Monthly Archives: April 2016

Why Sound Business Travel Reporting Matters

For any company that has their employees engage in regular travel, it is important to have a good corporate travel strategy. Part of developing and improving on a corporate travel strategy is solid business travel reporting. Business travel reporting provides the company with details about the cost of travel and how the money is being used. This data not only helps to keep track of expenses but it also can be used to identify areas of waste and inefficiency. When this information is tracked and analyzed it can be used to improve upon your company’s business travel strategy. Using the service of a corporate travel agency is an effective means toward achieving all of these goals.

Due to their experience and their connections in the travel and finance industry, a corporate travel firm will be especially suited to provide these services with the highest degree of detail. A corporate travel agency uses a variety of methods to analyze and track a clients business travel expenses. They can use data from banking and credit card records along with the travel records to identify the most and least efficient travelers in your company. They can help to manage airline data to find which carrier is providing the most business friendly service for the most affordable price and they can help to identify waste and abuse of funds.

A corporate booking agency can also help employers to analyze information in a way that can determine how effectively the employees travel and how well they stick to the itinerary and how closely the individual employees stick to the travel strategy. This can be achieved by referencing the data accumulated from credit cards, expense accounts, airline data, hotel bills and rental information. Once all of the data is collected and analyzed, the corporate travel firm can prepare a complete report. The reports will cover a variety of different areas and will often be accompanied by a written summary of the overall information. Clients can also request specialized reporting from a corporate travel agency. These may be to address an area of concern or to see how a new aspect of the travel strategy is working.

Most business travel agencies recommend that their clients schedule regular meetings with their travel manger to go over the business travel reporting and to find ways to improve the corporate travel strategy. The management of a business should meet with their corporate travel manager at least once a year. In these meetings the travel manager can help the client go over the business travel reporting and understand what all of the data means. The manager will help to identify areas of waste and point out parts of the travel plan that are working well. At this time the client can address their concerns about the travel strategy and work to adjust the business travel strategy. A corporate travel agency can also help their client with a plan for implementing the new strategy and addressing the changes with their staff.

Having the services of a business travel agency is a necessity for any company that engages in regular travel. Having a well thought out strategy will not only save the company money, but it will also make sure that the staff is getting the most out of their trip.

Solo Travel As a Business and Lifestyle Phenomenon

“The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready.” – Henry David Thoreau

If the statistics are any indicator, many travelers agree with Thoreau. In increasing numbers, individuals are traveling alone rather than just waiting for others to join them.

Solo travelers in the recent past have totaled 21 million in just the US and UK combined. According to a New York Times article in Nov. 2012, Internet searches for “solo travel packages” were up 60% over the prior year. The US Department of Commerce’s Office of Travel & Tourism Industries (“OTTI”) reported that a staggering 42% of U.S. citizens/residents that went abroad in 2011 traveled alone. Of those individual travelers, 38% traveled for leisure or to visit friends & relatives (“VFR”) and 66% for business. Similarly, inbound solo travelers from abroad totaled 36.2%. Of those, 23.6% were on leisure trips and and 62.2% for work. This business and lifestyle phenomenon has been growing exponentially.

Who are solo travelers?

Solo travelers are a much broader group than just the single population. They may be:

• Two-career couples on business travel or “DINK’S” (Dual Income No Kids).

• Those with relatives or friends abroad.

• Family members pursuing separate sports/hobbies overseas.

Abercrombie & Kent’s Jill Fawcett has described their solo travelers as: “often… married or have partners, but the spouses don’t share the same interest… They want to travel with like-minded people and the small group gives them some interaction. Then they go back to the privacy of their own room… 25% of people who opt for our Extreme Adventure series are (also) solo travelers,” she said. “People feel a little more secure in a group if the destination is intimidating or there’s a language barrier.” Solo Travel Is Growing at a Rapid Rate | Phil Hoffman travel blog, 10/25/11.

According to Grand Circle Corp chairman Alan Lewis, “Women are a growing force in the solo travel market… where the solo market has grown from about 20% to 25% of [Grand Circle’s] overall bookings during the past five years.”

Single travelers do still continue to play an active role in solo travel. Their growth is clear in Europe and North America where people are marrying later and may be divorced, widowed or never married. According to a March 19, 2013 article entitled “The Growing Solo Travel Market”, http://tourismintelligence.ca, average single households total as follows:

• 35% of all households in developed countries

• 40% in Finland and Norway (2011)

• 37% in the Netherlands (2011)

• 27% in the US (2010), 29% in the UK (2011) and 28% in Canada (2011).

How do solos travel?

Solo travel may not necessarily mean traveling as a “group of one”. Individuals may choose

1. Escorted group tours

2. Independent tours

3. Travel alone and select their own hotels/tours

What Issues Confront Those Traveling Alone?

There are two main challenges for individual travelers.

• Attractive pricing: Lodging, tours and cruises are priced routinely on double occupancy. Most cruises and tours require a single supplement for those traveling alone. Although this is not necessarily 2X, the price differential can be substantial. This is most pronounced in tour packages, particularly cruises that have “2-for-the-price of 1” early booking promotionals. As a result, those traveling alone may pay 3-4X couples/pairs.

