The Truth About Government Travel Advisories, Warnings and Alerts

If you’re like most people and you believe that government travel advisories, warning and alerts represent the most accurate advice for business travellers then you are terribly mistaken.

Here are the key elements that all business travellers and travel managers need to know regarding the validity and application of government travel alerts and travel related advice. Knowing and understanding these few simple issues will save your company unnecessary travel delays and disruptions under almost any circumstance. The main points to always consider in the wake of a renewed or updated advisory, warning or alert is the target audience, specific government resources, commercial relevance and the avoidance of evacuation scenarios.

The primary demographic for government advisories are first time travellers, backpackers, families and anyone else with little to no prior travelling experience and preparation or the lowest possible denominator. It is this group that governments aim their advice and analysis towards with the belief that if this group is adequately informed, then all remaining demographics will be covered. Unfortunately this results in an artificially low benchmark for all travellers not within this group.These other groups depend upon travel for business productivity, management and administration and the more likely to have their travel plans altered unnessesarily due to many government alerts. This is in part due to corporate risk avoidance (in the belief the government travel advisories are adequate) and insurance companies benchmarking many of their travel policy exclusions on that of government travel advice (again, in the belief the government are catering to their needs too). Unless you are a first time traveller, significantly inexperienced or lack appropriate business support while travelling, then the majority of government travel advice does not apply to you.

Detailed examination of dedicated resources aimed at travel related advice and content typically reveals little more than a handful of “specific” resources. That is, someone or department dedicated solely to the collection, analysis and dissemination of commercially relevant travel advice. Most government resources are “shared” services when it comes to travel intelligence and advice with general non-government travel a very small increment of their overall mandate. Smaller countries have no dedicated resources and simply “share” the advice from coalition partners or more populace countries, further diluting the relevance to their citizens. Most continuous travel advisory services, provided by a government, are little more than a chronology of publicly available media updates. While resources are limited in the first instance, it is the lack of commercial experience that constitutes the greatest flaw to government travel advisories.

What little resources there are that are aimed at travel intelligence typically lack any direct commercial experience. Therefore, all their apparent advice is predicated more on the interests of the government (resulting in censorship, omissions and politically correct publications) than that of any business sector or commercial demographic. When you have soldiers, government agents and police officers commenting on matters relating to commerce and business travel, you get little actionable advice due to their inability to put into commercial context the impact events may have from a purely commercial perspective rather than a transnational or political viewpoint.

Behind closed doors, most governments admit they do not maintain nor posses the resources (assumed by most of their citizens) for large scale evacuations from any corner of the globe. Regrettably many travellers have grown to assume that complete failure to take responsibility for their own safety and security while travelling will always be compensated by the government’s ability to swoop in and save then if they should so choose. This is wrong and very dangerous for those with such a belief. For those governments that would even consider an evacuation of their nationals (not very many) they will often go to great lengths to advise their citizens to leave or make personal arrangements long before any government is forced into acting. Landing troops or foreign government elements in someone else’s country is always the choice of last resort and highly prone to complications, even if it were possible.

Anything published by a government will always have the country’s national interests such as economy, trade and diplomatic relationships carefully considered before release. Anything that may threaten such strategic goals is likely to be withheld, including government travel advisories, warnings and alerts. Now that you understand the importance of being self sufficient and discerning when it comes to government travel advice you will waste less time placing priority on such updates and focus on more commercially relevant inputs. As a result, your company travel risk management process will be far more resilient and less impacted by the stop/start affect created by government updates, warnings and alerts. You may also now identify gaps that need to be filled by insufficient commercial content from government sources.

Government travel advisories, warnings and alerts focus on the wrong target demographic, lack the appropriate resources, have little commercial relevance and seek to avoid last minute acts such as evacuations. Now that you too are aware of these limitations you should be better positioned to make business decisions in the wake of crisis, emergency and dynamic events that affect a location and your business travellers. Business travel risk management is a commercial process and can only be achieved with appropriate commercial products and services.

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Fundamental Career Guide Towards All Travel Agency Career

The majority of those who desire a travel agency job are the ones thinking about traveling. A travel agent position will certainly open up opportunities for you to go to the Caribbean, Venice, Egypt, Tuscany, Malaysia, Morocco and any place else in the globe, however, not always. But in many instances, having a travel agent position allows you for you to visit the well-known narrow walkways of Baghdad, bargain with carpet retailers of Turkey and gesture with the man-eating tigers of Nigeria. That is a fantastic possibility for many, especially those who do not want a desk job in an 8-5 office.

Keeping a travel agency position requires that you be passionately in love with traveling and also have enough knowledge to influence plenty of people as possible to go with you to vacation packages in unfamiliar destinations. It is primarily the infectious travel love that makes your agency’s consumers be interested in just what the planet boasts also in doing this supply you with the revenue. A career in travel agencies indicates you can actually motivate others to enjoy everything you have loved during you expeditious journeys. Traveling for you becomes an enterprise when it is exciting for other people.

