Category Archives: Searching Travel
The key to avoiding the aggravation that comes from travel planning, as well as enjoying the cost-savings and even gaining a few perks along the way is simple. All you have to do is choose a corporate travel agent who:
1. Is well connected in the industry.
It’s true that “it’s not what you know, but who you know” is as important in corporate travel planning as it is in the entertainment industry. You never know when that one special connection will come through for a CEO, guest or employee. Your corporate travel planner should give you firsthand insight into vendors and accommodations.
2. Understands and knows value when he sees it.
From last minute travel arrangements to leisure trips, the price for travel fluctuates by the hour. An experienced travel planner knows value, knows when to wait and when to snatch up a reservation pronto.
3. Can project manage, coordinating and rearranging the most minuscule details without losing his mind or dropping the ball
Whether one person or a group is traveling, the devil is in the details. Work with a travel agent who is a proven multi-tasker. One who can reserve 15 airline seats together, 15 hotel rooms on the same floor, etc. without overlooking any minute detail. Group travel planners worth their salt are hard to come by.
4. Thinks clearly and rationally in the midst of “crazy”.
Weather, blackouts, national emergencies, a meeting running late and a multitude of other circumstances can impact travel plans. Even in the craziest of travel nightmares, the perfect corporate travel planner keeps his wits and has workable solutions up his sleeve.
5. Respects your privacy, keeping your info safe and secure.
Think about it. Your corporate travel agent has access to a vast amount of private data, and should have the latest security tools in place to protect it.
6. Is capable of developing, implementing and sticking to a corporate travel policy.
If you have a corporate travel policy in place, you want an agent who takes the time to understand and follow it. If no such policy exists, one can be developed. The benefits of having a policy include evaluating your company’s budget and needs and avoiding needlessly high travel costs. Not to mention the little perks only a travel planner can deliver.
7. Can handle big and small accounts.
Small companies don’t want to feel ignored. Large companies need the assurance that their travel planner can handle the volume. The best agencies can do both seamlessly.
8. Has a personal touch but is backed by a powerful agency.
When there’s talk of airlines charging passengers to use the toilet, it’s a clear indication that the idea of service is dying. Some feel it’s been dead a while now. A corporate travel planner brings humanity back to travel. No, the customer service rep on the other line may not care that you’ve missed a flight, but your personal travel planner sure will. And when they’re backed by a robust agency (like Tzell), they can make things happen!
9. Is willing to develop (and maintain) relationships.
Planning corporate travel is personal. Work with an agent who cares enough to keep track of personal preferences. One who promises to be there when you need it, no matter what time it is. One who answers calls and acts quickly. One who’s smart enough not to burn bridges, knowing the impact it has on clients. One who invests in building relationships with key sources, which prove valuable to you.
10. Cares about people.
This one goes without saying (hopefully).
Search for Country-Specific Airlines
- Look for an airline based in the country where you want the stopover. Most free stopovers happen during connections in the airline’s home airport. Although you might find some local stopovers, most stops occur on international flights, where planes need to stop to refuel. For example, British Airlines will offer stopovers in London, Singapore Air in Singapore and Icelandair in Reykjavik. Most free stopovers are for 24 hours or less, but some airlines allow you to extend the stopover for a minimal fee. With short stopovers, however, you’re unlikely to be able to explore beyond the city.
Use Travel Websites
- To find a stopover flight, start by searching for a flight using travel sites such as Orbitz or Expedia and see what options are offered. Usually, you’ll be given a nonstop flight option as well as a number of one-stop or two-stop flights. The cheapest flights tend to be the ones with the longest stopovers, because many people see this as an inconvenience. Stops of up to 10 hours are common on cheap flights, and in some cases that’s enough to do some exploring, as long as the airport is not too far from the city center.
Call the Airline
- If there’s a flight you want that offers a stopover, but that stopover is too short, contact the airline directly. Ask about taking the following flight out, rather than the one scheduled on the offer. This will usually give you at least one additional day. Smaller airports might not have another flight for several days, giving you time to explore the area. When asking for long stopover flights, make sure you don’t need a visa to exit the airport and enter the country. This might be the case in some Asian and African countries.
Use a Travel Consolidator
- Using a travel consolidator might be a good option if you’re having trouble locating free stopovers on your own. Consolidators are brokers who specialize in one-way tickets, so they arrange stops in multiple cities for the same price you would pay for a single ticket on your own. Because consolidators count each stop as a separate leg of the trip, these are not technically stopovers but work the same way. You also have the added advantage that you can come back using a different route, so you get an additional stop in a different city if you want.
