As a travel agency, our job is to keep you informed about changes in the travel industry. If you have traveled through any major airport in the past couple months, you may have noticed a TSA announcement about the REAL ID Act. Here is a brief description of the REAL ID act and how it affects you.
What is the Real ID Act?
The Real ID Act is a federal law that requires state driver’s licenses and ID cards to be accepted by the federal government for “official purposes“. The Secretary of Homeland Security has currently defined “official purposes” as boarding commercially operated domestic airline flights, entering federal buildings, and nuclear power plants. The REAL ID Act also helps secure domestic flights and federal facilities by increasing regulations on IDs to deter forgery. This new law goes into effect October 1, 2020.
How does it affect Indiana?
Indiana is fully compliant with the REAL ID Act (It is called the Secure ID in Indiana). When the new law goes into effect on October 1, 2020, you will need to make sure that your license meets the standard. A Secure Indiana ID has a star in the top right corner. When you renew your license, make sure you understand what additional forms of identification you will need to have a license that meets the new federal guidelines, http://www.in.gov/bmv/2953.htm.
How does it affect other states?
If your driver license is issued by a state that is non-compliant with the REAL ID Act you will have to use another form of identification accepted by TSA (Passport or Passport Card, Global Entry card, U.S. military ID, airline or airport-issued ID, federally recognized tribal-issued photo ID) after January 22, 2018. To check to see if your state is compliant with the REAL ID Act click the map below.
I am lucky enough to work in an office with some amazing women. I want to share a quick story about what happened a couple weeks back. Here is what happened.
Imagine you are at the end of your Christmas break Key West vacation and tonight you will be home in Northern Indiana. You head to the airport for the last leg of the journey. Upon arriving at the airport, you receive a rude awaking as armed guards barricade the entrance of the airport and direct you out of the area. This was a reality for a client of ours.
On Friday, January 6th, our clients arrived at Fort Lauderdale International airport to see armed guards motioning them to stay back. They had just arrived at the scene of a horrific shooting. One of the advantages of using a travel agency is the security of knowing that you have a personal assistant to get you out of any travel situation. Immediately our client texted their agent at Menno Travel, we had already received a travel warning regarding the shooting at Fort Lauderdale Airport. Before they texted us, we were in the midst of going through our data base to see who was flying in, out, or connecting in Fort Lauderdale. Whenever there is a major alert (weather, malfunctions, terrorist incidents) Menno contacts our clients letting them know of potential delays and provides them with other travel options.
Maggie, the vacation agent working with the stranded clients, called Delta and tried to find a way back to South Bend. That particular Friday, there were major winter ice storms passing through the East and West coasts, it was also the end of Christmas break. Usually, our agents can find another route home, the difficulty was getting five passengers back on the same flight. Maggie searched multiple airports in Florida to try and find a flight back to this area. There were no Delta flights back to our area that had five seats available. While on hold with Delta, Maggie found five seats on an American Airlines flight departing from Miami the next morning. She negotiated with Delta and got a refund for our clients and booked the American Airline flight to Chicago. She then booked a hotel room in Miami. The next morning when the family arrived in Chicago, Maggie had arranged for a limo to pick them up. It was the cheapest option back to South Bend. The limo drove our clients back to South Bend and dropped the family off at their front door, then drove the husband to South Bend airport to pick up his personal car. Menno is currently working on getting refunds for our client’s limo and hotel expense.
In an unpredictable world where stories like this occur, having someone to back you up and provide service at this level is critical. We hope that this situation, or any situation, never happens to our clients but we will be there if it ever does.
What is the Zika virus? The Zika Virus is a disease spread to people through mosquito bites. The common symptoms of the Zika Virus are fever, joint pain, rashes and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The symptoms last several days to a week. The illness is usually mild. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon and deaths are rare.
Since the Zika virus is spread through mosquito bites everyone is susceptible. One in five people infected with the Zika virus will get sick. The symptoms are similar to the flu. Recently Brazil linked the Zika virus to babies born with Microcephaly. Microcephaly is a condition where the baby’s head size at birth is smaller than the average. Babies with smaller head sizes might have brains that do not develop properly causing problems later in life. The sharp rise in babies born with Microcephaly in Brazil in the past couple months has caused the CDC to issue a travel alert (level 2 Practice Enhanced Precautions)
What countries are most affected? The travel alert is for these countries. (Countries are being added to this list daily. The list is accurate as of 5/18/16)
- American Samoa
- Cape Verde
- Costa Rica
- Dominican Republic
- El Salvador
- French Guiana
- Kosrae, Federated States of Micronesia
- Marshall Islands
- New Caledonia
- Papua New Guinea
- Saint Lucia
- Puerto Rico
- Saint Barthelemy
- Saint Martin
- Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
- Sint Maarten
- Trinidad and Tobago
- US Virgin Islands
All travelers to the countries listed above should consult your physician. The CDC is recommending that pregnant women and women who are trying to become pregnant consult with your physician and consider postponing travel to any area where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. If you contract the virus please seek a professional health care provider.
