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Posts Tagged ‘travel advice’

Smart Snacks that get you through TSA

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

OK, we must admit plane food isn’t always appetizing nor is it typically all healthy. You usually are found throwing out the cookies and the pretzels from the snack pack in order to make it healthy. Smart Meetings released “The Healthiest Airline Menu Options” in their January issue. It seems in some of the cases, lower airfare means lesser quality food. Southwest Airlines, known for their $59 one-way deals fell last in the line-up with nuts as the healthiest option. And, if they have salt – that definitely doesn’t make them healthy.

We’ve listed 5 Smart Snacks that will make their way through TSA without a hiccup. Our intentions are healthy and practical:

  • Luna, Lara or any high fiber bar – Protein is a huge plus too, but any all-natural bar high in fiber will hold you over on the flight. Avoid bars high in sugar (>17 grams of sugar) to satisfy your hunger cravings. Slip it in your carry-on and you’re all set to go!
  • Almonds – Bring a baggie of almonds or the can. Enjoy or share with your neighbor; make sure you choose unsalted.
  • Apples and bananas – Fruit is allowed but if it’s been opened such as a grapefruit, it needs to be wrapped. Like peanut butter or hummus with your fruit? Better follow the 3 oz rule, TSA considers all spreads a liquid.
  • Celery, cucumbers and broccoli – Full of fiber and water, eat as many veggies as you’d like without ever reaching for your wallet to buy a snack.
  • Customized trail mix – Easy to snack on and customizable, we give this snack 5-stars. Combine dried fruits, unsalted nuts and maybe some semi-sweetened dark chocolate chips.

Smart snacks keep you full. However, if you’re thinking greek yogurts and cottage cheese, remember it must be 3 oz or it won’t make it past the TSA lines. What’s your favorite snack to travel with?

Making the Most of Business Travel – Who says it should be all work and no play?

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

Spend a free afternoon or evening at places like Bluemont Vineyard, 951 feet high
where you can spot the Washington Monument on a clear day.

Can you actually count flying in and out of an airport and seeing the interior walls of a venue as visiting a place? When it’s all work and no play, see if you can squeeze in small amounts of play after arrivals and before departures.

  • Research the area – whether it’s a Metropolitan city or a small town, find out what there is see and explore in the area. For planners, this occurs during the site selection process, so if you’re an attendee ask the conference organizer for a brochure or PDF of the destination and area’s attractions. The best resource for travelers is the destination’s convention and visitors bureau (CVB) website or office, whose employees serve as “the ultimate dream guide” to anything you could possibly want to experience during your trip.
  • Schedule a later departure – Early arrival is another option, but most tend to spend early arrivals getting acquainted with the area, settling in and/or gearing up for the conference, business meeting or appointment. Without spending additional money on hotel accommodations, simply leave in the evening on the last day of your appointments; thus freeing your afternoon to explore the destination in terms of walking tours, museums, scenic views or whatever fulfill your heart’s desire.
  • Stay an extra day – As a planner, if the conference ends on a Friday you can certainly encourage attendees to stay another night and discover the destination. You’ll act as a liaison in further impacting the tourism economy there. If you’re an attendee, you can treat yourself to a 1-2 day vacation, have a spouse fly-in or spend time with a friend residing in the city. Fly your kids in for the weekend when you think they’ll absolutely love the place.

For those without much leeway in travel itinerary, you can also squeeze activities throughout breaks in the day, but we really recommend waiting to do tourist activities prior to the conference or proceeding it on the last day. You’ll be able to relax and enjoy the destination more. Utilize any breaks as an opportunity to network, decompress and digest any material. As mentioned, CVBs are your best resource to finding out everything you could ever need for a destination and the people there are yearing for you to come visit. Intrigued? Cvent has a great search tool for CVBs within the U.S. and for international destinations – visit the Cvent CVB Directory.

How New Apps Will Change Our Travel & Hospitality Experiences

Thursday, April 14th, 2011


In a technology session hosted by Corbin Ball at the 2011 IACC Conference, we saw a glimpse of what is soon to come in the hospitality and travel industry. Corbin briefly discussed the basics of Foursquare, Twitter, Facebook and how they can be of use for the industry, but his main focus was where the hospitality and meetings industry is headed – apps and mobile solutions.

First, how do we know mobile apps are here to stay? Corbin explains,

“In 2011, we have 4.6 billion mobile subscriptions – 2 out of 3 people on this planet; this is more than those with access to running water or toothbrushes.” 53.4 million people in the U.S. use a smart phone and this number continues to grow.

What kind of apps exist thus far for travel & hospitality? American Airlines has an app for checking into flights, flight status/schedule, accessing your AAdvantage® account, booking flights, viewing terminal apps, your mobile boarding pass and of course playing sudoku while you wait at your gate. EDITION hotels has an app for some of their hotel properties including the newly opened Waikiki Edition which allows users to schedule housekeeping, turn down service, valet parking, wake up calls, transportation and more all through their app. If you’re traveling for personal or business, check to see if they have an app.

