Benefits of Collaboration in the Luxury Travel World

The luxury travel industry has been the core of my business world for many years. In my role as marketing consultant have seen travel companies grow and fall as the trends for vacations and short breaks changed in line with needs for the industry’s most important component – the customer.

From just one holiday or vacation a year, the trend has grown to a pattern of two maybe even three vacations. For those with more disposable income, a sprinkling of short breaks throughout the year has become a typical indulgence… until now.

With the onset of the financial recession from 2008 onwards large families and travelers in their 40-50s were hardest hit in terms of the number and quality of holidays taken. Excited at the opportunities afforded by budget flights and exciting destinations many families looked forward to a few weeks in the sun with cheap food and drink plus the opportunity to pick up some duty free luxuries and a tan.

But the fall out from flight route closures on the cheaper airlines, the rising costs of hold baggage and the affects of currency fluctuations have made larger numbers of potential holiday makers taking the cheaper option and staying at home.

The younger singles market still managed the short luxury breaks to European cities such as Prague and Barcelona and the island retreats of Ibiza and Mallorca. But even this market is being eroded as salaries dip in line with recession. Currency fluctuation and exchange rates have hit the cost of bed and board rises dramatically in the once celebrated destinations. Add in the effect of ‘global warming’ on the conscience of the younger travelers and its easy to see why so many of the budget holiday companies are falling on difficult times.

And what about the luxury end of the market? Believe it or now but some of the top end companies are having a very profitable time. How? They have talked to each other, joined forces and shared resources to help bring their marketing costs down and in many cases their market coverage up.

I have seen groups of top Scottish Hotels who might have been fighting for a customers attention, become a collaborative marketing group whose aim is to sell the destination first and then divide up the spoils among their spa resorts, golf complexes, boutique hotel partners and city centre apartments.

I have also seen small specialist travel agents collaborate by forming a collaborative venture specializing in high end luxury travel destinations – each member having a unique destination or service. With one innovative marketing message they have a louder voice than they might have as individual travel operators.

On the customer side collaboration is also proving very beneficial. Instead of taking lots of individual holidays there is a growing trend for groups who might have booked separate hotels and a similar destination to team up and book a large villa or apartment. Combining their entrepreneurial skills, purchasing skills and cooking skills they are able to eat well, organize great activities while staying at some of the most exclusive holiday destinations.

Business Travel Agents Tips: A Corporate Travellers’ New York Airports Guide

New York City is one of the most popular key travel destinations for corporate travelers worldwide. The city is the center of much that’s great, dynamic and profitable in America. It is home of one of the world’s principal financial centers (i.e. anchored by Wall Street), and a popular business hub for the publishing and entertainment industry at the same time. So, it’s no surprise it features three airports, Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), LaGuardia Airport (LGA) and J. F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK). As a frequent corporate traveler you probably may have flown to one of the three New York airports at some point or another. With JFK being a major international gateway to the US, this city guide aims to provide some helpful travel agents tips for corporate travelers flying to or from JFK Airport.

New York JFK Facts & Figures

Located about 25km away from Manhattan in Queens, JFK Airport is the largest airport in the state of New York and one of the busiest business travel hubs (over 50 million travelers/year) in the US and internationally. It has six operating terminals (numbered 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8; terminal 6 was demolished in 2011, Terminal 3 in 2013). Currently, the 4th runway is under redevelopment to comply with the needs of Group VI aircraft (until December 2015 as planned so far), which may cause delays, but measures are in place to minimize them, so you shouldn’t be too much affected. With more than 90 airlines arriving and departing from JFK, various business travel solutions for flights to New York can be arranged. Points of origin and destinations include places within the US, Canada, Latin America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Pacific, Australia/New Zealand, basically all over the world. The airport offers corporate travelers a choice of non-stop flights to about 100 international destinations which may prove convenient for your next business trip. However, JFK is very susceptible to weather-related delays due to its position. Corporate travelers are well advised to consider and prepare for possible thunderstorms in summer, causing delays across the US, as well as snow, icing and assorted slush throughout the winter season. For the months between June and November the risk of potential hurricanes is increased.

In general, our business travel agents team advise leisure and corporate travelers to allow plenty of time for getting to and from JFK. Serious traffic incidents on the way between the city and the airport left many wondering whether they’ would be able to make it in time or miss their flight. Furthermore, don’t forget that this is America. Therefore, bear in mind that the TSA rules supreme over security checkpoints. So, take a deep breath and take maybe a book with you or something else to keep you busy. Make sure you arrive early.

Useful JFK terminal facilities for corporate travelers

In most public areas within most terminals, corporate travelers will conveniently find that Wi-Fi is available for free for up to 30min. You can get online near the ticket counters, boarding gates, designated work stations and food courts. The Wi-Fi access is provided by Boingo Wireless Company. If you need to use the internet for longer than 30mins., consider the following options: 1) $4.95 (£3.01, €3.77) per hour (pay as you go), 2) $7.95 (£4.83,€6.05) for unlimited access throughout a 24-hour period (day pass), 3) $9.95 (£6.04,€7.58) per month (unlimited access via a monthly subscription, to be used worldwide), or 4) if you already have a user account, simply log in using your user name and password. ATMs, currency exchange options (Lenlyn or Travelex), a rental phone shop, and more than 100 shops alongside various dining options are available at the terminals.

