Business Travel Trends 2010 – Part 1

It’s that time of year again; time to predict marketplace trends. Whether trying to explain the past year’s business ups and downs or preparing for next year’s marketplace, those in the know have begun forecasting, prognosticating and generally gazing into their crystal balls. After having read many of these predictions, including the results of various, pertinent surveys, here’s my take on what we can expect in 2010 and beyond with regard to trends in business travel.

Corporations will gradually begin to concentrate on managing trade and reducing travel. While everyone seems to agree that face-to-face meetings will continue to remain fundamentally indispensable in the way of doing business, most notably with regard to client relationships, corporations will put the emphasis on managing trade and reducing travel. Even so, businesses will carefully study how they may obtain the greatest return on investment from travel, doing away with any needless or excessive business trips.

The competition for employee talent may well lead to a noticeable reduction in limiting travel protocols, balanced by stronger compliance standards. Travel guidelines may also turn out to be less restrictive as businesses increase their attempts to draw and maintain suitable professional individuals. Further attention will be focused on employees’ work-life balance as well as managing productivity and less on accomplishing savings at the expense of traveler comfort and well-being.

Companies will ramp up attempts to control travel-related hazards. Preserving the safety of business travelers will continue to be of the utmost importance to travel managers, especially with regard to high-risk travel destinations. Corporate travel professionals will be looking for the ability to recognize services which will facilitate the improvement of traveler safety.

Consumers will depend upon merchants to become a motivating force in discovering “green” solutions. Fundamentally, businesses will seek to balance environmental issues with economic obligations, putting into practice a holistic, sustainable methodology with regard to travel.

Technology will continue to enhance the business traveler’s experience. Significant concepts will feature self-service, plug and play, one-stop shop and cellular phones. Simply put, from the decision to travel to post trip reporting of expenses, corporations will persist in seeking out technology that is more user-friendly and of worth to employees during their travel process. At the booking stage, additional travelers will make use of on-line tools as companies strive to better accommodate individuals within their travel design.

Believe it or not, this is not the complete outline of significant changes that may impact business travel as a whole. In Part 2 of 2010 Business Travel Trends we will continue to explore the very real possibilities that may play out for the business traveler in the not so distant future.

Why Sound Business Travel Reporting Matters

For any company that has their employees engage in regular travel, it is important to have a good corporate travel strategy. Part of developing and improving on a corporate travel strategy is solid business travel reporting. Business travel reporting provides the company with details about the cost of travel and how the money is being used. This data not only helps to keep track of expenses but it also can be used to identify areas of waste and inefficiency. When this information is tracked and analyzed it can be used to improve upon your company’s business travel strategy. Using the service of a corporate travel agency is an effective means toward achieving all of these goals.

Due to their experience and their connections in the travel and finance industry, a corporate travel firm will be especially suited to provide these services with the highest degree of detail. A corporate travel agency uses a variety of methods to analyze and track a clients business travel expenses. They can use data from banking and credit card records along with the travel records to identify the most and least efficient travelers in your company. They can help to manage airline data to find which carrier is providing the most business friendly service for the most affordable price and they can help to identify waste and abuse of funds.

A corporate booking agency can also help employers to analyze information in a way that can determine how effectively the employees travel and how well they stick to the itinerary and how closely the individual employees stick to the travel strategy. This can be achieved by referencing the data accumulated from credit cards, expense accounts, airline data, hotel bills and rental information. Once all of the data is collected and analyzed, the corporate travel firm can prepare a complete report. The reports will cover a variety of different areas and will often be accompanied by a written summary of the overall information. Clients can also request specialized reporting from a corporate travel agency. These may be to address an area of concern or to see how a new aspect of the travel strategy is working.

Most business travel agencies recommend that their clients schedule regular meetings with their travel manger to go over the business travel reporting and to find ways to improve the corporate travel strategy. The management of a business should meet with their corporate travel manager at least once a year. In these meetings the travel manager can help the client go over the business travel reporting and understand what all of the data means. The manager will help to identify areas of waste and point out parts of the travel plan that are working well. At this time the client can address their concerns about the travel strategy and work to adjust the business travel strategy. A corporate travel agency can also help their client with a plan for implementing the new strategy and addressing the changes with their staff.

Having the services of a business travel agency is a necessity for any company that engages in regular travel. Having a well thought out strategy will not only save the company money, but it will also make sure that the staff is getting the most out of their trip.

A New Way to Invest in Property

The two most frequently asked questions by investors are:

  1. What investment should I buy?
  2. Is now the right time to buy it?

Most people want to know how to spot the right investment at the right time, because they believe that is the key to successful investing. Let me tell you that is far from the truth: even if you could get the answers to those questions right, you would only have a 50% chance to make your investment successful. Let me explain.

There are two key influencers that can lead to the success or failure of any investment:

  1. External factors: these are the markets and investment performance in general. For example:
    • The likely performance of that particular investment over time;
    • Whether that market will go up or down, and when it will change from one direction to another.
  2. Internal factors: these are the investor’s own preference, experience and capacity. For example:
    • Which investment you have more affinity with and have a track record of making good money in;
    • What capacity you have to hold on to an investment during bad times;
    • What tax advantages do you have which can help manage cash flow;
    • What level of risk you can tolerate without tending to make panic decisions.

When we are looking at any particular investment, we can’t simply look at the charts or research reports to decide what to invest and when to invest, we need to look at ourselves and find out what works for us as an individual.

Let’s look at a few examples to demonstrate my viewpoint here. These can show you why investment theories often don’t work in real life because they are an analysis of the external factors, and investors can usually make or break these theories themselves due to their individual differences (i.e. internal factors).

Example 1: Pick the best investment at the time.

Most investment advisors I have seen make an assumption that if the investment performs well, then any investor can definitely make good money out of it. In other words, the external factors alone determine the return.

