangements you make are legit.

Types of Business Travel Scams

Fraud in the Travel Industry - Things you Need to Look Out forThree of the most common types of travel fraud are –

  1. Shady sellers offering tickets that have been purchased with stolen credit card information,
  2. Sale of nonexistent airline tickets and
  3. Fake travel websites that steal corporate travelers’ financial and personal information.

Buyers of fraudulently acquired airline tickets are often turned away at the airport and left stranded or scrambling to find a way to get to their destination. When business travelers are fooled by fake travel websites, they not only fail to receive legitimate tickets, they run the risk of their personal and financial information being stolen as well.

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of finding a great deal–and it’s easier than you may think to be taken in by fraudulent travel websites. Working with legitimate business travel agencies that have direct relationships with airlines, hotels and other companies that provide business travel services can help you avoid losing your time, money and peace of mind on fraudulent reservations or tickets.

Beware of Mirror Sites

Online hotel booking fraud is growing, and one of the most prevalent hotel reservation scams is “mirror site” deception. These rogue sites present themselves as official booking websites of hotel and resort companies. They can be tough to identify when you’re looking for reservations because they often use the hotel name in the web address, list legitimate-looking addresses and phone numbers, and use real photos of the hotel and its logo on the website.

Seeking the services of well-established corporate travel agents who have already done due diligence on the companies they use ensures that you won’t be taken in by fake travel agencies or rogue sites. If you are booking reservations on your own, confirm that the website is secure by checking for a lock symbol in the web address and a URL starting with “https.” Call the number listed on the site and ask specific questions about the amenities the hotel offers and what’s nearby. If they can’t come up with answers right away, you may be dealing with a fraudulent site.

Always Pay with a Credit Card

Credit cards offer much more fraud protection than debit cards, cash and other payment methods. Using a debit card can give a thief access to all the money in your bank account and lead to disastrous financial consequences. Your company should have travel expense policy guidelines that outline which forms of payment to use when making corporate travel arrangements. Using a dedicated corporate travel agency that has all payment information on file can streamline the process so employees don’t have to worry about using their own methods of payment and being reimbursed later.

Knowing which types of scams are out there is half the battle–with a little research, you can avoid being taken for a ride.

 

5 Airline Perks Business Travelers Love!

Whether you’re heading to the airport for business, pleasure or bleisure travel, being a frequent flyer is often time-consuming and stressful. But hey, don’t despair—there are quite a few perks that are offered by airlines these days, especially if you are part of a travel rewards program or have elite status. These five perks business travelers love can help make your trip more smooth and enjoyable; and the more you fly, the more you’ll learn how to take advantage of the latest trends in the airline industry.

1. Online Check-in and Boarding Passes

Most airlines offer free online or mobile app check-in 24 hours up to one hour prior to departure. You can print your boarding pass or receive it on your phone by email or text so you don’t have to find a printer. Using an app and checking your luggage at the curb can spare you the time and hassle of waiting in line at the check-in counter and save your company money; as some airlines have started charging for checking in at the airport.

5 Airline Perks Business Travelers Love! GTI Travel

2. Priority Boarding

Most airlines allow first class and elite status members to board first, which can ensure that you’re one of the first people on and off the plane. This perk can prevent you from having to gate-check your bag and is especially valuable if you need to make connecting flights on a tight schedule. So how do you achieve elite status? By signing up for airline rewards programs and credit cards. Travel planning companies have experienced and knowledgeable corporate travel agents who can advise you on which airlines are best when it comes to achieving elite status, and ensure that you receive all the travel benefits to which you are entitled.

3. Free Upgrades

Policies for upgrades on both domestic and international flights vary from airline to airline. Delta, United and US Airways give complimentary domestic first-class upgrades to elite members, and American Airlines offers upgrades to gold and platinum members every 10,000 miles. Your business travel planning company can find out what you’re eligible for before you head to the airport and book your upgrade ahead of time if possible.

4. Free or Discounted Lounge Access

Long layovers can take a toll on the health and well-being frequent business travelers. Airport lounges may offer complimentary shower facilities and other amenities that can make lengthy itineraries a lot more pleasant and much less stressful. Many airlines offer discounted or free access to elite members, and credit cards such as American Express Platinum, Delta Reserve and United Club cards may offer access even if you’re not an elite member.