Ground transportation services from JFK Airport to New York City

The most convenient, stress-free way for travel from and to JFK Airport is to take the AirTrain. It is a cost efficient and helps you make sure you arrive at the airport in time, whilst avoiding possible traffic jams. You can access AirTrain services via the New York City subway system, which is also connected to the Long Island Railroad (LIRR). The journey from/to the city takes just over an hour. AirTrain is operated 24 hours on 365 days a year. Within the airport area, it connects terminals and also enables you to easily access car rental services, hotel shuttle areas and parking lots. At peak times the trains depart every 7 minutes and at off-peak times they go every 15 minutes. However, be clever in choosing your business travel route, as various routes make different stops within the airport. Good news for corporate travelers is that travel within the airport is usually free of charge. However, travel outside the airport is subject to a fee. AirTrain prices generally start from $5 (£3.04, €3.81). For more details on ticket prices are provided on the JFK Airport website under costs and tickets. If you travel via New York’s public transport network, then it is a good idea to use MetroCard, which is widely accepted and is worth to purchase for travel via subway, local trains, or buses. You can find vending machines for buying a MetroCard at Howard Beach and Jamaica Station. A good alternative for corporate travelers would be to take a taxi (for up to 4 passengers). Simply wait in the cab line for a licensed and insured cab to take you to your destination (about $52, i.e. about £31.58, €39.59, flat rate between JFK and Manhattan, excluding tips and tolls). The time for this trip should be about an hour. However, it can take much longer during rush hour.

Shared-ride shuttle services are a cheaper option than taxis, but can involve a lot of waiting and being driven around New York City to drop other people off first. You can find a full list of providers on the airport authority’s website. But remember to tip appropriately, as tipping (around 20% of transfer cost) is quite common and keep in mind that bridge/tunnel tolls are not included in the shared-ride shuttle services fares. Another option is to ask your business travel company to arrange a shuttle service for your trip from and to John F. Kennedy International Airport as prices can vary greatly depending on location and number of passengers. In this way you can ensure that you are traveling with a reliable supplier.

An express bus service is also available for a nominal fee from Penn Station (reachable e.g. by AirTrain or taxi). The service operates from early morning to late night, with buses running at least every half hour.

The airport is also home to several car rental agencies. Leisure and corporate travelers can choose between a number of car major rental companies including Advantage, Thrifty, Dollar, Enterprise, Budget, Hertz, National and Avis.

So, which mode of transport should corporate travelers choose for a trip from JFK to Newark and LaGuardia airports? Usually the best way to get to Newark Airport from JFK Airport is to simply take the AirTrain. However, if you need to travel to LaGuardia during your business trip, it we recommend to take advantage of a convenient shuttle bus service, using the free Route A (running every 10-15 minutes from 4:00am to 11:30pm) or Route B (running every 10-15 minutes from 6:00am to 2:00am).

Hotels near JFK Airport

Hotel booking services for corporate travelers flying to New York JFK Airport-although there are no operating hotels at JFK Airport at the moment, New York provides corporate travelers a huge choice (from budget accommodation to luxury suites) of hotels and motels, which are conveniently located nearby the airport. Most hotel accommodations nearby offer shuttle services. Alternatively you can take the AirTrain to the Federal Circle station and follow the “Courtesy Hotel Shuttles” signs. There are telephone services for the hotel courtesy shuttles located at the AirTrain Federal Circle Station and in the arrival areas of the airport terminals ($5, i.e. about £3.04, €3.81, Service Charge for making reservations). The range of motels and hotels include the Hilton*, the Courtyard* by Marriott, Hampton Inn*, Sheraton*, Hilton Garden, Comfort Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Fairfield Inn* by Marriott, Days Inn, Best Western and Howards Johnson. The ones marked by an * are also offering conference and meeting rooms for corporate events.

© Copyright Flight-line Travel Management Ltd. All rights reserved. All prices correct at time of publication.

In part two of our New York City Airport guide we’ll provide you with some business travel agents insider tips on Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) and LaGuardia Airport (LGA).

Does The Internet Benefit Small Travel Businesses?

Yes, of course it does, but as much as it should?

When you think of the number of travel directories and websites available to travelers you would think that this is a world free of the normal conventions of business but unfortunately it is often bound by restrictions that travelers would not appreciate. Pricing of travel is one of the conventions that are not yet totally free of restrictions and understandably so due to distribution considerations.

Travel businesses using the traditional distribution chains for the sale of their products need to allow for the payments of commission to various levels of middlemen, Inbound Tour Operators, Wholesalers and Retailers, all who need to take a percentage for their efforts in enabling travel services and products to reach the consumer.