I beg to differ. Consider these for example:

  • Have you ever heard of an instance where two property investors bought identical properties side by side in the same street at the same time? One makes good money in rent with a good tenant and sells it at a good profit later; the other has much lower rent with a bad tenant and sells it at a loss later. They can be both using the same property management agent, the same selling agent, the same bank for finance, and getting the same advice from the same investment advisor.
  • You may have also seen share investors who bought the same shares at the same time, one is forced to sell theirs at a loss due to personal circumstances and the other sells them for a profit at a better time.
  • I have even seen the same builder building 5 identical houses side by side for 5 investors. One took 6 months longer to build than the other 4, and he ended up having to sell it at the wrong time due to personal cash flow pressures whereas others are doing much better financially.

What is the sole difference in the above cases? The investors themselves (i.e. the internal factors).

Over the years I have reviewed the financial positions of a few thousand investors personally. When people ask me what investment they should get into at any particular moment, they expect me to compare shares, properties, and other asset classes to advise them how to allocate their money.

My answer to them is to always ask them to go back over their track record first. I would ask them to list down all the investments they have ever made: cash, shares, options, futures, properties, property development, property renovation, etc. and ask them to tell me which one made them the most money and which one didn’t. Then I suggest to them to stick to the winners and cut the losers. In other words, I tell them to invest more in what has made them good money in the past and stop investing in what has not made them any money in the past (assuming their money will get a 5% return per year sitting in the bank, they need to at least beat that when doing the comparison).

If you take time to do that exercise for yourself, you will very quickly discover your favourite investment to invest in, so that you can concentrate your resources on getting the best return rather than allocating any of them to the losers.

You may ask for my rationale in choosing investments this way rather than looking at the theories of diversification or portfolio management, like most others do. I simply believe the law of nature governs many things beyond our scientific understanding; and it is not smart to go against the law of nature.

For example, have you ever noticed that sardines swim together in the ocean? And similarly so do the sharks. In a natural forest, similar trees grow together too. This is the idea that similar things attract each other as they have affinity with each other.

You can look around at the people you know. The people you like to spend more time with are probably people who are in some ways similar to you.

It seems that there is a law of affinity at work that says that similar things beget similar things; whether they are animals, trees, rocks or humans. Why do you think there would be any difference between an investor and their investments?

So in my opinion, the question is not necessarily about which investment works. Rather it is about which investment works for you.

If you have affinity with properties, properties are likely to be attracted to you. If you have affinity with shares, shares are likely to be attracted to you. If you have affinity with good cash flow, good cash flow is likely to be attracted to you. If you have affinity with good capital gain, good capital growth is likely to be attracted to you (but not necessary good cash flow ).

You can improve your affinity with anything to a degree by spending more time and effort on it, but there are things that you naturally have affinity with. These are the things you should go with as they are effortless for you. Can you imagine the effort required for a shark to work on himself to become sardine-like or vice versa?

One of the reasons why our company has spent a lot of time lately to work on our client’s cash flow management, is because if our clients have low affinity with their own family cash flow, they are unlikely to have good cash flow with their investment properties. Remember, it is a natural law that similar things beget similar things. Investors who have poor cash flow management at home, usually end up with investments (or businesses) with poor cash flow.

Have you ever wondered why the world’s greatest investors, such as Warren Buffet, tend only to invest in a few very concentrated areas they have great affinity with? While he has more money than most of us and could afford to diversify into many different things, he sticks to only the few things that he has successfully made his money from in the past and cut off the ones which didn’t (such as the airline business).

What if you haven’t done any investing and you have no track record to go by? In this case I would suggest you first look at your parents’ track record in investing. The chances are you are somehow similar to your parents (even when you don’t like to admit it ). If you think your parents never invested in anything successfully, then look at whether they have done well with their family home. Alternatively you will need to do your own testing to find out what works for you.

Obviously there will be exceptions to this rule. Ultimately your results will be the only judge for what investment works for you.

Example 2: Picking the bottom of the market to invest.

When the news in any market is not positive, many investors automatically go into a “waiting mode”. What are they waiting for? The market to bottom out! This is because they believe investing is about buying low and selling high – pretty simple right? But why do most people fail to do even that?

Here are a few reasons:

  • When investors have the money to invest safely in a market, that market may not be at its bottom yet, so they choose to wait. By the time the market hits the bottom; their money has already been taken up by other things, as money rarely sits still. If it is not going to some sort of investment, it will tend to go to expenses or other silly things such as get-rich-quick scheme, repairs and other “life dramas”.
  • Investors who are used to waiting for when the market is not very positive before they act are usually driven either by a fear of losing money or the greed of gaining more. Let’s look at the impact of each of them:
  • If their behaviour was due to the fear of losing money, they are less likely to get into the market when it hits rock bottom as you can imagine how bad the news would be then. If they couldn’t act when the news was less negative, how do you expect them to have the courage to act when it is really negative? So usually they miss out on the bottom anyway.
  • If their behaviour was driven by the greed of hoping to make more money on the way up when it reaches the bottom, they are more likely to find other “get-rich-quick schemes” to put their money in before the market hits the bottom, by the time the market hits the bottom, their money won’t be around to invest. Hence you would notice that the get-rich-quick schemes are usually heavily promoted during a time of negative market sentiment as they can easily capture money from this type of investor.
  • Very often, something negative begets something else negative. People who are fearful to get into the market when their capacity allows them to do so, will spend most of their time looking at all the bad news to confirm their decision. Not only they will miss the bottom, but they are likely to also miss the opportunities on the way up as well, because they see any market upward movement as a preparation for a further and bigger dive the next day.

