Baby Travel Accessories

One of the most important things while one is going out with their families on a vacation, especially with their babies, is baby travel accessories. These travel accessories are the most prominent things when it comes to traveling with a baby. As one is aware that a vacation is for fun, madness and celebration, no one wants to ruin their vacations by being stressed out. Therefore, baby travel accessories are mandatory if you are going with babies. These accessories come in handy in many situations, like for instance, if the family decides to go for site seeing and there is no one to take care of the baby, then they can use a portable cradle in which they can carry their young ones very easily. Thus, there are many such small instances wherein the use of these accessories becomes necessary and mandatory.

Travel for babies consists of all the required things that one can make use of while traveling. Usually a travel accessory set for a baby has a cradle, toys and many fancy games that the baby may play with. The advantages of these baby travel accessories are that parents shall be relieved and it makes the young ones happy. These accessory sets consist of everything from toys to a bed, i.e. a portable bed for the young one to sleep in, even while traveling. Thus, it is proven that baby travel tool kit are the best way to travel with a baby and make that subtle smile appear on the faces of both parents and the child.

Choosing the Best Leather Travel Accessories for Your Trip

Going out for a trip or a vacation without bringing any useful accessories can definitely bring you to lots of trouble during needy times. Whether your travel is for a business trip or for a big family outing; accessories form the basic part of your basic travel needs, and the best accessories to consider are leather travel accessories.

1) Before you start choosing the leather travel accessories to use, it’s smarter to write down as many aspects of your trips first before anything else. Include in your aspects factors such as weather condition, your mode of transportation, activities you’ll be doing, and personal hygienic you will basically need. Upon completing this list, you will be able to provide an appropriate guide for choosing the leather travel accessories to use for your trip.

2) Leather travel accessories such as leather wallets for safekeeping valuables, leather key rings, leather travelling bags, attache case, and leather storage boxes for storing kits are ideal travel accessories to carry.

3) Choose the most adequate and well fit leather luggage that will suit your travel. If you’re out for a camp, then backpacks and knapsacks are the ideal bags to carry. If you’re travel is straight for hotels or resort, choose leather suitcase or other types of luggage. If your plan includes water sport activities like swimming, diving, and surfing consider choosing specialized travel luggage that are specially designed to be water resistant and one that can keep your items organize.

4) Select a travel wallet, leather shoulder bag, ladies briefcases, and other small luggage carriers that can carry your important small size items like passport, documents, money, credit cards, and tickets. Don’t forget to carry around medications too if you’re taking any, or medications for motion or vertigo sickness.

5) Buy travel size items as items like these can save a lot of space. Keep all your personal hygienic items organized too. An example of this is your toiletry kit. Aside from toiletry kits, the following essential items are also available in travel sizes. Items like curling irons, alarm clock, clip for books, first aid kits, blow dryer, and sewing kits.

6) Choose duffel or mesh bag that can separate your dirty or wet clothes from dry and clean ones. Clothing folders are also ideal in keeping your clean clothes wrinkle-free. Furthermore, clothespin is also handy for drying wet items or in keeping your bags sealed and secured.

7) Digital cameras are a must have travel accessories so be sure to bring one to capture your most memorable and happy moments. An ideal digital camera would be a model that could function as stills and video. Depending on your travel, you may want to bring modem adapters, electrical converters and surge protectors if you’re planning to bring electronic items like blow dryer, travel iron, cell phones, or laptops.

8) Be prepared at all times. Emergencies can happen anytime and anywhere, so you should always be ready. Prepare yourself from these unwanted incidences by preparing first-aid kits, flashlight kits, a sewing kit, and shoelaces, if possible.

9) Consider also bringing multifunctional items like Swiss Army Knife.

World Travel Accessories – The Necessary and The Worthless

World travel accessories can be found in every sky mall catalog or travel gift shop on the web, but the truth is that finding quality world travel accessories is no easy task. Part of the reason for this is because every world traveler, moves around the globe a little differently. If you are traveling around the globe on a tight budget, than you aren’t going to need the same accessories as a business class traveler. If you are moving around the world in a boat, you probably won’t need the same thing as a vagabond hitching his way around the globe or a backpacker taking cheap flights to whatever offers the greatest discount. So, it’s difficult.

Luckily, there are some things that are so superior for all kinds of travel that they stand out among the rest. One example of this is world travel adapters for portable electronics. Just about everyone has the need of a phone charger, laptop cord, or electric something or other at some point. Travel adapters come in a variety of configurations, but the best ones usually offer two or more styles of plug to travelers since you will find that the plugs in the EU, Asia, the UK, and North America all differ from one another significantly.

Another great travel accessory is a towel. Douglas Adams had it right in the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. A small microfiber towel will dry quickly, serve multiple purposes, and fit into a coat pocket when folded or rolled up. It might sound silly, but pay attention to how often you use a towel.