Websites however, reach directly to consumers and enable them to make direct bookings with travel providers but they can still incur the costs attributed to these middlemen. But, to place a two-tier price for each product could deter the agents from representing products so a new way had to be found. This is where TopTravelSites stepped in with their newly developed service for the travel provider who wants to continue with the traditional supply chain but also wants to encourage travelers who are comfortable with making their own arrangements directly with providers and who do not need the services of travel agents, just the internet.

The service called TopTravelVouchers gives travelers a ‘fair fare price’ on direct bookings but the provider still incurs the cost of commission.

This new price format is achieved by the travel operator issuing a voucher in exchange for marketing, promotion and deliverance of travelers directly to their websites to make their bookings. The voucher is sold to travelers at deeply discounted prices to their redemption values enabling the traveler to be the beneficiary of a ‘nearly net’ price for the travel package or service. The operator of TopTravelVouchers does not have the normal costs that are attributable to retail and wholesale agents such as shops, reservation systems, brochures and high staffing and is thus able to encourage travelers to book directly with their clients and to get a price saving for their efforts. It is in effect a travel agent that does not sell travel, only travel vouchers, which are to be used towards travel purchased from the travel companies who are participating in the service.

Many travel businesses do not use middlemen, often due to the small size of their travel operation, but they would still be prepared to pay a commission or fee for a referral or a sale. They still need to make travelers aware of their products and services and to be able to offer encouragement and a reward gives them an opportunity to reach out to travelers who prefer to deal directly with operators.

There are thousands of smaller travel businesses around the world ranging from B&B’s, Family Boutique Hotels, Small Tour Operators, Adventure and Eco Tours that are rarely seen by the vast majority of travelers. These operators are not found in the glossy travel brochures or represented by travel agents but they often have excellent products and services which can be seen on their websites. Many of them are willing to pay a commission to a seller of their products but are not able to get travel agent representation. This new voucher system allows them to encourage and reward travelers who prefer to handle their own arrangements directly with the operators by offering a price that reflects discounted commission costs and thus savings for the do-it-yourself traveler.

TopTravelVouchers sell at three price levels according to the savings on each: $30, $50 or $100usd or equivalent currency if purchased outside of the USA. They may often be purchased in multiples, benefiting families or groups and at the time of this article there was a voucher costing $100usd with a value of 1,500euros (around $2,000usd) offered on a small ship cruise in Greece that is also a small travel operator not normally represented by the agency system.

Travelers are given 100% money-back guarantees if the vouchers are not used within 1 year of issue but maybe this should be for two years as the vouchers are normally valid for 2 years. Even after the completion of travel and travelers are unhappy with the quality, the voucher cost is reimbursed by TopTravelSites and the problem taken up with the travel operator.

It is obvious that this service will only work for TopTravelSites if supported by the world of travel providers who need to expand their representation as the retention of only a small percentage on each sale needs to be followed by high volumes of voucher sales but it is a unique service offering benefits to both travelers and the smaller travel businesses in the travel industry utilizing the logical use of the internet for direct bookings.

Travel Agency School and a Turn Key Booking Site Equals Success!

Are you searching for a travel agency school that will teach you all you need to know about starting a travel business and becoming a travel agent?

Does the intrigue and romance of the travel industry sound fascinating to you? Can’t you just picture yourself basking in the culture and fine cuisine of a faraway land that you’ve e only dreamed of traveling to? Or relaxing on a tropical beach while sipping frozen cocktails, mesmerized by the sound of crashing waves on the powdery, white sand?

You may call this vacation, but many home based travel agents are combining pleasure with business and taking what they often call “paycations”. Upon becoming a travel agent anybody can build a lucrative income and enjoy the amazing fringe benefits that home based travel agents enjoy, including

  • Discounted travel
  • Commissions on their own travel (and all other travel booked on their sites)
  • Tax deductions on their travel expenses
  • Even free trips

Due to the popularity of online booking sites, becoming a travel agent can be an inexpensive and easy venture. Along with receiving a fully operational online travel site, you can learn everything there is to know about marketing and operating a travel business by enrolling in an online travel agency school.

Those who are already working another job enjoy the fact that becoming a travel agent doesn’t need to be a full time undertaking. Several factors have made it possible for home based travel agents to create full time success on a part time basis. Consider these facts

  • Online travel sites provide a self-serve business model, becoming a travel agent no longer requires the agent to research or book travel for customers
  • As a result of the paradigm shift created by online travel booking sites, starting a travel agency no longer requires a brick and mortar storefront, or employees
  • Many companies allow their home based travel agents to choose the level they wish to reach in travel agency school, more education equates to higher commissions
  • Once enrolled in a business, anyone can attend travel agency school on a part time basis

Does the thought of becoming a travel agent sound appealing to you? Well, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. You see, many home based travel agents have built businesses with companies that offer a guaranteed income. Yes, you read it right, guaranteed income! Up to ten thousand dollars in the first year, even for those who choose not to attend travel agent school!