5. Easy Same-day Changes.

There are many different reasons you may have to take off earlier or later, and changing a ticket last-minute can be a real hassle. Some airlines prioritize elite members for standby flights and may even make same-day confirmed changes free. Using travel management companies that have agents available 24/7 is a great way to avoid having to deal with making these eleventh-hour changes yourself. If you need to make changes at the gate, being polite and friendly to check-in and gate agents doesn’t hurt either.

Travel Expense Policy for Small Businesses: Guidelines for Smooth Implementation

Travel and Expense Policy Guidelines by GTI TravelCorporate travel can be a complex and expensive process, sometimes even more so for small businesses. Companies that have small business travel programs in place can avoid costly misunderstandings, save money and increase employee satisfaction when guidelines for travel are clearly outlined in writing. So what is the most effective way to develop and implement a travel expense policy for your small business? These simple guidelines can help you make a smooth transition and allow you to avoid some of the pitfalls that may arise during the implementation process.

Assess Your Current Policies and Procedures

Even if you already have travel policies in place, if they are not properly enforced they are probably not doing your company much good. If your employees travel for business, your company needs a travel policy that is clear and concise with simple procedures that are easy for them to understand and follow.

The task of building, improving and implementing a corporate travel policy can be complex and daunting. Seeking assistance from a corporate travel company that is well-versed in developing custom-designed travel policies for small businesses can give you new perspectives and ideas on what will work best for your company’s culture, budget and employees. A corporate travel company will assess your current system and your organization’s specific concerns and needs. They will analyze current data and advise you on how to improve or change policy, which can lead significant cost savings, efficiency and reduced stress.

How to Introduce a New Travel Policy to Employees

Although change is inevitable, many people are resistant to it, especially at work. A vital element of implementing a new travel expense policy for small business is how you present it to your employees. Building and carrying out an effective travel expense policy requires a lot of diligence, research, and communication on your part, and getting it right the first time will make it easier for everyone to adjust to adhering to new procedures, policies and guidelines.

Once your written travel expense policy is completed, disseminate it to your employees and give them some time to read it. Presenting the new policy in a positive way that makes the travel and expense process simpler will allow your employees to accept and adhere to changes more easily. If you are using a corporate travel agency to take care of all your company’s travel needs, make sure to let employees know that there are experienced designated agents to assist them with the travel planning and expense report process, which will take some of the weight of business travel off their shoulders.

Asking for feedback and ideas from employees who travel frequently can make them feel more involved in the process and lead to new ideas that may improve your corporate travel expense policies and procedures even more.

Want to learn more about building and implementing an effective travel expense policy for your small business? A corporate travel agency that understands the specific needs and issues small businesses face can provide comprehensive corporate travel management solutions that will save your company money and help make business travel smooth sailing for everyone involved.

The Changing face of Business Travel (and How your Company needs to Keep Up)

The Changing face of business travel | GTIThe world of business travel is always evolving—technology and the sharing economy have changed the way companies do business and the world of corporate travel as well. Business travelers’ preferences vary, and companies providing corporate travel services must adapt to accommodate employees’ needs and expectations. There are a few ways to ensure that your company is keeping pace with the ever-changing landscape of business travel, including:

Spring for Conveniences that Make Business Travel Easier

While a business travel planner has no control over long airport security lines, there are ways to mitigate some of the hassles that frequent corporate travelers face. Setting up TSA Pre-Check for those who fly frequently and Global Entry for employees who often make international trips will help travelers save time and make catching a flight less stressful.

One of the most frustrating hurdles that business travelers face is spotty Wi-Fi service. Picking up the cost of conveniences such as Wi-Fi on planes, premium high-speed internet in hotels and Wi-Fi hotspots that work anywhere can make employees more well-prepared, happier and productive.

Take Advantage of the Sharing Economy

A business travel agency can assist your employees with loyalty programs, finding the lowest corporate rates available for flights, hotels and ground transportation, and can help your company keep up with the demands to make business travel easier. Ride apps like Uber and Lyft have made getting around easier than ever, and corporate policies have changed to enable employees to take advantage of these shifts in business travel. The number of small business owners using Uber over taxis is 3:1, compared to 1:3 in 2014. Services like Airbnb can be more cost-effective and comfortable, especially for long stays.