Look for Extras
- Always check the official websites of the airlines you’re considering to see if they have special offers. For example, Turkish Airlines has a special tour program for anyone who reaches Istanbul in a stopover. Their one-day tour, which is free, takes those on a stopover to see some of the major attractions in the city, including museums, famous landmarks and special views of the city.
There are several variations on how to book multi-stop flights. The circumstances of the flight will determine the best configuration. An open-jaw flight flies from one city to another with a return from a third city. This kind of flight is useful for people who fly into a city and then rent a car to drive to another city, from where they will depart.
Circle itineraries begin and end in the same place, with one or more stops en route. Around-the-world flights allow flights in as many as 15 destinations over a period of up to a year. Several one-way tickets are also an option.
- Determine departure and initial destination cities.
- Choose the ultimate departure city. Figure out how to get from the original destination city to the final departure city.
- Book the flight on a travel search engine that will allow departure from a city other than the initial destination city.
- Decide on the departure city and destination cities.
- Pick how many stopover cities you will visit.
- Choose travel dates.
- Click the multi-city button or tab on the airline website. Most airlines allow at least five flights.
- Book your flight with a return to the same city from which you departed.
- Choose the general route, direction and area of interest for the trip.
- Decide how many places will be visited on the entire flight itinerary.
- Decide which kind of multi-stop flight to purchase.
- Visit round-the-world websites that feature pre-packaged itineraries for different regions of the world.
- Shop around for good prices. Search on the three main airline networks, which are alliances of airline companies: Star Alliance, SkyTeam and oneworld. Check on travel search engines to compare prices.
Popularity of Online Travel Agencies Growing
- Travel and tourism are among the biggest industries worldwide, and more than 80 percent of the travel sold in the United States is now purchased online. With more consumers using the Internet to plan their vacation getaways, online travel agencies have been growing in popularity, helping to increase business in the travel industry overall. Aside from booking travel packages, many travelers go online in search of travel reviews before making a final decision about their choices. Reports show that more travelers who have traditionally booked trips offline are checking out vacation destinations, as well as travel and hotel rates, online.
Working With a Known Travel Agency
- The travel industry is a busy industry; therefore, many online travel agencies are working with established host agencies, which can provide marketing materials, along with experience in knowing what travelers are looking for. Being part of an affiliate program can help to increase an agency’s bookings and sales. Like other businesses putting up websites, going online allows travel agencies to reach a wider market of travel consumers.
Advantages to Consumers and Travel Agencies Both
- Online travel agencies use automated processes to reduce costs and increase profitability, in addition to improving efficiency. While there are a variety of software tools available to assist businesses in saving time and selling more travel, online travel agencies offer several advantages to consumers. Would-be travelers have access to airlines, cruise lines, railways, hotels, tours and car rental companies all from a single source, allowing them to check out current travel discounts from the comfort of their own homes. Consumers can also benefit from special offers and promotions often offered online.
Consumers Need to Know What They Are Buying
- Booking travel online can save consumers money, but you need to do your homework first. Before purchasing a travel package online, a consumer should be sure to read all the fine print. A dream vacation might not turn out to be what you are expecting. That’s why you need to know exactly what expenses are included in a package before buying. Frequently, hotel stays and some attractions are the only items included. Even so, the package may still be a good deal, but travelers need to know up front what other expenses will be involved. Consumers should always read reviews about any online travel agencies, from which they are considering purchasing. In many cases, comments made by other people who have purchased travel packages from the company can be read online. Consumers can also find out how a certain company has been rated by others.
- Start your search for vintage travel trailer identification on the Internet. If you use the search term “vintage travel trailer” on Google, you will receive over two million hits. A travel trailer is considered vintage if it is over 25 years old. Join a community of vintage travel trailer aficionados, such as Vintage Trailer Crazy. This site has amazing photographs of vintage trailers.
- Identify a vintage Airstream by its iconic silver body. Airstream trailers are the most desirable and available vintage trailers, and parts are easier to obtain. The company’s website has extensive information on models of vintage trailers, consumer forums and service information. Airstream has been in production since 1932 and are considered by many people as the elite trailer. Many vintage Airstreams are still on the road today.
- Identify vintage teardrop trailers by their distinctive shape. Teardrop trailers have been in production since the 1930s. Many of these trailers were made from kits or plans. They are compact and perfect for camping or short-term use, for one or two people. Because many teardrop trailers were handmade, it may be difficult to establish a date of origin. Benroy was a manufacturer of teardrop trailers in the 1950s.