Fundamentally, a travel agency career involves assisting others schedule, organize and prepare for their vacations. Your task is to arrange and book their tickets and accommodation packages for as many vacation goers as you can influence. The education qualification needed for you to join a tour operator career is not as high as with many other career paths. You need at least a high school diploma and then professional training as a travel agent and the required certification. Main travel firms demand that their travel agents have a suitable degree. You may therefore seek such a degree or select the vocational schools offering specific in travel.

Besides the college background and professional education, your odds of acquiring a travel agent position may also depend on considerable business working experience. It helps if you’re able to prove to be a devoted traveler or to have enough knowledge about holiday destinations. Such expertise and knowledge adds volumes to your resumé. The very best method towards such a cv is very first to get formalized training on travel to develop insight on how the business functions. Look for expert courses in such areas as sales and marketing, travel destinations, holiday package salesmanship and such relevant fields in the travel business.

The best vocational colleges’ diplomas or university degrees usually uncover you to the geography, history, languages, and communication expertise essential when traveling to several nations around the globe. A good method right here is always to go with the training with self initiative to master about the tourism, about the planet leading to internet businesses. Today, the world-wide web is the best reservoir of knowledge that you need to continually exploit as a confident or practicing travel agent.

It will likewise do you lots of good to help keep abreast with current routines. In this regard, apply for continuing classes in the travel sector such as the CTA qualification (Certified Travel Associate) as well as the CTC certification (Certified Travel Councilor). Even while, understand that your success in the travel agent job is determined by how trustworthy you are to clients, how dependable, how effective, how structured and just how innovative you might be while coordinating the itineraries of one’s clientele.

You must discover ways to successfully communicate while selling certain locations and packages to travelers while also being able to organize a creative traveling schedule, dependable in rent cars or taxis for travelers, booking hotel rooms, assisting specific travel budgets etc, for these are the basic features of a successful travel agent. When the art is learnt, having a travel agency career is among the many enchanting encounters an outdoor individual may ever ask for.

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How to Become a Group Leader and Travel Free

If travel is your passion, and you can’t visualize yourself sitting at a desk all day, answering question about travel destinations which you would rather be visiting, becoming a Group Leader, may be your best solution.

The cruise line industry caters to the group sales methodology to fill up cruise cabins. Most of the major cruise companies will provide a free cruise for a Group Leader who sells 8 cabins or 15 full paying passengers. Some cruise companies require the group leader to pay for taxes, fees and upgrades. Smart group leaders, usually will book themselves, into an Interior cruise cabin. That way no one in the group has a less expensive cabin.

The Group Leader can sell his/her cruise or, cruise for free. This option is what makes the group leader’s opportunity so popular.

Experienced Tour Conductors, usually generate multiple methods to market their cruises or group travel events. The most common way is to locate established groups, who want to save money by traveling together. Other successful groups include special interest travel.

Because the majority of Group Leaders are not, travel agents, they may have regular jobs, and belong to social organizations and church groups which puts them in touch with hundreds of potential travelers.

There are a number of ways to get started as a Travel, Group Leader. If you are a junkie traveler, you can use your own experiences to build your confidence and your sales.

If you have a limited travel background, yet travel is a passion, you can take a home study course, or enroll in a couple of classes at your local junior college. There are also courses online, which are extremely affordable. Travel is a billion dollar industry and there are many options for learning different phases of the travel industry.

My own path through this maze was to enroll in a UC Berkeley Extension (Berkeley, Ca) course, on Group Travel. My instructor was one of the most successful group travel professionals in the country, at that time. My next step was to volunteer as a group leader for a social club who was attending an annual ski summit in Vale.

It is not necessary to spend lots of money on schooling be become an effective Group Leader. However, it is mandatory that you learn everything you can about your destination and the travel involved.

Once you have secured a basic knowledge of the type of group travel you want to offer, you can then seek out a host agency. A Host Agency is a licensed, bonded travel agency which allows travel agents or outside travel agents to book travel using their company name. There is a split in the commission, as the host agency is the legal business which allows you to book travel for your clients. Most host agencies charge a fee, and an annual fee, but not all. Fees for joining a Hosting Agency can range from zero dollars, up to $500.

Another option is to contact your local travel agency and let them know you want to work as an outside agent. Be prepared to explain what types of travel you want to offer and to what type of groups you want to specialize in. The agency owner, or manager, will provide you with the commission structure, if any, policies and procedures. Some travel agencies only offer free travel to group leaders, while others offer, free travel, and commissions.

When first starting out, it is almost always better to join a group in process, or, create a fun, 2 day trip, to get experience. My own experience included learning the procedure for a particular cruise ship. For about 5 years, every time a Princess Cruise ship docked in San Francisco, I thought I should further my travel education and be aboard ship when it cruise under the Golden Gate Bridge and out to sea. My efforts landed me in the Captain’s Circle and qualified me as a Platinum Cruise Member.

