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Jim Clarke, Chief Financial Officer of Banks Hardwoods, returned from a Princess Asia cruise booked by Kami Heckaman. He sent this note to Kami, and we thought we would share it. “We made it back from our trip and everything was wonderful. Thanks for your help on this and I look forward to planning our next adventure with you. Here is my blog address from the trip if you want to check out pictures and narrative.” http://jimandkimasia.wordpress.com/
We are glad you enjoyed your trip Jim, thank you for sharing your adventure.
If you are interested in a cruise of Asia, we have the connections to get you there. Call or email Kami 574-534-1521 today.
Menno Travel employees volunteered with United Way of Elkhart County and Goshen Schools to help students improve their reading skills. The United Way sponsored this program for all second grade classes in Goshen Schools to bring men from the community into the classroom to read to students. There is also a pilot program in the first grade classes at Model Elementary with the hopes of expanding next year. This was the second year that Menno Travel participated in the program coordinated by Michelle Kercher. Owners Doug Risser and Geof Landis along with Kendal Sommers and Brandon Rasler from the Technology Department took one half hour each week over the last four weeks to go to the classrooms in Chamberlain and Prairie View Elementary Schools.
** 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.
Delta Offering New Economy Comfort Seats
Purchase an international economy ticket for a flight of six hours or longer on Delta, for travel beginning June 1, and upgrade to an Economy Comfort seat for a fee of $80 – $160 one-way depending on the length of the flight. Besides more legroom and improved seat recline, purchase of Economy Comfort seats will include complimentary spirits, beer and wine, plus blankets, and pillows. In-seat power will also be available on most aircraft equipped with personal entertainment systems.
The Economy Comfort fee is waived for Diamond and Platinum Medallion Skymiles members. Gold and Silver Medallion customers receive a 50 percent and 25 percent discount, respectively. To learn more about Economy Comfort, please click here.
Terms & Conditions:
The Economy Comfort Medallion travel companion benefit is applicable for up to eight companions traveling on the same reservation as the Medallion member. Group reservations are not applicable. We reserve the right to assign or reassign an Economy Comfort seat at any time, even after boarding of the aircraft, for operational, safety or security reasons. The final decision resides with the ground staff and the operating crew on the day of the flight. In the event you have paid for and are not accommodated into an Economy Comfort seat you are entitled to a refund in the amount paid for the upgrade. All SkyMiles program rules apply to SkyMiles program membership, miles, offers, mile accrual, mile redemption and travel benefits, respectively. To review the rules, please visit Membership Guide & Program Rules.
Airfare Transparency Rule Changes Gives Back to Passengers
Thank you to all of our clients and friends who signed the letter last month that we sent asking for your assistance in urging U.S. House and Senate representatives to change the rules to require airlines to make their fees transparent. Your efforts were noticed, and while the airfare transparency issue is not completely settled, progress has been made.
Airlines now must disclose hidden fees, pay back your baggage fee if they lose your bags and pay you more for bumping you-as much as doubling the amount in some instances. The new rule also expands the ban on lengthy tarmac delays. What it doesn’t do, however, is to require airlines to display full fee information on any platform selling airline fees. Right now, it only requires airlines to provide all fee information on their own websites, but not to travel agencies or travel management companies.
We will continue to fight to have this information more readily available to us, so that we can better assist you with travel cost management.
State Department Issues Summer Long Foreign Travel Alert
The State Department’s worldwide travel alert issued after U.S. Special Forces units killed Osama bin Laden advises Americans to exercise caution if they’re in areas more prone to anti-American violence. Click here to enroll in the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) for travel updates, information and security issues. We recommend this to all international travelers.
The Business Platinum Card Pays for Itself
At an annual fee of $450, the American Express Business Platinum Card offers these benefits as a return on your investment:
● Receive up to $200 Airline Fee Credit to cover incidentals with the airline of your choice
● Get 20% Travel Bonus when redeeming with Membership Rewards® Pay with Points.
● Airport Club Access Worldwide – complimentary access for you and up to 2 travel companions.