Provide Digital Options for Submitting Expenses

Many business travelers use smartphones or tablets to track their expenses, and appreciate the convenience of submitting expense receipts and reports electronically. Corporate travel management companies provide state-of-the-art systems and services that give business travelers the tools and training they need to easily track and submit expenses using a computer or mobile device.

Make Business Travelers Feel Safe

More than anything, corporate travelers want to feel safe and supported when they’re on the road. Staying connected and letting your employees know that you care about their well-being can help them feel more secure when circumstances such as terror attacks, inclement weather and other events happen. Working with a business travel company to develop a concrete risk management plan can ensure that employees know what to do and to expect if disaster strikes.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of the ways in which business travel is changing and growing. Seeking the assistance and guidance of corporate travel agents who provide global travel services can save your company time, money, and keep you ahead of the curve on the latest trends in corporate travel, and most importantly, keep your employees productive and happy.

How Companies can Help their Employees Combat Frequent Flier Stress

How Companies can help their Employees combat Frequent Flier Stress | GTI TravelBusiness travel seems exciting—after all, who wouldn’t want to jet-set and see the sights all over the world on the company’s dime? Although, traveling for business may appear glamorous; frequent flying and other aspects of corporate travel can have negative physical and psychological effects. There are ways to mitigate the ill effects frequent travel can have on employees, and consulting with corporate travel management companies can help your employees avoid some of these common problems that often affect frequent travelers.

A Weakened Immune System

Regardless of whether you fly first class or economy, you are breathing the same re-cirulated air for the duration of your flight. This exposes frequent travelers to many different types of germs quite often and can make them more prone to becoming ill. Studies have shown that jet lag and tiredness can even affect genes that are work in sync with the immune system. If you notice that an employee is getting sick a lot, allow him or her to hold meeting via teleconferencing if possible. A business travel agency can also help frequent business travelers explore different types of transportation such as taking a train instead of flying.

Risk of Obesity and Other Health Issues

Unfortunately, when you’re on the go and traveling for business, it can be tough to find fresh, healthy food. Airline foods contain tons of salt and sugar; and business travelers tend to consume more alcohol than those who don’t travel frequently.  The lack of opportunity for exercise while traveling can also lead to becoming out of shape, overweight or obese.  When it comes to restaurants, supermarkets and other resources for healthy eating, business travel companies have a wealth of information at their fingertips and can advise employees on where to go to find fresh, healthy food when traveling.

Mental Health Issues

The disruption of a daily routine and jet lag can affect a traveler’s mood, judgment, and concentration for days. The stress that often comes with preparing for a trip combined with jet lag can lead to depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. Many corporate travelers feel overwhelmed with work and get stressed about the pitfalls that often accompany traveling, such as delayed flights, anxiety about safety, and lodging mix-ups. A company that provides business travel services can help you develop an effective travel risk management plan to help employees feel confident and secure when they’re on the road.

Frequent business travelers may feel lonely and isolated; and experience guilt about leaving their loved ones behind. Providing a confidential employee assistance program that helps travelers find mental health resources such as therapists and support groups gives employees an invaluable resource that can help them stay mentally healthy and give them peace of mind.

Provide Proactive Support

Both employers and employees can take proactive steps to improve their overall well-being and prevent business travel burnout. Create an employee wellness program that encourages and educates employees on the best ways to stay healthy on the road and at home. An experienced business travel planner can help employees find the shortest flights to their destinations and hotels that include a gym, swimming pool and exercise classes.

Common Event Travel Nightmares (and How to Avoid Them!)

Planning and managing a corporate event takes a lot of time, money and effort. Event travel management can be particularly challenging, and being aware of potential issues and how to avoid them can prevent problems before they start.  These common corporate event travel nightmares don’t have to ruin your event; with a little help you can pull it off without a hitch and even save a few dollars.