If the thought of starting a travel agency appeals to you, there has never been a better time to go for it. Just think, a total business in a box, full support, access to online travel agency school, and even a guaranteed income. How can you go wrong?

Enjoy Partying at a Whole New Level With a Party Bus for Hire

Name a party that you want to have and you can all do it with a party bus for hire. You can unwind from a hard day’s work if you enjoy yourself in parties once in a while. At other times, you also want to try out something new and have more fun doing fun activities with friends and family. Typically, when you want to celebrate a certain event, you would normally rent the venue for the party or celebrate it at home. Private vehicles and vans cannot accommodate all the invited guests at once. A trip would be more enjoyable if you can be all at the same vehicle and everything you need is already there. Here are some fun ideas to do when you get to have a party bus for hire.

The night is still young and you might be already tired of partying at the same club. With a party bus, you can continue on partying at the bus with your friends while heading out to the next club. The fun never ends and you also get to meet new people as you do the club hopping. If you had too much alcohol, all you need to alleviate your drunkenness are also in the bus. Aside from that, the bus is operated by well trained individuals ensuring your safety while you and your friends enjoy the party.

You can also celebrate a love ones special occasion on a party bus. May it be a birthday party or a bachelor/bachelorette party; you will all have a good time together on the road. Aside from that, you get to visit places, watch sporting events and get to enjoy the scenery along the way. All you need to do is just enjoy yourselves and the rest will be taken care of by the party bus employees.

Most party bus companies have different buses with different kinds of amenities. Of course, you will be able to get to choose the kind of bus which is suitable for the party that you want to celebrate there. Some of these amenities include karaoke machines, excellent sound systems, neon lights, private toilets separate for men and women and a lot more.

You can try something new once in a while and explore other ways of having fun. One way of doing so is getting to have a party bus for hire to celebrate good times with friends and family. Also to maximize the rental you paid for the bus, it would be best to maximize the amount of people you invite to come with you. More guests to celebrate a party with, the more fun it will get. That way, the cost for the party bus will definitely be worth it.

First Time Travel Info For the Philippines

Before traveling to the Philippines one must be aware that this is a tropical country and therefore you need to have tropical gear and such. The Philippines is known history as the Pearl of the Orient and the Gateway to Asia. It is the only Christianized nation in Southeast Asia, most of its neighbors being Muslims or Buddhists.

Definitely before traveling to the Philippines you will need your travel documents in order. Should you be coming from another country which is a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, then you will not need a travel visa and you can enter and stay in the Philippines from two to eight weeks without any visa. Tourists from Europe and from Australia and the United States may stay in the country for up to 2 months without a visa, but this is granted on a case to case basis.

Going back to the part where the Philippines is a tropical country, you can expect the country to be hot and humid, especially in the summer months of March to June. The monsoon months begin starting in July to December, but it usually rains strongest near August. Traveling to the Philippines around December to February is the coolest time when Siberian winds travel from Northern China and hit this island archipelago.

The medium of exchange in the Philippines is called the Philippine Peso. This is due to the country’s almost four hundred years of being a Spanish colony and strong ties to Mexico in the past. Thus expects a lot of Spanish type architecture, traditions like the siesta and fiestas when you travel throughout the country.

When traveling in the Philippines, travel light. Bring along light clothing made of cotton if available. It is not uncommon to see tourists in the capital city of Manila wearing beach shorts and flip flops. The weather is more than agreeable to this kind of clothing.

Plenty of hotels of international quality are found in the main cities of Manila in the north, with Cebu and Davao in the south. These three cities are the main hubs of tourism and commerce so they should always be included in one’s itinerary. There are adequate bus and air systems to ferry you back and forth within and through these cities.

Within the main cities the traditional jeepney is a popular mode of transportation, much like a small bus invented and adapted from the World War 2 soldier transport. However due to the heat, it may be more convenient for the new visitor to take a taxi around the cities. Taxi fares begin at roughly 50 cents for flag down rates and 25 cents for every kilometre.

The main cities of Manila, Cebu and Davao are centers of tourism where you can book your other travels to the 7,000 islands of the country whether you want to go to beaches, forests and the like. One is encouraged to visit the museums, shopping malls and nightspots to get a taste of a country that some have called the only Latin American country in Southeast Asia.

Travel and Its Benefits

Why do we need to travel? Why it is getting increasingly important that we, once in a while, change our environment and travel outside our country? Why it is sometimes a necessity for our emotional health to travel?

Travel’s importance is underestimated by many people. Travel is not only fun, entertaining and enjoyable. With our current lifestyles and work conditions, travel has become more than an option. It is more than just having fun. As Augustine of Hippo said ” The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” During travel you are able to do things you usually don’t do. When traveling, you go outdoor and be away from computers, and TVs and you are likely to be mixing with different people and cultures. People travel for different reasons. Some travel for fun and to have a good time. Others travel as a hobby. Travel can be an escape away from the hectic pace of life in big cities. Some travel just to change and move, as Robert Louis Stevenson said “I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake”. Some people like to learn from different cultures, as Mark Twain said ” Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” Travel gives the person the opportunity to discover, to explore and to feel the sense of adventure.

