Category Archives: Holiday

Holiday Abroad – Popular Family Holiday in Spain

Spain is one of the most popular family vacation destinations in Europe for families living in luxury holiday villas with swimming pools. Spain has all the ingredients needed from a perfect vacation destination – stunning scenery, beautiful nature, Mediterranean beaches, a plate of paella and refreshing sangria by the beach in the sun and more.

Spain is a treasure trove of cultural enthusiasts, nature lovers and adventure seekers. Many families come to Spain and live in independent accommodation that they rent directly from their vacation home owners. Things to do on holidays in Spain abound and include sightseeing, colorful parties, flamenco, opera, art, literature, painting, sports, skiing, bullfighting, exciting nightlife, adventure activities, water sports, and shopping in addition to many more stay at the holiday villa with a swimming pool.

You can see the three world renowned museums in Madrid, the capital city of Spain. While there you can stay in one of the many luxury self catering apartments or holiday villas in the capital. Families on vacation visit many of the museums in Madrid including the Thyssen-Bornemisza, Sofia and Prado. When staying in self catering accommodation in Madrid you will get a chance to see the priceless paintings of master artists like Picasso, Dali, Miro and Juan Gris.

Madrid’s Royal Palace is also a landmark tourist attraction and has stunning exhibits. Madrid is also home to the impressive historic square of Plaza Mayor, Retiro Park, Botanical Gardens and Casa de Campo in addition to other interesting places. It is said that Madrid is home to some of the best luxury villas with swimming pools in Spain.

You can go on excursions from Madrid to see the other places of tourist interest in Spain. Many tourists rent a holiday villa and visit the world heritage site of Alcala de Henares, Aranjuez Summer Palace and Gardens, Seville Cathedral, Great Mosque of Cordoba, Alhambra of Granada and Castle of Santa Catalina in Jaen.

You can enjoy soaking in the sun on the beach resorts of Mediterranean coastline. Relax by the seaside on the beaches of Costa Brava, Costa Blanca and Costa del Sol. Families come here to enjoy the sun soaked beaches and rent a holiday villa with swimming pools or self catering apartments.

Spain has a great deal to offer by way of nature and the tourists who love the great outdoors can take recourse to the diverse landscape of coniferous and deciduous forests, salty marshes, rocky coves and bays, fertile river valleys, mountain peaks and mountain streams staying in holiday cottages. You can indulge in nature watching at the various national parks of Spain and enjoy the ample wildlife. The famous national parks of Spain are Tablas de Daimiel, Ordesa, Coto de Donana, Montana de Covadonga and Aigues Tortes. Near all of these beautiful park are many holiday homes to rent direct from their holiday owners.

You can enjoy exciting nightlife at the numerous bars, discos and clubs in Puerta del Sol, Madrid’s hub for nightlife. This place is also famous for shopping. Enjoy fun filled recreational activities like tennis, swimming, jogging at Casa de Campo and Parque de Atracciones. Many tourists choose to stay in holiday self catering apartments and enjoy the local nightlife and culture to the full.

Spain has world class facilities for golfing at the Canary Islands like Gran Canaria, Tenerife and so on. The avid golfers can look forward to excellent golf at many other places like La Manga, Costa del Sol and Valderrama in Spain. Golfers go to Spain on short golfing breaks and stay in self catering accommodation. Other golfers stay there for longer periods on a golfing holiday and some rent holiday villas.

You can see the typical white washed Spanish village in Andalucia and the charming whitewashed houses dotting the narrow streets of cobblestones in addition to ancient churches make for stunning sights. If you are lucky enough you will be able to rent one of these beautiful holiday cottages.

Spain is renowned for skiing and has ample ski resorts of world class facilities. The skiers will enjoy the lovely slopes, blue skies and warm sun. When there you can rent a log cabin or chalet and fully explore the beautiful countryside. The Pyrenees area is best suited for nature walks, hikes and mountain climbing. You can also explore this area on horseback. Go windsurfing or water skiing by the seaside. Canoeing and white water rafting can be enjoyed in north Spain.

Spain is the right place to spend your vacation and has some of the best vacation homes in Europe. There are luxury holiday villas, holiday cottages and independent holiday apartments available for rent in Spain. There are vacation home rentals in Spain for suites of almost every budget.

