July 2011 Newsletter
** Our office will be closed to observe the July 4 Holiday **
Revised Office Hours Beginning July 5
Menno Travel Service office hours will change to 8:00 am to 5:00 pm Monday through Friday starting Tuesday, July 5. Our office doors and phone had been answered until 5:30 pm, however, since our corporate department currently closes at 5:00 pm, this change will make uniform our operating hours for all departments.
Our After Hours Emergency assistance phone number, 800-367-1633, remains in effect 24/7 for customers needing travel assistance outside of our office hours. (A nominal use fee will be shared for this service.) In addition, our website is a great source of information. Here you will find our toll-free and international phone numbers for our After Hours Assistance, information on access to your booked itinerary at MyTripAndMore, access to Business Travel Profile forms, corporate reports, our MARVIN quality control program, as well as a wealth of information on American Express programs and our online booking program, Rearden.
Why Use Menno Travel For Meeting Fares?
Anytime you have the possibility of ten or more people traveling to the same destination it may benefit you to book a meeting fare. With Delta Air Lines, for example, you will save 5% off from hub markets (Detroit, Minneapolis, Atlanta, etc), 10% off all other cities, and receive 1 free for every 40 tickets booked. Often, even if the total number of travelers falls below ten, there is no penalty for using the Meeting Fare.
Meeting Fares are not available to book online, so let us help you save money and time. We will provide a flight manifest showing arrivals and departures and we can arrange for a car rental discount and hotel contract including all of the necessary meeting services and amenities.
How to Get Comps From Airlines
Airlines technically don’t owe you anything in a weather delay, but you may get freebies if you know how to ask for them.
Tips on how to ask:
Be compassionate to the gate agent amid the inevitable crowd of unhappy travelers. The agent may accommodate you first. Remember that the highest-level person working there is the one authorized to make decisions, so figure out who this is and direct your concern towards them. All negotiating will happen at the gate, so don’t surrender and walk away from the area.
If you’re holding up the line as you talk to an agent while keeping your voice down, the airline is more apt to grant your requests. But if you’re making a scene and everyone’s hearing what you’re demanding the reps will shut you out.
What to ask for:
Ask for a hotel. In many cases it doesn’t have to be just any hotel. Do the research on your smartphone and suggest a hotel you want. Ask for food vouchers (and not just one meal) and Wi-Fi cards. Ask for a ticket into the airline lounge.
The airlines in the U.S. can say no to all of the above in a weather event. However, the potential for hazardous PR plus persistence make it harder for carriers to say no. Infrequent travelers are less likely to get freebies because they don’t have status or clout with the airline.
As always, Menno Travel is your advocate and will assist in any way possible with any dispute or situation where our travelers have been unfairly treated.
Delta’s Compensation for Overnight Delays or Cancellations
If you are flying Delta and are forced to overnight due to a delay or cancellation within Delta’s control, you will receive meals and hotel accommodations at Delta contracted facilities, based on availability. If a hotel is not available, you’ll receive a Transportation Credit Voucher that is equal in value to the Delta contracted hotel rate for that city and may be used toward future Delta transportation and most travel-related services.
Hertz Now Renting to 20 Year Olds
Most other car rental companies don’t allow rentals under 21 without a Young Renters Fee. Hertz does, meaning that young renters will save anywhere from $15 to $25 a day. The offer is good for advance reservations for vehicle pick up on or before September 30, 2011. The discount will be applied at the time of rental and excludes Adrenaline and Prestige Collection rentals and Corvettes. Additional terms and conditions apply. Click here for complete details.
Western Europe Chip-And-Pin Cards
Americans have been having difficulties in using the standard magnetic ATM and credit cards in Europe. To assist with this problem, Travelex is selling Chip-and-Pin Cards to Americans online. The Chip-and-Pin card is widely used in Western Europe and is a card requiring the user verify his/her identity with a four-digit pin number. They are exactly like an ATM card and can be loaded with a predetermined amount of Euros or British pounds. You can also add to the amount on the card at any time. The card is not connected to your bank account so there is little risk of identity theft if lost or stolen. The card can be ordered at http://www.us.travelex.com/.
Beware Sending Credit Card Numbers Via Email
Unless you use special software, emails are not encrypted and anyone who intercepts the email can read a credit card number. Always give your number by phone or in person.
