Menno Traveler December 2014

Happy Holidays!
Our office will close at noon on December 24 and be closed December 25 and January 1. Safe travels!

Our after-hours service will be available by calling 800-367-1633 Use the VIT Code P-3ND. Fees apply.

Car Rate Checker Continues to Save You Money
In the past 12 months, our Car Rate Checker found lower rates on 677 car rentals for a total savings of $26,863.73. Savings ranged from a few dollars per rental up to several hundred dollars. In one case, a 4-day rental for a mid-size car dropped from a total of $614.61 to $309.62, a savings of over $300 on just one rental!

Book Hotels with Menno and Save Money
A closer look at online retailers of hotel rooms reveals that rates returned from different searches vary on average by $17 per night. According to the Northeastern University study, Expedia and Hotels.com steered a subset of users to more expensive hotels, dividing users into different groups to test new website features and algorithms. Cheaptickets and Orbitz showed more expensive room rates to users who were not logged into the site, offering users who were logged in unadvertised discounts of about $12 per night on 5% of hotel rooms.

Booking hotels with Menno Travel assures lowest rate availability, access to discounted rates AND our hotel rate checker program continues to search for lower fares after the reservation has been made…need we say more?! …Ok, here’s the “more”:

Hotel Rate Checker has been in service just five months and has found lower rates for 151 rooms for a total offered savings of $6,749.68. Call us to book your next hotel and get in on the savings!

Watch Out for Changing Hotel Cancellation Policies
Last month we emailed an alert to our customers that as of January 1, 2015, Hilton Worldwide and Marriott International will require cancellation of reservations by midnight the night before arrival, or they will charge a penalty of one night’s stay.

While Hilton claims these changes will make more rooms available for travelers needing last-minute accommodations, this policy doesn’t allow for the flexibility a business traveler needs. Bad weather and travel delays can wreck a schedule quickly and some travelers are booking away from their longtime loyalty hotel chains.

Be aware that many hotels within chains have varying policies. Some allow cancellations as late as 6 p.m. the night the reservation was to start and others require 24 hours or more notice in advance.

If you are caught in a penalty situation, contacting the hotel to explain the situation could lead to a penalty-free cancellation or another resolution so you don’t pay the night’s stay penalty. Menno Travel can help you choose the best hotel that fits your travel needs.

Delta Rated #1 Airline for Business Travelers
A survey by Business Travel News resulted in the #1 ranking for Delta who was praised for exceeding customer expectations through its industry-leading operational reliability and thoughtful continuous upgrades to products and services.

The airline ranked first among carriers in all 10 categories, with significant year-over-year gains in each and scoring particularly high in key areas of the survey, including: Value of Relationships with Account Managers and Sales Representatives; Quality of Customer Service; and Networks, Airline Partnerships and Frequencies.

Menno Travel receives strong support from Delta, benefiting our customers in the form of waivers and favors when needed. In an era of cutting back, Delta remains committed to the travel agency community where servicing our customers comes first.

2015 Travel Costs Projected to Increase
The American Express Global Business Travel Forecast 2015 predicts air, hotel and ground transportation prices to be neutral to slightly higher across all regions in 2015.  Airline consolidations, stricter corporate travel policies and limited hotel supply are changing supply and demand dynamics and are also expected to impact pricing next year. An improving economy in the United States will likely cause price increases across all categories.

Consequently, it will become even more important for travel managers to have access to relevant and reliable data on their company’s travel spend.  Armed with this insight, travel managers and Menno Travel can leverage it to ensure an organization’s travel investments are appropriately allocated to support its overall business objectives.

Contact Geof Landis to learn how you can gain control of your travel expenditures.

United Frequent Flyers May Use Miles For Airport Food
If you are a Mileage Plus member, you can use miles in lieu of money to pay for food and drinks at the Newark airport. United has set the exchange rate at about 143 miles per $1. For Newark travelers dining at Saison, a French bistro in Terminal C, a $29 seared salmon entrée costs 4,150 miles, and a $14 sidecar runs 2,000 miles. A bottle of Fiji water ($2.99) is 430 miles. The same payment options will roll out to the terminal’s retail and duty-free shops over the next 12-18 months, as part of a $120 million renovation. By 2016, a traveler will be able to use miles to purchase everything for sale at Newark’s largest terminal. The airline is discussing the miles-as-payment option with other airlines as well.

UA Follows Delta’s Lead with Frequent Flyer Changes
United Airlines is raising its Premier Qualification Dollar, or PQD, requirement for earning Premier status.  PQDs measure a member’s annual spending on United flights. The PQD requirement for Premier Silver members will increase from $2,500 to $3,000, for Premier Gold members from $5,000 to $6,000, for Premier Platinum members from $7,500 to $9,000, and for Premier 1K members from $10,000 to $12,000. Click here for a list of FAQ’s about the changes.

Last month, Delta raised its Medallion Qualification Dollar requirement for earning Medallion status by a similar percentage.

The PQD requirement only applies to members with addresses within the United States and United will continue to exempt members who spend $25,000 or more on a co-branded United credit card from the PQD requirement for Silver, Gold, and Platinum status.