Important Bali Holiday Information

Bali’s climate, like most of the other islands in Indonesia, is warm and tropical most of the year with a rainy and dry season. The culture on the island is one of the most unique in the world, and Bali has many interesting ways for visitors to experience this. One of them is to drive around the island and study the many statues in all Balinese artists who have been created to decorate the island. Another way to experience Bali is by visiting one of the sacred temples where you are likely to be greeted by the scent of incense and Balinese girls who smile beautifully when they make daily offerings. Then there are many dances that are unique to the island of Bali.

The Balinese dances performance is an experience which includes local dance song and music, and is a great show of how rich the island culture is. Balinese food is a delicious delicacy, but is becoming increasingly harder to find in its authentic form because of the time consuming preparation. To get a find a true Bali meal, it is best to find a local restaurant, not a chain, that specializes and only sells authentic Balinese food. Their dishes include items that are based with rice and many exotic spices and herbs.

While in Bali, there are many different options for accommodations. Bali has up and rising districts that offer world class resorts and hotels such as the InterContinental Resort Bali and the Bali Resort and Spa. Both these accommodations offer top of the line features that you would find at any other world class hotel in the world. However Bali still offers many options that allow visitors to stay in more authentic Bali accommodations, and is very well priced compared to other resort destinations. With all of these options that Bali offers, an exciting and exotic island awaits.

Trips and Travel for Group Fishing

There are good reasons why companies want to keep their executives away from the hustle and bustle of everyday business – and company-sponsored fishing trips can provide the perfect atmosphere to meet all needs.

Whether for incentive purposes, corporate retreats, executive sessions or just a need to congregate executives far away from the office so that they can engage their creative minds in solving real-world issues-it is always important that details are taking care of on their behalf so that they can focus and use the time together productively.

A sport fishing trip can be the perfect atmosphere for groups as small as four and as many as forty anglers.

Spending time together with a collective focus can dramatically deepen relationships and enable discussions that may otherwise be difficult to make happen. Fishing together in small groups of up to six anglers for a day provides relaxation interspersed with moments of high excitement that promote team building and support for one another.

Many destinations now, even though they might be considered “rural” or adventure-oriented – still able to provide modern facilities for meetings and corporate groups. It is often recommended to arrange such trips around or near large resorts so that if necessary to use large equipment such as commercial projectors, banquet facilities, recording equipment etc., they are available at reasonable cost in terms of money and time. Corporate adventure trips can serve a number of different destinations. Perhaps the most common is to be used as an innovative way to recognize and reward high-performing employees in organizations as incentive trips or as special bonuses. This is also often used as a way for senior executives to renew and revive their shared relationships in a relaxed way but still maintain competitive advantage.

The benefits of corporate fishing trips do not stop when the group departs; the memories created and the relationships that are rekindled continue to serve the organization over many months and in some cases years. The buzz of the fishing trip is not confined to those who participated; it may continue to provide an incentive for tomorrow’s top performers to deliver so that they too may become a member of the elite team.

Trip and Travel Tips

This applies to first-time travelers, backpackers, 5-star hotel guests, and avid guests. Always be aware of your surroundings, the frequency of theft, known tourist fraud, and the political stability of the area. Have fun but make sure you know how to get back to your hostel or hotel. Traveling and partying in foreign places is obviously very fun but many things can change quickly!

So you’re traveling through Europe in the summer and don’t think you need anything but shorts and a t shirt? The best thing to do is to pack clothes that can layer and keep you warm but also keep you cool. Trains, airplanes, airports and hostels can go from really chilly at night to really hot – so be prepared for all climates. And socks – don’t forget lots of socks.

Grab a Moleskine Notebook and carry it with you everywhere. Sketch, take notes, write, jot, record your expenses, Haiku, write a song, a poem or a book – or write down the name and contact info of that old man you met in the café who made you change your career in just one conversation. Traveling can open your eyes but don’t forget to capture the moment for all it’s worth!

In the spirit of “capturing the moment,” travelers and photographers have become on in the same. But – I argue that it’s important to “use your camera wisely.” You may want to take a picture of every street, every stone and every fallen column at the Acropolis – and that’s fine. Just don’t let your wanting to capture the moment – keep you from enjoying the moment right then and there.

