Planning Your Next Europe Travel

Word Vacation rings a bell in everyone’s mind and reminds us of the good times we have had, the different places we visited and some of the pictures of things seen come in the mind’s eye.

When you think of traveling overseas, the long duration flights do make us weary just by thinking about it. You have got to get to the airport a few hours in advance, stand in queue, customs formalities and waiting for boarding announcement can easily tire you out even before you get into the flight.

Those who travel to Europe on holiday cover the entire length and breadth of Europe by euro rail. Europe has one of the best rail service system across the entire continent and more over one can buy passes at cheap rates and well in advance. In fact there are many students who travel over the weekends by trains to other stations and even save on hotel stay. A trip from London to Paris can cost you just about $50. Un believable isn’t it?

Euro Start takes you from London to Paris and Brussels on its fast speed train service and it is worth getting on board this train from St.Pancras Station in London. After its recent refurbishing and revival, traffic has increased tremendously from the station and people love this place.

Traveling across Europe and visiting different countries need not give you jitters about having to buy tickets at every station. All you need to do is to buy euro rail pass for a certain amount. It has a certain period validity and you can travel on those particular lines across several countries without having to bother about buying new ticket.

You can start anywhere in Europe and travel the entire length and breadth of the continent. For example most people take the super fast train between London to Paris and Munich to Madrid and so on, thereby cover all of the cities across Europe.

Read up complete information on Euro rail passes and check out very many options available like ferry travel service from port Copenhagen etc. With detailed planning you can zig zag across Europe and have an adventurous holiday without having to spend a lot of money.

One other way of traveling across Europe is to finish sight seeing all through the day and catch a night train to the next destination in another country. You can sleep through the night and get rested well and be ready to start exploring the new country again in the morning. The long journey trains provide you with sleeping cabin births and are very comfortable for you to sleep or relax.

On arrival you can check out the next train on your schedule and head out for breakfast before hitting the road to discover the magic of the new town. You can let your hair down and go ahead without any bother.

Travel Tour to Europe – Travel Insurance For Europe

There are always many risks involved with traveling outside your own country and travel insurance for Europe is essential, despite the fact that you may think it is not a very “exotic” location. You may always fall ill, suffer an accident, or have a sudden change of plans, no matter where you are in the world. The peace of mind that you purchase with travel insurance for Europe is, in my mind, absolutely priceless. Just think about it: when you are on holidays, you simply want to be able to have a carefree time without needing to worry in the back of your mind. Of course, should anything detrimental actually occur, it may spoil your vacation regardless. However, the degree to which it may affect you will be determined by your travel insurance coverage.

There are many types of coverage for travel insurance to Europe. There is medical coverage for illness and accidents, trip cancellation/interruption coverage for unforeseen circumstances that alter your plans and baggage insurance for your possessions. You must determine what you may require for yourself because the combinations of coverage are many. In general, it is always a good idea to purchase some form of medical insurance, even if it is the most basic coverage. You do not want to have to pay out of pocket for hospital and medical bills if you become sick abroad. If you have chronic conditions or are of a certain age (over 50) then it is smart to purchase further protection with a more comprehensive medical plan.

Trip cancellation/interruption coverage is also pretty standard for travelers. People think that they do not need it, but the twist of irony is that it covers “unforeseen” circumstances. Hence, you are unlikely to predict that you will require this coverage. For example, imagine if a close relative died all of a sudden. If you need to get home, of course you will forfeit the rest of your trip because of family priorities. But, it is best to protect yourself beforehand and to be able to recover your costs later with travel insurance to Europe that has trip cancellation/interruption coverage.

Baggage insurance is an iffy one. The airlines usually cover you for a certain amount, ranging from $600-3000; they are liable to give you some sort of compensation if they lose your bag. That being said, certain travelers carry very expensive items around like top-of-the-line cameras. If this is you, then you need to consider taking out additional travel insurance for Europe to cover your particularly dear luggage. Otherwise, I would not worry excessively about having baggage insurance for Europe.

Europe Travel Review

The reason to travel to Europe may be different for each traveler, but a few of the common reasons are: Cultural Opportunities: For those interested in museums, arts, history, music or theater Europe travel offers nearly endless opportunity for cultural activity. From London to Paris to Rome to Amsterdam travelers can enjoy some of the most exciting cultural opportunities the world has to offer.