● Platinum Office Program – access 1000 internet-equipped business lounges in 450 major cities worldwide
● Fine Hotels & Resorts – receive room upgrades upon availability, continental breakfast, guaranteed 4 p.m. late checkout, and a special amenity at over 600 properties worldwide.
● Open Savings® – save 3-10% on business expense with companies like FedEx, Hertz®, Hyatt Hotels and Resorts®, and more
● Business Protection – protection on your purchases and insurance coverage that gives you added peace of mind when you travel
● Business Platinum Concierge – access a team of consultants on hand to help you with just about anything personal or professional
Apply here for your American Express Business Platinum Card.
Bypass Immigration and Customs With Global Entry
Your time is valuable. The last thing you want when you arrive in the US after an international flight is to wait in line when you get off the plane. Global Entry is the perfect solution for frequent international travelers and automates CBP entry and eliminates the paper customs declaration.
Doug Risser from our office recently applied for the program and did his personal interview during a layover in Atlanta. The online application took about 15 minutes and was approved in about a week. The interview and fingerprint scan took 20 minutes. His traveling companion used Global Entry in Atlanta and said he had no wait on entry and it was simple to use.
Global Entry is in place at 20 US airports with international arrivals. There is a $100 application fee and authorization is valid for five years from approval. American Express consumer Platinum Cardmembers qualify for reimbursement of the $100 fee. Click here to apply or contact Doug with questions.
United / Continental Drop Checked Bag Discounts
The airline had been offering discounts of $2 – $3 for passengers who prepaid for checked bags online. The carrier announced last Friday it had discontinued the discounts. The charge for domestic flights operated by Chicago-based United Continental Holdings Inc. is now $25 for the first bag and $35 for the second, no matter how or when you pay. United and Continental used to offer a $2 discount on the first bag and $3 off the second to encourage passengers to pay before arriving at the airport.
For more information on United and Continental baggage fees, click here.
Check the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA’s) Prohibited Items List
If an item you are traveling with is not on the prohibited list supplied by the TSA, don’t assume that it is allowable. The TSA page of prohibited items is not complete and a further step may be necessary. There is a fill-in form that you can use to ask about specific items. Recently a client of ours traveled with ink and toner cartridges and was able to check the restrictions before getting to the airport, saving time and frustration.
Click here to access the fill-in form.
Delta Customers Can Now Track Checked Bags
Delta has introduced baggage-tracking on its website. From the site, you can see if your bags have been loaded off an aircraft, said the airline. You will need the last name of the passenger’s bag and either the Bag Tag Number or the File Reference Number. Click here to access the Delta Baggage Tracking website.
Note: A recent change now mandates that baggage fees must be refunded if a bag is lost (not delayed).
Earn National’s Emerald Club® Rental Credits at Enterprise
Earn Emerald Club rental credits at participating Enterprise Rent-A-Car locations, including more than 6,000 locations in the U.S. and Canada. This greatly improves your ability to achieve Executive® or Executive Elite® status and earn Free Rental Days on your Emerald Club account.
Fill The Gas Tank Before Returning A Rental Car
With the high cost of gas these days it pays to fill the tank as close to the return car rental site as possible. Five of the eight major companies, Avis, Budget, Hertz, Dollar and Thrifty, charge customers who don’t refuel at a gas station or prepay for gas at least $7.99 per gallon at most airport rental locations. Hertz tops them all with $9.29 a gallon according to USA TODAY. Car rental companies say they are not in business to sell gas and do so as a convenience for customers. Last year, Hertz took in $43.7 million in refueling fees.
Prepaying for gas is sometimes a good deal and sometimes not. If you don’t use the full tank it becomes the property of the rental company. Most renters are unable to plan their trip so precisely to ensure they are returning a vehicle on empty.