• Top quality access and service: In a busy holiday or tourist season, the unaccompanied traveler may be given less desirable accommodations or tables in restaurants. In fact, even 5 star hotels may be unwilling to take a dinner reservation for one even when the individual traveler is a guest of the hotel. This is particularly true on Saturday nights and holidays. The alternative may be sitting at the bar for dinner notwithstanding that the dining room has vacant tables. On cruises/river cruises or other tours with “open seating”, tables are typically set up for even numbers. The result? These travelers are faced with a “standup” buffet or engaging in sleuthing to find an available seat.

What is The Business Opportunity?

This travel phenomenon is growing exponentially and still represents an underserved niche. The opportunity for the industry is substantial, prioritized as follows:

Leisure travelers: They are the largest percentage of industry revenues. However, a smaller percentage go alone for leisure trips. The beneficiaries: airlines, hotels, tours, car and concierge services.

Business travelers: Although a small portion of revenues, a greater percentage are on business. Moreover, they may have a larger budget than an individual on vacation. The same industry segments would benefit with the exception of tours except as potential additions to an international trip.

VFR: Those visiting friends and relatives may be met at the airport and have access to local transportation. While staying in a private residence, meals may not be taken out as frequently as hotel guests. Accordingly, such travelers will continue to generate new revenue primarily for airlines but are unlikely to augment the existing market for other travel services.

This sector represents a largely untapped market. Given the sheer numbers of affluent professionals and business executives, with the right mix of well-priced, top quality offerings, both sides benefit. The travel industry will increase their existing revenues while those traveling alone will achieve more competitive pricing and access to higher quality. It is a market whose time has come.

Macro Environment Analysis of Allegiant Travel (ALGT)

Demographic:
The increasing numbers of people entering retirement is great news for companies such as Allegiant Travel who services are geared towards leisure travelers. The retired population generally has more flexible schedules and free time for leisure travel. The restaurant industry has known for years that the retired population will adjust their schedules just to save a buck. Look at the success of “early bird specials” all across the country. Allegiant Travel can capitalize on this population’s flexible schedules and interest in finding the best price. Twenty-one percent of leisure travelers were born before 1946 and of this group it is estimated that they each take 4.1 trips per year. In addition, older baby boomers born between 1946-1954 makeups another 15 percent of the leisure travel population. As the U.S. population continues to age and the retired population grows it can be expected that the demand for inexpensive leisure travel will also increase.

Economic:
The economy plays an important role in the health of all companies and very few can say that these last 5 years have been easy. American’s are found to be thriftier now than 5 years ago thanks to the economic recession. In general, the nature of spending has changed in America. A report by Fidelity investments show that personal debt is down and investments are up. This shows that the population on a whole is examining their purchases more closely than they did before the recession. The focus on cutting costs during these uncertain economic times has led to Allegiant Travel’s success over the past 5 years when other airlines were losing money. They have focused on keeping costs down and providing their services at the lowest price point. This focus on innovation and being a price leader has provided Allegiant Travel with a strategic advantage over other larger carriers. Although in most sectors the larger the company the lower the costs due to economies of scale, this is not the case in the airline business.

Socio Cultural:
The travel industry groups travelers into one of two categories either leisure or business. Each type of traveler has very unique needs and different goals in mind apart from the desire to have a safe enjoyable flight experience. It is estimated that leisure travelers account for 3/ 4 of all domestic trips taken in 2011. The regular business traveler is interested in consistent schedules and enjoys the perks of earning points whereas leisure travelers only books a few trips per year and are willing to give up points to secure a lower price. This is the market that Allegiant Travel is focused towards as they are the low cost leader who runs variable schedules throughout the season to ensure flights are always running to their fullest capacity.

Political-Regulatory:
Airlines operating within the United States are regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The FAA is an agency of the United States Department of Transportation who regulates civil aviation within the U.S. The Homeland Security Agency also plays an active role in airline travel interacting directly with all passengers prior to boarding the aircraft. The added security precautions mandatory for travelers since 9/11 can be a major factor behind the increased frustrations voiced by travelers. The U.S. Travel Association’s study in 2008 showed that travelers avoided approximately 41 million trips within a 12 month period due to perceived air travel hassle. Although airlines such as Allegiant Travel do not have control over how Homeland Security does their job they are able to lobby for more efficient airport security which can in turn help increase their profits.

Environment:
The rise in environmental consciousness impacts traveler’s decision making. More than 79% of U.S. adults claim to be environmentally-conscious and familiar with carbon footprints and global warming. Although travelers are starting to be more conscientious of their decision making and its impact on the environment they are not yet willing to pay a premium for environmentally-friendly service providers. The current determination is that in general, driving is more eco-friendly (measuring greenhouse gases) compared to flying. Although gas prices averaged at $3.78 a gallon many travelers may find it cheaper to fly than drive and stay in a hotel. The addition of saving time may also help convince environmentally-conscious travelers to fly rather than drive cross country.