Landmarks:

People like to visit and associate themselves with something (or someone) famous. Europe travel destinations are rich in famous landmarks. Some of the most well known landmarks of the world, from Big Ben, to the Eiffel Tower, to the Coliseum are located in Europe.

Roots:

People like to visit the countries of their ancestors. Ancient European were wanderers who put up stakes in destinations around the world. Their descendants are now traveling to Europe to return to their roots and see the places their forefathers once called home.

Variety:

Where else can you enjoy such a diversity of culture, climate and geography over such a small distance A traveler to the US will notice relatively small changes when traveling from L A to New York City, a flight of approximately six hours. Language is the same, food is similar, and culture is not remarkably different. However, a two hour flight from Zurich, Switzerland to Athens, Greece , will reward the traveler with an enormous difference that is immediately obvious. Everything from language, food to lifestyle is completely and utterly different. Distances in Europe are relatively small and cultural variety is large. This gives the traveler to Europe the opportunity of easily enjoying a diverse range of cultures and lifestyles by making a relatively low investment of time and money.

Transportation:

There is no place more convenient for a traveler, than Europe Transportation is arguably the best in the world. Europe is well known for its remarkable train system and train passes which offer travelers the opportunity for international travel at very affordable rates. With more and more discount airlines available, Europe travel is becoming less and less expensive. Once you arrive in a major city, there is usually a local metro or streetcar system to take you anywhere you want to go. The ease, comfort and economy makes Europe travel very attractive and convenient.

Health:

When traveling in some regions of the world, travelers must consider if there are any local illnesses that they may be exposed to, if vaccines maybe required and if they fall ill, will they receive proper medical treatment. Most European destinations have excellent water supplies, low rates of infectious diseases and some of the best healthcare systems in the world.

Safety:

Travelers are always easy prey for criminals. However in most European countries your hotel room is not only safe from burglary due to security but is also equipped with a safe European police departments are usually efficient and violent crime is generally lower than in many other areas. But one should always remember when exploring new destination never loose sight of your money and documents.

When is the best time to travel Europe:

May, June, September, and October: These are the perfect months to enjoy southern Europe. Greece, Turkey, Spain and Italy are the best destinations in these periods. The climate at this time is usually ideal and the crowds are relatively thin. International flights are usually less expensive than the peak fares of summer. In the peak travel months of July and August, these destinations may be too hot, too crowded and too expensive for many travelers. July, August: This is the best time to visit Northern, Central and Eastern Europe and go to such countries as Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, Czech Republic. However, this period offers the best climate conditions and many of the locals will be on holiday in southern Europe during this period November to March: Europe is cold during these months. While you may find travel bargains at this time, you may spend a lot of your travel time indoors. The only exception to this is the Canary Islands. Although part of Spain, the Canary Islands are located off the coast of Africa, and enjoy moderate climate year-round. With all of the attention paid to destinations like London and Paris, few people really put much thought into Eastern Europe travel when they are making their vacation plans.

Besides the well-known sites in the Czech Republic and Greece, Poland and Lithuania also offer exciting possibilities. One of the great thing about Eastern Europe travel is that you don’t have to choose one destination exclusively. In general, the public transportation is good enough and cheap enough in that part of the world that you can get from one country to another with relative ease. Basically, Eastern Europe travel offers you the luxury of exploring a whole region rather than settling on one single country. If, however, you are going on a first Eastern Europe travel trip, you should be prepared for culture shock Customs are still familiar enough to not be totally alienating, however, things are still noticeably different there. The fact that it is so affordable, however, more than makes up for this. If you can find cheap airfare to Eastern Europe, You can take your trip for almost nothing. Travel Is Interesting and Entertaining. It’s not a zoo where you look into the cages. Meld with the European to enjoy your travels.

You don’t have to visit museums if you would rather go on a balloon flight or go to a bull fight or sit at a cafe and meet someone new. As an example, one of the most highly recommended items in all of the popular travel guidebooks, TV travel shows, and guided tours is the Amsterdam Canals Boat Excursion. I took this ride and I have a different opinion. You’re stuffed into this long boat with a curved plexiglass roof, you and 80 other tourists. In four languages, over a miserable speaker system, you listen to a tape recording of stupendous facts and statistics about the places you are floating by. Good luck ever finding these places again as you walk around. I was not the only one bored on board. On top of that, it seemed that the boat was going to be swamped by a huge freighter when it got out in the middle of the harbor. What in Amsterdam name were we doing out in the harbor ? On the other hand, one of the most fascinating exhibits in Europe is usually left out of the popular guidebooks. Sins of omission are far from the major problems with these books. Virtually every one I open has errors so stupid that the only possible explanation is that the author did not go to the place mentioned.