It is easy to find clients. Below is a list of ways to market your travel events.

1. Informing your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, church members, club members, organizations, friends of friends, twitter pals, and your personal email buddies, is a great way to find new clients.

2. The second best way is to invite friends, neighbors over for a travel party or a cruise party. Ask the cruise line or the resort, for a video tape and free promotional material to share with the guest. Provide guest with snacks and (cheap) wine. Keep the wine coming! No need to be aggressive. Travel sells itself, especially, if the destination and price is of interest. You can provide your clients with a bottle of fine wine aboard ship.

Remember to ask for a deposit. Stay focused, your job is to provide information and collect checks. Ask friends to sponsor a travel party. The more parties you have, the more people you sign up. It’s that simple!

3. Make announcements at your church and your organization. Include the information in the church bulletin or your organization’s newsletter, as many times as possible.

4. Have flyers made up, but not before you have business cards printed, with your name, contact numbers, email address, name of travel event, dates and starting cost.

5. Distribute flyers, at public places or public events.

6. Use classified ads, online and offline to promote your travel event.

7. Pass out your cards, everywhere you go. Doctor’s office, cleaners, grocery store, beauty shop, stores where you shop, your children’s school, your favorite neighborhood bar, and eating establishments.

Paper work is extremely important and without it, nothing happens. Paper work must be completed correctly and forwarded to the host agency or travel agency in a timely manner. Failure to do so could result in an ugly situation, which could escalate into a legal battle.

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Impact of Cloud Computing on Travel Industry

Introduction

The last decade has seen major changes in the travel distribution landscape. First, it was the Internet that started a revolution and forever changed how the travel industry operates. This online boom followed by subsequent economic slowdown has created new dynamics in travel distribution. The proliferation of smart phones and social media has resulted in further creating both chaos as well as new opportunities. While opening up new avenues for growth, these developments have also created new operational challenges.

Challenges faced by travel distribution industry

Dynamic Demand

One key nature of the travel industry is that the demand for travel is highly seasonal and cyclic. This creates a challenge for any operations manager in terms of capacity planning and right sizing of the IT support infrastructure. Planning for peak size can result in underutilization and lead to higher marginal cost. On the other hand, not planning for peak load runs the risk of lost transaction opportunities, unsatisfied customers and finally business losses. This is one of the primary reasons why most travel distribution players end up having higher IT infrastructure cost and lower operating margins.

Increased Search Volume

Increased number of travel portals along with a changing pattern of travel booking behavior of the travelers, has resulted in a huge surge in ‘look to book’ ratio. This increased number of availability request per booking now runs into thousands from a mere single digit number few years back, putting an enormous pressure on existing IT infrastructure. According to Pegasus Solutions, global processor of hotel transactions through the GDS and ADS channels, the look-to-book ratio soared to around +60% over 2009 levels and is expected to rise further. Today’s common look-to-book ratio is almost at a 2,500 -3,000 to 1, -primarily due to growth of online reservation and the changing consumer behavior who is now looking ‘value for money’ deals. For this, travel shoppers use multiple avenues such as search engines, referral sites, websites, mobile applications, and social media.

Business Disruptions

Just prior to the recession, online travel booking soared to all time highs attracting further investments in IT infrastructure in demand anticipation. However, discretionary travel was one of the first spends that was cut down during the slowdown. This caused a severe strain on financials and travel companies had to rethink their models yet again.

Increase in number of sales channels

Popularity of smart phones has persuaded travel players to embrace mobility as a medium to manage bookings and provide other experiences to increase customer stickiness. At the same time, social media sites have also become very popular and travel portals are trying to utilize this trend by integrating different social media components with their sites. Of course, more number of channels also increases complexities in product management.

Cloud computing from a travel distribution perspective

The Cloud helps enterprises to have a dynamically scalable abstracted computing infrastructure that is available on-demand and on a pay-per-use basis. This model not only saves the IT teams from investing heavily on infrastructure, but also shields them from the intricacies involved in infrastructure setup and management. Presently, apart from providing the on-demand IT infrastructure, cloud service providers typically provide interfaces for other related IT management services. To understand the application of Cloud computing to the travel industry, availability searching or shopping is probably the best example; it is by and large the biggest resource consumer in a typical travel process. In today’s circumstances, travel enterprises who run their entire travel application on a single infrastructure platform put unnecessary stress on operational budgets. One of the probable solutions to this problem is to decouple the availability search functionality from the traditional CRS system transfer it on an infrastructure that can support flexible demand. At the onset, it seems to be a complex and upheaval task, as it creates operational challenges such as latency. However, these challenges can be handled through a cloud based solution which offers higher scalability by using modern architecture patterns. On the other hand, mobility is witnessing an unprecedented growth in demand – this is another area where a cloud strategy can bring in competitive advantages for travel organizations. The key challenges that travel enterprises are facing today regarding mobile and social media channels are manifold, viz.,

With the advancements of mobile devices such as iPhone, iPad, Android, Symbian, and Blackberry, travel enterprises need to invest in leveraging these to further their distribution and fulfillment channels.
Mobility, being a rapidly evolving technology, is difficult to predict in terms of short term as well as long term demand. Due to this, travel enterprises are facing a challenge in scoping the required infrastructure for supporting mobility channel.
Travel enterprises need to create a business model to measure increase in revenue and profit against the costs incurred on mobility & social media investments.