Hence it is my observation that most people who are too fearful or too greedy to get into the market during a slow market have rarely been able to benefit financially from waiting. They usually end up getting into the market after it has had its bull run for far too long when there is very little negative news left. But that is actually often the time when things are over-valued, so they get into the market then, and get slaughtered on the way down.

So my advice to our clients is to first start from your internal factors, check your own track records and financial viability to invest. Decide whether you are in a position to invest safely, regardless of the external factors (i.e. the market):

  • If the answer is yes, then go to the market and find the best value you can find at that time;
  • If the answer is no, then wait.

Unfortunately, most investors do it the other way around. They tend to let the market (an external factor) decide what they should do, regardless of their own situation, and they end up wasting time and resources within their capacity.

I hope, from the above 2 examples, that you can see that investing is not necessarily about picking the right investment and the right market timing, but it is more about picking the investment that works for you and sticking to your own investment timetable, within your own capacity.

A new way to invest in properties

During a consultation last month with a client who has been with us for 6 years, I suddenly realised they didn’t know anything about our Property Advisory Service which has been around since April 2010. I thought I’d better fix this oversight and explain what it is and why it is unique and unprecedented in Australia.

But before I do, I would like to give you some data you simply don’t get from investment books and seminars, so you can see where I am coming from.

Over the last 10 years of running a mortgage business for property investors:

  • We have executed more than 7,000 individual investment mortgages with around 60 different lenders;
  • Myself and our mortgage team have reviewed the financial positions of approximately 6,000 individual property investors and developers;
  • I have enjoyed privileged access to vital data including the original purchase price, value of property improvements and the current valuation of close to 30,000 individual investment properties all around Australia from our considerable client base.

When you have such a large sample size to do your research on and make observations, you are bound to discover something unknown to most people.

I have discovered many things that may surprise you as much as they surprised me, some of which are against conventional wisdom:

Paying more tax can be financially good for you.

This one took me years to swallow, but I can’t deny the facts. The clients who have managed to get into a positive cashflow position have paid a lot of tax and will continue to pay a lot of tax, whether it is capital gains, income tax or stamp duty. They don’t have an issue with the tax man making some money as long as they continue to make more themselves! They regularly cash in the profits from their properties and reduce their debt, but always continue to invest and park their money where the return is best. In fact, I can almost say that the only people who enjoy positive cashflow from their investment properties are the people who have little concern about paying taxes as they treat them as the cost of doing business.

Just about every property strategy works. It just depends on who does it, how it is done, when it is done and where it is done.

When I first started investing, I went and read many property investment books and attended many investment educational seminars. Just about every one of them was convincing and this confused the hell out of me. Just when I was about to form an opinion against a particular property strategy, someone would show up in one of my client consultations and prove that it worked for them!

After testing many of these strategies myself, I came to realise that it is not about the strategy,(which is only a tool) but rather it is about whether the person is using the tool appropriately at the right time, in the right place and in the right way.

There is no such thing as the best suburb to invest in, forever.

If you randomly pick a particular property in what you think is the best suburb over a 30 year window, you will find that there are periods during which this property will outperform the market average, and there are periods when this property will underperform the market average.

Many property investors find themselves jumping into historically high growth suburbs at the end of the period when it is outperforming the average, and then stay there for 5-7 years during the underperforming period. (Naturally this can taint their view of property investing as a whole!)

There is no such thing as the worst suburb to invest in, forever.

If you pick a property in the worst suburb you can think of from 40 years ago, and pitch that against the best suburb you can think of over the same period of time, you will find they both grew at about 7-9% a year on average over the long-term.

Hence in the 1960s, a median house in Melbourne and Sydney was valued at $10k. The worst property around that time may have been 30% of the median price for then, which was say about $3k. Today, the median house price in these cities is about $600k. The worst suburb you can find is still around 30% of that price which is say $200k a house. If you believe a bad suburb will never grow, then show me where you can find a house today in these cities, that is still worth around $3k.

Median Price growth is very misleading.

Many beginner property investors look at median price growth as the guidance for suburb selection. A few points worth mentioning on median price are:

We understand the way median price is calculated as the middle price point based on the number of sales during a period. We can talk about the median price for a particular suburb on a particular day, week, month, year, or even longer. So an influx of new stocks or low sales volume can severely distort the median price.

In an older suburb, median price growth tends to be higher than it really is. This is because it does not reflect the large sum of money people put into renovating their properties nor does it reflect the subdivision of large blocks of land into multiple dwellings which can be a substantial percentage of the entire suburb.

In a newer suburb, median price growth tend to be lower than it really is. This is because it does not reflect the fact that the land and buildings are both getting smaller. For example, you could buy a block of land of 650 square metres for $120k in 2006 in a newer suburb of Melbourne, but 5 years later, half the size block (i.e.325 square metres) will cost you $260k. That’s a whopping 34% annual growth rate per year for 5 years, but median price growth will never reflect that, as median prices today are calculated on much smaller properties.

Median price growth takes away people’s focus from looking at the cost of carrying the property. When you have a net 2-3% rental yield against interest rates of 7-8%, you are out-of-pocket by 5% a year. This is not including the money you have to put in to fix and maintain your property from time to time.

Buying and holding the same property forever doesn’t give you the best returns on your money.

The longer you hold a property, the more likely you will achieve an average growth of 7-9%. But you will be bound to hit periods where your property outperforms the 7-9% growth and periods where it under performs the 7-9% growth.

The longer you hold a property, if its growth is at or above average, the lower its rental yields will become.

The longer you hold a property, the higher the capital gains tax you will need to pay when you sell, and the less likely you will be able to sell it.

The longer you hold a property, the more likely there will be a need for an expensive upgrade of the property.

The longer you hold a property, the more likely you will forget which part of the equity actually belongs to the tax man, AND the more likely you will be to try to leverage the equity that doesn’t belong to you. This can get you into a negative equity position with a negative cashflow forever, unless you have proper financial guidance.