The Ways You Have of Making Cheap Europe Travel Possible for Yourself

The dollar may be weak and you may have a hard time finding bargains when you travel around Europe. But if with your unflagging spirit, you still haven’t given up trying to score a few ways to make cheap Europe travel possible, here’s how you go about it.

Europe is famous for its ultra-low-cost airlines – EasyJet and Vueling are two popular low-cost airlines, for instance. It is the practice with Europe’s a low-cost airlines to offer you cheap Europe travel packages with airline fares, car rentals and hotel rooms thrown in. They have dozens and dozens of packages for different needs; if you have the patience to trace a finger through all of them and make a few compromises along the way, you’ll have some pretty cheap Europe travel options before you.

In Europe, where train travel can be a vastly superior experience to what you find in the US, traveling by train can sometimes be more expensive than traveling by air. However, the European train system offers ways in which to economize. For instance, buying a ticket three days in advance for a train trip in Germany, gives you a quarter off; if you buy on a weekend, you’ll get a half off. Buy a ticket well enough in advance for train travel out of France, and you can get tickets that are practically free.

The cities of Europe can be spectacularly expensive to stay in. There are deals to be had though, when you take the time to check the offers out that clutter up the tourism websites. Visit every important tourism website for every city on your itinerary and you’ll find special offers that give you hotel and attraction packages that can save you lots of money. All you need to do is to pay for a night at one of the hotels they offer you, and you’ll find that tickets to plenty of expensive attractions in the city get thrown in for free.

Traveling around any European city can be such a pleasant experience. They usually have great public transportation – buses, underground trains, bicycle rentals. But you need to make sure that you don’t ever buy single tickets on any public transportation service. In London for instance, a single underground ticket can set you back by $12. Buy a day pass (presumably called an Oyster card because it opens London up like an oyster to you) for just a couple of dollars more though, and you can travel as much as you want. Buy a city pass in many European cities and you get all kinds of attractions thrown in as well. If you plan to go to at least five or six museums or other places around the city, these could be well worth it.

Cheap Europe Travel Tours – Plan Your Trip Now!

Traveling to Europe was never so easy and reasonable. The cheap Europe travel tours have made it possible for you to conveniently plan a holiday that too at affordable rates of interest. The beautiful country has so much for history lovers and nature lovers. The beautiful continent is the second largest continent and bestows so much. Every year Europe enjoys various tourists from all around the world and leaves keen visitors spellbound with magnificent and beautiful destinations.

Rome, Paris, London, Italy, Denmark, Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Russia, Spain and Switzerland are some of popular countries of Europe that enjoy huge visitor rush. Intriguing cultures, wonderful sceneries and places of historical importance are common places. From Eiffel tower to Colosseum museum in Rome, you will be able to visit and see some of the world famous places at reasonable rates.

The contrasting culture and customs that you will encounter while moving on from one destination to other will be a totally unforgettable experience. You can take help of travel guide or itinerary can be consulted to plan your trip. You can easily find useful and reliable information about all the tourist spot and will enable easy navigation.

Cheap travel Europe is a complete tour package and is made available by many travel agencies. These travel agencies make all the arrangement from tickets to room reservation, food and transportation arrangement and various such things. These package tours are specially designed to provide complete insight of Europe keeping your budgetary allocations in mind. These agencies provide these services at affordable rates as they have tie ups with the hotels, transportation service providers etc and get discounts.

To access any information or to apply for cheap travel to Europe you can easily search online. Get information, compare various packages and select one that suits you.

