Posts filed under ‘hotels’

Does Charlie Sheen travel with his mobile?

Intro by Tony, Content by Mike (not Mike D, Mike Uomoto, SVP Product for Rearden Commerce)

What do Charlie Sheen and Carrying On have in common? Consistency. Just as the “Wild Thing” has been relentless in his journey for constant PR attention (apparently movie stars playing baseball players even use steroids), Carrying On has similarly been persistent in pushing the discussion on the importance of mobile (in fact more than 26% of our posts highlight this topic). In case you are sick of hearing what I have to say, here is a recent posting from one of my esteemed colleagues and an authority on mobile technology, Mike Uomoto. Just click on the title below.

Ten reasons why consumer mobile apps are useless for business travelers (originally posted on Tnooz)

June 30, 2011 at 1:09 pm Leave a comment

Justin Bieber all tatted up? I saw it on my daughter’s phone!

by Tony

Perhaps this isn’t what our Carrying On followers typically use their mobile devices for, but I had the displeasure of seeing JB’s new left hip tat on my daughter’s iPhone – likely minutes after the paparazzi snapped the pic . It’s always interesting to see what The Bieb is up to, especially when it involves little birdies, but what really caught my attention last week was two articles with rather conflicting viewpoints – both about mobile apps and travel.

First up was a Tnooz posting titled “Six out of ten mobile users now downloading travel apps.” My initial thought – perhaps those other four people are too busy downloading Talking Gina the Giraffe (a personal favorite of mine). The Tnooz story discussed a recent TripAdvisor survey that revealed what those 60% are doing – checking flight status (51%), booking and/or researching hotels (42%), and researching restaurants (52%) as the top use cases.

But then I read about a survey done by our friends at AirPlus International “Mobile tools remain an area of opportunity for travel managers.” More than half those surveyed (55% to be exact), responded that corporate travel management has no responsibility for mobile travel apps/tools.

Unlike Mike D., I don’t have an advanced degree in statistics (or a Bud Light calculator), but I am sharp enough to discern when there is a gap bigger than the one present in David Letterman’s smile. How can these corporate travel managers flat out disregard the needs and wants of their travelers? Doing so results in several organizational risks associated with travelers using unapproved apps, including but not limited to IT security threats, leakage, decreased employee productivity, and an inability to communicate with employees during a crises.

Therefore, I strongly recommend you immediately conduct a survey or your employees – find out what apps they have downloaded and how they use them when on the road. Then, as I have said many times on Carrying On, you need to get cracking. A great place to start is by watching our recent webinar, “We Heart Mobile | A practical guide for adding mobile technology to your travel program.”

If you’ve already integrated mobile into your travel program – congratulations! Go ahead and reward yourself by visiting the local tattoo parlor for a cute little hip tat to match that of The Bieb.

Click here to join Carrying On Compadres, our LinkedIn group.

June 7, 2011 at 9:43 am Leave a comment

Wrap up 2010 | Some popcorn and a show

We hope you are looking forward to a delicious and enjoyable holiday season. Perhaps you’ve already been gifted the tub-o-popcorn sampler from a colleague, customer, or loved one. Grab that tub (we typically go straight for the cheddar and then the caramel), sit back, and check out some of our latest webinars. These aren’t in 3D, but they are a great way to wrap up 2010 with some practical recommendations that will empower you in 2011.

Coming Soon
Stop Mandating and Become Traveler-Centric
Thursday, December 2, 2010 | 2:00 pm EST | 60 minutes

Delivering a “traveler-centric” approach has a positive rippling effect – with a high level of employee satisfaction and willingness to use technology, adoption increases and cost savings are maximized. Hear from travel managers who have embraced the concept of the traveler-centric future and are enjoying huge success — without mandates. This panel discussion was voted “Best of Convention” at the 2010 NBTA Convention.

Click here to register. The first 10 corporate buyers that email [email protected] with “WEBINAR PASS” in the subject line will receive a complimentary registration.

Recent Release
Your Hotel Attachment Rate: How Much $$ Are You Leaving on the Table?