Many people around the world are discovering the benefits of travel to the extent that the tourism industry is growing worldwide and has become one of the major profitable sectors in world economies. No wonder that travel is growing year by year. According to figures published by the World Travel & Tourism Council WTTC, world tourism industry grew by 3% in 2012, and contributed $6.6 trillion to world GDP by direct and indirect impact. In 2012, for the first time in history, international tourist arrivals reached 1.035 billion.

Here are the main benefits of travel:

1-Stress Relief: As you travel miles away from your environment, you are able to be free from your responsibilities and then begin to relax and rest. Not only you rest your body, but also your mind. Knowing that you can wake up anytime without an alarm clock, without the need to be physically available at work, will take off a lot of mental stress. Here, you can sense freedom. Stress relief is a major reason for travel. The moment you think you are heading for Hawaii or Bali, you get immediate sensation of excitement and stress-free feelings. It is this mental peace that makes travel a very good stress-relief. Sometimes travel can be stressful if your trip has a lot of sightseeing, or meeting a lot of people. But travel stress is different from home stress because it is positive stress. Travel stress does not associate with it anxiety or worry.

Travel is a great way to connect with nature which is very helpful for your relaxation, mentally or physically. Nature is a stimulus for activating your right brain. Right brain domination is one major cause for stress-relief. Also, during travel there is no sense of urgency which is usually associated with home behavior. Change of scenery is by itself helpful for relieving stress.

2-Physical Benefits: You move more when traveling. You walk more frequently whether riding the subway or exploring the streets of a historic city or even visiting a museum. By swimming or laying on the beach, you get a high dosage of vitamin D from the sun, something that is very useful for your bones and also for your positive emotions. Outdoor activities associated with travel can lower risk of diabetes, lead to weight loss and reduce cholesterol level. Some medical experts recommend traveling once every six months for cardiovascular health and for the heart. Some studies show that travel even improves better sleep.

3-Cultural Benefits: Sometimes we need to be anonymous. Sometimes we want to be free from any responsibility. Travel allows you to exercise both while meeting new people and experience new cultures. You will know how different people accomplish their goals with different ways. You will learn new ideas that you have never thought of before.

4-Relationship Benefits: Traveling with a companion and sharing same experiences and situations together will enhance your mutual bond. 93% of youth ages 8-18 consider travel as “a quality time” spent with their parents. 3 in 4 parents say that family vacations are very helpful for the family. Meeting new persons in new locations can result in long term relationship for many.

5-Happiness: Many persons associate happiness with travel. More than 50% of adults buy souvenirs just to remember their vacations. Most travelers store photos of their destinations as a way of remembering those trips that are about tasting new food, beautiful sights, historic monuments, and new music. This is one reason that travel can be addictive, especially if have enough time & money. It has become a hobby for thousands of people around the world.

Remember, you can travel and have fun with a limited budget. Plan carefully and spend wisely. Read and learn saving tips.

Why Sound Business Travel Reporting Matters

For any company that has their employees engage in regular travel, it is important to have a good corporate travel strategy. Part of developing and improving on a corporate travel strategy is solid business travel reporting. Business travel reporting provides the company with details about the cost of travel and how the money is being used. This data not only helps to keep track of expenses but it also can be used to identify areas of waste and inefficiency. When this information is tracked and analyzed it can be used to improve upon your company’s business travel strategy. Using the service of a corporate travel agency is an effective means toward achieving all of these goals.

Due to their experience and their connections in the travel and finance industry, a corporate travel firm will be especially suited to provide these services with the highest degree of detail. A corporate travel agency uses a variety of methods to analyze and track a clients business travel expenses. They can use data from banking and credit card records along with the travel records to identify the most and least efficient travelers in your company. They can help to manage airline data to find which carrier is providing the most business friendly service for the most affordable price and they can help to identify waste and abuse of funds.

A corporate booking agency can also help employers to analyze information in a way that can determine how effectively the employees travel and how well they stick to the itinerary and how closely the individual employees stick to the travel strategy. This can be achieved by referencing the data accumulated from credit cards, expense accounts, airline data, hotel bills and rental information. Once all of the data is collected and analyzed, the corporate travel firm can prepare a complete report. The reports will cover a variety of different areas and will often be accompanied by a written summary of the overall information. Clients can also request specialized reporting from a corporate travel agency. These may be to address an area of concern or to see how a new aspect of the travel strategy is working.

Most business travel agencies recommend that their clients schedule regular meetings with their travel manger to go over the business travel reporting and to find ways to improve the corporate travel strategy. The management of a business should meet with their corporate travel manager at least once a year. In these meetings the travel manager can help the client go over the business travel reporting and understand what all of the data means. The manager will help to identify areas of waste and point out parts of the travel plan that are working well. At this time the client can address their concerns about the travel strategy and work to adjust the business travel strategy. A corporate travel agency can also help their client with a plan for implementing the new strategy and addressing the changes with their staff.