Cloud based flexible and on-demand infrastructure enables a travel enterprise to offer mobility and social media channels without incurring any fixed cost. Using a cloud infrastructure, a travel enterprise can start in a small way and grow into these evolving markets with a lower risk and financial strain.

Key concerns in adopting cloud based system

Availability of a Service

Organizations worry about whether utility computing services will have adequate availability, and this makes them wary of Cloud Computing. But in reality, cloud infrastructure providers such as Amazon and Google have much lower outage compared to any internal IT system.

Data lock-in

The primary way to access the cloud platforms is through proprietary APIs. Thus, enterprises feel that they cannot easily extract their data and programs from one site to run on another. But in reality, all major service providers have an obligation in their contract to return the data to the enterprise. These service providers also have data access APIs that can be used to extract data in standard formats.

Data Confidentiality and Statutory Requirements

Many enterprises believe that their data will not be secure in the cloud, since current cloud offerings are essentially public networks. However in reality most of these cloud service providers have better data protection and security mechanism than most IT organizations. They achieve this through the usage of audit trail, encrypted storage, and network middle-boxes. Service providers also comply with various statutory and audit requirements related to enterprise and personal data security and usage.

Integration with external systems

Since travel distribution systems interact with multiple external applications, travel enterprises always have a concern about integrating the cloud based system with other external systems. However, all major cloud service providers have web service interfaces that can be utilized to integrate the cloud based system with other external systems.

Solution for the ‘long tail’

As we know, the travel industry comprises of many small to mid-sized companies. A large majority of which are very entrepreneurial and niche in terms of the products and services they offer. Companies in this ‘long tail’ have little or limited IT knowledge or support and rely on numerous third parties for IT. Such companies always find it difficult to balance their IT spending between IT upgrades and innovating on their solutions, and this tends to become a barrier for business growth. Even today, many small time travel enterprises do not even have an IT system, because they cannot afford to setup an IT operation in-house. Economics of Cloud environment can change this basic premise and make it both affordable and beneficial for travel enterprises of any size who can use this service to derive a competitive advantage. Such an environment brings tremendous advantages to such companies because it also helps them to manage their cash flow better. At the other end of the horizon, start-ups are finding it easier to build and offer products like CRSs, tour operating systems, distribution systems or basic inventory systems on a SaaS model, which is a stronger value proposition and provides a competitive edge to their offerings.

Business outcomes of using cloud based systems

From the above discussion we can conclude that travel enterprise can achieve business growth by leveraging the power of cloud computing:

A cloud-based solution reduces the total cost of IT ownership for the travel enterprises and offers performance, reliability, security, and flexible scalability advantages
Travel enterprises are able to increase customer base due to higher availability, low congestion, and additional sales channels
Competitive advantage to the small and mid-sized enterprise in the form of lower fixed or upfront capital cost
Improved operational efficiency due to low marginal cost
Ability to manage risks better by reducing fixed investment on any new initiative

About the Author

As the Director – Business Development & Marketing in Calsoftlabs, Somenath is responsible for growing Calsoftlabs’ ISV business in North Ameica Region. Somenath has extensive experience in Outsourced Product Development space and helped Tier 1 ISVs & Startups in setting up Offshore Product Engineering labs and Program Management Offices. He has been involved in managing multiple key strategic programs in the area of Healthcare, Mobile Communication, Digital Imaging and Product Engineering. Somenath, a Certified Scrum Master, has special interest in areas like strategic management, e-marketing, Agile Development Methodologies, Software Testing, and Enterprise Mobility.

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Travel Insurance Options for Traveling Abroad

Travel insurance is just one of things that are necessary when traveling abroad. Travel insurance can be a very practical solution to providing protection for unexpected emergencies while traveling. This type of insurance protects your investment and allows individuals to travel with peace of mind. There are several options available for going abroad depending on the length and type of trip. Travelers can easily compare plans from leading providers, receive quotes and purchase a plan instantly. Travel insurance can insure against unexpected illness, injury, employment loss, luggage loss and more.

It can provide coverage for Trip Cancellation and Trip Interruption. This insurance provides coverage due to unforeseen illnesses or death. Pre-departure trip cancellation insurance provides protection in the event of the traveler having to cancel flight or hotel reservations due to an immediate member of the family’s death or illness or other covered events. Trip interruption insurance provides benefits if the traveler is unable to continue the covered trip after departure due to covered events. As an option, there are companies that also provide policies that cover cancellation for any reason.