Okay, so maybe eating sheep intestines cooked in a stomach – isn’t really your thing. Maybe you’d rather wear your sneakers than typical leather sandals. No matter what your preference, there’s no better time or place to try something new than when you’re traveling. From customs and rituals to cultural garbs to quirky cultural foods – try it at least once – and if you’re not a fan, then at least you can say you gave it a shot.

We’re not trying to kill your spontaneous spirit – but you actually really do get more out of your travels when you have at least some idea of where you’re going and what you can see, try, or do when you’re there. So plan a rough schedule, learn about the destinations and sights – or bring a guidebook with you that you can read while you’re there. Stay flexible and play it by ear once in a while – that’s when real adventures begin!

When you plan your holidays, be sure to give yourself a little rest. There’s no point stressing yourself to wake up and line up early in the morning to get into museums if it will give you more anxiety than peace and relaxation! Take your time – sip a coffee in a café and watch people walk by. Step back from the busyness of a tourist and enjoy your surroundings while you can.

Don’t spend an hour each day in the internet café writing extensive blog posts of your whereabouts, where you went and what you did. Make quick posts, update your status on Facebook, make a new tweet on Twitter or send off a quick email to let people know where you are, where you’re staying and if there’s an emergency, how to reach you.

When you travel, it’s time to put away your pride – and carry a map. You don’t have to take it out – just bring it with you so that you can find your way around and if you get lost, you’ll be glad you had it. If you’re keen, you can mark the path you walked to trace it later or just to remember where you’ve been! Keep a subway map and schedule with you, too!

There’s always a solution. Ok, so you missed your train by 2 minutes – another one will come (even if it’s tomorrow!). Missing flights, stolen passports or extortion by the police will resolve itself. The important thing is that you’re not hurt and safe. Relax and come up with a concrete solution to getting to your next destination or contacting your embassy, in the case of a lost passport. The worst thing you can do is freak out!

Traveling in Thailand – The Phi Phi Islands

Visiting a new place or country can be very enjoyable. There are many tourist attractions abroad that are worth visiting, determine the type of tourism you want. If the sea is your choice, Thailand is the best choice. There are many tourist attractions that are worth visiting, one of which is Phi Phi Island. Everyone knows that, the name Phi Phi Island is increasingly popular after being used as the filming location of The Beach starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

Even though Phi Phi Island is famous for the popularity of a film, you need to know that this island region has experienced a period of destruction in 2004. This area was once destroyed by the Indian Ocean Tsunami. At present, Phi Phi Island has returned to normal and remains the main destination for foreign and local tourists. If you are on vacation to Thailand, there are many tours that offer a Phi Phi Island tour. This tour package offers trips starting from Phuket to areas on Phi Phi Island. All travel packages use speadboat and ferry express.

If you like the beauty of the underwater, then going snorkeling on Phi Phi Island is a very appropriate choice. There are many of the most amazing fish and beautiful corals, snorkeling lovers will definitely not miss this incredible sight. There will be no boredom approaching you, when you are on a speed boat you can enjoy sharks, you can also try extreme sports namely cliff jumping. Do not worry about the package price offered, you can find the best price package only at https://mythailandtours.com/shop/tours/phi-phi-island-by-speedboat/.

If you are a tourist who appreciates a beauty, then the budget spent is feasible to have the opportunity to visit Phi Phi Island. The more routes passed the price are more expensive. However, don’t be surprised if you have to wait before leaving for Phi Phi Island. You must be aware that Phi Phi Island is a favorite destination for tourists from all over the world, wait a moment until your boat arrives. Look at the beauty of the sea and drink a cup of coffee to eliminate boredom while waiting.

Phi Phi Islands are an archipelago located in the southern part of Thailand. World tourists recognize that Phi-Phi Islands are one of the best destinations in Thailand, starting from the beauty of white beaches between the cliffs of Karsts, and some interesting tourist objects scattered on islands such as Koh Phi Phi Leh & Maya Bay, Bamboo Island, Viking Cave, Diving in Phi Phi, etc.

Vacation Type

Holidays are often associated with celebrations and gatherings. This is a special term that creates an image where family, friends and others gather and celebrate. This perception is basically true because by definition, a holiday is a day set by a country or group of people intended to carry out various activities, for celebrations or for observation or for any purpose that may be served. The word holiday is said to be a combination of the word holy and day. In the past, this word was only used by the Christian Church to represent their holidays but was later adopted by almost everyone to represent special and non-special days.