Airline Fuel Surcharges Set Record
United, Continental, Delta and rival U.S. carriers have added a record $420 in fuel surcharges to round-trip European fares to compensate for rising oil prices. (Emirates has eliminated their fuel surcharges) Across the industry, surcharges are as much as 50% greater than those put in place when fuel prices reached a record three years ago. In 2008 fuel surcharges were $330 for a return transatlantic fare. Jet fuel has become airlines’ biggest operating expense, surpassing labor and climbing to an average $2.96 a gallon from January through March, up 41% from a year earlier. Fuel surcharges between the U.S. and some countries in South America are as much as $580 round trip today, up from $390 in 2008. The fee on flights between the U.S. and Sydney is $500 now, compared with $220 in mid-2008.
Spring Break 2012 Travel Tip
Next year Easter falls on April 8, the last day of most local schools’ spring break. If you plan to travel over this holiday, you will want to reserve your flights into this area earlier than usual to get the best schedules. Reservations are available now for Spring Break 2012.
Kalamazoo Completes Airport Terminal Renovation
Direct Air, American and Delta offer flights out of the newly improved Kalamazoo Airport. $39 million was spent on their new two-story, 92,000-square-foot energy efficient terminal. The new terminal offers improved convenience and comfort for passengers, and it will help retain and attract airlines to serve the Kalamazoo area.
Delta Retires 130 Aircraft
Over the next 18 months, the old DC9′s Delta acquired in the merger with Northwest, are being retired along with the Saab Turbo-Prop fleets and 60 50-seat regional jets. The airline will reduce planned capital expenditures by $300 million to $1.2 billion for 2011.
New Skywalk Opens in Indianapolis
Pedestrians in downtown Indianapolis may now travel via a new skyway from the Crowne Plaza Hotel to the Indiana Convention Center and Lucas Stadium without going outdoors. The 97-foot-long Crowne Plaza Skywalk, which opened on March 18, crosses Capitol Avenue. It’s part of the Indianapolis Downtown Skywalk System, which connects Circle Centre mall, the Indianapolis Artsgarden and many hotels and downtown businesses. www.visitindy.com.
Maggie Lewallen, Vacation Travel Specialist at Menno Travel Service/American Express won the American Express Pacesetter Award from the American Express Travel Network. “This award is the most elite form of recognition a travel agent can receive within the American Express network,” said Ellen Bettridge, Vice President, Retail Travel Network, American Express Travel.
Each Pacesetter is carefully selected based on their leadership role in the travel agency community and their exemplary level of performance and customer service. Maggie won an all expense paid trip to Paris this spring, where she will be recognized as a top-producing travel professional across the American Express Representative Network.
Maggie joined Menno Travel Service in 1993 and is a Certified Travel Associate, Accredited Cruise Counselor, Certified Sandals Specialist, Disney Specialist as well as a Destination Specialist for many regions around the globe. Dorothy Shirk, Vacation Department Manager says, “Maggie is truly dedicated to her clients, consistently providing them with outstanding value and service. She is loyal to the American Express preferred suppliers, which positively affects our company bottom line.”
“We offer our congratulations to Maggie for winning this individual award.” say co-owners, Geof Landis and Doug Risser.
At MennoTravel Service / American Express, when you book and pay for your travel with an American Express card, you can earn rewards in not just one, but three rewards programs. We call it the “Triple Dip” and here’s how it works:
- Individual Frequent Flyer Program
Travelers earn points with their individual airline programs
- Corporate Frequent Flyer Program
Companies earn points towards free tickets with their corporate airline programs
- American Express Membership Rewards
Companies earn rewards points when they pay vendors with the American Express Corporate Card
Pay With Points
An additional beneﬁt of booking your travel with Menno Travel Service / American Express is that we can redeem your American Express Membership Rewards® points to pay for your business or personal travel. Contact Geof Landis at 534-1521 to discuss how partnering with Menno Travel Service / American Express will beneﬁt your corporate travel
American Express Travel named Menno Travel Service/American Express a Representative Excellence Award winner for 2010. The award was established to recognize members of the American Express Travel Network who achieve exceptional preferred supplier sales growth and are also in compliance with specific operational responsibilities of membership, established by American Express in support of the Brand.