Why International Business Travellers Need Specialized Travel Insurance Cover

In this work driven world, people are goal-oriented and often financially driven; and sometimes people take for granted the importance of physical safety. Insurance makes security tangible. The insurance industry has delved its hands into various aspects of life, securing animals to kids to education to cars. You name it, insurance can secure it. Insurance has become so important in our everyday life that it’s now considered an imperative need.

The largest group of insurance companies are engaged in the travel insurance business. These insurance companies typically offer specialised policies to business travellers. The policies cover risks associated with international or domestic travel which include accidents, deaths, trip cancellations, lost tickets, damage to properties like car rentals and other concerns related to travelling. Procuring this type of insurance is important because it provides security not only to the traveller but also the employer.

Business travellers, especially those travelling internationally, are people on the go. Their employers are potential policy holders. Business travellers are exposed to more risks. The risk covered by the corporate travel insurance is unique to the business the traveller represents. For example, a business traveller working as a car dealer meets an accident while on a Cessna plane can be compensated by a travel insurance covering the risks of medical expenses while working on the job. In getting a corporate travel insurance policy, it is important to tailor the policy in order to cover all the risks that the business traveller is exposed to in relation to the work he’s involved in. Equity dictates that tailored fit policies are necessary for the safety and security of both the employer and the business travellers because of the basic reason that their travels are considered work; it is but a natural obligation for the employers to compensate and insure them.

Corporate travel insurance differs from the usual holidaymaker insurance because it cover more risks and could be specialised in accordance to the type of business the business traveller represents. For example, if the business traveller is working for mining company, the travel insurance policy can include accidents met while visiting a mining site. Because of this specialisation feature, the premium paid for these corporate travel insurance is higher than the usual travel insurance.

A tailored corporate insurance policy is being offered by various insurance companies. One of the most comprehensive policies is the group business travel insurance. For this type of insurance, it is important that the insured or the policy holder is the employer and the beneficiaries are the employees or group members. As to the requirements, each insurance policy provides for different requirements; basically if the employer can pay the premium and the insurance company is willing to cover the risk then a tailored group business insurance policy can be issued.

People work to earn a living. Often than not their work is the cause of their injuries. It is important for employers as well to prevent lawsuits filed by employees they send for travel. The best and equitable solution is to procure corporate travel insurance.

Business Travel Insurance Policy – Getting The Right One

If you travel regularly on business, you should always carry a business travel insurance policy. This is essentially just a insurance policy for traveling that is customized to the needs of the business traveler. Nearly all of these insurance policies for business travelers will include coverage of any travel arrangements, luggage loss, and rental car accidents.

While it is possible to purchase a policy that will cover a single trip, for regular business travels, annual business travel insurance policies are typically a better deal. Insurance plans for business travel are usually cheaper than regular insurance plans, depending on coverage needs. It is also cheaper to purchase domestic business travel insurance plans than insurance coverage for international business travels.

Typically policies for business travels will include up to $50,000 in benefits whether it is a one-time policy or an annual policy. But regular insurance plans often caps coverage at $25,000.

Luggage coverage goes beyond just checked luggage. It also covers laptops, cell phones, pagers, projectors, and any other equipment the business traveler typically carries.

If the trip gets interrupted by bad weather or mechanical problems the business policy holder can cancel the trip and be reimbursed for the cost of the trip.

This plan also includes trip cancellation insurance which is much like regular travel insurance’s trip interruption coverage. However, business policies usually include more coverage, such as allowing for changes in accommodations to complete the trip.

Funds are provided for anything lost on the trip. This can be very important if passports or tickets are lost during the trip.

You may also be able to get some legal services in case of accusations of crime by you or crime committed against you. Generally luggage or equipment that is stolen is covered. In some cases even kidnapping ransoms will be replaced by your business insurance policy.

One of the coverage benefits you’ll want to look for in your coverage is medical expenses. You’ll want to know for sure whether all medical expenses are covered or just accidents and emergencies. In particular, find out what kind of coverage is provided for illness. Many travel medical insurance policies cover emergency evacuations, but many do not cover other medical expenses. You’ll have to decide how much medical coverage you need.

Fortunately, even with all of the available coverage options, business travel insurance is generally quite affordable. Some other features that may be included with your business insurance plan include road side assistance and life insurance.

Slash Thousands From Your Business Travel

When it comes to your business travel we all know that this comes write out of your bottom line, but in order to keep good customer relations this is something that you must do. One of the most common things to do is to hire a business travel manager to handle all your business travel arrangements.

Did you realize that the median salary for a business travel manager is $73,000.00 per year? (FACT) Where’s the savings?

The best way to slash thousands from your travel expenses is to out source. You can have a travel agency do the same things as a business travel manager without spending thousands doing it. By having a travel agency handle your travel arrangements, you can save anywhere from 80 to 90% depending on how many traveler’s you have. By doing this makes your bottom line more profitable.

Let me ask you, would you rather spend 73,000 or 10,000?

The responsibilities of a travel manager are to choose transportation and lodging for company employees, advise about passport and visa requirements, rates of currency exchange, all things that a travel agent is already doing. Additional perks of hiring a travel agent is they can handle convention planning and group vacation organization for employees.

One of the best benefits from hiring a travel agent over a business travel manager is that a travel agent is offered reduced travel rates from preferred vendors as to where a business travel manager is not.

By out sourcing and hiring a travel agent over a travel manager, you are not only saving from paying a large salary, but you also save by not having to provide benefits such as health care and retirement. These could easily bring the cost of hiring a business travel manager to well over $100,000.00 a year. That’s Insane!!!