Another option available for travelers insurance is for medical emergencies. This type is beneficial particularly when visiting abroad. Insurance for medical emergencies will provide coverage for doctor visits, medication and even evacuation for medical emergencies. This is particularly important for individuals with chronic conditions or those traveling to underdeveloped countries. Travelers may also have the option of insurance that will provide coverage for tickets that are not refundable and the trip has to be cancelled. Some insurance will even cover missed flights, which can be, a life saver due to delays and overcrowding.

Baggage protection is another type of insurance available. This type of insurance covers direct loss, theft, and damage of your luggage during the covered trip. Travel Accident Protection is another insurance choice that is available. This type of insurance provides coverage for accidental death and dismemberment. This type of insurance provides protection if the traveler is injured in an accident and suffer a loss while covered under this type of plan. A comprehensive travel insurance plan is a great option and a very popular choice for vacationing abroad. This option can provide a wide range of insurance coverage and may even allow travelers to choose what options to incorporate which is why it such a popular choice.

There are several types of companies that offer insurance for travelers. Most travelers prefer to purchase this insurance directly from travel insurance agencies or companies. It is also offered by most companies that offer tours as they generally offer insurance to their clients. Major cruise lines as well offer the option to purchase travel insurance. Cruise line operators usually offer a host of plans to travelers when they schedule a cruise. Travelers can purchase insurance from a travel agent which is very convenient to purchase travel and insurance in one place.

Once you think about the high price of travel and the low price of insurance, this type of insurance is a very reasonable investment. There are plenty of things to worry about when traveling but by protecting your vacation plans with affordable traveling insurance, unforeseen events do not have to be one of them. Since it is not possible to foresee what may happen during travel, a insurance plan is a great value. Travel insurance can slash your losses in numerous situations.

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The Best Ways To Keep Your Money Safe Whilst Travelling

Most travellers know how to find the cheapest airfare or hostel room. But when it comes to how to travel with your money and how to access it, most travellers have a thing or two to learn.

There is no single best way to travel with your money or to make sure it is always accessible.

Travel Security Products

You must make sure you always have access to money overseas, and the best way to do that is by keeping your cash, ATM cards or travellers cheques safe with travel security products. The most popular are travel money belts, combination padlocks, security cable locks, and mesh security products. Be sure to plan ahead and purchase these products before leaving home.

Cash

You will need easy access to your cash, but it is not a smart idea to carry a large amount of cash around with you. It is also not a good idea to carry the bulk of your travel money around with you in cash form. If you get mugged or your luggage stolen, your holiday could be ruined.

You should disperse your cash around when travelling. Some should be placed in your wallet, also in your travel money belt. But you should keep a spare $100 or 100 Euros hidden in your backpack. This way if you do get mugged, you will still have money to tide you over.

A small supply of local currency is important to have when you arrive in a new country. You will be able to pay for transport to your accommodation, and also buy something to eat. If you are travelling in a third world country always pay for items and bargain for items in the local currency. You are less likely to be ripped off!

Credit Cards

A credit card should only be used as a back-up option to access your money when travelling.You will get charged large transaction fees to withdraw money in another currency. If your credit card gets stolen, your details could be used to steal your money and essentially ruin your vacation.

Always have the details of your credit card company, so that you can contact them if something goes wrong.

However, if you look after credit card, it can be very useful. It can be used to book flights, accommodation and tours online. It is also reasonably safe to pay for hotels and meals at well established and quality businesses.

Travellers Cheques

Travellers cheques are not very popular any more with any traveller. They cost you to make and they cost you to access your money. Often banks will give you a worse exchange rate when converting you travellers cheques. Using an ATM is a lot easier now that they have become universal.

On the upside, if yo lose your travellers cheques, you may be able to contact the nearest office of the issuing authority with the numbers on your unredeemed cheques to get them replaced.

ATMs

You can find an ATM just about anywhere now. They are by far the most convenient way to access your money when you are travelling. You must make sure your ATM card is authorised for use overseas before you go.

You are smart to travel with a spare card, just in case you lose your only means of accessing your money. Remember, you may be charged overseas transaction fees and conversion fees from your bank.

Cash Passport Cards

These are becoming a very popular option now with many travellers. You buy this card before you leave home, and place your funds on it, but in the currency of the country you are travelling to. The most popular currency cards are US dollars, UK pounds, and Euros.

Once your money is on the card you can access it anywhere from an ATM. This way you wont be charged conversion fees.

What should you do?

You should travel with a variety of options to access your money. Choose the best option for you that makes you feel comfortable. Remember, you can always get someone to transfer money to you internationally anywhere if you run out!

What not to do?

Avoid carrying large quantities of cash, when you use an ATM separate the money into smaller amounts and hide them around your backpack, pockets and wallet.

Do not give your credit card details to anyone.

Do not use your credit card to with draw money at an ATM. It will cost you so much money in fees!