- Identify certain models of 1950s and 1960s vintage Shasta travel trailers by the wings on the upper rear of the trailer. Shasta trailers were in production from 1941 and were used to house member of the United States armed forces. Shasta was purchased by Coachman in 1976.
- Talk to vintage trailer owners. Vintage trailer enthusiasts love to help other people in their search and forums are plentiful. There are many brands of the “canned ham” type of vintage travel trailer. They are identifiable by the rounded shape of an old-style can of ham. Crown, Oasis and the rare Hanson Love Bug are vintage trailers in this category. Look for a manufacturer’s plaque on vintage trailers. The Love Bug plaque features a heart pierced by an arrow.
- Many Internet-based travel search engines allow you to see fares to multiple destinations from a single airport or region. Simply plug in your departure airport or city and the travel search engine will look for the lowest fares to all destinations. On some sites, you can sort the results by dollar amount, airline, price per mile and other factors; others allow you to plug in your departure airport and see current deals under a certain dollar amount to many destinations. This type of search is a good way to get a general overview of the current fares to the destinations you are considering. Not all of these sites allow you to book, but they can give you an idea of the fares you can expect when you are ready to book on another site.
- If you want to plan a trip that includes stopovers at multiple destinations rather than a simple round-trip between two destinations, book a multi-segment trip. Most booking engines and airline websites will allow you this option; simply choose “Multi-Segment” and input your destination airports and the dates you want to fly. Multi-segment trips do not necessarily cost more than simple round trips—it all depends on the fare rules, which vary widely.
- Many websites let you search for the best fare to a given destination within a range of dates. The results are typically sorted by fare and airline, and you can see the fare rules for each fare and the dates the fare is actually available.
- If you know what airline you want to fly on, go to its website and select “Multi-Segment” on the flight booking page. Most airlines allow you to book multi-segment tickets with three or more stops, and these fares are not always more expensive than regular round-trip tickets. This option usually requires you to input specific dates for each segment; to search for fares using flexible dates, most airlines require you to book a round-trip or one-way fare.
- Online travel agencies offer users the option of searching for multi-segment fares. When you search for multi-segment fares on third-party sites, you will get results for multiple airlines, which can help you find lower fares than you will see when searching on a single airline’s website.
- Visit Kayak’s home page at www.kayak.com. The site is easy to use with many different features to look through.
- Click the “Flights” button at the left of the top main menu.
- Select Round-trip, one-way or multi-city. Enter “From” and “To” a city or airport, leave and return dates, number of travelers and cabin seating type. Click “Search.”
- Wait as Kayak searches thousands of flights for you, and then review your choices, automatically sorted by price. If too many flights are available to show at once, you may be asked to refine your search by limiting it to a certain airline, number of stops or takeoff time.
- Click on the flight you’re interested in to learn more. You’ll be taken to the appropriate carrier’s site.
- Check the “I accept the fare rules…” box, and click “Continue.”
- Enter traveler information and use the seat selector tool if desired.
- Add payment information to complete the transaction. Kayak.com accepts many credit cards as well as several other payment options such as money orders.
- Find a website host and a domain name. Some travel sites offer a free membership if you register and additional features if you upgrade to a paid plan. Alternately, you can start an independent website by contacting a website host (see Resources).
- Design the outline for your site before you leave on vacation if you plan to upload photographs and videos as you travel. Select a simple background that does not detract from your content. Consider using a complementary theme. For example, if you will be posting photos from an island vacation, choose a background that features a beach and palm trees.
- Get creative with your photos. The last thing viewers want to see is you, repeatedly, waving at the camera from in front of the most recent tourist attraction you visited. Instead, consider using the panorama feature on your camera to allow them to scroll for a 180-degree view of the scenery.
- Capture some action in your videos to make them interesting. Instead of filming the sky, the surf, the beach and then the sky again, wait until Aunt Mary decides to parasail and get it on tape. Use your graphics program to cut out all but the most intriguing parts so website visitors won’t get bored.
- Separate different aspects of your travels by giving them different pages on your site. Keep each page simple but unique, with only the shots and text that apply to the photos you post. Add a simple caption for every photo, and resist uploading different angles of the same shot. The viewer only needs to see one photo of the sandcastle you constructed.
- Locate Internet cafes on your travels, and update your website as you go. Family and friends at home will be waiting excitedly for updates from the newest leg of your journey, so try to upload new information as often as you can.