There are so many more benefits from hiring a travel agent over a business travel manager because they are so much more knowledgeable in the travel industry. How, when, and where travel is booked whether online or offline is very important when it comes to saving money on your business travel. These are techniques that only travel agents will know because they deal directly with travel vendors. Nine times out of ten a business travel manager will either call a travel agent or go to a travel agent’s web site for their information.(FACT)

Haven’t we learned in the past couple of years that foolish spending is not the way to go? Look at what it has done to big business. It’s time we get smart and trim the wasted fat. Wouldn’t you rather spend the money growing your business than hiring someone that’s probably looking out for them self rather the company?

When looking for a travel service for your company make sure that they have incentive and rewards programs. Look for a service that has the customer’s best interest at heart.

I understand that customer service must come first in order to have long standing business relations. I want to help you to accomplish this same goal.

5 Tips For a Smooth First Business Travel Experience

Travel help from business travel experts is as good as meeting a business tycoon for management tips. Learning from them will bring smoothness in your trip.

In today’s working world, business operations have become more global. There are many business travel opportunities for the newly hired or promoted employee. While grabbing these travel opportunities a must, first time business travellers like you should travel smarter.

Sort Things Out
For first timers, it is best to be aware that you have two major classifications of the things that you will be bringing. One is your work-related things and the other one is your personal stuff.

Therefore, while choosing a light carryon luggage, it is also suggested that it is multi pocketed so you can enjoy more spaces.

Be Organized
In order to have an organized business travel, create a travel checklist of the work-related things that you need like your laptop, flash drive, printed reports on folders, brochures, calculators and the like. This will protect you from forgetting important or urgent tasks that your boss asked from you.

Make sure that you brought a good number of your business cards. Businesses can start with your plane mate or some other people you have bumped in the airport lobby.

Also check the lifespan of the batteries of your communication device so you won’t miss any important office correspondences and instructions.

Be Budget Conscious
If your office allows you to take care of your own transportation and reservation as part of your per diem during your business travel, the internet is your tool to check online for the best flight and hotel deals in Europe or Asia available.

Look for package deals, promo flights, and reasonably-priced business hotels or even nearby hostels. Tips would be to ask if the published rates are inclusive of applicable taxes. Also ask for the rates of late check-ins so you can include it in your travel budget.

Always Be Prepared
For your personal belongings particularly your clothing, it is best that you have brought clothes with business colors and shades like black, dark blue, brown, white and gray. This will allow you to be flexible in doing some mix and match so you maintain your being presentable as well.

In the business world, there are times that first impression lasts. As first time business travellers, you may not be familiar or accustomed to the foods of your destination, it is highly recommended to have anti-histamine with you all the time. This will help you stop allergic reactions instantly in order not to disrupt or disturb your meeting schedules and appointments.

Follow Airport Rules
Your liquids, including gels, in the array of your toiletries should be in zip-lock plastics as it is mandatory in any airports. It is also best to use slip-on shoes going to the airport so it would not be time consuming for you to untie and tie your shoelaces during security checks.

With these travel help gathered from seasoned business travellers, you will be ready for a remarkable business travel that will widen your perspective of the career you have chosen and loved. This might be the start of a series of world travel experience from work to leisure.

Business Traveller Flying to London? A London City Guide for Getting to the Centre

London. The vibrant, beating heart of the United Kingdom. It’s one of the world’s most popular destinations for tourists, and for business travellers too. The amount of commerce that goes through London is staggering, with a financial centre second only to New York, and service industries that cater for both the UK, European and international markets. As the world’s most multicultural city – there are over 300 languages spoken by a population of over eight million people (twelve million if you include the metropolitan area) – the opportunities for business are clear.

With the UK strategically positioned for the business traveller on the western edge of Europe, London is a global hub for air travel, providing easy access to mainland Europe, and a stepping stone to the United States. Primarily served by five airports – Heathrow, Gatwick, City, Stansted and Luton – London is easily reached from anywhere in the world. But with the exception of London City Airport – smallest of the five and located in East London, close to the business district of Canary Wharf – the other four airports are satellites evenly dispersed around the city. The most popular, Heathrow, is located to the west of London; Gatwick is situated to the south; Stansted to the north east; and Luton to the North West. Knowing this before you make your travel plans can be useful. Since the greater metropolitan area of London covers over 1,000 square miles, your final business destination may not be right in the centre. Researching which airport is closest to your destination can save you time, effort and money.

However, whether you’re a business traveller flying from within the UK or from overseas, your starting destination may often determine the airport you arrive at. Other factors, such as your chosen time of travel, budget and availability will also make a difference. For example, if you’re travelling with a major international carrier from a major city, such as New York, the chances are you’ll arrive at Heathrow or Gatwick (Stansted also receives flights from New York but is the smallest of the three). If you’re travelling locally from within the UK with a budget carrier you’re more likely to arrive at Stansted or Luton (though not exclusively). And if you’re travelling from a major European city, particularly a financial capital, such as Frankfurt, London City Airport is a likely arrival point (the airport was created specifically to cater for short haul business travellers, particularly between financial centres).

Each airport is served by comprehensive rail and road infrastructure, providing business travellers with a variety of options to enter London. All five airports offer direct rail travel into the heart of Central London, coach travel to the main Victoria terminus, and hire car, mini-bus, licensed black cab and taxi services by road. If you’re a VIP business traveller, chauffeur services are also available, and with the exception of London City Airport, each also offer direct helicopter transfer into the heart of the city.

London Heathrow Airport

The busiest of the five airports is London Heathrow. Located less than twenty miles from central London, Heathrow is situated to the west of the city within the M25 motorway metropolitan boundary. The fastest route into London is via the Heathrow Express train service, taking just 15 minutes from terminals 1, 2 and 3 to Paddington station (located on the western side of Central London). If your flight arrives at either terminal 4 or 5 it’s a further four and six minutes travel time respectively, and you’ll need to transfer on to the main London-bound service at terminals 1, 2 and 3.