“We are thrilled to receive this award for the first time in our 17 years of affiliation with American Express Travel. We are proud to be one of the Top Five Representatives in percentage growth year over year in preferred tour and cruise sales”, says Doug Risser, co-owner of Menno Travel Service
As a result of their concentrated effort in selling preferred suppliers and engaging in American Express products and programs, a member of the Menno Travel Service management team will be hosted on a Silversea seven-day voyage aboard the Silver Spirit from Southampton, United Kingdom to Barcelona, Spain this spring.
“We will be recognizing all of our staff for their hard work this past year with a celebratory company dinner. They all deserve the credit!” say co-owners, Geof Landis and Doug Risser.
Assisting Travelers during the Winter Storms
Our staff helped at least one hundred clients who were delayed, stranded, or had their trips canceled during the recent blizzard of 2011. With airline phone lines jammed with calls, and websites not a lot of help either, our travelers were able to make one call to their travel agent and get taken care of.
At times, several of our staff waited on hold with airlines for up to 3 hours and 45 minutes to make the necessary changes to existing reservations. Communicating with our clients took the forms of email, phone calls and texts, based on the clients needs. We are here before, during and after your trip to help you!
“Above and Beyond” Award to Corporate Travel Staff, Jill and Debi!
Incentive Travel Specialist, Mary Ann Holderman, recommended Corporate Travel Specialist, Jill Mann, for our intra-office recognition award, the “Above and Beyond Award”, awarded for exceeding expectations for service to our clients. This award is in the form of a large wooden giraffe that makes its home on the desk of the honored employee until such time as it moves to the desk of the next honoree.
Mary Ann writes: “Jill’s willingness to help me issue 175 tickets on 5 different airlines for my Hawaii Incentive Group was invaluable! She was extremely patient and became my personal ‘help desk’ when no one else was around.” The group left for Hawaii on Saturday, January 22 for a seven night cruise. Menno Travel Owners, Doug Risser and Geof Landis noted that Jill helped Mary Ann in between taking care of her own corporate clients at the busiest time of the year!
Along with Jill, Debi Riegsecker was honored for having the largest number of new reservations in this time period in at least four years! The time needed to process the large number of reservations was compounded by the additional hours needed to assist our clients whose flights were cancelled due to weather. Doug and Geof wrote, “Thanks, Debi and Jill for your efforts ‘Above and Beyond’ both in assisting clients with new reservations and for working the many additional required hours when they get stranded.” Congratulations!
Delta SkyBonus Enrollment Promotion
Delta is offering 25,000 bonus points to new small corporate accounts enrolled in their SkyBonus Program prior to March 31, 2011. You will receive the bonus points up0n the completion of your first trip within 60 days of enrollment. Contact Deb Mangas or Geof Landis to enroll or to get more information.
Why are airfares cheaper on Tuesday and Wednesday?
Many experts say Tuesday and Wednesday are the best days to find low airfares, while weekends tend to be most expensive. Wall Street Journal Columnist Scott McCartney researched the reasons for price fluctuations, including competitive concerns and even staffing levels. On weekends, for instance, he found that pricing is more automated, so fares automatically rise as cheap seats sell out. But when pricing managers return to work on Monday, they may override the computer models, making more cheap seats available in an effort to maximize revenue. Also, most fare increases are filed at the end of the week and may be withdrawn early the following week if not matched by the other airlines.
Southwest Bookings On The Rise
Southwest Airlines continues to make friends among business travelers and vacationers alike with their no bag fee policy, their no change fee policy and their friendly staff. Recently, it was reported by Gary Kelly, chief executive officer at Southwest Airlines that in 2010 there was a 13% increase in quarterly earnings with a great outlook for 2011.
At Menno Travel Service, our Southwest Airlines reservations reflect this increase in popularity. Keeping travel costs in mind, we are pleased to offer our clients this alternative to the “a la carte” airlines.
Delta Increasing Legroom On Some International Flights
Delta announced a major investment in its international fleet with plans to introduce a premium economy section – “Economy Comfort” – on all long-haul international flights starting in summer 2011. The new seats will feature up to four additional inches of legroom and 50 percent more recline than Delta’s standard international Economy class seats.