This does not affect our Business Travel Profile forms that we ask our corporate clients to complete online. These are encrypted and any updated or new credit card information sent this way is secure.
Visit Our New American Express Card Benefits Website
Click here to see our new website promoting reasons for you to book your travel using an American Express card. Here you will find details on specials as well as all of the travel services and benefits that you receive when using the card and/or booking through Menno Travel Service, an American Express agency. Apply for an American Express card if you do not have one.
How Much Are Airline Fees Increasing Business Travel Spending?
The Global Business Travel Association reported in April that business travel spending in 2011 is expected to increase by 6.9 percent for the year – up from the 5 percent growth forecast previously.
The association projected that business travel spending would continue to grow even with higher oil prices, which have led to rising air fares. And it’s clear that everyone is trying to define the fees, how to disclose them, and how to account and budget for them. Those fees added an estimated $21.5 billion worldwide to fares in 2010, according to a recent study by IdeaWorks, the air travel consultant, and Amadeus, the reservations network.
Fees are often hard to anticipate or even identify and that detailed information on exact spending is important for enforcing travel policy. Most companies will pay for one baggage fee and a beverage, but not multiple beverages or upgrades. Airlines don’t have uniform procedures for reporting on the wide range of fees they charge. Some of those fees can even vary by the status and fare class of a customer.
According to the Transportation Department, checked bag fees alone accounted for $3.4 billion in extra charges last year – against just $464 million in 2007, the year before most airlines began charging for most checked bags.
It’s still not clear how much those fees are adding to the costs of air travel, incidentally. In a study done last summer, the Consumer Travel Alliance said that hidden fees added an extra 26 to 54 percent to the cost of a ticket. The estimate examined only charges for checked bags and extra legroom on nine airlines flying four major domestic routes.
Last week, however, AirPlus released a report that indicated that fees might not be as big a part of air travel costs as that. It analyzed travel spending during the first quarter for a multinational company that it did not identify and found that the fees represented only 3.1 percent of total travel spending of $2.3 million.
Part of Menno Travel’s service to our clients includes travel policy compliance for corporate travelers. We can assist with updating or creating a travel policy, however, currently there is no software or reporting system that is able to show a breakdown of airfare vs. hidden fees for baggage, upgrades, standbys, or food and beverage.
Geof Landis recently attended the Ohio Valley Business Travel Association meeting in Indianapolis where it was evident that travel managers need this breakdown and if, or when, it becomes available we will be sure to advise you.
Copa Airlines Expanding to Chicago in December 2011
Copa Airlines will soon serve 57 destinations in 28 Central, South and North America and the Caribbean countries. In December they will add Asuncion, Paraguay; Cucuta, Colombia; and Chicago. In addition to these new destinations, Copa recently began service to Toronto, Canada; Porto Alegre and Brasilia, Brazil and Nassau, Bahamas.
Operating from its Hub of the Americas at Tocumen International Airport in Panama City, Copa Airlines offers the most international flights and destinations within Latin America of any hub on the continent and expects to increase capacity by approximately 20 percent in 2011. The airline’s expansion plans also include the delivery of 23 new aircraft in the next two years.
Pay With Points Reduces Business Travel Costs
Geof Landis has been successful in extolling the benefits of using Membership Rewards Points with American Express to pay for airline tickets. Businesses who currently earn points can save a lot of money by burning those points for business travel rather than using them in other ways or not at all. Menno Travel Service/American Express began burning points for cardmembers last year. Apply for an American Express card if you do not have one. Or, contact Geof for more information.
Reduce Stress and Increase Your Creativity
Go on vacation! A recent poll revealed that 28% of Americans surveyed took no vacation time the previous year; 65% took less than two weeks. Research shows that days off can ease stress, increase productivity, and promote general well-being.
Oceania Cruises is offering select 2012 European Voyages with 2 for 1 Cruise Fares and Free Airfare, Up to $2,000 Bonus Savings per stateroom and Free 1-Night Pre-Cruise Hotel Stay*. Act Now – offers expire August 31, 2011. (*Call for complete terms and conditions.)
In addition, Oceania is offering special amenities on select sailings between July and December, only available to our clients because we are an American Express travel office: FREE pre-paid gratuities • $100 shipboard credit• $100 spaclub credit• $100 shore excursions credit • FREE welcome bottle of champagne.
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