What Travel Agents Need to Know About Corporate Travel Today

This is rightly named as the age of traveler-centricity and with the evolution of the new era of personalized travel; it is leading to research and development of a host of new so-called intelligent services. The command-and-control perspectives of traveling have changed a lot from the past and the focus has shifted more on the traveler and the productivity of each trip. It has become essential to maintain that the travelers have the greatest return on investment on each trip. New generations of young employees and managers, who have been growing up and dwelling in a digital age, are moving up the ranks as travelers. It has become essential to recognize the need for greater flexibility acknowledging that the employees who travel on corporate trips also consider a percentage of their trip to be a leisure outlet. With increasing globalization and rise in companies sending their staff overseas to network and connect with their offshore prospects/customers/suppliers, corporate travel is a highly profitable tourism segment. Before we talk about how tourism companies can better cater to business travelers, let us first look at why they prefer to use specialized corporate agencies over traditional agents

Why do businesses use Corporate Travel Agencies?

This might be the most basic question for a travel agency as to why they need to use agencies specializing in corporate travel when there are plenty of regular travel agents in the market. Here is the importance of corporate travel agencies who have online systems which allow business travelers access to their complete itinerary.

The following information is at the fingertips of the CTAs:-

full business itinerary details
up-to-date tracking details of flights (including delays or rescheduling)
transparent details about additional costs such as baggage fees or in-flight fees
travel alerts, if any, in the destined area
complete and up-to-date details about the visa procurement policies and identification required
currency requirement and conversion rates

What do corporate clients expect from Corporate Travel Agencies?

Negotiated Fares

The Corporate Agencies tend to have tie-ups with hotels, car rentals, flights etc. giving them access to lower fares which can be used only by the frequent business travelers. Discounted prices are not the only advantage though as they also offer flight upgrades, room upgrades, and VIP check-in lines as required.

In-depth information about the travel industry

Corporate travel agents have access to many travel resources and most importantly, quickly, than any other leisure travel agent. Additional information helps to make the business trips convenient and comfortable.

Changes in Itinerary

When an airline ticket needs to get rescheduled or cancelled, chances are the airline or the online service provider will charge lofty fees. When booking with a corporate travel agent, most of the times schedule changes can be done at zero or minimal extra charges.

Viable emergency contacts

It is important for the business travelers to reach the correct person at the need of trouble. Corporate travel agents have the experience and professionalism to relieve stress for both the traveler and the company.

What you need to consider as corporate travel increases?

Business Travel Barometer reported that corporate travel is witnessing an accelerated growth. However, when poorly managed, it may be no longer an advantage to companies and may, in fact become a burden. There are some factors which the corporations and CTAs must consider to get the best out of the time spent traveling.

Adopting a travel policy

The corporate must define a travel policy which is applicable to and respected by travelers at all levels. This policy should be used to establish the standards which will help to track the improvement of business travel. It will eventually help to reduce the costs of the entire package.

Do not limit the traveler’s autonomy

The management is responsible for budgeting the travel policy which helps to improve cost management however, it is also essential to give a degree of autonomy to the traveler. The policy should be flexible enough to allow the employee to adapt the trip as per the situation.

Traveler’s security should be a major concern

Business travelers need to have security in place. The company needs to stick to its definition of standards to ensure the employee’s integrity. The CTAs should have reliable partners (travel insurance, airlines, hotel chains etc.).

Mobility and automation

To optimize time and ease the processes, the administration of management platforms should have automated processes. This means they should adopt mobile solutions where search options, travel alerts, ticket reservations etc. can be accessed quickly, easily and on the go.

Corporate Travel Trends in 2016

Corporate travel trends tend to change regularly. 2016 has also not been any different and the travel management companies (TMCs) and corporate travel agencies (CTAs) are quite focused to provide steady if not strong axis all over. A growing MICE sector, investments in mobile and big data and enhanced focus on duty of care are some of their areas of focus.

Rising prices

The consolidated buzzword among global suppliers, airfares, hotel rates etc. is the rising fares. It is sometimes the move of the suppliers to generate discounts which encourage travel if there is a strong decline in demand. A positive 2016 world economy has been bringing an increase in air fares of a few percentage points, hotels are expected to see 4%-6% rise in average global rates and the competition will remain moderate in the car rental services.

Duty of care

Risk management is one of the major points of emphasis for corporations. Corporate customers are allowing new policies and improved technologies to monitor employees’ location in case of an emergency, especially when they are travelling to foreign destinations. For instance, Concur Risk Messaging helps to identify the travelers moving around in the world and alerts them with alternate travel arrangement as and when needed.

Focusing on MICE

Meetings industry is a major growing sector and the corporate travel trend is developing on it. The corporate travel agencies should better start aligning the various meeting procurement methodologies with its transient travel sourcing. One of the ways could be to broaden the variety of meeting services by incorporating incentive trips within it.