Murphy’s Laws For Frequent Flyers
• No flight ever leaves on time unless you are running late and need the delay to make the flight.
• If you are running late for a flight, it will depart from the farthest gate within the terminal.
• If you arrive very early for a flight, it inevitably will be delayed.
• Flights never leave from Gate #1 at any terminal in the world.
• If you must work on your flight, you will experience turbulence as soon as you touch pen to paper. Or start to drink your coffee.
• Only passengers seated in window seats ever have to get up to go to the lavatory.
• The crying baby on board your flight is always seated next to you.
• The less carryon luggage space available on an aircraft, the more carry-on luggage passengers will bring aboard.
Recognize/Reward Employees With Menno Travel Flexible Vacation Vouchers
Flexible Vacation Vouchers are the perfect way to let an employee know you value their service to your company. The vouchers are prepaid to Menno Travel Service with a two-year validity, good for travel anywhere, anytime. Contact Deb Mangas or Geof Landis for more information.
Great Meeting Rates at Wyndham Hotels!
There are great rates popping up at Wyndham Hotels for companies looking to hold meetings in the U.S. and around the world. An example of low rates at the Wyndham Lake Buena Vista in Florida:
May 6-12: $74 / May 22-26: $65 / May 30-June 9: $85 / August 14-October 6: $59 / December 11-22: $79
Besides these fantastic introductory rates there are several booking incentives, including Triple Wyndham Rewards Points and a Welcome Reception. Keep Wyndham in mind when choosing your upcoming meeting site.
Incentive Travel: Different Programs for Different Reasons
Most incentive travel programs that we arrange for clients have two primary goals:
• Increase profitable business
• Build relationships
As such, most programs focus on increased sales over a longer period of time, for instance achieving 110% of expected volume to earn the reward trip. There are other ways to structure an incentive program. Here are a few:
• “President’s Club”—This recognizes the most important clients, the elite top 10 or 20. These trips tend to be high-end, once a year, and exclusive.
• “Fast Track” contests—These can start at the drop of a hat to meet immediate situations, such as excess or stale inventory, seasonality issues, or reaction to competition.
• New product introduction—Need to promote a new product, especially one with a high profit margin? This program should be short term, simple, individual rather than as a group, and can be tiered.
• Advanced Sales Academy—Dealers complete training programs, demonstrate product knowledge, and make required sales contacts. Rewards are cash or prizes and qualify them to participate in future incentive travel programs.
Contact Doug Risser, Geof Landis, or Deb Mangas to discuss how a well-designed incentive travel program can help your company increase profitable sales while building relationships.
Escorted Motor Coach Tours
Long-time Menno Travel escort Judy Cunningham and Cardinal Bus driver Fran Eldridge invite you to join them on their two motor coach tours in 2011!
Sights of Pennsylvania on July 23—29
Their trip to Eastern Pennsylvania will combine the scenery of the Poconos, the early history of our country in Philadelphia, and a return to the Sight and Sound Theatre in Lancaster for their newest Biblical production, Joseph.
Click here for complete Pennsylvania tour information.
Missouri River Lore & More on September 18—24
The early history of Missouri is tied to the Mississippi River and this tour visits the popular sights along the Mississippi River between Mark Twain’s Hannibal and historic French America.
Click here for complete Missouri tour information.
If you or someone you know would enjoy these great tours, make your reservations soon to ensure you’re not left behind! Contact Tara Nisley at (574) 975-7766 or (866) 606-6198 or email@example.com for more information.
American Express Cardmember Travel Privileges Expanded
Take advantage of these new Travel Benefits for Personal and Small Business Platinum and Centurion Card members.
1. $200 Airline Fee Credit – Check a bag or enjoy an in-flight meal on American Express. Every year American Express will cover up to $200 of incidental airline fees that are charged on the Cardmember’s enrolled Card on a selected airline. The $200 Airline Fee Credit can apply to fees such as baggage fees, flight change fees, in-flight food and airport lounge day passes.
