Menno Traveler – April 2013

~ a newsletter for our business travelers ~

Our office will celebrate Easter by closing at Noon on Good Friday, March 29.

For your convience, our After Hours Emergency Service will be available.

Call 800-367-1633 and use the VIT Code P3ND. Fees Aply.

Have a wonderful Easter celebration!

Saving You More On Car Rentals

At Menno Travel we help you save money whenever possible. With car rentals, for example, we discovered that some rates on cars that were already reserved actually went down a couple of days prior to the rental date! This allowed us to pass the savings along to our client. This is another quality control check that we use to help you save money. Contact Geof or Holly if you would like to learn more about our managed corporate travel.

Do You Understand Your Company’s Travel Policy?

As businesses continue to clamp down on policy and compliance, research firm Amadeus surveyed 400 travellers and found only 53% fully understand their corporate travel policy and 34% had gone “off plan” last year. Managed travel takes the guesswork out of controlling costs and staying within budget. Contact Holly to learn more.

TSA Allowable Carry-On List Expands

The TSA ruled that airline passengers will be allowed to carry pen knives, corkscrews with small blades and other knives onto planes. Passengers also will be allowed to bring onboard, as part of their carry-on luggage, novelty-sized baseball bats less than 24 inches long, toy plastic bats, billiard cues, ski poles, hockey sticks, lacrosse sticks and two golf clubs. The policy goes into effect on April 25. Click here for the TSA Prohibited Items list.

Get More With Delta and Starwood

By booking Delta flights and Starwood hotels together, you can earn reciprocal benefits with SkyMiles and Starpoints programs. Called the Crossover Rewards program, enrolled SkyMiles Medallion members will have access to benefits including priority check-in, 4 p.m. late checkout and free in-room internet access when staying at Starwood Hotels and Resorts. Starwood elite members can receive one free checked bag, priority check-in and priority boarding when flying Delta.

In addition, Medallion members will earn one mile per dollar spent on eligible room rates when staying with Starwood and Starpoint members will earn points per dollar spent on eligible flights in addition to the miles usually earned for their flight. Starwood includes Sheraton, Westin, Four Points by Sheraton, W Hotels, St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, Le Méridien, element and Aloft. More information is available at delta.com/crossoverrewards or spg.com/crossoverrewards.

Ask for reservations at one of these Starwood hotels the next time you travel on Delta. Menno Travel has preferred rates and availability with several American Express hotel programs. Don’t miss out!

Delta SkyMiles Medallion Changes for 2014

Effective January 1, 2014, a minimum spend level based on the price of tickets purchased will be required to qualify for status in the 2015 Medallion program. This is in addition to the Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) or Medallion Qualification Segments (MQSs) already used to determine the various status levels of the SkyMiles Medallion program. This will not affect customers in 2013. For more information, click here to visit the Delta Skymiles website.

Hertz Carfirmation Technology

Hertz’s Carfirmation™ is a mobile alert service that sends a notice to your phone to let you know which car you will be driving and where it is parked the minute it is ready. It also shows other available cars and upgrades and lets you select the one you want – all on your mobile. Simple, fast and easy.

Go to the Personal and Contact details section of your profile on Hertz.com and opt-in to receive Mobile Gold Alerts by email or SMS, or both. This service is available at Hertz’s top 50 airports.

Southwest Now Flying from Grand Rapids and Flint

Flights on Southwest Airlines from Grand Rapids to Baltimore/Washington, Denver, Orlando and St. Louis will begin August 11. Southwest will offer nonstop flights, add new cities, larger airplanes and more flights. They will offer nonstop service between Flint, Mich., and Las Vegas starting August 11. Service from Flint will also include nonstop service to Baltimore/Washington, Orlando, and Tampa Bay.

New Boarding Option for Southwest

Southwest is offering customers the opportunity to purchase one of the earliest boarding positions for $40 per flight, when available. This new boarding option will only be offered at the gate on the day of travel, beginning 45 minutes before the flight departs. Customers will hear an announcement in the gate area and will be able to purchase an available boarding position via credit card from a Customer Service Agent.

Southwest Airlines A Mixed Bag

Based on an audit it completed in November 2012 looking at 100 major domestic city pairs, Topaz found that competing airlines were lower than Southwest Airlines over 60 percent of the time. Topaz studied only comparable flights between Southwest and its competitors and whether the itinerary was nonstop or had connections.

Of course, if travelers check one bag, Southwest is a lower price 60 percent of the time, Topaz determined. When checking two bags, Southwest Airlines is almost always a lower price in the 100 markets analyzed, beating competitors on pricing in such instances 88 percent of the time.

Recent advertising from Southwest indicates an apparent shift in their image, as they add new fees and complete their merger with Air Tran. We anticipate more changes this year. While Menno Travel actively sells Southwest when it benefits customers, Southwest chooses not to offer travel agent support, so our ability to advocate for you is limited.

AA-US Airways Integration to Take 12 to 18 Months

It will be at least a year or a year-and-a-half before American Airlines and US Airways start merging their operations. The two airlines have to work together to align their policies in the cockpit, in the cabin and on the ground, according to marketing and sales executives from the two airlines. That means it’ll be awhile before the two carriers operate with a single res system.

~ INCENTIVE TRAVEL ~

Putting the “WOW Factor” Into Incentive Trips

A well-planned event, a site that is known around the world, and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity are all the trademarks of an incentive travel experience with a “WOW Factor”.

How do you make YOUR incentive pop?  The “WOW Factor” is a way to set your program apart from others. Most “WOW Factors” are right under your nose, so to speak.  Arrange for a private dinner at Fenway Park or Soldier Field.  Local aquariums offer space for dinner under the sea and a museum can offer a setting or a cocktail party surrounded by original art.

Further away from home, the Mayan Ruins in Mexico or Blenheim Palace near London can provide an unforgettable gala experience with local flavor. These are things that your participants would not normally experience on their own vacation and what a dramatic way to present awards at the end of the trip!

Event budgets are tight and the “extras” are a natural place to cut costs. Be careful your incentive program doesn’t go from inspiring to merely rewarding, and your annual meeting doesn’t feel like a training seminar.

While it’s difficult to top your travel incentive programs year after year, it’s important to keep up with the latest trends, newest experiences and current hot spots. Contact Maureen or Ronda and let the experienced staff at Menno Travel help put the “WOW Factor” into your next incentive trip.

~ VACATION VALUE ~

Private Villa Rentals Offer Luxurious Value

Consider a luxurious vacation that will make you feel like the “Rich and Famous” by renting a villa or luxury condo in the Caribbean, Mexico, Hawaii, France or Italy! A dream can become an elegant and memorable reality thanks to The Villa Experience through our preferred supplier, American Express Vacations.

A private villa or condo featuring all the trappings associated with the most luxurious vacation can actually be more economical than a luxury resort. People often envision the concept of a villa vacation as something just wealthy can afford, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. A villa vacation is all about a luxurious travel experience where relaxation and privacy are paramount goals.

Villas are perfect for special needs like Honeymoons, Destination Weddings, Family Reunions, Golf Vacations, or Corporate Meetings. Contact dorothy@mennotrav.com to start planning your luxury getaway!