Investing in technology

A sharper focus on increasing value and becoming more traveler-centric can be done by bringing in mobile friendly technologies. Mobile and big data are definitely the two most significant technological investments which any corporate travel agency must focus to make their platform more appealing.

Business travel analysis after Brexit

Following Brexit, ACTE and CAPA shared their speculations. According to them, the greatest short-term effects on the travel industry will come from the weakening of the pound against other world currencies. Greeley Koch, executive director for the Association of Corporate Travel Executives said that the business travel industry will trend on currency fluctuations; with some companies taking advantage of the weaker pound and traveling more, while others may withhold business travel until world markets find their own level.

Impact of terrorism on corporate travelers

Travel policy makers and administrators need to be guided by rising terrorism scare. For executives and staff undertaking travel on behalf of businesses, the travel agents and corporate travel agencies (CTAs) should prove the reassurance for their safety through the travel policies. It is more than likely that the surveys conducted over corporate travelers reflect the general concern of the global business travelers about the spate of terrorism. However, there is no denying the fact that terrorist threat is changing the patterns of business travel. The key impact of this is to keep in mind that the companies providing travel services for business travelers need to enhance their focus on security and the associated risks in delivering the services to corporate clients. According to a recent finding, travel managers have higher estimation of their policy’s effectiveness in addressing risk compared to skeptical business travelers.

Concluding

Although the corporate travel sector has continued to progress, there are a plethora of challenges faced by the industry. A rapidly changing consumer market, the emergence of new business models, the impact of technology, man-made and natural crises are some of the fulcrum points that need to be considered before planning corporate trips.

Base Tendriling Travel Expenses

As business travel expenses nose upward, companies are realizing that better cost-management techniques can make a difference

US. corporate travel expenses rocketed to more than $143 billion in 1994, according to American Express’ most recent survey on business travel management. Private-sector employers spend an estimated $2,484 per employee on travel and entertainment, a 17 percent increase over the past four years.

Corporate T&E costs, now the third-largest controllable expense behind sales and data-processing costs, are under new scrutiny. Corporations are realizing that even a savings of 1 percent or 2 percent can translate into millions of dollars added to their bottom line.

Savings of that order are sure to get management’s attention, which is a requirement for this type of project. Involvement begins with understanding and evaluating the components of T&E management in order to control and monitor it more effectively.

Hands-on management includes assigning responsibility for travel management, implementing a quality-measurement system for travel services used, and writing and distributing a formal travel policy. Only 64 percent of U.S. corporations have travel policies.

Even with senior management’s support, the road to savings is rocky-only one in three companies has successfully instituted an internal program that will help cut travel expenses, and the myriad aspects of travel are so overwhelming, most companies don’t know where to start. “The industry of travel is based on information,” says Steven R. Schoen, founder and CEO of The Global Group Inc. “Until such time as a passenger actually sets foot on the plane, they’ve [only] been purchasing information.”

If that’s the case, information technology seems a viable place to hammer out those elusive, but highly sought-after, savings. “Technological innovations in the business travel industry are allowing firms to realize the potential of automation to control and reduce indirect [travel] costs,” says Roger H. Ballou, president of the Travel Services Group USA of American Express. “In addition, many companies are embarking on quality programs that include sophisticated process improvement and reengineering efforts designed to substantially improve T&E management processes and reduce indirect costs.”

As companies look to technology to make potential savings a reality, they can get very creative about the methods they employ.

The Great Leveler

Centralized reservation systems were long the exclusive domain of travel agents and other industry professionals. But all that changed in November 1992 when a Department of Transportation ruling allowed the general public access to systems such as Apollo and SABRE. Travel-management software, such as TripPower and TravelNet, immediately sprang up, providing corporations insight into where their T&E dollars are being spent.

The software tracks spending trends by interfacing with the corporation’s database and providing access to centralized reservation systems that provide immediate reservation information to airlines, hotels and car rental agencies. These programs also allow users to generate computerized travel reports on cost savings with details on where discounts were obtained, hotel and car usage and patterns of travel between cities. Actual data gives corporations added leverage when negotiating discounts with travel suppliers.

“When you own the information, you don’t have to go back to square one every time you decide to change agencies,” says Mary Savovie Stephens, travel manager for biotech giant Chiron Corp.