There are several types of vacations in various parts of the world; public holidays can refer to specified days and these days may be national holidays, informal holidays, religious holidays and national holidays. This is the type of holiday that we often pay attention to be celebrated.

Public holidays are also known as official holidays because these are holidays that are approved and declared by the state. During these days, work and other official businesses are given restrictions. When a day is declared a public holiday, usually it is a day off but it depends on the agreement of a worker and his employer. Unofficial holidays are holidays that are not marked on the calendar but are celebrated and observed by many people throughout the world. Some examples of unofficial holidays are April Fool’s Day which falls on April 1, Christmas Eve which falls on December 24 and Friendship Day which falls on every first Sunday of August.

Other types of holidays are religious holidays that vary according to one’s religion. This is because people of different religions do not celebrate the same holiday. For example, Christians celebrate Christmas known as the birth of Jesus every December 25th. On this day, all Christians will prepare various types of food and wear different costumes to commemorate the birth of Christ. Family and friends gather and celebrate with all joy and happiness. However, there are religions that do not celebrate Christmas and some who celebrate Christmas but not for the same reason.

National holidays are also included in the different types of holidays that people celebrate. From its own name, a day known as a national holiday is an official holiday imposed by certain countries. This holiday often refers to the celebration of the country’s independence and other important events for the country.

The types of holidays mentioned above that people celebrate are just ordinary types of holidays. There are other types of holidays that are not mentioned and explained because each country or state has its own holiday. The most important thing is that you can fill your day off with useful activities, both for yourself or your family.

Traveling Makes You More Creative

Traveling is an amazing hobby for millions of people around the world. It also provides various benefits for people. This is why traveling is important. The ability to move from one place to another is the main virtue one can have. All humans and animals have been secured with this ability, but humans are always one step ahead. We as humans, have an extraordinary virtue to see, experience, and learn from it, and this is what makes our journey more satisfying and enriching.

A person who went on a long-distance journey returned home after some years. Till then, his family had either no or very little information regarding his situation and well-being. In some thrilling cases, a person would never return. In despite of all these barriers and difficulties, people traveled; not always because they needed to, but many times, also because they loved to. And why not? Traveling not only takes us to distant lands and explains us with various people, but this also removes the dullness of our lives.

This is certainly very unlucky that some people feel traveling is a sheer waste of time, energy and money. Some also discovery traveling a very boring activity. However, a good majority of people across the world wish traveling, rather than staying inside the partial spaces of their homes. They love to travel to new places, meet new people, as well as see things that they would not find in their homelands. This is a very common attitude that has made tourism, one of the most money-making, commercial sectors in the world.

People travel for different reasons. Some travel for work, others for fun, and some for finding mental peace. Though every person may have his/her own reason to go on a traveling, this is significant to note that traveling, in itself, has some inherent rewards. For one, for some days getting away from everyday routine is a pleasant change. This not only refreshes one’s body, but also mind and soul. Traveling to a distant place and doing fantastic things that are not thought of otherwise, can refresh a person, who then returns home, ready to take on new and more problematic challenges in life and work. This makes a person forget his worries, problems, preventions, and fears, albeit for some time. This offer him a chance to think wisely and usefully. Traveling also helps to heal; this can mend a broken heart.

For many people, traveling is a way to achieve knowledge, and perhaps, a quest to find answers to their questions. For this, different people prefer to go to faraway and lonely places. For believers, this is a search for God and to gain higher knowledge; for others, this is a search for inner peace. They might or might not find what they are looking for, but such an experience certainly augments their lives.

With people, with their culture, opinions and ideas also travel. When they go from one place to the other place, they are bound to meet people and share their thoughts and experiences with them. This is where the exchange of ideas takes place, and it definitely broadens a person’s outlook. This makes him/her think in a different way, from a different viewpoint. When we speak of cultural influences and exchange, food is one of the important factors. The food habits of people say a lot of things about them. It is very interesting to discover new and unknown ways and values; they really add spice to life.

Traveling also makes lifelong memories. Whether a person travels solo or along with family and friends, the experience certainly gives him/her nice and thrilling stories, which he/she can share with people back home. A good long holiday with loved ones allows him/her to spend some quality time with them, which in turn, benefits to renew and restore relationships and makes very strong one-to-one and family bonds. In fact, traveling away from home and spending time with near and dear one(s) can bring the relationship an entirely new perspective and possibly, people may begin understanding each other in a good way.