Hoteliers are increasingly flexing their negotiation muscle as the outlook for corporate travel continues to improve. This webinar provides you with practical recommendations to boost your hotel attachment rate, thereby driving cost savings and increasing your travelers’ satisfaction.

Click here to watch the complimentary recording.

Enjoy the show!

November 30, 2010 at 10:06 am Leave a comment

Clearing TSA’s Security Scan | Bieber Style

by Tony

Earlier this week, if you weren’t completely fixated as to whether Justin Bieber would beat out Eminem, Katy Perry, Usher and Lady Gaga as Artist of the Year at the American Music Awards (AMAs), then you clearly must have been engrossed by the latest TSA fiasco regarding their new security scanners. In fact, the ultimate mashup of these two topics would be a Bieber hit single entitled, “Touchin’ My Junk.”

These new scanners, and the revised screening procedures, have caused quite a stir. It’s come to such a head that this Wednesday, November 24 (historically one of the heaviest travel days of the year) there are “opt-out” protests planned at 11 of the nation’s busiest airports, including Seattle, New York’s Kennedy, Dallas, Denver, and Phoenix.

Whether you plan to travel for the holidays, or you run a travel program, here are some Carrying On tips to prepare for what is sure to be a frantic day:

Check in online and avoid at least one line at the airport.

Avoid checking a bag to save money and avoid yet another line. Plus, it’s the best way to ensure your bag doesn’t get lost. If you absolutely have to check, do it curbside. It will cost you a few bucks, but should save some time.

Make your airport parking reservation in advance to guarantee a spot.

Use your frequent flier status or make friends with someone who has status to get in the fast-moving, VIP line. Or, you might want to use some of those miles for an upgrade if it’s available.

Leave plenty of time and plan to arrive at the airport at least two hours or more before your flight (see below for some tips to stay entertained at the airport).

Buy a one-day pass to the airline lounge, especially if you get to the airport extra early. You can surf the Internet, have a cocktails, and relax.

Don’t get stressed by it all. Make up your mind beforehand that the inevitable bumps in the road won’t boost your blood pressure. Just “take it all in” because the travel adventure presents a great opportunity for some terrific people watching, which is always a lot of fun.

To elaborate on that last one, my favorite way to pass time is by playing a celebrity lookalike game – the contestant who spots the most realistic ones wins.  Many years ago, my wife and I observed everyone from Henry Kissinger to Willy Nelson as we endured a delay-ridden journey from JFK to Hawaii. But, the story gets better.

As we were heading back to our hotel room on the first day, we crossed paths with Don Mattingly, the New York Yankees first baseman and current Los Angeles Dodgers manager. I immediately called out, “Hey Donnie Baseball,” and as if I were crazy, my wife exclaimed, “Ok, you win! That guy is a spitting image.” However, this was no lookalike and the whole week we ended up rubbing elbows with players including Keith Hernandez, and future Hall of Famers, Paul Molitor, and Dave Winfield at Major League Baseball’s annual Players’ Association meeting.

Since Mattingly was the real deal, I ended up losing the contest. My wife’s spotting of faux James Earl Jones during our LAX connection was the winning entry that had me shelling out for the fancy French restaurant in the hotel, versus the burger joint in town. Oh well, our little game did make the 13-hour journey to Hawaii go that much faster.

As you embark on your trip this week, stay loose and have fun. You might even catch a glimpse of some young punk with shaggy hair who is a ringer for the AMA Artist of the Year – or, even the Bieber himself.

Carrying On wishes you and yours the happiest of Thanksgivings.

November 23, 2010 at 10:23 am Leave a comment

Webinar | Are you leaving money on the table? Boost your hotel attachment rate.

In the past few weeks, we’ve written a lot about hotel attachment rates. If we’ve piqued your interest, this is a webinar you must attend.

Join us on October 28, 2010
11am – 12pm PST

Click here to register for this webinar

Hoteliers are increasingly flexing their negotiation muscle as the outlook for corporate travel continues to improve. American Express projects that 2011 corporate hotel rates will increase 1-10%. This, coupled with a general increase in travel, will have a substantial impact on corporate travel budgets. What are you doing to combat the rising rates?