Information about the Zika virus is being updated on a daily basis. We will continue to monitor the situation. Please refer to our website for additional details.
For more information you can visit the CDC website here
The airlines and tour operators are just coming out with policies for passengers to reschedule and or cancel trips to the affected countries. We are monitoring these policies daily and will be contacting you shortly to give you the options.
Living in communities close to local regional airports is very convenient. It’s great to have less traffic, easy parking, short security lines, and the ability to connect to wherever you need to go! But sometimes at an airport of choice, the air fare can be significantly higher than normal, or the flight schedules are not convenient. Here in the Indiana-Michigan area, one of the challenges is scheduling around Notre Dame Football games. In these situations, your corporate agent will check all the options at surrounding airports, balancing convenience and cost-effectiveness.
We know that many of our customers live in different parts of the country and use airports other than those found in the Michiana area. But we found it interesting to compare the distance to regional and metropolitan airports available in our geographic area. The same will be true in other regions as well. The options may surprise you!
* Distance based on google maps
Deem customers of Menno Travel can take advantage of the mobile app for your iPhone or Android. Menno Travel is excited this technology is available for our online customers.
Today’s travelers need a powerful mobile app that has the ability to view and search for upcoming flights from their phone. Not to mention, book hotels and car service based on location, brand, policy, TripAdvisor ratings, and price. The Deem mobile app can deliver all this and more.
Check it out!
- Management of upcoming travel reservation
- End-to-end reservation capability for flights, hotels and car rentals
- TripAdvisor ratings in hotel search results
- Calendar sync to provide real-time updates
- Select and compare seat sections across flight results
- In-app flight check-in and mobile boarding pass
- Location-based restaurant deals and offers to stay within per diems
To get the app today, login to your Deem account and find the Go Mobile! box on the right side of the screen and download it now!
Are you paying too much for cars and hotels?
Menno Travel has developed an automated technology to enhance our service to the corporate community. Last year Car Rate Checker found over 650 lower car rental rates for our customers totaling a staggering $26,900. With the year half over, we have already saved over $17,000 for our valued and loyal customers.
We also found that hotels trend the same way, and we put our heads together and launched our Hotel Rate Checker which will celebrate its 1st birthday in July! Knowing that online retailers such as Expedia and Hotels.com, return rates based on different searches, we harnessed this data to your advantage.
The average three night hotel stay, now costs more than your average domestic airline ticket. Luckily Hotel Rate Checker has been hard at work saving our customers on average $23 per night. That’s Amazing!
Booking your cars and hotels with Menno Travel assures lowest rate availability, through our access to discounted rates AND our Car Hotel Automated Recheck Technology (CHART) continues to search for lower fares after the reservation is made. Book your hotels & cars with Menno Travel and let CHART do the rest!
Incentive Travel – 10 Powerful Benefits
Rewarding customer loyalty and sales growth and performance with fantastic corporate rewards will benefit your business. After all, giving customers reason to not look elsewhere is part of any successful business. Below, we take a closer look at the powerful advantages of incentive travel.
1. Motivate and Inspire Customers & Sales Staff with a Memorable Reward
Providing desirable travel incentives is a great way to motivate and inspire your customer base. It will encourage business-centric buzz around your industry, with everyone wanting to be sure to not miss out, thus meeting their targets and win the reward.
2. Incentive Travel is a Cost-Effective Alternative
According to the Harvard Business Review, money is the most expensive way to reward. Travel incentives can be more cost-effective and offer greater value in terms of the benefits to staff, customers and the business.
3. Corporate Rewards Can Help Your Business Achieve its Goals
Through inspiring and motivating your customer base, corporate rewards can help you to achieve a number of company objectives, such as:
• Customer retention
• Increasing sales and profitability.
• Maintaining consistently high sales performance
4. Foster Customer Loyalty and Dedication
A great rewards system will ensure your customers feel appreciated. This feeling of appreciation fosters a positive environment, increasing consumer loyalty to the company. Similarly, appreciated customers are more dedicated. This leads to greater sales and increased profitability.
5. Forge Stronger Networking Dynamics
The thrilling adventures and shared experiences of a fantastic trip will hone and develop networking dynamics. It will also allow company and customer to build stronger relationships, and offers an informal forum for honest discussion about the company.