Having the services of a business travel agency is a necessity for any company that engages in regular travel. Having a well thought out strategy will not only save the company money, but it will also make sure that the staff is getting the most out of their trip.

How to Be a Travel Agent

If you plan to become a travel agent or want to learn how to start a travel agency from home, you’d be glad to know that there are plenty of agencies that offer certifications, training, and the chance to own your very own travel agency.

A travel agent’s job functions may vary from assisting with booking/selling reservations to referring people to travel booking sites, where an agent receives commission.

Here are some tips to help you become a successful travel agent.

Research Travel Institutions and Education

The minimum educational requirement for individuals who want to become a travel agent is a high school diploma. Computerization and technology have increased training needs and most employers prefer applicants with a higher level of education such as a post-secondary vocational award.

There are vocational schools that offer full time travel agent programs as well as weekend and evening programs. These programs are also offered in community colleges and universities.

There are colleges that also offer a bachelor’s or master’s degree in tourism and travel. Although there are only a few courses that directly relate to travel and tourism, college degrees with background in world history, foreign language, communication and geography are often preferred by employers.

The American Society of Travel Agents features a correspondence course that teaches the basics of travel industry. While most travel agencies offer on the job training programs for their employees, there are also many reputable websites that give free detailed information and offer travel agent study course on how to start a travel agency business from home.

Be a Certified Travel Agent

Certifications will enhance your reputation as an agent and will show clients that you have met the professional standards set by an institution in the industry. The travel industry features several certifying organizations that are widely recognized today.

Experienced travel agents can take advantage of study courses from the Travel Institute that leads to a Certified Travel Counselor professional designation. The Travel Institute also features sales/marketing enhancement programs and destination specialist programs that provide a detailed knowledge of regions like:

•Western Europe

•The Caribbean

•North America

•The Pacific Rim

Cruise Lines International Association or CLIA offers various certification programs that are recognized and respected in the travel industry.

Get a Travel Agent Job

Find a job with an agency or partner with an agency to help you run your own travel counseling business. Try to work with an established agency.

There are also travel agencies that allow you to work from home. Find a host agency that will help you in establishing your own travel agency. A host agency will show you how to start a travel agency from home, provide services, back office support, travel suppliers, marketing support and access to reservation portals.

Become a Registered Travel Seller in Your State

There are states that require registration. This type of regulatory requirement helps protect consumers and ensures that agencies are legal. Don’t forget to check with government offices for local regulations.

Become a Part of Organizations

Joining organizations is a great way to stay up-to-date on trends and news in the travel industry. These societies also offer continuing education and updates to their members. If you expect to be booking online airline tickets, become a member of the International Air Transport Association or IATA.

Business Traveller Flying to London? A London City Guide for Getting to the Centre

London. The vibrant, beating heart of the United Kingdom. It’s one of the world’s most popular destinations for tourists, and for business travelers too. The amount of commerce that goes through London is staggering, with a financial center second only to New York, and service industries that cater for both the UK, European and international markets. As the world’s most multicultural city – there are over 300 languages spoken by a population of over eight million people (twelve million if you include the metropolitan area) – the opportunities for business are clear.

With the UK strategically positioned for the business traveler on the western edge of Europe, London is a global hub for air travel, providing easy access to mainland Europe, and a stepping stone to the United States. Primarily served by five airports – Heathrow, Gatwick, City, Stansted and Luton – London is easily reached from anywhere in the world. But with the exception of London City Airport – smallest of the five and located in East London, close to the business district of Canary Wharf – the other four airports are satellites evenly dispersed around the city. The most popular, Heathrow, is located to the west of London; Gatwick is situated to the south; Stansted to the north east; and Luton to the North West. Knowing this before you make your travel plans can be useful. Since the greater metropolitan area of London covers over 1,000 square miles, your final business destination may not be right in the center. Researching which airport is closest to your destination can save you time, effort and money.

However, whether you’re a business traveler flying from within the UK or from overseas, your starting destination may often determine the airport you arrive at. Other factors, such as your chosen time of travel, budget and availability will also make a difference. For example, if you’re travelling with a major international carrier from a major city, such as New York, the chances are you’ll arrive at Heathrow or Gatwick (Stansted also receives flights from New York but is the smallest of the three). If you’re traveling locally from within the UK with a budget carrier you’re more likely to arrive at Stansted or Luton (though not exclusively). And if you’re traveling from a major European city, particularly a financial capital, such as Frankfurt, London City Airport is a likely arrival point (the airport was created specifically to cater for short haul business travelers, particularly between financial centers).

Each airport is served by comprehensive rail and road infrastructure, providing business travelers with a variety of options to enter London. All five airports offer direct rail travel into the heart of Central London, coach travel to the main Victoria terminus, and hire car, mini-bus, licensed black cab and taxi services by road. If you’re a VIP business traveler, chauffeur services are also available, and with the exception of London City Airport, each also offer direct helicopter transfer into the heart of the city.