The service is excellent, offering comfort and convenience, but does not always suite everyone’s travel budget. The standard ‘Express’ single journey ticket costs £21.00 (€25.00 / $35.00), but business travellers can get better value when purchasing a return ticket, priced at £34.00 (€40.00 / $56.00). The ‘Business First’ ticket is more expensive, with singles costing £29.00 (€35.00 / $48.00) and returns £52.00 (€62.00 / $86.00), but it does afford business travellers considerably more leg room, the privacy of a ‘single seating’ layout, and a fold out table. The experience is akin to that of air travel. All passengers across both pricing structures enjoy access to electrical sockets, USB ports and free Wi-Fi. The overall quality of service and passenger experience generates a ‘wow’ factor, and if your budget can afford it, is certainly the smoothest, quickest and most convenient way to travel into London from Heathrow. Trains run regularly every fifteen minutes in both directions, particularly useful for last minute dashes to the airport.

There are two further rail options available to business travellers, both considerably less expensive, though this is reflected in the quality of service. That’s not to say either is not a good solution for business travellers, just that there is a noticeable difference in convenience and comfort.

With a service typically running every thirty minutes, and a journey duration – depending on the time of day – of between 23 and 27 minutes from terminals 1, 2 and 3, Heathrow Connect is more than adequate for business travellers who are not in a hurry. Like the rival Express service, Connect also arrives at Paddington station, but unlike its faster rival stops at up to five other stations before reaching its terminus. The ‘inconvenience’ of this less direct journey is compensated for by a considerably less expensive ticket price. Single journey’s cost £9.90 (€12.00 / $16.00) while a return is £19.80 (€24.00 / $32.00). There is no saving to be made from purchasing a return ticket. While the convenience and comfort of the traveller experience cannot match the Express, the Connect business travel solution is an acceptable compromise that suits a greater number of travel budgets.

The third – and least expensive – rail option is the London Underground ‘tube’ network. Despite the network’s name the majority of the journey from Heathrow is overground, until the business traveller nears Central London. Starting on the Piccadilly Line, the service connects all five Heathrow terminals and provides frequent trains into London, stopping at a considerable amount of outlying stations before arriving in the capital’s centre. This continually ‘interrupted’ journey – there are seventeen stops between Heathrow terminals 1, 2 and 3 and Paddington Tube station (the nearest equivalent tube terminus for a fair comparison) – and takes approximately fifty minutes journey time on average, considerably slower than its more direct rivals. This journey comparison also requires the inconvenience of a transfer between lines.

So why would the business traveller consider using the tube from Heathrow to Central London? Simple. The frequency of service, the array of destinations, and the cost. At a cash price of just £5.70 (€6.80 / $9.50) for a single journey in either direction during peak hours (06:30am to 09:30am), financially the Underground is an attractive option. At nearly half the price of the Heathrow Connect, and at just over a quarter of the price of the Heathrow Express, this service is comparably good value for money. Further value can be found if the business traveller purchases an ‘Oyster Card’, the ‘cashless’ electronic ticketing system beloved by so many Londoners. Available to purchase at Heathrow London Underground stations, this useful option allows you to get tickets cheaper than for cash – in this case a reduction to just £5.00 (€6.00 / $8.30). Off-peak travel with an Oyster Card offers even greater value, with Heathrow to Paddington in either direction costing just £3.00 (€3.60 / $5.00) per journey. The Oyster Card can also be used for unlimited travel on buses and trains throughout London, with a maximum daily spend capped at £17.00 (€20.00 / $28.00) peak time and just £8.90 (€10.60 / $15.00) off-peak for a six zone ticket (destinations across London are divided into six main zonal rings. Travelling from Heathrow to Central London crosses all six zones).

The Underground is primarily a city-wide mass transit system, rather than a ‘train’ service. As such the level of comfort and convenience is substantially less than that of both the Heathrow Express and Connect services, and at peak hours can be considerably uncomfortable. Having endured a recent flight, business travellers who choose this option run the risk of having to stand up the entire journey if travelling during peak hours. If the carriage is full to squeezing point (as is often the case at peak time) managing your luggage can be a challenge. It should also be noted that the tube network – which, as the world’s first urban mass-transit system is over 150 years old – is often prone to signal failures and delays. If the time between your arrival at Heathrow (don’t forget to factor in clearing immigration control, luggage collection and customs) and your business appointment is tight, particularly during peak hours, it is not unfair to say that you are taking a risk if you choose to use the Underground.

Compared to using rail, travelling by road into Central London is far less convenient. Like every major city around the world, traffic congestion plagues the streets of London. The M4 and A4 route from Heathrow into London is always busy and in parts can be slow moving at times. No matter what your method of road transport, the business traveller is vulnerable to the risk of delays and accidents.

Buses and coaches are plentiful. The dominant carrier is called National Express. They operate services between Heathrow Airport and London Victoria, the main coach terminus in London. From here travellers can travel to many other destinations around the UK. The coaches run from Heathrow Airport Central Bus Station, which is located between terminals 1, 2 and 3. Its well sign posted so easily found. If you’re arriving at terminals 4 or 5 you’ll need to first take the Heathrow Connect train to the central bus station. From Victoria Station you can get to any other part of London with ease, via the Underground, plentiful buses, local trains and licensed black cabs / minicab taxi services.

A single journey tickets start from £6.00 (€7.20 / $10.00), while returns cost £11.00 (€13.20 / $18.00). Although you can purchase your ticket at Heathrow, it is advisable to do so in advance, and online. This will ensure you have a guaranteed, reserved seat on your coach of choice, and also provide you with the opportunity to select a time of departure and/or return that best suits your needs. Typically this service runs three coaches per hour to and from London Victoria coach station. The journey time can vary, dependent on the route taken, the time of day and traffic conditions, but you can typically expect your journey to take between 40 and 90 minutes.