6. Personal Benefits for your Customers
Everyone benefits from some time away. Rewarding your customer with a travel experience will help to relieve stress, boost confidence and reignite creativity. A short break can do wonders for the soul – and your business by extension.
7. A Healthy Customer base is a Happy Business
Studies suggest that perceived benefits that no one else or a select few can get, keeps the loyal customer returning to the company. This comes back to the sense of appreciation and the personal benefits of corporate rewards.
8. Excellent PR for your Organization
Word-of-mouth is a very powerful tool. Customers who have received a memorable corporate reward are likely to rave about it to their friends and family. Also the opportunity to re-connect with past participants is an appealing part of reward packages. This will entice greater sales to your company and will improve your organization’s PR overall.
9. Travel Incentives are More Effective than Cash Rewards
Cold, hard cash is one of the most common, and according to statistics, least effective ways to reward people. The money is often treated as part of a discount and is spent on bills or household items. In contrast, an enticing travel experience is proven to inspire and motivate. In addition, the memory of a fantastic trip will last much longer than a cash bonus, fostering feelings of gratitude towards the company.
10. Flexible Experiences for Every Budget
Incentive travel can be tailored to suit budgets, making travel a practical reward option for small and large businesses alike.
Book your corporate travel experience with a company you can trust. Menno Travel, Group & Incentive Department has the knowledge and expertise to provide your company with unique travel options. Menno Travel’s Group & Incentive Department can manage your customer/sales loyalty travel incentive.
Please contact our Group & Incentive Department at email@example.com
Menno Traveler – March 2015
~ a newsletter for our business travelers ~
Online Booking Tool Mobile App
Menno Travel’s online booking tool, Deem, includes a mobile app for booking air, car and hotel reservations. You can view all your reservation details in one place. Flight alerts about delays, gate changes or cancellations keep you on track.
Fares that are out of your company’s travel policy are clearly identified. Along with Deem’s expense management you can quickly add images of receipts to your digital wallet and then submit expense reports for review and approval. Managers can review and approve expense reports, ensuring company policies are being enforced and you are being reimbursed in timely fashion.
Contact Geof Landis if you are interested in learning more about Deem, our convenient online booking and expense management option.
Mission and Humanitarian Travel
In addition to corporate travel management, Menno serves religious travel needs, specifically those of missionaries, church organizations, and pastors. We handle the travel arrangements to conferences, study tours, and student groups. We have access to mission fares and assist with travel insurance for short or long term assignments.
We have experience with destinations in Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Pacific, in addition to North America and Europe. We can assist with procuring visas, passports, and other travel documents, obtaining information on required or suggested health measures, and obtaining information on allowed baggage and excess baggage costs. We can also provide customized travel reports for destinations and current state department international travel advisories and warnings.
If you know anyone looking for help planning Mission or Humanitarian individual or group travel, contact Ron Yoder.
Ronda Morris Taking on New Responsibilities
In addition to handling corporate travel reservations, Ronda will be working with our corporate accounts to provide sales and customer service support. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 574-534-1521 if you have questions about the services you currently receive from Menno Travel.
Booking More Than The Major Airlines
Are you surprised that we book Jet Blue and Southwest and Allegiant airlines? Don’t be! We are a full-service corporate travel management business, booking airlines, hotels, and car rentals to suit your business travel needs. Let us know if you have a special request and we will see if we can help you out, using our connections with our suppliers. We are people with the right connections!
Two Ways You Will Save Money Using Menno Travel
* Delta SkyBonus tickets: If you have a SkyBonus account, remember that we can save you money by managing your account and suggesting when it is most advantageous to use points instead of paying for a ticket.
American Express Membership Rewards Points: As an American Express Travel Representative office, we are able to book your travel, charge it to your American Express card and then credit your American Express card account using your Membership Rewards Points.
Contact Geof Landis if you are interested in taking advantage of either the SkyBonus or Membership Rewards Points programs.
Were Your Travel Plans Affected by Winter Storms?
We are so glad to have winter in our rearview mirror! Winter storms always cause a lot of flight cancellations and stranded travelers. Jill, Dee, Ronda and Ron were kept busy again this winter, watching flights and re-accommodating travelers to get them where they needed to go.
To ensure that you receive immediate assistance, please let the person directing your call know when you are stuck and calling us from an airport. We also check all of our reservations to flag those that may be affected by weather so that we can proactively get you on your way.
SBN Airport Valet Parking Great Option…Especially for Winter
Did you know that South Bend International Airport (SBN) offers valet parking service? For the same price as short-term parking, the service will have your car cleared off, warmed up and ready just steps outside the terminal doors when you arrive.