UA Through-Check Baggage Policy Update
Effective for travel on and after March 1, 2015, if a traveler holds a second ticket on another airline beyond the destination of the first ticket, United will check the bag to the destination on the first ticket(s). Then, the traveler must collect their checked bags on arrival at their first ticketed destination, and then re-check them with the next carrier for their continuing flight(s).

United will check bags through to the final destination if the second ticket is on United Airlines, United Express or Star Alliance partner airlines.

Online Thieves Aren’t Just After Credit Card Numbers
Travelers should not assume airline, hotel or car rental loyalty accounts are secure. For example, Hilton reported a breach of Hilton‘s HHonors loyalty program recently, as dozens of users posted claims of unauthorized access that led to loss of points. Granted this is not like a credit card number breach, where the numbers can be used for purchases; rather, it’s the account number and login that are being sold, which can then be translated into goods via online purchases.

Take these precautions when it comes to cybersecurity:

  • Provide as little information as possible when signing up.
  • Use passwords with alpha, numeric, and special characters.
  • Change your password regularly.
  • Regularly monitor your account for signs of unauthorized activity.

Be assured that Menno Travel uses the highest online security measures when completing and storing your traveler profile information electronically.

U.S. Airport Lounges Offering Day Passes
In the United States alone, there are more than 170 airport lounges where any traveler can buy a day pass. Most of the airlines — United, Delta, American — still allow all passengers the ability to pay a one-time fee to access their lounges … and you don’t have to be flying the carrier associated with the lounge.

Airspace is a private company operating lounges in San Diego International Airport, Baltimore Washington International Airport, John F. Kennedy International Airport and Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. Airspace Lounges allow you to pay a one-time fee for use, which in some places is as little as $20. Once inside, there is complimentary food and beverages and a relaxed atmosphere.

American Express is the first credit card company to start building its own network of lounges called The Centurion Lounge. They are currently in Dallas Fort-Worth, LaGuardia, Las Vegas and San Francisco, with Miami to open in early 2015 and more are planned for the future. The lounges are available to platinum and centurion cardholders free of charge. But any American Express member, with any type of American Express card, can access the lounges for $50.

Minute Suites lounges are almost mini bedrooms, and offer travelers a private retreat to work, nap or relax. Each suite comes with a daybed, pillows, fresh blankets, a sound-masking system and more. They have suites in Dallas, Atlanta and Philadelphia.

Spirit To Charge $100 For Carry-On Baggage
Putting a bag in the overhead bin will soon cost some Spirit Airlines passengers $100, more than they paid for their tickets. The airline currently charges $45 for a carry-on bag. As of Nov. 6, customers who pay the fee at the boarding gate will pay $100. Any bag that needs to fit in the overhead bin is considered a carry-on. A bag that fits under the seat is free. The fee remains at $45 if passengers pay at an airport counter or kiosk.

Enjoying Tax Breaks at a Convention
Sunshine, beaches and business can mix, and the IRS allows deductions for business conventions held in some exotic areas. The primary purpose of the trip must be business related and held in the following destinations:

Besides the 50 U.S. states, tax deductions can be taken for business meetings or conventions held in the U.S. possessions of American Samoa, Baker Island, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Howland Island, Jarvis Island, Johnston Island, Kingman Reef, Midway Islands, Palmyra, U.S. Virgin Islands, Wake Island, other U.S. islands, cays, and reefs; Canada, Mexico, The Republic of the Marshall Islands, The Federated States of Micronesia, Bermuda, Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, Trinidad and Tobago, Dominican Republic, Dominica , Costa Rica, Grenada, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, and The Republic of Palau.

Outside of these destinations, there is no deduction unless you can demonstrate that the convention’s location meets specified standards of reasonableness, based on specific factors. Always check with your financial advisor before planning a business trip.

Foreign Currency, a Convenience Available at our Menno Travel Office
For international business trips or vacations, it’s smart to plan ahead and purchase foreign currency before leaving for your trip. Starting your trip with a supply of local currency saves you time and allows you to hit the ground running at your destination.

We stock the most common currencies in our office and can get large amounts and out of stock currency usually within two business days. Click here for a list of currencies and more information on buying and selling foreign currency.

VACATION VALUE – Join our locally hosted group tour to Alaska in 2015
What: Princes Cruise’s Denali Explorer, 12-Night Alaskan CruiseTour
When: June 15 -27, 2015
Local Hosts: Tim and Marisa Yoder, Goshen business owners

The itinerary is Princess Cruises’ most popular Alaska land & sea vacation and the best value. Featuring Direct-to-the-Wilderness rail service — a Princess exclusive — to take you between ship and the Alaska wilderness, you’ll enjoy 7 days at sea on the Star Princess and 5 nights at Princess wilderness lodges, including at legendary Denali National Park, plus visits to Fairbanks and Anchorage. It’s the best way to see all the best of Alaska!

Tim and Marisa will accompany the group from Goshen to make your trip worry-free and enjoyable. They have escorted several group trips over the years and have a passion for travel while enjoying the company of old and new friends. Join them and experience beautiful Alaska!

Click here for complete details of our hosted Alaska Cruise Tour or go to www.mennotrav.com,  call Kim Wright at Menno Travel, 574-534-1521 or 800-635-0963 or email her at kim@mennotrav.com. A brochure is available in our office located at 210 South Main Street, Goshen, Indiana. Call or stop by today!