Sybase Inc., a client/server software leader with an annual T&E budget of more than $15 million, agrees. “Software gives us unprecedented visibility into how employees are spending their travel dollars and better leverage to negotiate with travel service suppliers,” says Robert Lerner, director of credit and corporate travel services for Sybase Inc. “We have better access to data, faster, in a real-time environment, which is expected to bring us big savings in T&E. Now we have control over our travel information and no longer have to depend exclusively on the agencies and airlines.”

The cost for this privilege depends on the volume of business. One-time purchases of travel-management software can run from under $100 to more than $125,000. Some software providers will accommodate smaller users by selling software piecemeal for $5 to $12 per booked trip, still a significant savings from the $50 industry norm per transaction.

No More Tickets

Paperless travel is catching on faster than the paperless office ever did as both service providers and consumers work together to reduce ticket prices for business travelers. Perhaps the most cutting-edge of the advances is “ticketless” travel, which almost all major airlines are testing.

In the meantime, travel providers and agencies are experimenting with new technologies to enable travelers to book travel services via the Internet, e-mail and unattended ticketing kiosks. Best Western International, Hyatt Hotels and several other major hotel chains market on the Internet. These services reduce the need for paper and offer better service and such peripheral benefits as increased efficiency, improved tracking of travel expenses and trends, and cost reduction.

Dennis Egolf, CFO of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Louisville, Ky., realized that the medical center’s decentralized location, a quarter-mile from the hospital, made efficiency difficult. “We were losing production time and things got lost,” he says. “Every memo had to be hand-carried for approval, and we required seven different copies of each travel order.” As a result, Egolf tried an off-the-shelf, paper-reduction software package designed for the federal government.

The software allows the hospital to manage travel on-line, from tracking per-diem allowances and calculating expenses to generating cash advance forms and authorizing reimbursement vouchers. The software also lets the hospital keep a running account of its travel expenses and its remaining travel budget.

“Today, for all practical purposes, the system is paperless,” says Egolf. The software has helped the hospital reduce document processing time by 93 percent. “The original goal focused on managing employee travel without paper,” he says. “We have achieved that goal, in part due to the efforts of the staff and in part due to the accuracy of the software.”

With only a $6,000 investment, the hospital saved $70 each employee trip and saved almost half of its $200,000 T&E budget through the paper-reduction program.

Out There

Consolidation of corporate travel arrangements by fewer agencies has been a growing trend since 1982. Nearly three out of four companies now make travel plans for their business locations through a single agency as opposed to 51 percent in 1988. Two major benefits of agency consolidation are the facilitation of accounting and T&E budgeting, as well as leverage in negotiating future travel discounts.

A major technological advance that allows this consolidation trend to flourish is the introduction of satellite ticket printers (STPs). Using STPs enables a travel agency to consolidate all operations to one home office, and still send all necessary tickets to various locations instantly via various wire services. As the term implies, the machinery prints out airline tickets on-site immediately, eliminating delivery charges.

For London Fog, STPs are a blessing. London Fog’s annual T&E budget of more than $15 million is split equally between its two locations in Eldersburg, Md., and New York City. Each location purchases the same number of tickets, so equal access to ticketing from their agency is a must. With an STP in their two locations, the company services both offices with one agency in Baltimore. Each office has access to immediate tickets and still manages to save by not having to pay courier and express mail charges that can range up to $15 for each of the more than 500 tickets each purchases annually.

Conde Nast Publications’ annual T&E budget of more than $20 million is allocated among its locations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New York and Detroit. Since 1994, travel arrangements have been handled by a centralized agency, Advanced Travel Management in New York City, by installing an STP in each of these five locations. In addition to increased efficiency due to consolidation, Conde Nast now has the ability to change travel plans at a moment’s notice and have new tickets in hand instantly.

The real benefit is that the machines are owned and maintained by the travel agency., so there is no cost to the company. Due to the major expense involved, however, STPs remain an option only for major ticket purchasers. “STPs are a viable option in this process for any location that purchases more than $500,000 per year in tickets,” says Shoen.

As airfare averages 43 percent of any company’s T&E expenses, savings obtainable through the various uses of technology have become dramatic. For example, the ability of corporations to collect and analyze their own travel trends has led to the creation of net-fare purchasing-negotiating a price between a corporation and an airline to purchase tickets that does not include the added expenses of commissions, overrides, transaction fees, agency transaction fees and other discounts.