Addition to the above, traveling and getting away from our homes allows us to spend some time with our own selves. This makes us subtler and more tolerant towards others. This also makes it easier for us to meet and mingle with various kinds of people, and also explains us to live life to the fullest. Some of them travel from richer countries to poorer ones in pursuit of cheaper medication; some others travel from inferior countries to more developed ones to get the right medication. Medical tourism is today, one of the most essential parts of the travel and tourism sector and more than 50 countries have recognized it as a national industry.

Personal health is what makes travel very important. People here travel because they have no choice in most cases. One might wonder that if someone becomes a medical aid only after he reaches his destination, what is the importance of traveling in this case? Well, traveling stimulates hope in someone. As a person travels and gets faster to his destination, the hope for a healthy and smooth life continues to increase. Thus, traveling makes a person more confident about life. Traveling can thus be a very enchanting and inspiring experience that can help restore the quality of your life. So, let the travel insect bite you so that you experience the joy and peace of life at the same time, and a totally different person arises.

Tendriling Travel Expenses

US corporate travel costs skyrocketed to more than $ 143 billion in 1994, according to a recent American Express survey of business travel management. Private sector entrepreneurs are estimated to spend $ 2,484 per employee on travel and entertainment, up 17 percent over the past four years.

Corporate T&E costs, now the third-largest controllable expense behind sales and data-processing costs, are under new scrutiny. Corporations are realizing that even a savings of 1 percent or 2 percent can translate into millions of dollars added to their bottom line.

Savings of that order are sure to get management’s attention, which is a requirement for this type of project. Involvement begins with understanding and evaluating the components of T&E management in order to control and monitor it more effectively.

Hands-on management includes assigning responsibility for travel management, implementing a quality-measurement system for travel services used, and writing and distributing a formal travel policy. Only 64 percent of U.S. corporations have travel policies.

Even with senior management’s support, the road to savings is rocky-only one in three companies has successfully instituted an internal program that will help cut travel expenses, and the myriad aspects of travel are so overwhelming, most companies don’t know where to start. “The industry of travel is based on information,” says Steven R. Schoen, founder and CEO of The Global Group Inc. “Until such time as a passenger actually sets foot on the plane, they’ve [only] been purchasing information.”

If that’s the case, information technology seems a viable place to hammer out those elusive, but highly sought-after, savings. “Technological innovations in the business travel industry are allowing firms to realize the potential of automation to control and reduce indirect [travel] costs,” says Roger H. Ballou, president of the Travel Services Group USA of American Express. “In addition, many companies are embarking on quality programs that include sophisticated process improvement and reengineering efforts designed to substantially improve T&E management processes and reduce indirect costs.”

As companies look to technology to make potential savings a reality, they can get very creative about the methods they employ.

The Great Leveler

Centralized reservation systems were long the exclusive domain of travel agents and other industry professionals. But all that changed in November 1992 when a Department of Transportation ruling allowed the general public access to systems such as Apollo and SABRE. Travel-management software, such as TripPower and TravelNet, immediately sprang up, providing corporations insight into where their T&E dollars are being spent.

The software tracks spending trends by interfacing with the corporation’s database and providing access to centralized reservation systems that provide immediate reservation information to airlines, hotels and car rental agencies. These programs also allow users to generate computerized travel reports on cost savings with details on where discounts were obtained, hotel and car usage and patterns of travel between cities. Actual data gives corporations added leverage when negotiating discounts with travel suppliers.

“When you own the information, you don’t have to go back to square one every time you decide to change agencies,” says Mary Savovie Stephens, travel manager for biotech giant Chiron Corp.

Sybase Inc., a client/server software leader with an annual T&E budget of more than $15 million, agrees. “Software gives us unprecedented visibility into how employees are spending their travel dollars and better leverage to negotiate with travel service suppliers,” says Robert Lerner, director of credit and corporate travel services for Sybase Inc. “We have better access to data, faster, in a real-time environment, which is expected to bring us big savings in T&E. Now we have control over our travel information and no longer have to depend exclusively on the agencies and airlines.”