London Heathrow Airport

The busiest of the five airports is London Heathrow. Located less than twenty miles from central London, Heathrow is situated to the west of the city within the M25 motorway metropolitan boundary. The fastest route into London is via the Heathrow Express train service, taking just 15 minutes from terminals 1, 2 and 3 to Paddington station (located on the western side of Central London). If your flight arrives at either terminal 4 or 5 it’s a further four and six minutes travel time respectively, and you’ll need to transfer on to the main London-bound service at terminals 1, 2 and 3.

The service is excellent, offering comfort and convenience, but does not always suite everyone’s travel budget. The standard ‘Express’ single journey ticket costs £21.00 (€25.00 / $35.00), but business travelers can get better value when purchasing a return ticket, priced at £34.00 (€40.00 / $56.00). The ‘Business First’ ticket is more expensive, with singles costing £29.00 (€35.00 / $48.00) and returns £52.00 (€62.00 / $86.00), but it does afford business travelers considerably more leg room, the privacy of a ‘single seating’ layout, and a fold out table. The experience is akin to that of air travel. All passengers across both pricing structures enjoy access to electrical sockets, USB ports and free Wi-Fi. The overall quality of service and passenger experience generates a ‘wow’ factor, and if your budget can afford it, is certainly the smoothest, quickest and most convenient way to travel into London from Heathrow. Trains run regularly every fifteen minutes in both directions, particularly useful for last minute dashes to the airport.

There are two further rail options available to business travelers, both considerably less expensive, though this is reflected in the quality of service. That’s not to say either is not a good solution for business travelers, just that there is a noticeable difference in convenience and comfort.

With a service typically running every thirty minutes, and a journey duration – depending on the time of day – of between 23 and 27 minutes from terminals 1, 2 and 3, Heathrow Connect is more than adequate for business travelers who are not in a hurry. Like the rival Express service, Connect also arrives at Paddington station, but unlike its faster rival stops at up to five other stations before reaching its terminus. The ‘inconvenience’ of this less direct journey is compensated for by a considerably less expensive ticket price. Single journey’s cost £9.90 (€12.00 / $16.00) while a return is £19.80 (€24.00 / $32.00). There is no saving to be made from purchasing a return ticket. While the convenience and comfort of the traveler experience cannot match the Express, the Connect business travel solution is an acceptable compromise that suits a greater number of travel budgets.

The third – and least expensive – rail option is the London Underground ‘tube’ network. Despite the network’s name the majority of the journey from Heath-row is overground, until the business traveler nears Central London. Starting on the Piccadilly Line, the service connects all five Heath-row terminals and provides frequent trains into London, stopping at a considerable amount of outlying stations before arriving in the capital’s center. This continually ‘interrupted’ journey – there are seventeen stops between Heath-row terminals 1, 2 and 3 and Paddington Tube station (the nearest equivalent tube terminus for a fair comparison) – and takes approximately fifty minutes journey time on average, considerably slower than its more direct rivals. This journey comparison also requires the inconvenience of a transfer between lines.

So why would the business traveler consider using the tube from Heath-row to Central London? Simple. The frequency of service, the array of destinations, and the cost. At a cash price of just £5.70 (€6.80 / $9.50) for a single journey in either direction during peak hours (06:30am to 09:30am), financially the Underground is an attractive option. At nearly half the price of the Heath-row Connect, and at just over a quarter of the price of the Heath-row Express, this service is comparably good value for money. Further value can be found if the business traveler purchases an ‘Oyster Card’, the ‘cashless’ electronic ticketing system beloved by so many Londoners. Available to purchase at Heath-row London Underground stations, this useful option allows you to get tickets cheaper than for cash – in this case a reduction to just £5.00 (€6.00 / $8.30). Off-peak travel with an Oyster Card offers even greater value, with Heath-row to Paddington in either direction costing just £3.00 (€3.60 / $5.00) per journey. The Oyster Card can also be used for unlimited travel on buses and trains throughout London, with a maximum daily spend capped at £17.00 (€20.00 / $28.00) peak time and just £8.90 (€10.60 / $15.00) off-peak for a six zone ticket (destinations across London are divided into six main zonal rings. Traveling from Heath-row to Central London crosses all six zones).

The Underground is primarily a city-wide mass transit system, rather than a ‘train’ service. As such the level of comfort and convenience is substantially less than that of both the Heath-row Express and Connect services, and at peak hours can be considerably uncomfortable. Having endured a recent flight, business travelers who choose this option run the risk of having to stand up the entire journey if traveling during peak hours. If the carriage is full to squeezing point (as is often the case at peak time) managing your luggage can be a challenge. It should also be noted that the tube network – which, as the world’s first urban mass-transit system is over 150 years old – is often prone to signal failures and delays. If the time between your arrival at Heath-row (don’t forget to factor in clearing immigration control, luggage collection and customs) and your business appointment is tight, particularly during peak hours, it is not unfair to say that you are taking a risk if you choose to use the Underground.