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Feel Secure With Best Travel Insurance Coverage

Bajaj Allianz life insurance is a distinct corporate among the world giants such as Bajaj auto and Allianz group. Bajaj auto is the largest manufacturer of two-wheelers and three wheelers in the world and Allianz group is one of the top ranked insurance companies in the world. Bajaj Allianz insurance company has more than 800 offices around the whole world and about 4 million satisfied clients. Bajaj Allianz life insurance company provides an extensive variety of insurance plans and policies.

Bajaj Allianz insurance offers convenient payment schemes like debit cards, credit cards, cheques, or directly from their customers bank accounts. The friendly and patient agents of Bajaj Allianz life insurance helps in the specifications of insurance policies, quotes and terms that best suits each individuals needs.

Bajaj Allianz offers a wide variety of insurance in India. Travel companion, travel elite and student travel are the most important insurance plans under Bajaj Allianz. They are also providing other travel plans like corporate insurance, travel Asia and travel swadesh yatra. Let’s go in to some details of these plans.

Travel companion is a travel insurance policy which is a comprehensive package which provides complete medical and health cover to the international traveler. You can choose a suitable plan according to your requirements from the travel companion insurance plan which offers customized plans for individual, family and senior citizen of age, 61-70. This policy covers personal accident, medical expenses and repatriation, loss and delay of checked baggage, personal liability, loss of passport, cashless service, hospitalization expenses, hijack cover, emergency cash advance, trip delay, golfers hole-in-one etc.

Travel elite is a customized online travel insurance that provides the discerning traveler a good range of policies to choose from, where each policy will be customized to meet your specific requirements. One can choose the policy depending on whether they are a student, a businessman, senior citizen, corporate executive or one travelling with the family. There are plans for individual, family, and senior citizen of age, 61-70 and senior citizen of age, 71-75 in the travel elite insurance plan offered by Bajaj Allianz.

Student travel insurance plan is specially designed for students to make their travel risk free. This plan offers protection for a student’s as well as coverage for other essential needs like medical and hospitalization help. There are three plans which come under student travel. They are study companion plan, student elite plan and scholars guide and brilliant minds.

Corporate international travel is a comprehensive plan which provides complete medical and health cover to the international business traveler. This plan covers your business trips abroad. Bajaj Allianz offers customized plans for virtually every requirement of corporate employees travelling abroad. Companion, elite and age 61-70 plans come under the corporate insurance plan.

Travel Asia policy is a comprehensive plan which offers complete medical and health cover to the international traveler. You can choose from the travel companion and travel elite plan which come under the travel Asia policy.

Don’t worry. Bajaj Allianz also provides travel for the domestic traveler. Travel swadeshi yatra is an insurance plan that takes care of all your needs during domestic travel. This policy comes under 4 different plans which are customized to suit the various needs of a domestic traveler.

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What Travel Agents Need to Know About Corporate Travel Today

This is rightly named as the age of traveler-centricity and with the evolution of the new era of personalized travel; it is leading to research and development of a host of new so-called intelligent services. The command-and-control perspectives of traveling have changed a lot from the past and the focus has shifted more on the traveler and the productivity of each trip. It has become essential to maintain that the travelers have the greatest return on investment on each trip. New generations of young employees and managers, who have been growing up and dwelling in a digital age, are moving up the ranks as travelers. It has become essential to recognize the need for greater flexibility acknowledging that the employees who travel on corporate trips also consider a percentage of their trip to be a leisure outlet. With increasing globalization and rise in companies sending their staff overseas to network and connect with their offshore prospects/customers/suppliers, corporate travel is a highly profitable tourism segment. Before we talk about how tourism companies can better cater to business travelers, let us first look at why they prefer to use specialized corporate agencies over traditional agents

Why do businesses use Corporate Travel Agencies?

This might be the most basic question for a travel agency as to why they need to use agencies specializing in corporate travel when there are plenty of regular travel agents in the market. Here is the importance of corporate travel agencies who have online systems which allow business travelers access to their complete itinerary.

The following information is at the fingertips of the CTAs:-

full business itinerary details
up-to-date tracking details of flights (including delays or rescheduling)
transparent details about additional costs such as baggage fees or in-flight fees
travel alerts, if any, in the destined area
complete and up-to-date details about the visa procurement policies and identification required
currency requirement and conversion rates

What do corporate clients expect from Corporate Travel Agencies?

Negotiated Fares

The Corporate Agencies tend to have tie-ups with hotels, car rentals, flights etc. giving them access to lower fares which can be used only by the frequent business travelers. Discounted prices are not the only advantage though as they also offer flight upgrades, room upgrades, and VIP check-in lines as required.

In-depth information about the travel industry

Corporate travel agents have access to many travel resources and most importantly, quickly, than any other leisure travel agent. Additional information helps to make the business trips convenient and comfortable.

