After a hectic day of meetings, business lunches and flight layovers, how does coming back to a room with homemade oatmeal cookies, a wood-burning fireplace and an antique four-poster bed sound? Well, for business travelers who prefer the intimate setting of a bed and breakfast inn to riding up 30 floors on the hotel elevator, it sounds downright heavenly.
Staying at a quaint bed and breakfast inn while away on business is becoming a more common option in rural, suburban and even urban areas. "Not everyone wants to stay in big hotels," says Lisa Shaw, author of The Business Traveler's Guide to Inns & B&Bs (Williams Hill Publishing), a Windows-based computer directory of bed and breakfast inns throughout the United States. "Many travelers choose to stay at small inns rather than large hotels because it's a way to get to know the area better."
Whether you're yearning for an authentic local experience, rooms with a personal touch, or sightseeing recommendations from an innkeeper who knows the nearby hotspots personally, a bed and breakfast can be as welcome as a nip of brandy awaiting you bedside. But before you object, claiming that the cost is more than your tight business travel budget allows, Shaw says many bed and breakfasts are offering large reductions on room rates to draw in business travelers during the week. And most inns' prices are less expensive than the typical big-city hotels' rates.
Man On The Move
For George A. Phirippidis, the plight of the mobile businessperson is no laughing matter. In 1990, when the former sales representative could take no more of the product literature mess occupying his car trunk, he created a trunk rack that made organizing the paperwork a snap. "I quickly realized I wasn't the only person who could use a system like this," remembers Phirippidis.
What later emerged was the Car-Go-File-and a new business, Mobile Technology Products, in Fremont, California. Phirippidis' 15-employee company now boasts an impressive array of mobile gadgets and goodies for entrepreneurs and employees on the move. Handy gizmos ranging from cellular phone accessories and personal digital assistants to the Seat Pal lightweight workstation and the Soilguard vinyl trunk protector can be purchased at Fry's Electronics and GTE Mobilenet in California or by mail order; call (800) 426-3435.
Having the right products, insists Phirippidis, is key to helping road warriors reduce waste, save money, cut back on stress, and improve time management by up to 40 percent. "To be really productive," says Phirippidis, "you must have the phone in a safe place and have a workstation environment in the car. Then you need the trunk organized so you can file materials and keep extra supplies." Take a cue from Phirippidis and don't get stressed-get organized!
Tartan blankets. Full-sized pillows. Cozy pajamas. Hot cocoa. From the sound of it, you'd think these are travel luxuries found only in the finest hotels. But can you believe this kind of royal treatment can now be enjoyed on several major airlines?
As we've reported, the battle to attract more business travelers continues, and it seems no creature comfort is too cushy for the airlines to offer. Among the most notable new programs for business travelers: By midyear, British Airways plans to revamp the entire first-class sections of its 747, 777 and DC-10 planes into 14 individual units. Each compartment contains a "buddy seat" for conducting a meeting. In addition, travelers can change into comfortable pajamas and relax on full-length beds with pillows and blankets. Or you can peruse the personal video entertainment system located in a sideboard, while feasting on a la carte meals served any time you choose.
"We want to pamper the premium passenger, yet also offer them ways to be more productive," explains Sandy Gardiner of British Airways.
The Brits aren't the only ones getting into the act. In October, Continental launched its "concierge service" for European travelers in its Business First program. A cordial concierge acts as a liaison in the airport between passengers and the airline, calling a few days before the flight to ask if the traveler requires any special services, such as seat requests, special meals and so on.
In addition, through TWA's Trans World One program, business travelers can get first-class seats at business-class fares and can sleep under wool blankets or cozy comforters on new seats that recline nearly flat.
What's next-10-course meals and individual bathrooms? Stay tuned.
In Case Of Emergency
Delayed airplane flights, bad weather and getting lost are all to be expected while traveling. But travelers must also consider the unexpected: What if an employee traveling overseas loses her passport, becomes seriously ill or is injured? What if you're a victim of a violent crime while traveling domestically? To minimize or even avoid these problems, consider developing a travel security plan for your business.
According to Kipley Schultz, a travel security trainer and consultant in Altoona, Wisconsin, entrepreneurs rarely consider travel safety issues that can harm a business. "For a really small business, if something were to happen to the owner or an important employee while overseas, it could destroy the business," says Schultz. A travel security plan can lessen employee downtime, ease travel worries and more.
Some travel security plans are simple one-page documents with contact information in case of an emergency. Others are entire booklets, often part of existing company travel policies, detailing emergency contact information and insurance coverage and offering various travel tips.
If your employees frequently go abroad, Schultz recommends purchasing medical insurance that covers overseas emergencies or contains an "evacuation plan" to remove employees from a country without adequate medical care. Employees should also keep photocopies of important documents with them while traveling.
Finally, review your travel security plan at least once a year to ensure it contains the most up-to-date information, and encourage employees to re-read it yearly so they're familiar with company procedures.
Don't Touch That Dial
Sure, using a cellular car phone helps you keep in touch with the office, feel safer in parts unknown and maybe even close more deals. But did you know it may also increase your chances of having an accident?
According to data collected by the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York, having a cellular phone in a vehicle may up the risk of accidents by as much as 34 percent. While the study indicates there is no direct evidence that people were using a cellular phone at the time the accidents occurred, it did find that the risk of accidents increased with the amount of phone usage.
Members of Marriott Honored Guest Awards and United Mileage Plus programs can now access individual account information on Status, a new World Wide Web site, at http://www.status.com.
For $25, nonmembers can now buy single day passes to Delta Crown Room airport lounges. Passengers with Delta tickets can buy passes from Crown Room attendants and Delta ticket offices. (American Airlines and Continental Airlines offer similar passes.)
Want to know the latest changes in frequent flier programs? Call FlyerFax at (719) 574-6947 and ask for Document 1000 for a full menu of fax-back updates-free-courtesy of InsideFlyer magazine.
Through April 30, get a free full-day ski-lift ticket and free ski rack with a minimum three-day rental of a four-wheel-drive car from Alamo at many Western ski destinations. (Cars rent for $279 for three days. Call 800-GO-ALAMO.)
Charge two Westin stays on your American Express card through March 15 and get 10,000 Westin Premier Bonus Points-enough for one free night.
Dine at select on-site restaurants at Marriott hotels and earn 500 Honored Guest Award points.
American Express' Membership Miles program has a new name: Membership Rewards. Core airline and hotel program partners (and the ability to transfer points to them) will remain the same, but members can now redeem miles for car rentals, vacation packages, gourmet foods and merchandise.
American Express Membership Rewards, (800) AXP-EARN
British Airways, (800) AIRWAYS;
Delta Air Lines, (800) 221-1212;
Marriott Hotels, (800) 450-4442;
Mobile Technology Products, 5815 Commerce Dr., Fremont, CA 94555, (800) 426-3453;
Kipley Schultz, P.O. Box 102, Altoona, WI 54720-0102, (715) 839-8515;
TWA, (800) 221-2000;
Williams Hill Publishing, R.R. 1, Box 1234, Grafton, NH 03240, (800) 639-1099.