Compared to using rail, traveling by road into Central London is far less convenient. Like every major city around the world, traffic congestion plagues the streets of London. The M4 and A4 route from Heath-row into London is always busy and in parts can be slow moving at times. No matter what your method of road transport, the business traveler is vulnerable to the risk of delays and accidents.

Buses and coaches are plentiful. The dominant carrier is called National Express. They operate services between Heath-row Airport and London Victoria, the main coach terminus in London. From here travelers can travel to many other destinations around the UK. The coaches run from Heath-row Airport Central Bus Station, which is located between terminals 1, 2 and 3. Its well sign posted so easily found. If you’re arriving at terminals 4 or 5 you’ll need to first take the Heath-row Connect train to the central bus station. From Victoria Station you can get to any other part of London with ease, via the Underground, plentiful buses, local trains and licensed black cabs / minicab taxi services.

A single journey tickets start from £6.00 (€7.20 / $10.00), while returns cost £11.00 (€13.20 / $18.00). Although you can purchase your ticket at Heath-row, it is advisable to do so in advance, and online. This will ensure you have a guaranteed, reserved seat on your coach of choice, and also provide you with the opportunity to select a time of departure and/or return that best suits your needs. Typically this service runs three coaches per hour to and from London Victoria coach station. The journey time can vary, dependent on the route taken, the time of day and traffic conditions, but you can typically expect your journey to take between 40 and 90 minutes.

National Express also offers business travelers a Heath-row hotel transfer service to and from the airport, known as the Heath-row Hoppa. With hundreds of services each day running around the clock, it’s a clean, comfortable and affordable way to get about, costing £4.00 (€4.80 / $6.60) for single journey and £7.00 (€8.40/ $11.50) for a return journey. This service is particularly useful if your business appointment is located close to Heath-row and you have no need to travel into Central London.

An alternative to coach travel is taking a bus. This can be particularly useful if you arrive at Heath-row late at night. Depending on the day of the week, the N9 night bus runs approximately every 20 minutes to Trafalgar Square in Central London, from 11.30pm to 5am. The journey time is approximately 75 minutes, subject to traffic delays. It’s a very affordable service, and as part of the Transport for London infrastructure a single journey can be paid for with an Oyster Card (£1.40 (€1.70/ $2.30) or by cash (£2.40 (€2.90/ $4.00).

If your journey into London requires the freedom to choose to travel whenever you want, to wherever you want, or you simply require privacy, then private hire transport is readily available at Heath-row. If you’re just interested in getting from A to B and back again, without any other journeys in between, taking a licensed black cab or minicab taxi may suit your needs. Traveling in an iconic licensed black cab into Central London will take approximately 45-60 minutes, subject to traffic delays, and can typically cost between £50.00 (€60.00/ $83.00) and £80.00 (€96.00/ $132.00). If you do find yourself delayed in traffic the journey will cost more, since black cab meters also charge for waiting time when not moving. Black cabs are readily available at all hours, and good sign posting at Heath-row means they’re easy to find. At a squeeze up to five business travelers can be accommodated, though if you all have large luggage it will be a problem.

An alternative private hire to black cabs are licensed taxi services. This could be a better option for the business traveled, particularly if a number of people with luggage are travel ling together. An array of vehicle types are available, ranging from standard 4/5 seater saloon and 6/7 passenger people carrier cars, up to 15 or 17 seater minibuses and even coach taxis. An added advantage is you can book your vehicle of choice in advance and at a fixed price. With so many different companies offering these services, prices – and quality of service – can vary, but typically for a single journey the business traveler can expect to pay a fixed, advance price of £40.00 (€48.00/ $66.00) for a saloon car; £50.00 (€60.00/ $83.00) for an estate car; £55.00 (€66.00/ $90.00) for an executive car; £55.00 (€66.00/ $90.00) for a people carrier; £65.00 (€78.00/ $108.00) for an 8 seater minibus; £80.00 (€96.00/ $132.00) for an executive people carrier; and £165.00 (€198.00/ $272.00) for a 16 seater minibus. Savings can be made on all tariffs if a return journey is booked in advance.

Traveling by black cab or licensed taxi affords the business traveler the freedom to travel at his or her own pace, and can take the hassle out of a journey. It can be a very relaxing way to commute from the airport into London, particularly after a long flight, and offers the business traveler an opportunity to unwind prior to their business appointment.

If you need to arrange senior executive or VIP transportation, chauffeur driven services are readily available (booked in advance) between Heath-row and London. The vehicle type and the length of time you require it for will dictate the price you’ll pay. Chauffeur driven services are readily available to find online. The same is true of helicopter charter services which can transfer the executive business traveler from Heath-row into Central London (Battersea Heliport) in approximately 15 minutes. Flight-line Travel Management is experienced at providing our customers with both modes of transport, and we’re happy to take your inquiry.

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All prices correct at time of publication.