Although most major U.S. carriers publicly proclaim that they don’t negotiate corporate discounts below published market fares, the American Express survey on business travel management found that 38 percent of U.S. companies had access to, or already had implemented, negotiated airline discounts. The availability and mechanics of these arrangements vary widely by carrier.

What’s the Price?

Fred Swaffer, transportation manager for Hewlett-Packard and a strong advocate of the net-pricing system, has pioneered the concept of fee-based pricing with travel-management companies under contract with H-P. He states that H-P, which spends more than $528 million per year on T&E, plans to have all air travel based on net-fare pricing. “At the present time, we have several net fares at various stages of agreement,” he says. “These fares are negotiated with the airlines at the corporate level, then trickle down to each of our seven geographical regions.”

Frank Kent, Western regional manager for United Airlines, concurs: “United Airlines participates in corporate volume discounting, such as bulk ticket purchases, but not with net pricing. I have yet to see one net-fare agreement that makes sense to us. We’re not opposed to it, but we just don’t understand it right now.”

Kent stresses, “Airlines should approach corporations with long-term strategic relationships rather than just discounts. We would like to see ourselves committed to a corporation rather than just involved.”

As business travel expenses nose upward, companies are realizing that better cost-management techniques can make a difference.

US. corporate travel expenses rocketed to more than $143 billion in 1994, according to American Express’ most recent survey on business travel management. Private-sector employers spend an estimated $2,484 per employee on travel and entertainment, a 17 percent increase over the past four years.

Corporate T&E costs, now the third-largest controllable expense behind sales and data-processing costs, are under new scrutiny. Corporations are realizing that even a savings of 1 percent or 2 percent can translate into millions of dollars added to their bottom line.

Savings of that order are sure to get management’s attention, which is a requirement for this type of project. Involvement begins with understanding and evaluating the components of T&E management in order to control and monitor it more effectively.

Hands-on management includes assigning responsibility for travel management, implementing a quality-measurement system for travel services used, and writing and distributing a formal travel policy. Only 64 percent of U.S. corporations have travel policies.

Even with senior management’s support, the road to savings is rocky-only one in three companies has successfully instituted an internal program that will help cut travel expenses, and the myriad aspects of travel are so overwhelming, most companies don’t know where to start. “The industry of travel is based on information,” says Steven R. Schoen, founder and CEO of The Global Group Inc. “Until such time as a passenger actually sets foot on the plane, they’ve [only] been purchasing information.”

If that’s the case, information technology seems a viable place to hammer out those elusive, but highly sought-after, savings. “Technological innovations in the business travel industry are allowing firms to realize the potential of automation to control and reduce indirect [travel] costs,” says Roger H. Ballou, president of the Travel Services Group USA of American Express. “In addition, many companies are embarking on quality programs that include sophisticated process improvement and reengineering efforts designed to substantially improve T&E management processes and reduce indirect costs.”

As companies look to technology to make potential savings a reality, they can get very creative about the methods they employ.

The Great Leveler

Centralized reservation systems were long the exclusive domain of travel agents and other industry professionals. But all that changed in November 1992 when a Department of Transportation ruling allowed the general public access to systems such as Apollo and SABRE. Travel-management software, such as TripPower and TravelNet, immediately sprang up, providing corporations insight into where their T&E dollars are being spent.

The software tracks spending trends by interfacing with the corporation’s database and providing access to centralized reservation systems that provide immediate reservation information to airlines, hotels and car rental agencies. These programs also allow users to generate computerized travel reports on cost savings with details on where discounts were obtained, hotel and car usage and patterns of travel between cities. Actual data gives corporations added leverage when negotiating discounts with travel suppliers.

“When you own the information, you don’t have to go back to square one every time you decide to change agencies,” says Mary Savovie Stephens, travel manager for biotech giant Chiron Corp.

Sybase Inc., a client/server software leader with an annual T&E budget of more than $15 million, agrees. “Software gives us unprecedented visibility into how employees are spending their travel dollars and better leverage to negotiate with travel service suppliers,” says Robert Lerner, director of credit and corporate travel services for Sybase Inc. “We have better access to data, faster, in a real-time environment, which is expected to bring us big savings in T&E. Now we have control over our travel information and no longer have to depend exclusively on the agencies and airlines.”