National Express also offers business travellers a Heathrow hotel transfer service to and from the airport, known as the Heathrow Hoppa. With hundreds of services each day running around the clock, it’s a clean, comfortable and affordable way to get about, costing £4.00 (€4.80 / $6.60) for single journey and £7.00 (€8.40/ $11.50) for a return journey. This service is particularly useful if your business appointment is located close to Heathrow and you have no need to travel into Central London.

An alternative to coach travel is taking a bus. This can be particularly useful if you arrive at Heathrow late at night. Depending on the day of the week, the N9 night bus runs approximately every 20 minutes to Trafalgar Square in Central London, from 11.30pm to 5am. The journey time is approximately 75 minutes, subject to traffic delays. It’s a very affordable service, and as part of the Transport for London infrastructure a single journey can be paid for with an Oyster Card (£1.40 (€1.70/ $2.30) or by cash (£2.40 (€2.90/ $4.00).

If your journey into London requires the freedom to choose to travel whenever you want, to wherever you want, or you simply require privacy, then private hire transport is readily available at Heathrow. If you’re just interested in getting from A to B and back again, without any other journeys in between, taking a licensed black cab or minicab taxi may suit your needs. Travelling in an iconic licensed black cab into Central London will take approximately 45-60 minutes, subject to traffic delays, and can typically cost between £50.00 (€60.00/ $83.00) and £80.00 (€96.00/ $132.00). If you do find yourself delayed in traffic the journey will cost more, since black cab meters also charge for waiting time when not moving. Black cabs are readily available at all hours, and good sign posting at Heathrow means they’re easy to find. At a squeeze up to five business travellers can be accommodated, though if you all have large luggage it will be a problem.

An alternative private hire to black cabs are licensed taxi services. This could be a better option for the business traveller, particularly if a number of people with luggage are travelling together. An array of vehicle types are available, ranging from standard 4/5 seater saloon and 6/7 passenger people carrier cars, up to 15 or 17 seater minibuses and even coach taxis. An added advantage is you can book your vehicle of choice in advance and at a fixed price. With so many different companies offering these services, prices – and quality of service – can vary, but typically for a single journey the business traveller can expect to pay a fixed, advance price of £40.00 (€48.00/ $66.00) for a saloon car; £50.00 (€60.00/ $83.00) for an estate car; £55.00 (€66.00/ $90.00) for an executive car; £55.00 (€66.00/ $90.00) for a people carrier; £65.00 (€78.00/ $108.00) for an 8 seater minibus; £80.00 (€96.00/ $132.00) for an executive people carrier; and £165.00 (€198.00/ $272.00) for a 16 seater minibus. Savings can be made on all tariffs if a return journey is booked in advance.

Travelling by black cab or licensed taxi affords the business traveller the freedom to travel at his or her own pace, and can take the hassle out of a journey. It can be a very relaxing way to commute from the airport into London, particularly after a long flight, and offers the business traveller an opportunity to unwind prior to their business appointment.

If you need to arrange senior executive or VIP transportation, chauffeur driven services are readily available (booked in advance) between Heathrow and London. The vehicle type and the length of time you require it for will dictate the price you’ll pay. Chauffeur driven services are readily available to find online. The same is true of helicopter charter services which can transfer the executive business traveller from Heathrow into Central London (Battersea Heliport) in approximately 15 minutes. Flightline Travel Management is experienced at providing our customers with both modes of transport, and we’re happy to take your enquiry.

Business Travel Tips – How to Pack For A Business Trip

Use these business travel tips pointers to create and plan a stress-free business packing travel plan.

Ladies:

 

  • When you are putting together your clothes for business, experiment with one color instead of all your favorites. This makes it simple for you to combine and present an ideal business persona for your meetings. With a one color-scheme, you will not need to pack multiple pieces of clothing.
  • If you’d like to add a bit of color, you can include a colored shirt or scarf you like (maybe it is your favorite, or it gives you that ‘extra OOMPH’ that you need for self-confidence – or to compliment your look).

 

Tips on packing shoes: As much as shoes are something that some women say they can’t ‘live without,’ pack no more than two or three sets. Make certain you have a set of flats and only one set of high heels in your luggage. If you wear high heels all day and evening long, then during your company trip, when what you want (need) most is to shine, you may be experiencing painful leg and back discomfort.

In addition to sensible shoes, women who travel may want to pack makeup. On a business trip and with makeup – Less is better. Makeup during a business trip really should be minimal so that you present an experienced, knowledgeable and professional look. Foundation, powder, mascara, lip gloss, eye liner, and eye shadow, are a few of the things that you need to consider in packing. Less is more – mascara and lip gloss can go a long way in making a professional looking presentation.