Changes in Itinerary

When an airline ticket needs to get rescheduled or cancelled, chances are the airline or the online service provider will charge lofty fees. When booking with a corporate travel agent, most of the times schedule changes can be done at zero or minimal extra charges.

Viable emergency contacts

It is important for the business travelers to reach the correct person at the need of trouble. Corporate travel agents have the experience and professionalism to relieve stress for both the traveler and the company.

What you need to consider as corporate travel increases?

Business Travel Barometer reported that corporate travel is witnessing an accelerated growth. However, when poorly managed, it may be no longer an advantage to companies and may, in fact become a burden. There are some factors which the corporations and CTAs must consider to get the best out of the time spent traveling.

Adopting a travel policy

The corporate must define a travel policy which is applicable to and respected by travelers at all levels. This policy should be used to establish the standards which will help to track the improvement of business travel. It will eventually help to reduce the costs of the entire package.

Do not limit the traveler’s autonomy

The management is responsible for budgeting the travel policy which helps to improve cost management however, it is also essential to give a degree of autonomy to the traveler. The policy should be flexible enough to allow the employee to adapt the trip as per the situation.

Traveler’s security should be a major concern

Business travelers need to have security in place. The company needs to stick to its definition of standards to ensure the employee’s integrity. The CTAs should have reliable partners (travel insurance, airlines, hotel chains etc.).

Mobility and automation

To optimize time and ease the processes, the administration of management platforms should have automated processes. This means they should adopt mobile solutions where search options, travel alerts, ticket reservations etc. can be accessed quickly, easily and on the go.

Corporate Travel Trends in 2016

Corporate travel trends tend to change regularly. 2016 has also not been any different and the travel management companies (TMCs) and corporate travel agencies (CTAs) are quite focused to provide steady if not strong axis all over. A growing MICE sector, investments in mobile and big data and enhanced focus on duty of care are some of their areas of focus.

Rising prices

The consolidated buzzword among global suppliers, airfares, hotel rates etc. is the rising fares. It is sometimes the move of the suppliers to generate discounts which encourage travel if there is a strong decline in demand. A positive 2016 world economy has been bringing an increase in air fares of a few percentage points, hotels are expected to see 4%-6% rise in average global rates and the competition will remain moderate in the car rental services.

Duty of care

Risk management is one of the major points of emphasis for corporations. Corporate customers are allowing new policies and improved technologies to monitor employees’ location in case of an emergency, especially when they are travelling to foreign destinations. For instance, Concur Risk Messaging helps to identify the travelers moving around in the world and alerts them with alternate travel arrangement as and when needed.

Focusing on MICE

Meetings industry is a major growing sector and the corporate travel trend is developing on it. The corporate travel agencies should better start aligning the various meeting procurement methodologies with its transient travel sourcing. One of the ways could be to broaden the variety of meeting services by incorporating incentive trips within it.

Investing in technology

A sharper focus on increasing value and becoming more traveler-centric can be done by bringing in mobile friendly technologies. Mobile and big data are definitely the two most significant technological investments which any corporate travel agency must focus to make their platform more appealing.

Business travel analysis after Brexit

Following Brexit, ACTE and CAPA shared their speculations. According to them, the greatest short-term effects on the travel industry will come from the weakening of the pound against other world currencies. Greeley Koch, executive director for the Association of Corporate Travel Executives said that the business travel industry will trend on currency fluctuations; with some companies taking advantage of the weaker pound and traveling more, while others may withhold business travel until world markets find their own level.

Impact of terrorism on corporate travelers

Travel policy makers and administrators need to be guided by rising terrorism scare. For executives and staff undertaking travel on behalf of businesses, the travel agents and corporate travel agencies (CTAs) should prove the reassurance for their safety through the travel policies. It is more than likely that the surveys conducted over corporate travelers reflect the general concern of the global business travelers about the spate of terrorism. However, there is no denying the fact that terrorist threat is changing the patterns of business travel. The key impact of this is to keep in mind that the companies providing travel services for business travelers need to enhance their focus on security and the associated risks in delivering the services to corporate clients. According to a recent finding, travel managers have higher estimation of their policy’s effectiveness in addressing risk compared to skeptical business travelers.

Concluding

Although the corporate travel sector has continued to progress, there are a plethora of challenges faced by the industry. A rapidly changing consumer market, the emergence of new business models, the impact of technology, man-made and natural crises are some of the fulcrum points that need to be considered before planning corporate trips.

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Top 12 Blogs For Travel Bloggers

This is a list of creative travel blogs that I read and follow. They are written by independent travel writers, the list include those that I consider as heavy-weights in travel blogging. These bloggers are associated with large travel sites/blogs but their focus is on living a unique life (getting to see the world around them) and be an insightful writers. All of them are fun and inspirational to read.

Blog: Everything-Everywhere

Writer: Gary Arndt

Gary has been on the road since 2007 as a professional traveller. On the blog you’ll find interviews with leading figures in the industry like Laura Bly from BlyOnTheFly.com. The posts are factual yet personal as they include Gary’s insights and reasons for visiting each of the destinations. Everything-Everywhere is the top travel blogger on Twitter according to its Klout score.

