Holiday Help for the Do-It-Yourself Business Traveler
(7 months ago)
WASHINGTON: News flash. Business travel is little fun during the high travel volume period between Thanksgiving and the New Year. And for the "do-it-yourself" (DIY) business traveler, it is even worse, as they are alone in dealing with all the travel hassles that have become as traditional as turkey on the table during this period.
"All the focus this time of year is on holiday-related travelers. But business goes on during the holiday period, and so does business travel," said Jay Walker, co-founder, Chairman and CEO of Upside, the online business travel service focused on business travelers who book their own trips. "Business travelers are the forgotten segment of the holiday travel market. They must be at their destinations on-time and, for them, a delay or flight cancellation isn't an inconvenience, it can be a deal-breaker. The onslaught of high-volume travel over the holidays presents a real challenge for them, both scheduling and cost-wise."
For starters, a business traveler's typical itinerary gets turned around by holiday travel patterns. Sunday is normally a great day to leave on a business trip to get settled in a new town before an early-week meeting. Over the holidays, Sunday becomes the worst day to fly. In addition to terminals congestion, airfare that might cost $650 on a Thursday jumps to more than $1,000 for Sunday travel.
Upside analyzed non-stop airfares over the end-of-year holiday period and found that, for 2017, the weekly day-by-day fares are generally highest on Sundays. Fares typically drop around 22% on Mondays, drop another 7% on Tuesdays, then climb 13% on Wednesdays before dropping 13% on Thursdays and another 3% on Fridays. By Saturday (another super-busy holiday travel day), fares jump 12% before returning to their weekly peak on Sunday.
In addition to helping DIY business travelers get the best prices on their itineraries, Upside employs a team of customer service agents, called Navigators, who are on-call around the clock, monitoring customers' itineraries for potential travel issues, and suggesting alternatives and work-arounds that avoid travel pitfalls and make for a better business trip. Upside customers have on-demand access to their Navigators 24/7 through chat, phone and email.
Based on the travel issues they're constantly monitoring and addressing, Upside Navigators have compiled the following list of 10 tips for DIY business travelers who don't have Navigators watching out for them:
1) Look at the 15-day or longer weather reports and consider rescheduling a trip if storms are projected.
2) Take a smartphone screenshot of your confirmation emails and add them to your business travel calendar invites, or just keep them handy in your photo storage for easy access. Or, write your travel itinerary (flight numbers, hotel, contact numbers) on the back of a business card and keep it in your wallet or purse.
3) Prepare a back-up plan. If the booked flight is cancelled, it pays to have some idea beforehand of what other flights and possibly ground transportation options are out there.
4) Utilize secondary airports. Many cities have their major international airports as well as smaller airports located a few miles away. Airfares may be a bit higher at the smaller airports, but if it means less congestion, the extra dollars may be worth it.
5) Have at least one travel app loaded onto your smartphone. Instead of standing in line at the ticketing counter, or waiting on the phone, many itinerary changes can be made in seconds with a travel app. Upside's travel app includes a one-touch option where travelers can use on their smartphones to immediately connect to a Navigator.
6) To start your trip, arrange a ride to the airport. Don't rely on being able to find parking once you get there.
7) Book ground transportation from the destination airport in advance. Waiting lines for airport ground transportation can be especially long and time-consuming over the holidays. Better to have a car waiting.
8) Pack light. If at all possible, travel with carry-on only. And pay attention to carry-on size limits posted by carriers, as well as space limitations often found on regional connecting jets.
9) Make sure hotel reservations guarantee late arrival. That way, if there's a delay, your room will still be waiting.
10) Confirm all flight times - and arrive early. Confirm flights the night before and again the morning of a flight, just in case there are any cancellations or last-minute delays. Also, arrive early, since security lines are likely to be long. It also might pay to consider enrolling in an expedited security clearance program, like TSA Pre.
"Preparation is the key to successful business travel, and it is especially important over the busy holiday periods," said Walker. "If preparation isn't in the cards, consider booking your business trip through Upside, where our Navigators will be sweating the details over the entire course of your trip, from start to finish."
Upside offers DIY business travelers a full suite of travel services, including a la carte airline and hotel reservations, and package trips that can include any combination of airfare, hotel and ground transportation. In addition, Upside delivers great low prices and industry-leading customer service over the full duration of a trip.