All Travelers:

 

  • Frequent business travelers should make it a habit of packing their bags as soon as they return from a business trip. This way, when they have to travel on short notice, the stress and worry of packing is diminished.
  • Frequent travelers on business really should try to use regional airports instead of major air-ports. Local and small airports are less congested, and then there are fewer security hurdles.
  • When you are on company business, choose the most direct routes instead of the least expensive routes. The least expensive travel arrangements usually make for the longest distance, and this also means you will likely have to use your precious time for traveling and staying in hotels.
  • So, instead of saving money, your cost may actually go up, with the less expensive, less traveled route, Because you’ll make up for the cost with longer flights and maybe even an extra day stay at a hotel – which means more money all the way around (food, cab or car rental,.. ). Consequently, it’s always best to go on a direct flight route to save time and expense, even if you have to fly first class.
  • If you’re able to fly mid-week, you will be happier because you may be able to save money on trip expenses. Traveling on a Monday or Tuesday normally costs more. Take these travel tips into account when you are paying your own personal air flight to help you cut your costs.
  • Also think about the distance from your hotel room to where you are meeting. Have a look on the internet on a map so you see exactly where you’ll be meeting, compared to where you are going to be staying. In case you do not know the local or surrounding area, you might want to stay near a company or civic facility in which your company is holding their business.
  • Business travelers understand how to make the most of the resources offered to travelers specifically on business. Find hotels that focus on the travelling business person. These hotels won’t have amenities for families and neither are they attempting to attract buses of adolescents in route to a camp. When you need to pay attention to business details and not the kids running in the hallway, this will help you find appropriate (and professional) lodging.
  • Packing vital electronic things is likewise one of several business travel tips. In case you are traveling overseas, make certain you are aware of the telecommunications requirements of the country. Make certain you pack a couple of USB memory sticks. You will never know if they may require them.
  • Never pack your laptop inside your luggage. Your laptop may be a pivotal element of your trip. Inside a flight terminal in an unexpected emergency situation, your wireless laptop may be used to adjust reservations so that you can prevent all those long lines for getting your next flight out. You’ll be able to arrange accommodations by automobile or snag just one of the few remaining rooms in hotels in the city straight from the convenience of the seats in the airport terminal.
  • If you plan well, then you can normally just walk to your meeting or hotel, while the people around you are stressed – simply because you knew the way to balance technology plus the need to help yourself out of a situation that could have been a problem.
  • But one way to use your laptop computer to help yourself if there is a situation where the airport terminal is shut all the way down would be the limited electric power of laptop computers. To see your electric battery go lifeless just when you wanted it by far the most is a lot like watching your tire go flat on the freeway because you drove over glass on your way to the meeting.
  • What few people know is that you have open electric-powered outlets in air terminals which are there for cleanup crews. Once you are at the airport – discover exactly where those outlets are. Normally you can find these outlets just underneath the windows that look over the landing strips. If you can secure a seat close to these outlets, it is possible to replenish your laptop computer and maintain your lifeline to everyone you need to.

Combining Your Vacation and Business Travel to Save on Taxes

A vacation can be quite a high expenditure, yet may be a necessary break for you and your family. As vacations are typically considered a luxury expense, it means that you have to bear all the costs for your vacation with no help or breaks from Uncle Sam. However, with proper tax planning, you can deduct some vacation expenses under business travel. This is common practice is especially popular in the corporate world. Ever wondered why management meetings, corporate strategic meetings, or client entertainment are done in extravagant and lavish hotels?

You need to be careful when deducting the vacation/”business” expenses to ensure that you are within the rules of what the IRS qualifies as permissible costs. Furthermore, besides business travel, you can also deduct expenses for travel that couples as trips in looking for a job. These tips will help you properly plan your trip and maximize on possible “business” deductions:

Job Hunt Travel Expenses

The tax code allows for individuals to deduct travel expenses for travel to look for employment, even if one does not consequently get a job. However, you need to have been searching for a job that is in line with your current occupation. You cannot claim deductions if you are a first-time job searcher or if you are looking for a job outside your current career field. The IRS does not also allow taxpayers to deduct expenses if they have been unemployed for a long time and are looking to get back into the job market, even if their search for a job is within his or her former business or career specialty. The IRS permits deductions for expenses including travel, meals, and lodging accommodations. Therefore, when planning your vacation, you can combine the travel expenses with the expenses accumulated in search of new employment to claim the deductions.

Transportation Costs for Business Travel

Business travel deductions come with several rules that have to be carefully followed. The IRS is aware that a lot of business expenses can be misused to cater to personal expenses. Therefore, this could be a red flag area for IRS audits and therefore, you need to be careful when claiming such deductions. Costs for transportation within the U.S. are allowed if a trip has a business purpose. For international travel, a taxpayer will need to demonstrate that at least 75% of the trip’s purpose was for business to have the costs allowed as a deductible. If not, the taxpayer will need to set aside the business elements of the travel costs from the personal elements. If business travel is on a cruise, then it has to be on a U.S. vessel and the vessel must avoid docking at foreign harbors to be tax deductible. The business expense deductible for a cruise has at a cap of $2,000.00 a year.

Accommodation and Meals for Business Travel

For accommodation and meals, one needs to show that the stay was business-driven. However, you can overstay in your travel destination and enjoy a vacation after the business dealings are done. In such a case, you can only deduct the transport expenses and the expenses incurred during the business period of your trip. You will have to shoulder the full expenses of the extension time, as this is a personal expense. For business meals for yourself and your business associates, the tax code allows for only 50% of the cost to be deductible (you will need to foot the other 50% without a deduction break).

Other Expenses

The IRS also allows the deduction of any other business-related expenses while on your business travel. These expenses include tips, any taxi or car hiring expenses, phone calls, Internet connectivity charges, and laundry. However, the expenses need to be reasonable to avoid unnecessary audits. Furthermore, the IRS can reject deduction claims based on the levels of extravagance. There is a fine balancing that needs to be practiced here to avoid any IRS problems.

Travel with Family

If your business and vacation travel includes your family, you cannot deduct any of the expenses relating only to your family. You can however, deduct any costs that you shared with your family as business expenses. If for example you traveled to your destination for business in your car with your family in tow, then the transport will be an allowable business expense. You can also combine other costs such as car-hire costs and shared accommodations.

Why not combine business with pleasure? If you have the opportunity to travel for business, you can enjoy some new restaurants, hotels, or entertainment spots with your business associates and be able to get some tax relief from Uncle Sam. Or, maybe you can take some “personal time” on the road and do some job hunting on your trip to get some tax breaks.