2. 20% Travel Bonus – When Cardmembers use Membership Rewards Pay with Points to pay for part or all of their travel including airlines, hotels, cruises and vacation packages, they will get 20% of those points credited back to their account. For example, redeem 30,000 points to pay for an airline ticket, and American Express will credit 6,000 point to your Membership Rewards Cardmember’s account.
3. American Express® Travel App – This complimentary mobile app will help keep travelers informed with flight alerts, an airport lounge locator, airport guides and more.
Free WiFi For The Holidays
Passengers who want to surf the Internet while they fly on AirTran Airways, Delta Air Lines, and Virgin America, can do it for free this month. This is a holiday gift the carriers and Internet providers hope might lure fliers to pay for the WiFi later. Google is offering free in-flight WiFi through January 2. The carriers use Gogo Inflight Internet, which typically charges $4.95 for access during short flights and up to $49.95 for multiple prepaid in-flight sessions.
Winner of Elkhart County Thanks4giving Raffle
Pictured: Deb Mangas (Menno Travel), Jim Shea (Fairmont), Janet Walls and Pam Hluchota (United Way Board Chair)
Congratulations to Janet Walls, the 7-night Palace Resorts package winner from the United Way of Elkhart County Thanks4giving Raffle last month. Menno Travel Service is proud to provide Janet with a seven day all-inclusive resort package (including airfare) to Mexico. Now would be a good time to book that trip south, Janet!
Delta Adds Recharging Stations At Airports
Delta plans to roll out recharging stations in 19 airports across the U.S., including its seven domestic hubs in Atlanta, Cincinnati, Detroit, Memphis, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York Kennedy and Salt Lake City. There will be two Delta recharging stations available at each passenger gate area. Each station will feature six standard, 110-volt outlets and two USB ports. Recharging pads designed for smartphones and mobile devices will be available in all domestic Delta Sky Club locations.
Recharging stations will also be installed at airports in Boston, Columbus, Ohio; Hartford, Conn.; Indianapolis; Los Angeles; Nashville; Norfolk, Va.; Omaha, Neb.; Pittsburgh; Portland, Ore.; Seattle and St. Louis.
Delta increases availability of Preferred Economy Seats
Delta expanded the number of Preferred Economy seats by up to 40%. That’s good news for Delta Medallion members and bad news for anyone else trying to get advance seat assignments.
Also, Delta used to release those seats to the general public 24 hours prior to flight time. Now they won’t be released until 2 hours prior.
Delta Sky Club Now Open At Indianapolis Airport
Delta Air Lines opened its first Delta Sky Club at Indianapolis International Airport. Located inside security on Concourse A, the new 4,800-square-foot Indianapolis Sky Club is the first and only premium airport lounge for business travelers in the state of Indiana. Available to Delta Sky Club members and their guests, as well as American Express Platinum cardmembers flying Delta, the club offers complimentary alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, snacks and Wi-Fi, wireless charging pads for smartphones, as well as personalized flight assistance, satellite TV and computer workstation access.
Rental car companies improving customer satisfaction
According to a recent J.D. Power consumer survey, Enterprise Rent-A-Car ranks highest in customer satisfaction for the seventh consecutive year. National Car Rental is second and Hertz ranks third.
The survey, which polled consumers who rented cars at airports in North America during the twelve months ended in September, looks at six factors to measure overall customer satisfaction: costs and fees, pick-up processes, rental car, return process, reservations process and shuttle bus or van service.
The increased satisfaction scores indicate that staff that had been reduced in the past two years has begun to be added back and rental companies have started to add newer and lower-mileage cars to their fleets.
Electric Cars Coming to Hertz
Hertz will began renting electric cars this month through its Connect by Hertz car-share program, a membership program that enables members to rent cars on a per-hour basis, with New York as the launch market. In 2011 they will be available in the Hertz Car Rental fleet. Hertz is offering one of the Smart models, the Smart ForTwo Electric Drive, starting Dec. 15. After the New York launch, Hertz plans to bring electric rentals to Washington and San Francisco in early 2011.