Even corporations that boast about high compliance rates with preferred airline partners typically have a difficult time achieving similar success with their hotel programs. Top-performing travel managers focus on a key statistic, the hotel attachment rate (i.e., the percentage of PNRs that include a hotel reservation). Whether you are a TMC, a corporate travel buyer, or other travel professional, it’s important to pay closer attention to this number because the difference in hotel preferred and rack rates can be significant. Corporations are leaving billions of dollars on the table each year.

During this webinar, our panel of industry vets will present some shocking statistics. But more importantly, they will provide you with practical recommendations to boost your hotel attachment rate, driving cost savings, and increasing your travelers’ satisfaction.

Get a sneak preview on this topic by checking out Carrying On’s two part series: Hotel Attachment Rates | What are you leaving on the table and The Bieber Effect | It just might boost your hotel attachment rates.

Presented by:

Michael Boult
Chief Commercial Officer

Aash Shravah
General Manager, Corporate Sales
Kintetsu International

Tony D’Astolfo
Senior Vice President, Travel Services
Rearden Commerce

This session is presented by ACTE and Rearden Commerce.  Please use this URL to register:

October 21, 2010 at 9:02 am 1 comment

Luxury Per Diem Living | The Buffet of Buffets

by Mike

Shrewd and pioneering corporate travel managers aren’t hampered by industry norms.  Sure, just like their peers, they will adeptly spar with those hot travel topics – negotiate away an ancillary fee or boost a hotel attachment rate. In many cases these martyrs of corporate citizenry will sacrifice blood and tears to squeeze a few drops of savings out of a rock (or a supplier). However, there remains an area that remains untapped, even by the most astute and well-worn industry veterans.

According to the GSA, the 2010 per diem rate for meals in Las Vegas is $71, on par with other major cities such as New York, San Francisco, and Chicago. However, in Vegas all you travel managers have a secret weapon – an unlimited cornucopia of calories – a diner’s delight – a trip around the world that only requires a few steps – a.k.a. the “Buffet of Buffets” (or the BoB plan).

If you didn’t catch this piece of astute journalism from Kitty Bean Yancey of USA Today, it makes the KFC’s Double Down sandwich look like a macrobiotic summer salad with oil and vinegar – on the side. This bad boy is a 24-hour food fest, a bacchanalian feast during which you can visit any buffet within a Harrah’s property, all for the low, low price of $39.99. Start at Caesars Palace for dinner, hit up Paris for a late-night snack – the permutations are endless. Sure, you can shave $15.00 of this rate by going with a single-property plan, but at Carrying On, we think that the traveler centric approach will boost the success of your new dining program. Your road warriors will enjoy the broader selection, and the geographic spread of the properties ensures they are never too far away from a delicious buffet, whether they are visiting a customer on the north end of The Strip or a partner on the south end.

With a 44% savings over the government per diem, the ROI on this investment is amazing. However, it wouldn’t be responsible for us to leave out some of the potential downfalls associated with BoB. First, if your insurance company catches wind of the program, you’re company’s health care premiums are likely to shoot up faster than your employees‘ cholesterol. Second, until Hometown Buffet or Sizzler develops a similar package, the whole program is really only feasible in Vegas at this time. Don’t let these minor obstacles get in your way. Good ideas start small and continuously get better. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to dig into this platter of egg rolls, spaghetti and meatballs, prime rib, and jello!

Click here to join Carrying On Compadres, our new group on LinkedIn.

October 18, 2010 at 8:24 am 1 comment

The Bieber Effect | It just might boost your hotel attachment rates.

by Tony | A special thanks to Michael Boult, Chief Commercial Officer of Lanyon (he made some great additions to our practical recommendations below)

Click here to join Carrying On Compadres, our new group on LinkedIn.

Did you read the last posting: Hotel Attachment Rates | What are you Leaving on the Table? If so, either our talk of leakage made you slightly nauseous or we piqued your interest with the opportunity to save money by increasing hotel attachment rates. Hopefully the latter applies, and now you’ve come back for some practical advice.