The cost for this privilege depends on the volume of business. One-time purchases of travel-management software can run from under $100 to more than $125,000. Some software providers will accommodate smaller users by selling software piecemeal for $5 to $12 per booked trip, still a significant savings from the $50 industry norm per transaction.

No More Tickets

Paperless travel is catching on faster than the paperless office ever did as both service providers and consumers work together to reduce ticket prices for business travelers. Perhaps the most cutting-edge of the advances is “ticketless” travel, which almost all major airlines are testing.

In the meantime, travel providers and agencies are experimenting with new technologies to enable travelers to book travel services via the Internet, e-mail and unattended ticketing kiosks. Best Western International, Hyatt Hotels and several other major hotel chains market on the Internet. These services reduce the need for paper and offer better service and such peripheral benefits as increased efficiency, improved tracking of travel expenses and trends, and cost reduction.

Dennis Egolf, CFO of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Louisville, Ky., realized that the medical center’s decentralized location, a quarter-mile from the hospital, made efficiency difficult. “We were losing production time and things got lost,” he says. “Every memo had to be hand-carried for approval, and we required seven different copies of each travel order.” As a result, Egolf tried an off-the-shelf, paper-reduction software package designed for the federal government.

The software allows the hospital to manage travel on-line, from tracking per-diem allowances and calculating expenses to generating cash advance forms and authorizing reimbursement vouchers. The software also lets the hospital keep a running account of its travel expenses and its remaining travel budget.

“Today, for all practical purposes, the system is paperless,” says Egolf. The software has helped the hospital reduce document processing time by 93 percent. “The original goal focused on managing employee travel without paper,” he says. “We have achieved that goal, in part due to the efforts of the staff and in part due to the accuracy of the software.”

With only a $6,000 investment, the hospital saved $70 each employee trip and saved almost half of its $200,000 T&E budget through the paper-reduction program.

Out There

Consolidation of corporate travel arrangements by fewer agencies has been a growing trend since 1982. Nearly three out of four companies now make travel plans for their business locations through a single agency as opposed to 51 percent in 1988. Two major benefits of agency consolidation are the facilitation of accounting and T&E budgeting, as well as leverage in negotiating future travel discounts.

A major technological advance that allows this consolidation trend to flourish is the introduction of satellite ticket printers (STPs). Using STPs enables a travel agency to consolidate all operations to one home office, and still send all necessary tickets to various locations instantly via various wire services. As the term implies, the machinery prints out airline tickets on-site immediately, eliminating delivery charges.

For London Fog, STPs are a blessing. London Fog’s annual T&E budget of more than $15 million is split equally between its two locations in Eldersburg, Md., and New York City. Each location purchases the same number of tickets, so equal access to ticketing from their agency is a must. With an STP in their two locations, the company services both offices with one agency in Baltimore. Each office has access to immediate tickets and still manages to save by not having to pay courier and express mail charges that can range up to $15 for each of the more than 500 tickets each purchases annually.

Conde Nast Publications’ annual T&E budget of more than $20 million is allocated among its locations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New York and Detroit. Since 1994, travel arrangements have been handled by a centralized agency, Advanced Travel Management in New York City, by installing an STP in each of these five locations. In addition to increased efficiency due to consolidation, Conde Nast now has the ability to change travel plans at a moment’s notice and have new tickets in hand instantly.

The real benefit is that the machines are owned and maintained by the travel agency., so there is no cost to the company. Due to the major expense involved, however, STPs remain an option only for major ticket purchasers. “STPs are a viable option in this process for any location that purchases more than $500,000 per year in tickets,” says Shoen.

As airfare averages 43 percent of any company’s T&E expenses, savings obtainable through the various uses of technology have become dramatic. For example, the ability of corporations to collect and analyze their own travel trends has led to the creation of net-fare purchasing-negotiating a price between a corporation and an airline to purchase tickets that does not include the added expenses of commissions, overrides, transaction fees, agency transaction fees and other discounts.

Although most major U.S. carriers publicly proclaim that they don’t negotiate corporate discounts below published market fares, the American Express survey on business travel management found that 38 percent of U.S. companies had access to, or already had implemented, negotiated airline discounts. The availability and mechanics of these arrangements vary widely by carrier.

What’s the Price?