Possibilities for travel & hospitality apps:

  • Property information, floorplans, General Manager and Front Desk biographies
  • Check-in, arrange turn-down service, transportation and wake-up calls
  • Real-time transportation information and any airport delays
  • Control your room’s temperature and lighting virtually
  • Wayfinding – enter your room number and allow the app to lead the way!
  • Nearby services and restaurants – nearby businesses may pay for premium listings in the hotel’s app directory
  • Meetings – Meeting planner information, speaker biographies, course notes, meeting agenda, polls/surveys, social address book
  • Live hashtag tweets about the particular event, brand, and more
  • Live campus video of the hotel

During Corbin’s session, a student posed the question, “Where has the hospitality aspect of the industry gone if there is little to no face-to-face interaction?” Corbin Ball answered, “Providing your guests with real-time information in apps is now part of a hotel or conference center’s overall hospitality. People want to quickly find real-time information with out picking up a phone or asking anyone.”

In our opinion, these apps can be a catch-22. Most apps are designed with a simple look and maximum information in minimal space. If hotels don’t include all the information a guest could need it can back-fire. Hotels must also have the infrastructure to support an app, or guests could turn more aggravated than if the hotel didn’t have an app at all. On the upside, these apps could generate quicker response rates and solutions from management as guests are able to report issues immediately on their mobile devices. In the hospitality and travel industry, when a client attempts to report a problem 2 or more times but does not see a resolution, they’ll likely to take their experience online as revenge; this is more formally known as double deviation (i.e. think United Airlines and broken guitar goes viral on YouTube).

“Future of Technology in 2014″:


9 Unusual Tips To Saving Money Before the Holidays

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

The holidays are approaching and we’re still reluctant to spend a lot of money, especially on travel.  Here are 9 unusual tips to saving money this holiday season:

  • Lucky Tuesday - when purchasing flights, despite your busy week – make time to buy flights during the week.  Flights are the cheapest on Tuesdays around 3 PM.  Why is this?  Airline companies debate their prices on Sundays and Mondays. Cheapest tickets are offered on Tuesday and pulled by Thursday – just in time for the weekend when most people have time to sit down and purchase a flight (and the cycle continues).

  • Let someone else watch the fare for you – it may be annoying to have another email in your inbox, but the weeks leading up to shopping for a flight, it’s the smartest idea.  Use airfarewatchdog to receive emails based on your preferences. For example, don’t know where you want to go? Subscribe to all low-airfare flights from nearby airports. Flying to a particular city?  Subscribe to cheap flights to the destination city such as Honolulu.

  • Stay home, celebrate later – it’s also true that Tuesday is not only the cheapest day to buy tickets but the cheapest day to fly as well.  Fly on a Tuesday and return on a Friday or Saturday for the cheapest flight.  Cheapest deals are before or after the holidays, current flights like $60 RT from DC to Boston are valid for flights between December 1 – December 15 and January 4 – February 16.  Opt to stay at home for the holidays and travel the Tuesday after Thanksgiving or New Years for the best deals.

  • Take a greyhound bus – in most cases today, bus prices come out cheaper than what you might pay in gas. Companies such as Boltbus and the upscale DC2NY provide daily express service to and from DC, NYC, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Boston. One-way or roundtrip fare can range between $35-$50, but some fare can go as low as $1. These buses also include Wi-Fi and more.

  • Business Deals – most companies don’t host training near the holidays, but the closer to the holidays, the more conference centers and meeting spaces at hotels are lowering their rates. The week leading to Thanksgiving and mid-December to January are considered a ‘lull’ for these conference centers.  Take advantage of this opportunity and save your company some money from the popular spring and summer training.

  • Have money after the holidays – with sites like GroupOn and LivingSocial where you can purchase daily deals and spend half the amount or more, it’s easy to save money this Holiday season. Deals like spend $25 for $50 on food & drink at “Joe’s Restaurant” saves you a lot of money.  Purchase these deals now and use it during the holidays OR if you’re traveling to subscribe to the deals in that city.  You’ll thank yourself in January for all the money you saved (and so will your bank account).

  • Free entertainment – you don’t have to wine and dine the family this holiday season. Take them to events that are fun and free. The Smithsonian Museums in DC are free admission and require a few hours of entertainment to walk through such as The National Museum of Natural History.  Or, for $2 you can reserve tickets online to visit the top of The Washington Monument (free in person the day of).

  • Gift-wrap it for $2 – Purchasing gifts online?  Rather than having the item shipped to you, wrapping it and shipping it to cousin Bill or checking it at the airport – click yes to have it gift-wrapped and shipped straight to the person’s house.  It’ll save you money as well as reduce your carbon footprint and the company’s too.

  • Hotels pay bag-check-in fee – who wants to pay airline bag fees? Some hotels are offering to pay fliers’ bag-check in fee. Check before you travel. Hotels are reimbursing $50 per party, based on the number of booked nights. USA Today

There are plenty of ways to save money with out breaking the bank when traveling this holiday season.  We hope these  tips help you save money during the Holidays and improve your traveling experience.