Down the road, other models will include the Nissan Leaf, the Coda and Mitsubishi’s i-MiEV, as well as electric hybrids like the Toyota Prius Plugin Hybrid and Chevy Volt. Hertz plans a “full-scale deployment” of electric cars in U.S. and international markets next year.
Three Reasons Why Airfares Are Likely To Rise
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the average domestic airfare jumped 13% from $301 to $341 in the second quarter of 2010 vs. the previous year. That $341 fare was 3.8% more than the previous quarter and represented the fourth consecutive quarterly fare increase.
United Airlines’ average fare for the first nine months of this year is up 25% vs. a year ago. Even Southwest Airlines, long considered the budget standard, reported an average fare increase of 15% for that same period, and Southwest’s average airfare paid has increased 23% over the past three years.
According to David Grossman in USA Today, there are three primary reasons why airfares will continue to rise:
Capacity cuts and rising demand
According to the Air Transport Association (ATA), available seat miles (ASMs) for domestic travel declined by more than 12% between the fourth quarter of 2007 and the fourth quarter of 2009. As the increase in travel demand has exceeded the supply of available seats, passenger load factors, or the percentage of occupied seats, jumped from 75.3% to 78.8% during the first ten months of 2010 vs. 2009. Higher load factors inevitably lead to higher airfares.
Prolonged period of higher oil prices
All airlines are affected by rising oil prices, but one airline has felt the impact more than most: Southwest. With their cost advantage from hedging oil prices now history, Southwest has had to raise its prices to remain profitable, and the rest of the industry has followed.
Changing business model for low-cost airlines
So called “low-cost” airlines look more like network airlines every day. As these airlines mature, their operating costs are on the rise. These costs include flying from larger “hub” airports with higher costs and more congestion. Southwest’s absorption of Air Tran will add a second aircraft type, further increasing operating costs.
These additional operating costs, combined with higher oil prices and rising travel demand outstripping capacity will contribute to upward pressure on airfares. So, in answer to the age-old question about the best time to book your next flight: It may be right now, as all signs point to a continued climb.
New York City Hotel Capacity Soars
New York City is planning to open 33 hotels by the end of this year. Six of these will be high-end properties including the InterContinental New York Times Square, Hyatt’s latest Andaz on 5th Avenue, a Gansevoort on Park Avenue, the W New York-Downtown, a Conrad in Manhattan, and an Embassy Suites in the Financial District.
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Secure Flight Has Arrived!
On November 1, airlines began requiring additional passenger information to comply with the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) Secure Flight program. The program was developed to allow for uniform watch list matching by TSA to identify known and suspected terrorists. We have been collecting this information from our clients for many months now, to make the transition as smooth as possible.
Passengers must provide the following information at the time of booking:
Missing information will prevent us and the airlines from issuing tickets and travelers from printing boarding passes. This is why we have been working with our travelers to update their profiles on a regular basis. We want everyone to have a hassle-free travel experience! For more information, visit http://www.tsa.gov/secureflight.
Get 20% off at Four Points Hotels
Menno Travel Service clients receive 20% off a 2+ night stay at Four Points when the reservation is made through our office and paid with any American Express® Card. This offer is valid thru December 31, 2010.
Earn FREE Rental Credits With National’s Emerald Club
You achieve Executive status with National Car Rental after 12 rentals or 40 rental days and Executive Elite status after 25 rentals or 85 rental days, each within a calendar year. Membership is valid for the remainder of the year you qualify, plus 14 months. Among additional benefits with Executive status you earn one free day with 6 Rental Credits. This is decreased to needing only 5 Rental Credits to earn one free day with Executive Elite status.
Booking Tip: As an Emerald Club member, always begin the rental process by reserving a Midsize car. Then choose any size, make or model from the Emerald Aisle®/Executive SelectionSM area — you’ll only be charged the reserved Midsize rate.
Emerald Club membership fees are waived when registered through Menno Travel Service!
New Limits On Using U.S. Dollars In Mexico
A new Mexican law limits the use of U.S. dollars for purchases made in Mexico. Payments made with credit card, Travelers Checks, pesos and non-American foreign currencies (including Canadian dollars) are not affected.