Fred Swaffer, transportation manager for Hewlett-Packard and a strong advocate of the net-pricing system, has pioneered the concept of fee-based pricing with travel-management companies under contract with H-P. He states that H-P, which spends more than $528 million per year on T&E, plans to have all air travel based on net-fare pricing. “At the present time, we have several net fares at various stages of agreement,” he says. “These fares are negotiated with the airlines at the corporate level, then trickle down to each of our seven geographical regions.”

Frank Kent, Western regional manager for United Airlines, concurs: “United Airlines participates in corporate volume discounting, such as bulk ticket purchases, but not with net pricing. I have yet to see one net-fare agreement that makes sense to us. We’re not opposed to it, but we just don’t understand it right now.”

Kent stresses, “Airlines should approach corporations with long-term strategic relationships rather than just discounts. We would like to see ourselves committed to a corporation rather than just involved.”

As business travel expenses nose upward, companies are realizing that better cost-management techniques can make a difference.

US. corporate travel expenses rocketed to more than $143 billion in 1994, according to American Express’ most recent survey on business travel management. Private-sector employers spend an estimated $2,484 per employee on travel and entertainment, a 17 percent increase over the past four years.

Corporate T&E costs, now the third-largest controllable expense behind sales and data-processing costs, are under new scrutiny. Corporations are realizing that even a savings of 1 percent or 2 percent can translate into millions of dollars added to their bottom line.

Savings of that order are sure to get management’s attention, which is a requirement for this type of project. Involvement begins with understanding and evaluating the components of T&E management in order to control and monitor it more effectively.

Hands-on management includes assigning responsibility for travel management, implementing a quality-measurement system for travel services used, and writing and distributing a formal travel policy. Only 64 percent of U.S. corporations have travel policies.

Even with senior management’s support, the road to savings is rocky-only one in three companies has successfully instituted an internal program that will help cut travel expenses, and the myriad aspects of travel are so overwhelming, most companies don’t know where to start. “The industry of travel is based on information,” says Steven R. Schoen, founder and CEO of The Global Group Inc. “Until such time as a passenger actually sets foot on the plane, they’ve [only] been purchasing information.”

If that’s the case, information technology seems a viable place to hammer out those elusive, but highly sought-after, savings. “Technological innovations in the business travel industry are allowing firms to realize the potential of automation to control and reduce indirect [travel] costs,” says Roger H. Ballou, president of the Travel Services Group USA of American Express. “In addition, many companies are embarking on quality programs that include sophisticated process improvement and reengineering efforts designed to substantially improve T&E management processes and reduce indirect costs.”

As companies look to technology to make potential savings a reality, they can get very creative about the methods they employ.

The Great Leveler

Centralized reservation systems were long the exclusive domain of travel agents and other industry professionals. But all that changed in November 1992 when a Department of Transportation ruling allowed the general public access to systems such as Apollo and SABRE. Travel-management software, such as TripPower and TravelNet, immediately sprang up, providing corporations insight into where their T&E dollars are being spent.

The software tracks spending trends by interfacing with the corporation’s database and providing access to centralized reservation systems that provide immediate reservation information to airlines, hotels and car rental agencies. These programs also allow users to generate computerized travel reports on cost savings with details on where discounts were obtained, hotel and car usage and patterns of travel between cities. Actual data gives corporations added leverage when negotiating discounts with travel suppliers.

“When you own the information, you don’t have to go back to square one every time you decide to change agencies,” says Mary Savovie Stephens, travel manager for biotech giant Chiron Corp.

Sybase Inc., a client/server software leader with an annual T&E budget of more than $15 million, agrees. “Software gives us unprecedented visibility into how employees are spending their travel dollars and better leverage to negotiate with travel service suppliers,” says Robert Lerner, director of credit and corporate travel services for Sybase Inc. “We have better access to data, faster, in a real-time environment, which is expected to bring us big savings in T&E. Now we have control over our travel information and no longer have to depend exclusively on the agencies and airlines.”

The cost for this privilege depends on the volume of business. One-time purchases of travel-management software can run from under $100 to more than $125,000. Some software providers will accommodate smaller users by selling software piecemeal for $5 to $12 per booked trip, still a significant savings from the $50 industry norm per transaction.

No More Tickets

Paperless travel is catching on faster than the paperless office ever did as both service providers and consumers work together to reduce ticket prices for business travelers. Perhaps the most cutting-edge of the advances is “ticketless” travel, which almost all major airlines are testing.