Travel pillows and neck pillows are another worthwhile accessory. If you can make travel sleep more comfortable for even an hour or two, the cost is definitely worth it. Another great accessory is travel underwear. The underwear from Ex Officio is designed to be chafe free, odor resistant, and to dry in a short time (less than two hours). This means that you can wear them longer, more comfortably, and wash them in the sink of your hotel room (or even on the plane, but don’t try to hang them up to dry!). it might sound funny, but travel underwear might be the best travel accessory of them all.

The 7 Most Vital Travel Accessories

Any experienced travel will have a travel accessory that they couldn’t live without, I have decided it was time that someone made a list of the seven most vital travel accessories in the hope that your travels will be more organised, safer, and more memorable.

1. Money Belt: They come in an incredible number of shapes and sizes and not all of them are actually belts! But as far as travel accessories go you will not find any that are more important. Keep your cash, your passport and your life safe and store your valuables in your money belt.

2. Packing Cubes: When travelling you are most likely living out of a suitcase, and not being able to find your camera or your iPod because its lost in your luggage is a problem that you should have on holiday. Packing cubes allow you to stay organised and will mean that you need less time for packing and allow more time for partying.

3. TSA Locks: As far as travel accessories go, they don’t get more important than your luggage locks. Unfortunately since 9/11 customs officials in various countries now require access to your luggage at all times, and that means that traditional locks just get cut off. But the TSA locks are approved by the travel authorities and can be opened by customs officials without destroying your locks.

4. Travel Pillow: Most people will say that good neck or back pillow is their most vital travel accessory. Anyone that has been on a 14 hour flight from Melbourne to LA will understand exactly what I mean. Having a sore neck or back can really affect the way that you enjoy your holiday, so think about your comfort when you fly.

5. Pressure Reducing Ear Plugs: This is not a travel accessory for everyone, but for people that have had top fly with an ear infection, perforated ear drum, or even just the common cold will know how painful the change in air pressure can be. These earplugs will control the speed of the pressure change in your ears and as a result reduce discomfort and pain.

6. Luggage Tags: This is the most simple and probably the cheapest of all travel accessories, but if you eve loose your luggage you will thank your lucky stars that you got some.

7. Travel Adaptor: The annoyance of not being able to charge your phone, iPod or digital camera while on holidays is avoided with this handy travel accessory. But make sure that you get the right plug for the country that you are going to; any good travel accessory website will give you a run down of what plug you need for what country.

Travel accessories are there to improve your trip and help you get on with having the time of your life in a safe, comfortable and organised way. Find the ones that best meet your needs and never leave home without them.

Five Travel Accessories to Make Your Trip Safer and More Convenient

Regardless of whether you’re an experienced traveler or not, you would always want your trip to be as safe and convenient as possible. It’s a good thing there are travel accessories you can take along with you that will help improve your travel experience. These accessories may be small, but they can do a lot in making your trip a lot more fun, safe, and easy.

First Aid Kit

Next to your main luggage, this is perhaps the most important accessory you can bring when travelling. As much as possible, never leave without a first aid kit, as you can never tell when something undesirable is going to happen while you’re on transit like scalding or burning your skin with hot choco or hot coffee in the plane, or tripping and wounding your knee while running to catch your flight. A complete first aid kit should include a pair of scissors, some adhesive tape, bandage, gauze pads, instant cold pack, and antiseptic wash.

Toiletry Bags

Hygiene is important when you’re travelling, so make sure you have a good toiletry bag to take along with you. The size of your toiletry bag will depend on how many hygiene-related items you want to put in there and how long your trip is going to last. Ideally, you should pick a toiletry bag with a hook on it so you can simply hang and leave it inside the bathroom in the room you’re staying in. And who says you can’t travel with a stylish toiletry bag? Nowadays, most toiletry bags are made with fashionable designs so that you can travel with it in style.

Travel Pillow

You would hardly see travelers travelling with a neck pillow, but if you’re out for a long trip, see to it that you have this accessory with you to have something to support your neck head and neck while you sleep. You have several options when it comes to travel pillows: inflatable/self inflatable pillow, compressible pillow, and down pillow. A compressible pillow is usually bulkier and takes more space, but it is significantly more comfortable.

Travel Wallet

Another essential accessory to bring when you’re out for a long trip is a travel wallet. Unlike your regular wallet, a travel wallet is larger and can accommodate more items including credit cards, identification cards, passports, important documents, and more. The only thing you need to remember when choosing a travel wallet is, the more items it can accommodate, the better.

Travel Adaptor

Finally, you will need a travel adaptor, especially if you’re flying to a different country. Different countries have different voltages supplied in their electrical outlets, which basically means any gadget or device you have with you should first be converted to suit its voltage requirements. With a travel adaptor, however, a converter or a transformer is not necessary since the travel device allows your voltage regulator to fit any type of plugs.

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.