Simply follow the signs at the airport front drive. Then give the attendant your flight information and car keys. When you return, your car will be waiting at the curb! Cost for valet parking is $5 for up to one hour and $13 for 1-24 hours. Call 574-288-4912 or 800-681-8885 for more information.
Delta Redefining Service Classes On Flights
Delta is redefining the products it offers into five distinct products including Delta One, First Class and Delta Comfort+ which offer customers the best of Delta’s services by providing premium products while Main Cabin and Basic Economy will offer value options.
For example, Delta Comfort+ is adding premium snacks and complimentary Starbucks®, beer, wine, and spirits on most flights. They will also have a location toward the front of the plane, have more legroom and on some longer flights, extra recline. In addition, Delta Comfort+ includes Sky Priority® boarding and dedicated overhead bin space and Wi-Fi and complimentary premium entertainment through Delta Studio™ where available.
Delta SkyMiles Updates Delta has expanded the number of airline partners that SkyMiles members can select to redeem for award travel. Delta also recently updated the Fly Delta app to give customers the ability to book award travel from mobile devices. Or, call Menno Travel and we will be happy to assist you with your award travel bookings as well.
Customers can now earn (Medallion Qualification Dollars) MQDs, regardless of ticketing carrier, for travel on most of Delta’s airline partners, which will help achieve Medallion status faster. MQD earning varies based on carrier, percentage of distance flown as determined by Delta and fare class paid.
New one-way award tickets beginning as low as 10,000 miles plus taxes and fees, are available through December 31, 2015, for travel in select U.S., Mexican and Caribbean markets. Check out your favorite destinations and plan a trip now!
US Airways and American Frequent Flyer Programs Combining
American Airlines and merger partner US Airways will combine their frequent-flier programs. The US Airways Dividend Miles® program will be combined into the AAdvantage program and here’s what you need to know:
Once the programs are combined, your US Airways Dividend Miles mileage balance, Preferred‑qualifying activity and million mile balance will be transferred into your AAdvantage account on a one‑to‑one ratio. Elite status level will be determined by looking at your combined elite‑qualifying activity for 2014, and separately, your combined 2015 year‑to‑date elite‑qualifying activity. It may take a few days to transfer everything, but you’ll receive an email you once it’s completed.
You’ll continue earning miles when you fly on American, US Airways, oneworld and other participating airlines, as well as with over 1,000 partners. And, you’ll still be able to redeem miles for flights, upgrades on American and US Airways, car rentals, hotel stays and more.
Dividend Miles award bookings and mileage upgrade requests will be disabled a few days before the two programs are combined to allow time to integrate your accounts. If you plan to redeem Dividend Miles for an upcoming trip, plan to book now.
Once the programs are combined, Dividend Miles will be converted into AAdvantage miles, and you’ll be able to redeem AAdvantage miles with American.
Hyatt Launches Free Wi-Fi To All Guests Worldwide All Hyatt hotels and resorts worldwide will provide free Wi-Fi to guests on an unlimited number of mobile devices or laptops in guest rooms and social spaces at Hyatt-branded hotels. Platinum and Diamond Hyatt Gold Passport members will receive a free upgrade to premium Wi-Fi service in those spaces wherever available, and guests will have the option to purchase premium service in those locations.
Marriott To Use Apple Pay Marriott International, Inc will become the first global hospitality company to offer Apple Pay. Guests using Apple Pay at check-in will simply bring their iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus or soon, Apple Watch, near the contactless reader at the front desk. When their device responds with a subtle vibration and beep, the payment information has been securely captured. There will be no need to provide a credit card upon check-in.
At select Marriott Hotels, guests have been testing an app for service requests, enabling them to chat in real time with hotel staff to make requests, such as extra towels, valet service, dinner reservations and more. Marriott will launch an app for the Apple Watch, upon availability. With the Apple Watch app, Marriott Rewards members will be able to use it to check-in in advance, receive prior notification when their room is ready, and checkout at nearly 4,000 hotels globally. Marriott expects to start rolling out Apple Pay this summer beginning at select hotels.
A Look Back at Airline Commissions 20 Years Ago
20 years ago the airlines started cutting travel agencies out of their commission structure, forcing travel agencies to either stop selling airline tickets or start charging fees. At that time, many travel agencies went out of business, fearing their clients wouldn’t suddenly begin paying for their services.
At Menno Travel, our clients’ need for our services continued and we began to charge fees based on our cost to provide the service. Other agencies weren’t so lucky. There were about 36,000 accredited travel agencies that dwindled to fewer than 10,000 during the first 10 years of commission cuts. So much changed with technology and is changing more every year. Many agents were forced to treat travel as a business and the good ones survived.
Thank you to all of our clients who believe in travel services, including managed corporate travel!