- Include some short stories about the places you visited and the people you met. Keep your text brief, and cover only the most interesting and exciting events.
- Find the departures and arrivals information for every flight in your terminal on the nearest display. Every monitor will display flight information such as flight number, time, destination of arrival or departure, gate number and flight status. If you cannot locate the monitors, ask an airport worker for assistance.
- Ask the attendant at the boarding gate about your flight information. Every gate at the airport is staffed with an attendant for their respective gates. If you need to find a flight without entering the security checkpoint, go to the nearest boarding pass counter representative for flight details.
- Connect to the airport Wi-Fi. Most major airports have Wi-Fi connectivity for travelers and guests to check flight information and status online. Although accessing other websites may require you to purchase a day or monthly Internet access pass, checking your flight status is a complimentary service provided by most airports.
- Examine the travel trailer you’re interested in for a Vehicle Identification Number, or VIN. The VIN is like a fingerprint for a vehicle. It should match the VIN listed on the title. The VIN is printed on a metal plate and in the case of a travel travel is placed near the front of the trailer on the tongue, on the front of the frame or on the side of the trailer. If no VIN is present then a title search cannot be made.
- Contact the Department of Motor Vehicles to determine whether you must schedule an appointment for an inspection. In some states you can have an inspection done without an appointment, so it’s wise to call your local DMV or check your state’s DMV website.
- Take the trailer in question to the Department of Motor Vehicles so that the inspector can compare the VIN on the title to the one printed on the vehicle’s VIN plate. The two should match exactly. The inspection is typically done by a DMV employee specializing in VIN inspections or a county official, such as a law enforcement officer.
- Once the VIN and vehicle title have been compared and verified, the official will complete and sign a title verification form provided by the DMV. A nominal fee is charged for the inspection. It’s typically less than $10 but varies from state to state.
- Direct your browser to google.com/cse. Click the “Create a Custom Search Engine” button.
- Give your unique search engine a name, such as “Travel Search Engine.” Write a brief description of the search engine if desired, and select the language the search engine will use.
- Define the search by adding the websites you wish to search. If your travel search engine is going to be used primarily to find flight and hotel information, include sites such as Hotels.com, Orbitz.com and Expedia.com. If your search engine will be used to find adventure travel opportunities, include sites such as iexplore.com and adventure.travel. Add the desired website URL addresses to the “Sites to Search” box, pushing the “Enter” key after each address. Click the check box to agree to Google’s Terms of Service, and click “Next.”
- Choose how you want your search results to be displayed. Google gives you six customizable styles to choose from. After you have chosen your style, try your new search engine by using the Custom Search Bar at the bottom of the page. The results will be displayed on the same page. If you are satisfied with the results, click “Next.” If you want to make changes to the search engine, click on the “Back to step 1” link.
- Capture the code to use on your own website or blog by copying and pasting the code Google provides in the Custom Search element box. If you do not wish to post the search engine on your own website, you can use the search engine via Google by clicking on “My Search Engines” on the My Account page. This link can be copied and shared so others can use the search engine.
- Direct your browser to au.alpha.yahoo.com. Alpha has default information sources, the websites it is searching, preloaded onto the form. These are customizable as well. If there are sources that you do not wish to use in the Info Sources box, simply uncheck them and they will not be displayed in your search results.
- Click and drag Alpha’s modules to rearrange the way your search results will be displayed. The modules are displayed in the right column of the page.
- Customize the websites Alpha will search by clicking on the “Add Custom Info Source” tab. Name the module and add the URL to the website you want added to the search criteria, then click “Next.” Alpha will display a sample search engine return and give you the choice of adding the source or changing it. When you are satisfied, click “Yes, add this new source.” Your source will be displayed in the right column of the Layout page. Each source must be individually entered.
- Capture the RSS feed code by clicking on the “Create site search” link in the right column of the Layout page. Choose the style of search box you want to see displayed, copy the code and paste it into your website or other page that accepts RSS feeds.
- Direct your browser to bing.com/siteowner. Click on the “Get started” button below the Advance Search Box paragraph.
- Add the websites you want your custom search to use. Type in a display name for the search engine and the first URL to be included. Click the “Add more sites” button to add multiple websites to the search criteria. When you have added all the websites, click “Next.”
- Customize the search box by choosing the language, color and size of the search box to be created. Preview your search box, then click “Next.”
- Copy the code generated by Bing into your website or blog.