In the meantime, travel providers and agencies are experimenting with new technologies to enable travelers to book travel services via the Internet, e-mail and unattended ticketing kiosks. Best Western International, Hyatt Hotels and several other major hotel chains market on the Internet. These services reduce the need for paper and offer better service and such peripheral benefits as increased efficiency, improved tracking of travel expenses and trends, and cost reduction.

Dennis Egolf, CFO of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Louisville, Ky., realized that the medical center’s decentralized location, a quarter-mile from the hospital, made efficiency difficult. “We were losing production time and things got lost,” he says. “Every memo had to be hand-carried for approval, and we required seven different copies of each travel order.” As a result, Egolf tried an off-the-shelf, paper-reduction software package designed for the federal government.

The software allows the hospital to manage travel on-line, from tracking per-diem allowances and calculating expenses to generating cash advance forms and authorizing reimbursement vouchers. The software also lets the hospital keep a running account of its travel expenses and its remaining travel budget.

“Today, for all practical purposes, the system is paperless,” says Egolf. The software has helped the hospital reduce document processing time by 93 percent. “The original goal focused on managing employee travel without paper,” he says. “We have achieved that goal, in part due to the efforts of the staff and in part due to the accuracy of the software.”

With only a $6,000 investment, the hospital saved $70 each employee trip and saved almost half of its $200,000 T&E budget through the paper-reduction program.

Out There

Consolidation of corporate travel arrangements by fewer agencies has been a growing trend since 1982. Nearly three out of four companies now make travel plans for their business locations through a single agency as opposed to 51 percent in 1988. Two major benefits of agency consolidation are the facilitation of accounting and T&E budgeting, as well as leverage in negotiating future travel discounts.

A major technological advance that allows this consolidation trend to flourish is the introduction of satellite ticket printers (STPs). Using STPs enables a travel agency to consolidate all operations to one home office, and still send all necessary tickets to various locations instantly via various wire services. As the term implies, the machinery prints out airline tickets on-site immediately, eliminating delivery charges.

For London Fog, STPs are a blessing. London Fog’s annual T&E budget of more than $15 million is split equally between its two locations in Eldersburg, Md., and New York City. Each location purchases the same number of tickets, so equal access to ticketing from their agency is a must. With an STP in their two locations, the company services both offices with one agency in Baltimore. Each office has access to immediate tickets and still manages to save by not having to pay courier and express mail charges that can range up to $15 for each of the more than 500 tickets each purchases annually.

Conde Nast Publications’ annual T&E budget of more than $20 million is allocated among its locations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New York and Detroit. Since 1994, travel arrangements have been handled by a centralized agency, Advanced Travel Management in New York City, by installing an STP in each of these five locations. In addition to increased efficiency due to consolidation, Conde Nast now has the ability to change travel plans at a moment’s notice and have new tickets in hand instantly.

The real benefit is that the machines are owned and maintained by the travel agency., so there is no cost to the company. Due to the major expense involved, however, STPs remain an option only for major ticket purchasers. “STPs are a viable option in this process for any location that purchases more than $500,000 per year in tickets,” says Shoen.

As airfare averages 43 percent of any company’s T&E expenses, savings obtainable through the various uses of technology have become dramatic. For example, the ability of corporations to collect and analyze their own travel trends has led to the creation of net-fare purchasing-negotiating a price between a corporation and an airline to purchase tickets that does not include the added expenses of commissions, overrides, transaction fees, agency transaction fees and other discounts.

Although most major U.S. carriers publicly proclaim that they don’t negotiate corporate discounts below published market fares, the American Express survey on business travel management found that 38 percent of U.S. companies had access to, or already had implemented, negotiated airline discounts. The availability and mechanics of these arrangements vary widely by carrier.

What’s the Price?

Fred Swaffer, transportation manager for Hewlett-Packard and a strong advocate of the net-pricing system, has pioneered the concept of fee-based pricing with travel-management companies under contract with H-P. He states that H-P, which spends more than $528 million per year on T&E, plans to have all air travel based on net-fare pricing. “At the present time, we have several net fares at various stages of agreement,” he says. “These fares are negotiated with the airlines at the corporate level, then trickle down to each of our seven geographical regions.”