Most recent post: This Week In Travel – Episode 152

Blog: Nomadic Matt

Writer: Matt Kepness

Matt offers practical and tactical advice about how to travel better, cheaper and longer. The blog gives down-to-earth details about the best ways to explore the world. The blog is more of a collection of useful tips rather than a chronicle of Matt’s adventures although there is a travel guide section with info gathered from Matt’s travels since 2004. The site includes videos and a list of resources.

Most recent post: How To Travel Anywhere For Free

Blog: Go-See-Write

Writer: Michael Hodson

Travelling since 2008 he circumvented the globe without getting on a plane. The blog includes Michael’s adventures and experiences as he goes through each of the travel destinations. Dubai travel is included in the long list of destinations you can read about and there is a section of travel destination tips. The blog is a personal journey of a solo adventurer exploring the world.

Most recent post: Visiting One of the World’s Highest Lakes

Blog: Fox Nomad

Writer: Anil Polat

Chosen by the Huffington Post as one of the top travel writers to watch Anil is a full time traveller but a gadget geek as well, so the focus of the blog is often on the technical aspect of travel. He often visits countries which are off-the-beaten-track and gives practical advice about how to cope in places like Yemen and Iraq. On the blog you’ll find destination tips, tech posts, resources and insights into green travel and culture.

Most recent post: The Landmarks To Look Out For When Flying Into Istanbul

Blog: Legal Nomads

Writer: Jodi – A former Lawyer from Montreal

She has been travelling and eating her way around the world since 2008 and the blog focuses on food, culture and her adventures. One of the plus points about this travel writer’s blog is that it is ad-free (except for Amazon links) which makes it a very clean-cut blog to look at. This is a good blog to watch if you’re into food related travel, the blog is on the MSN list of top travel blogs.

Most recent post: Thrillable Hours: Doug Barber, Co-Founder of Minaa

Blog: Almost Fearless

Writer: Christine Gilbert

One of the top ranking travel & leisure blogs written by a mother traveling with her family since 2008, this blog has beautiful photography and the blend of family, self and travel. The family travel focus can be seen by the blog sections – life, kitchen, photos and kids. You’ll find some useful destination tips but more general life insights.

Most recent post: How I Spent 10 Years To Get Where I Started

Blog: Camels and Chocolates

Writer: Kristin Luna

One of the top travel writer blogs according to Elliott.org and other “top” lists due to the well written text. The writer is a professional journalist, has interviewed the stars and in addition is a travel addict. She covers a long list of travel destinations recording her adventures with the occasional travel destination tip thrown in. The blog boasts many photos of the travel writer in the various travel destinations.

Most recent post: Photo Friday: Columbus, Ohio

Blog: Johnny Vagabond

Writer: Wes

Another of the Huffington Post picks for best travel writer blogs, the charm of this blog is in the well written descriptions of the writer’s adventures. Wes is traveling around the world on a tight budget and taking brilliant pictures as he goes. The writing is engaging, intelligent and entertaining as well as giving you plenty of info about the travel destinations.

Most recent post: A Love Letter from the Philippines

Blog: 48 Hour Adventure

Writer: Justin Morris

A very useful and highly practical blog where each post is dedicated to a 48 hour plan of what to see and do in various travel destinations. What makes this travel & leisure blog standout is its no-nonsense usable quality. You’ll find a “48 hours in Dubai” post if you’re interested in Dubai travel, listing sites, how to get around, orientation and plenty of large photos.

Most recent post: 48 Hours in Reykjavik

Blog: Global Grasshopper

Writer: A team of travel writers Gary and Becky

Unlike many of the blogs on this list it is not a chronicle of any one person’s travels but rather a collection of inspirational travel stories and travel destination tips written by travel writers. For example you’ll find “top 10″ lists, cool hotels and beautiful places as well as the section for travel snobs!

Most recent post: 10 of the Best Travel Destinations

Blog: Travel Business Success

Writer: Tourism Tim Warren

Since 1994 Tourism Tim Warren works to inspire, guide & connect tourism pros’ to realize their dreams. From Michigan to Mongolia, Baja to Bolivia, “Tourism Tim” Warren has helped 1000′s of small start-up tour operators to international business development agencies increase sales, arrivals and profits via his book, online courses and webinars. An entrepreneur at heart, he enjoys helping current & future travel entrepreneurs succeed financially following their passion of a profession in tourism.

Most recent post: 5 Travel Website Sales Tips

Blog: Y Travel Blog

Writer: Caz & Craig Makepeace

Caz & Craig originally from Central Coast of Australia alongside their daughters have been travelling round the world. Y Travel Blog was started in April 2010 as a way to share personal travel tips and stories to help others live their travel dreams. There consistency, dedication and global travel knowledge makes their travel site one of the best.

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