To recap, BTN’s stats indicate that roughly 40% of corporate bookings do not comply with company preferred vendors. At the recent Beat Live conference, this issue was the topic of discussion on a panel of hotel experts that included Michael Boult, Chief Commercial Officer of Lanyon and Andrew Winterton, CWT’s President, Suppliers, Products & Technology who corroborated that only about half of corporate hotel spend is being managed. We did some very rough math to determine that companies leave about $40 per room night on the table for each of these non-compliant reservations. These are substantial amounts.

In order to turn this around, it’s essential to get your travelers on board. I’d tell you to start mandating, but that would be as popular as telling your pre-teen daughter she has to limit her Justin Bieber (sorry to invoke the nausea again but we got some comments about the incessant Susan Boyle references so we’re changing it up) video consumption to 30 minutes a night. You’d probably tell me that this type of ultimatum would lead to a 2-day whine fest, followed by a week of the silent treatment, and capped off with a threatened hunger strike. However, what if you took a creative approach by telling your daughter that she could either watch unlimited videos on her small computer monitor with a constantly flickering display or that you will give her permission to regale in the full Bieber delight for 30 minutes on your 80” LED, high-def television complete with stereo surround sound. Ok, she’d probably opt for the unlimited viewing, but you get the point.

If you treat your travelers like adults, empower them with superior technology, you will reap the benefits associated with higher adoption rates. Here are some practical tips that will place your program on the path to success:

  • COMMUNICATE Your travelers are not travel professionals. If they stray from the corporate booking tool and reserve rooms through Priceline, they’ve possibly found rates that are lower than your corporate preferred. It is your job to communicate why this may happen and how it’s essential to stick with the program for long term value. If you’re on the ball, all of the amenities that you’ve negotiated into the preferred rate will save your team mucho dinero. Supporting a preferred hotel program enables data to be collected, maximum leverage to be achieved, and help to be provided in case of a catastrophe.
  • COMPARE Comparing hundreds of hotel prices against multiple online hotel sites are a few clicks away for travelers. How about adopting that trusty old adage, “if you can’t beat em, join em?”  New solutions allow you to compare negotiated rates with those available on OTA and supplier sites on a forward looking and regular basis. Use this information to anticipate spot market opportunities and “encourage” preferred properties to adjust their rates to enable everyone to benefit. In the big game of “Hotel: Hide & Seek,” you need evidence not anecdotes to make your case.
  • AUDIT The best place to boost hotel bookings is to ensure that your travelers have the products available to buy when they need them.  Remember, you’re competing with every other corporation for preferred-rate rooms, and in some cases properties allocate less than 50% of their inventory for this purpose. It’s critical to understand who makes the rules – in this case, it’s the revenue manager on property. It’s someone you’ve never met and probably never will. Having your rates fully and properly loaded in the hotel CRS is really important. Verifying that these rates can be booked is just as important and a step largely ignored.
  • RESEARCH A truly valuable asset is an online and easily accessible company preferred hotel directory. Enable your travelers to access interactive maps that plot company offices and the locations of preferred hotel choices.  Provide a consumer like experience with virtual tours and a way to capture and publish reviews (see LISTEN below).
  • EMPOWER Whether it’s preparing for the trip or living it, business travel is a drain on one’s personal time. When it comes to hotels, travelers want quick access to maps and reference points, the ability to tailor results to their preferences, and both driving directions and itinerary information sent straight to their mobile devices. They get this level of functionality when booking personal travel, so they expect it from the corporate booking tool as well. If you don’t serve this up, then you can kiss the adoption, and hence the hotel attachment rates, goodbye.
  • LISTEN As every relationship expert will say, you aren’t communicating unless you are actively listening. This is the most important step in the process – it’s the feedback loop that allows you to appropriately alter the program to fit the needs of your traveler. Perhaps one property or chain has a bed bug infestation.  Maybe the nearest preferred is still 60 miles away. You’ll often only be able to get this information from your travelers. And the next time you think they are just being difficult, remember that time they are sacrificing to travel on for the company.

Is there anything we missed? Let us know.

October 13, 2010 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

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