Common Event Travel Nightmares and How to Avoid Them by GTI Travel

1. Overspending

When it comes to corporate event planning and travel, one of the major problems is that the money being spent doesn’t belong to the people who are spending it. Creating a budget and staying accountable is essential if you want to pull off a successful event that won’t break the bank. Corporate travel management companies have access to global networks that provide low corporate rates for air, hotel and ground transportation and can save your company thousands of dollars. They offer rooming lists, arrival/departure reports and cost-savings analysis to help you save money and solve attendance problems before they happen. After your event is over, having access to a money-saving reports, analysis and follow-up assessments can help improve planning and spending for your next event.

 

2. Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen

Organizing committees may sound like a good idea, but let’s face it—when there are more people involved there is more potential for conflict and errors. Streamlining the planning and execution of a corporate event can save an inordinate amount of time, stress and money. Putting a few knowledgeable employees in charge of the project and having them work in concert with experienced travel management services professionals will simplify the process and make things easier for everyone involved. These dedicated agents can help with everything from event site selection, transportation and attendee registration to meals, activities, and more.

 

3. Poor On-Site Management

So it’s time for the big event and everything seems to be going well….until it isn’t. Lodging mix-ups, registration mishaps, inclement weather and other factors beyond your control can throw a wrench in pulling off a successful corporate event. On-site program directors can help you and your employees avoid stress while traveling by taking care of both small details and bigger issues, allowing you to focus your attention on the meetings and events at hand.

 

4. Walking a Fine Line Between Business and Pleasure

If an event is too dry attendees may lose interest, but it’s important to keep it professional. The best corporate events communicate a company’s values, culture and intentions with engaging content in an environment that connects guests. Recreational activities are a great way for people to unwind and connect, but providing clear guidelines for employee conduct can help your company avoid personnel disasters that could spell trouble. A company that provides travel management for business travel can assist you with creating well-defined guidelines that outline your employees’ responsibilities, a code of conduct and the procedures they are required to follow when attending conferences, events or traveling for business.

 

Professional travel management assistance and proper planning, coordination and execution can turn these event travel nightmares into a successful and enjoyable event you’ve dreamed of.

Guide to Travel Risk Management for Small Businesses

Guide to Travel Risk Management for Small Businesses by GTI TravelMore and more people are traveling for business these days, and employers have the daunting responsibility of keeping their employees safe. Risk can come in many forms—terror attacks, natural disasters, infectious diseases and lost passports to name a few. Ensuring that your employees’ business travel runs as smoothly as possible and providing adequate resources if something does happen can improve productivity and save your company money. Smaller businesses have unique needs, and this guide to travel risk management for small businesses can help you make sure all of your bases are covered.

1. Create or Update Your Company’s Travel Policy

If you do not have a travel policy in place, it is vital to develop one and disseminate it to your employees. It may seem overwhelming, but using a travel management company that can assess your needs and help you come up with a formal travel policy makes it much easier to keep your employees safe when they’re on the road.

Many small businesses have employees who are like family, and getting their input on what should be included in your travel policy will help you create and improve a comprehensive policy as your business and the world changes.

If you already have a business travel policy in place, it’s important to review and update it frequently. Keeping your policy up-to-date and creating well-defined guidelines for your company’s travel policy can actually help you prevent a crisis from happening; and your employees will better understand their responsibilities and the procedures they are required to follow in case of an emergency.

2. Be Prepared

Having well-defined plans and processes in place can also help you effectively mitigate the impact of risks associated with corporate travel. Business travel management companies that provide tools, services and solutions for your company’s business travelers before they embark on a trip can also reduce the financial impact on your travel budget when problems do arise. The top corporate travel agencies have immediate access to travel warnings and real-time global happenings. They can provide 24/7 assistance with issues such as lost passports, travel changes, or any crisis that may arise. Having a crisis management plan in place will give your employees a sense of security while they are traveling and improve their overall morale and productivity, which can lower the stress levels of everyone involved.

3. Know Where Your Employees Are

Access to a fast and efficient system that both you and your small business travel agency can utilize will enable you to immediately identify any business travelers who may be affected by incidents such as natural disasters, terror attacks and a multitude of other circumstances. If you have fair warning about a situation such as a weather event, you may even be able to get your employee out before disaster strikes.

Working with a travel management company that can help you develop and manage travel risk management for your small business will save you money in the long run and ensure that your employees have all the resources they need. The peace of mind that comes with knowing your employees and your organization are protected can help your business thrive.