Hotels and exchange booths in Mexico will only change a maximum of $1,500 U.S. dollars per person per month into pesos. Businesses in Mexico will only be able to accept a maximum of $100 U.S. dollars per transaction, but the number of transactions per customer is not restricted. Certain businesses may not accept U.S. dollars at all.
If you are traveling to Mexico, be prepared to pay for purchases with a credit card, Travelers Checks or Mexican pesos. Purchase Mexican pesos from Menno Travel Service, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. We take cash only and a valid driver’s license is required when purchasing foreign currency.
South Bend Airport Enjoying Increased Passenger Traffic
August reports from South Bend Regional Airport show that total passenger traffic at SBN was up 5.32 percent over August 2009—the first increase since April 2008. Competitive prices, nonstop flights to vacation destinations, hub connectivity, travel agency support, and affordable parking all contribute to the airport’s growing popularity.
Nearly every SBN carrier experienced an increase. Allegiant Air, whose passenger totals were up 35 percent, United Express reported a 5.9 percent increase and Delta Air Lines, reported a 3.9 percent increase over August 2009. These increases can be partly attributed to a 5.1 percent increase in seat capacity and the addition of Allegiant’s nonstop flight options such as Phoenix/Mesa.
What You Need To Know About Rental Car Rates
Hidden costs on rental cars can drive up the price in a hurry. To help keep the price down, or at least have a better understanding of the rates, here are some general guidelines:
Rental agencies located just off the airport grounds often offer cheaper rates than those located on higher-priced airport real estate. The cheapest alternative may be a location in the city.
Cities can levy all sorts of bizarre taxes and surcharges for expansion projects in addition to standard sales and excise taxes.
Rental companies may charge fees for shuttle bus service from the airport to the rental car location, energy surcharges, etc.
Gasoline purchased from the rental company as a “refueling charge” is usually sky high; more than the overpriced gas stations just outside the airport grounds. Fill up just before you return your car and make sure you have a receipt to prove it.
Now that states are moving to electronic toll-collection systems, you may be sold the option to pay through operations such as PlatePass. Some companies actually charge a $2.50 daily fee even when you don’t use the system to pay tolls.
On a daily rental, these additional fees may double the price you eventually pay. On a weekly rental, they could make up 50 percent of the cost. Make sure to check the final price to get the best view of your options when comparing quotes.
New Nonstop Service to Brazil
Delta Air Lines has new nonstop service to São aulo, Brazil from Detroit. Service will operate twice weekly through December 15, when it will increase to five days each week to coincide with the start of the Brazilian tourist season.
Continental Merges With United
Continental has completed the merger with United Airlines®. For now, it’s business as usual. Each airline and frequent flyer program will continue to operate separately. The merger won’t affect miles in your account or your elite status:
The full integration of United and Continental is supposed to take between 12 and 18 months. More information, including FAQs, is available at continental.com.
There’s An App For TSA
TSA Offers Mobile Phone App – The Transportation and Security Administration (TSA) has developed a free app for iPhones and mobile Web devices to help travelers get all the information they need about security at the tip of their fingers. The new app includes a “Can I Bring My ____ Through the Security Checkpoint?” tool that will tell you if your item can be brought onto a plane in carry-on or checked baggage. Check it out at http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/mobile/index.shtm.
And, about that vacation you’re planning to take…
Join Our 2011 Hosted Group Cruise Departures:
Southern Caribbean Cruise, Hosted by Tim and Marisa Yoder
Alaska CruiseTour, Hosted by Geof Landis and Liz Gunden
Travel Free With “Pay With Points”
Most American Express cards are eligible to earn Membership Rewards points which can be redeemed for travel at Menno Travel Service! Simply book your travel the way you always do with Menno Travel and we will redeem your points for payment. Companies can save money by using their rewards points for their corporate travelers and individuals can save on their vacation expenses.
If you are not an American Express cardmember, contact Geof to learn how you or your company can begin earning and using Membership Reward points.