The cost for this privilege depends on the volume of business. One-time purchases of travel-management software can run from under $100 to more than $125,000. Some software providers will accommodate smaller users by selling software piecemeal for $5 to $12 per booked trip, still a significant savings from the $50 industry norm per transaction.

No More Tickets

Paperless travel is catching on faster than the paperless office ever did as both service providers and consumers work together to reduce ticket prices for business travelers. Perhaps the most cutting-edge of the advances is “ticketless” travel, which almost all major airlines are testing.

In the meantime, travel providers and agencies are experimenting with new technologies to enable travelers to book travel services via the Internet, e-mail and unattended ticketing kiosks. Best Western International, Hyatt Hotels and several other major hotel chains market on the Internet. These services reduce the need for paper and offer better service and such peripheral benefits as increased efficiency, improved tracking of travel expenses and trends, and cost reduction.

Dennis Egolf, CFO of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Louisville, Ky., realized that the medical center’s decentralized location, a quarter-mile from the hospital, made efficiency difficult. “We were losing production time and things got lost,” he says. “Every memo had to be hand-carried for approval, and we required seven different copies of each travel order.” As a result, Egolf tried an off-the-shelf, paper-reduction software package designed for the federal government.

The software allows the hospital to manage travel on-line, from tracking per-diem allowances and calculating expenses to generating cash advance forms and authorizing reimbursement vouchers. The software also lets the hospital keep a running account of its travel expenses and its remaining travel budget.

“Today, for all practical purposes, the system is paperless,” says Egolf. The software has helped the hospital reduce document processing time by 93 percent. “The original goal focused on managing employee travel without paper,” he says. “We have achieved that goal, in part due to the efforts of the staff and in part due to the accuracy of the software.”

With only a $6,000 investment, the hospital saved $70 each employee trip and saved almost half of its $200,000 T&E budget through the paper-reduction program.

Out There

Consolidation of corporate travel arrangements by fewer agencies has been a growing trend since 1982. Nearly three out of four companies now make travel plans for their business locations through a single agency as opposed to 51 percent in 1988. Two major benefits of agency consolidation are the facilitation of accounting and T&E budgeting, as well as leverage in negotiating future travel discounts.

A major technological advance that allows this consolidation trend to flourish is the introduction of satellite ticket printers (STPs). Using STPs enables a travel agency to consolidate all operations to one home office, and still send all necessary tickets to various locations instantly via various wire services. As the term implies, the machinery prints out airline tickets on-site immediately, eliminating delivery charges.

For London Fog, STPs are a blessing. London Fog’s annual T&E budget of more than $15 million is split equally between its two locations in Eldersburg, Md., and New York City. Each location purchases the same number of tickets, so equal access to ticketing from their agency is a must. With an STP in their two locations, the company services both offices with one agency in Baltimore. Each office has access to immediate tickets and still manages to save by not having to pay courier and express mail charges that can range up to $15 for each of the more than 500 tickets each purchases annually.

Conde Nast Publications’ annual T&E budget of more than $20 million is allocated among its locations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New York and Detroit. Since 1994, travel arrangements have been handled by a centralized agency, Advanced Travel Management in New York City, by installing an STP in each of these five locations. In addition to increased efficiency due to consolidation, Conde Nast now has the ability to change travel plans at a moment’s notice and have new tickets in hand instantly.

The real benefit is that the machines are owned and maintained by the travel agency., so there is no cost to the company. Due to the major expense involved, however, STPs remain an option only for major ticket purchasers. “STPs are a viable option in this process for any location that purchases more than $500,000 per year in tickets,” says Shoen.

As airfare averages 43 percent of any company’s T&E expenses, savings obtainable through the various uses of technology have become dramatic. For example, the ability of corporations to collect and analyze their own travel trends has led to the creation of net-fare purchasing-negotiating a price between a corporation and an airline to purchase tickets that does not include the added expenses of commissions, overrides, transaction fees, agency transaction fees and other discounts.

Although most major U.S. carriers publicly proclaim that they don’t negotiate corporate discounts below published market fares, the American Express survey on business travel management found that 38 percent of U.S. companies had access to, or already had implemented, negotiated airline discounts. The availability and mechanics of these arrangements vary widely by carrier.