From the October 1997 issue of Entrepreneur

Busy professionals can hardly spare time to shop before a business trip--even for the bare necessities.

With that in mind, consider the following two catalogs, which feature an array of travel products and accessories designed to increase your productivity without wasting your time.

  • Finding travel-sized shampoos, deodorants and sewing kits can be a daunting task, even for seasoned business travelers. Convinced there isn't a better way, many continue to force full-sized toiletries into already crammed suitcases.

If this scenario sounds all too familiar, it's time to kick the habit. The PackLite quarterly catalog could be the answer: It does the hunting for you, coupling convenience with a surprisingly extensive array of essentials.

Everything in the catalog has been downsized to save luggage space, including shaving cream, mouthwash, toothpaste, hair spray and gel, lotion, sunscreen, body soap and more.

Miscellaneous items that can be life-savers on the road are also included, from hosiery repair kits and spot-remover sticks to lint brushes and ear plugs. Prepackaged travel kits come in a variety of brands, allowing you to choose a mix that fits your needs.

  • When you're preparing for your trip, don't overlook mobile office accessories--these can be just as important to business travelers as an efficiently packed suitcase. If you'd like to take your office with you on your trip but know it won't fit in your suitcase, check out The Mobile Office Outfitter.

Available since 1995, this annual catalog offers a line of products to help mobile professionals maintain productivity while doing business on the road. Page through a copy of this handy catalog, and you'll find an extensive selection of mobile desks and workstations specifically designed to help you keep a handle on pens, files, calculators and other miscellaneous items while you're away from your office.

Or you can select from a variety of power inverters for notebook computers and printers, as well as power extensions that enable you to set up as many as three electronic items at once.

Portable organizers for important documents are also available, as are laptop cases and cellular phone accessories. For executives seeking personal development in the areas of management, sales or organization, a collection of booklets is also available.

Just Checking In

There's good news for business travelers who dread hotel check-in lines. Hilton Hotels Corp. now offers guests a convenient alternative to the front-desk procedure.

Developed through a partnership with Montvale, New Jersey-based Geotek Communications Inc., a provider of wireless communication solutions, the new Mobile Zip-In program allows guests to check in while on board the hotel shuttle from the airport. Upon arrival, Hilton clerks hand guests their room key when they step off the van. "It really takes express check-in to a whole new level," says John Page of Geotek.

To date, two Hilton locations--Miami and Newark, New Jersey--have equipped their vans with the technology. By 2000, Hilton expects all 37 of its locations situated near airports to be up and running--assuming Geotek's network is fully operational in those areas by that time. Eventually, Hilton plans to bring its limousines into the loop, as well.

The technology behind Mobile Zip-In provides an added benefit: Hilton can monitor its shuttle fleet at all times through a satellite system. "We're now able to dispatch them more efficiently so the waiting time at the airport is [shortened]," explains Tom Daly, Hilton's vice president of loss prevention. Additionally, guests who present their Hilton HHonors card at check-in can earn points toward airline miles and other benefits.

Hilton's industry competitors won't be far behind. Says Page, "Our focus now is to provide Mobile Zip-In to Hilton, but ultimately we'd like to come out with a [similar] hospitality solution for other hotels."

Healthy Choice

For healthy eaters, airline food has always left much to be desired--until now. Hoping to win over passengers in search of healthier fare, Swissair is going organic. "We wanted to follow the trend toward healthier foods," explains Swissair's Peter Gutknecht.

Called "naturalgourmet," the unique food-service concept is already gracing menus on flights leaving Switzerland, translating into nearly 6,300 hot meals daily. And naturally, Swissair has healthy aspirations for the future: Next year, flights out of the United States should also be participating, and by 2000, Swissair expects 90 percent of all its meals to be prepared with more vegetables and organically grown products and ingredients. Baby food and beverages also fall under the naturalgourmet guidelines.

The new fare is pricier, but Gutknecht maintains the rise won't be reflected in ticket prices. And the spruced-up menu is available for all passengers, not just those in first-class. Says Gutknecht, "The variety, taste and quality all seem to meet the expectations of our customers in all classes. They appreciate having healthy food on board."

Road Notes

By Catharine Kuchar

  • Budgetel now offers Business First rooms, complete with an ergonomic chair, large desk, speaker phone and free local phone calls. The cost? About $50 a night.
  • International first- and business-class passengers can now enjoy Delta Air Lines' wine program, "Vinum," which offers selections of unusual vintages from wineries around the world.
  • By the end of 1998, United passengers flying internationally will enjoy new "Connoisseur Class" seats. The seats include a lumbar support system, an adjustable headrest, a bottom cushion and a reading light. Plus, you'll be able to cross your legs with the tray table down.
  • Through December 31, American Airlines is offering AAdvantage members 250 bonus miles each way for tickets purchased online using the Personal AAcess service.
  • And you thought television was only an obsession in the United States. According to the 1997 Official Airline Guide Business Travel Lifestyle Survey, six out of 10 business travelers ranked satellite/cable television as the most important hotel amenity.
  • Midwest Express' Refer A Friend program is now permanent. Frequent fliers will receive 2,500 bonus miles when their friends sign up for a Midwest Express Gold MasterCard and 1,000 bonus miles for friends who sign up for the Classic MasterCard.
  • Delta Air Lines could soon be flying to Venezuela. The scheduled start-up date is December 7, pending government approval.

Safe & Sound

Percentage of business travelers who . . .

Listen to safety announcements:

Always: 29% Sometimes: 56% Never: 14%

Are very confident in emergency situations:

85%

Keep seatbelt fastened for entire flight:

69%

source: official airline guide

Alls Fare

From the airport into town, here are the average taxi rates around the world:

Location Cost

London $63.50

Rome $56.07

Sao Paulo, Brazil $47.24

Frankfurt, Germany $40.48

New York City $35.00

Paris $35.00

Manila, Philipines $28.44

Singapore $11.50

Hong Kong $10.00

Shanghai, China $10.00

  • in U.S. dollars

source: Employment Conditions Abroad Windham LLC

Contact Sources

American Airlines, (800) 433-7300

Budgetel, (800) 428-3438

Delta Air Lines, (800) 221-1212

Geotek Communications Inc., 102 Chestnut Ridge Rd., Montvale, NJ 07645, http://www.geotek.com

Hilton Hotels Corp., 9336 Civic Center Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90210, (310) 278-4321

J.D. Power and Associates, 30401 Agoura Rd., Agoura Hills, CA 91301, (818) 889-6330

Midwest Express, (800) 452-2022

The Mobile Office Outfitter, P.O. Box 973, Newark, CA 94560, (800) 426-3453

PackLite, (714) 848-3344, http://www.familyinternet.com/packlite

Reed Travel Group/1997 Official Airline Guide Business Travel Lifestyle Survey, (312) 649-0371

Swissair, 41 Pinelawn Rd., Melville, NY 11747, http://www.swissair.com

United Airlines, (800) 241-6522