Technology:
The increase of access to information through the internet over the years has created savvy shoppers who can compare dozens of prices quickly online and has created more focus on price competition. The internet has also decreased the dependency on traveler’s utilizing travel agencies to arrange travel as they feel more comfortable booking directly online. This puts Allegiant Travel at an advantage as they are able to offer competitive prices through booking directly with the customers and avoiding any middle men such as websites like Expedia.com or Yahoo.com.

In conclusion, Allegiant Travel is a solid company that is strategically positioned to thrive in any environment. They have shown their agility in changing with the market demand over the past six years. Allegiant Travels focus on servicing the price conscious traveler seems to be a smart approach as they understand that consumers are still hesitant with their spending even as the economy is improving. The expected increase to the retired population in the coming years will also bode well for Allegiant Travel. As long as Allegiant Travel continues to focus on strategic growth that will allow them to move quickly when they see an opportunity or threat coming their way they are set for a successful future.

Daniel Prince resides in his hometown of Manchester, TN to further focus on his entrepreneurial studies. Daniel is a serial entrepreneur and is also currently enrolled in the Master’s of Entrepreneurship Degree Program at Western Carolina University. Webmasters and other article publishers are hereby granted article reproduction permission as long as this article in its entirety, author’s information, and any links remain intact. Copyright 2013 by Daniel A. Prince.

Travel and Its Benefits

Why do we need to travel? Why it is getting increasingly important that we, once in a while, change our environment and travel outside our country? Why it is sometimes a necessity for our emotional health to travel?

Travel’s importance is underestimated by many people. Travel is not only fun, entertaining and enjoyable. With our current lifestyles and work conditions, travel has become more than an option. It is more than just having fun. As Augustine of Hippo said ” The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
 During travel you are able to do things you usually don’t do. When travelling, you go outdoor and be away from computers, and TVs and you are likely to be mixing with different people and cultures. People travel for different reasons. Some travel for fun and to have a good time. Others travel as a hobby. Travel can be an escape away from the hectic pace of life in big cities. Some travel just to change and move, as Robert Louis Stevenson said “I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake”. Some people like to learn from different cultures, as Mark Twain said ” Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” Travel gives the person the opportunity to discover, to explore and to feel the sense of adventure.

Many people around the world are discovering the benefits of travel to the extent that the tourism industry is growing worldwide and has become one of the major profitable sectors in world economies. No wonder that travel is growing year by year. According to figures published by the World Travel & Tourism Council WTTC, world tourism industry grew by 3% in 2012, and contributed $6.6 trillion to world GDP by direct and indirect impact. In 2012, for the first time in history, international tourist arrivals reached 1.035 billion.

Here are the main benefits of travel:

1-Stress Relief: As you travel miles away from your environment, you are able to be free from your responsibilities and then begin to relax and rest. Not only you rest your body, but also your mind. Knowing that you can wake up anytime without an alarm clock, without the need to be physically available at work, will take off a lot of mental stress. Here, you can sense freedom. Stress relief is a major reason for travel. The moment you think you are heading for Hawaii or Bali, you get immediate sensation of excitement and stress-free feelings. It is this mental peace that makes travel a very good stress-relief. Sometimes travel can be stressful if your trip has a lot of sightseeing, or meeting a lot of people. But travel stress is different from home stress because it is positive stress. Travel stress does not associate with it anxiety or worry.

Travel is a great way to connect with nature which is very helpful for your relaxation, mentally or physically. Nature is a stimulus for activating your right brain. Right brain domination is one major cause for stress-relief. Also, during travel there is no sense of urgency which is usually associated with home behavior. Change of scenery is by itself helpful for relieving stress.

2-Physical Benefits: You move more when travelling. You walk more frequently whether riding the subway or exploring the streets of a historic city or even visiting a museum. By swimming or laying on the beach, you get a high dosage of vitamin D from the sun, something that is very useful for your bones and also for your positive emotions. Outdoor activities associated with travel can lower risk of diabetes, lead to weight loss and reduce cholesterol level. Some medical experts recommend traveling once every six months for cardiovascular health and for the heart. Some studies show that travel even improves better sleep.

3-Cultural Benefits: Sometimes we need to be anonymous. Sometimes we want to be free from any responsibility. Travel allows you to exercise both while meeting new people and experience new cultures. You will know how different people accomplish their goals with different ways. You will learn new ideas that you have never thought of before.

4-Relationship Benefits: Traveling with a companion and sharing same experiences and situations together will enhance your mutual bond. 93% of youth ages 8-18 consider travel as “a quality time” spent with their parents. 3 in 4 parents say that family vacations are very helpful for the family. Meeting new persons in new locations can result in long term relationship for many.

5-Happiness: Many persons associate happiness with travel. More than 50% of adults buy souvenirs just to remember their vacations. Most travelers store photos of their destinations as a way of remembering those trips that are about tasting new food, beautiful sights, historic monuments, and new music. This is one reason that travel can be addictive, especially if have enough time & money. It has become a hobby for thousands of people around the world.

Remember, you can travel and have fun with a limited budget. Plan carefully and spend wisely. Read and learn saving tips.