First Class vs. Business Class: Evaluating Value For Money

Let’s revisit the time-honoured First Class vs. Business Class debate. Those who that call airport lounges their 2nd home often wrestle between whether to book first-class or business-class fares.  While the most apparent differences, lie with the price (with First-Class being the more expensive of the two), as well as the comfort of the seats, and level of service; no specific standards exist within the airline industry as a whole.  Therefore, it’s imperative to understand whether you’re receiving enough value to justify the elevated price of a first-class fare.

Here’s our evaluation:

Domestic vs. Regional

There is a significant difference between domestic and regional first-class and international first.  For short-haul flights, passengers generally won’t see a tremendous distinction between first and business as the flight duration isn’t long enough, or the aircraft is not large enough to allow for many variations.  In addition, many airlines use older aircraft to service domestic and regional routes.  This translates to first and business class having very similar seating, privacy, TV sizes, menus and thus far less value for money on first-class fares.

International Business Class

Competition for passengers and new technology has created significant improvements in international business class.  Far exceeding the offerings of domestic first class, passengers can relax in luxurious seats that fully convert to lie-flat beds.  On the latest Boeing 777 aircraft, a staggered 2-4-2 pod-like configuration allows for enhanced privacy and uninterrupted work or rest.  Travellers will also have access to on-demand entertainment on larger TV screens as well as gourmet a la carte menus.  Boasting beautifully crafted dishes that incorporate culinary creations from around the world, meals are served by attentive staff and paired with a selection of fine wines.  Lastly, those flying with major airlines can make use of a network of business-class lounges around the globe.  With the combination of both incredible onboard and airport service, international business class travel offers great value for money.

International First Class

The ultimate in travel luxury, the first-class experience begins with access to exclusive first-only lounges at major international airports.  From showers to spa treatments, passengers can wait to board their flight in a haven of tranquillity.  Once onboard, personal suites in generous configurations create totally private spaces.  With beautiful extra-wide seats that transform into soft beds, long-haul flights provide all the luxuries of home.  Watch on-demand videos from personalized wide-screen televisions or dine on made to order cuisine, prepared in a state of the art galley.  While some airlines are opting for hybrid first/business classes, many are investing substantially to maintain their first-class product.  The demand for it remains on major European and Asian routes where there is still a market segment willing to pay for first-class fare prices.

The Last Word

As for the ultimate question: Is first-class worth it?   Our market experts suggest that it often depends on the airline.  Generally, those with in-demand first-class fares such as Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa have created enough of a distinction between their business and first product through additional luxury and higher levels of personalized service so that high prices intersect with value.

How to Incorporate a Holiday into your Next Business Trip

If you have ever felt like you spend more time in the air than on the ground, it might be time to add a little fun to your next business trip.  Whether it is a day trip out in the city, an added leg to your journey or bringing along a spouse or friend, there’s a lot of great ways to get more than quality work out of your travel.

Bring a Partner

Travelling for business can be a lonely affair.  With impersonal airports and hotel rooms, the warmth of home certainly lacks at times.  Consider inviting your significant other, or a friend to come along on your next trip.  Even if you have to entertain clients, have meetings, or work in the evenings, you’d be surprised at how much better your trip can be when you experience it with a companion. While you’re working they can book a tour, explore the city, or indulge in a fun activity.  Best of all, when you’ve got some spare time, you can go have some fun together.

Extend your Stay

Arriving a few days before or staying a few days after your trip, can enable you to explore the city you’re working in.  So often, travellers leave directly after business is wrapped up and miss an opportunity to see incredible new places inexpensively.  Book in some “days off” and explore the city.  Experience incredible sights and amazing local cuisine, or try something you’ve always wanted to do.

Add a Holiday

Even if the place you’re travelling to for work isn’t very exciting, adding a holiday to somewhere interesting close by can add significant value.  Book a regional flight, take a train, or hire a car and travel to a point of interest.  With the major travel time already out of the way, this is a fantastic way to enjoy an extra holiday.

Save with Air Canada Corporate Rewards

Air Canada Corporate Rewards

It’s no secret that I love Air Canada. They’ve come a long way from the dark days of poor service, old aircrafts and the high fares that was happening 10 years ago. These days I find them competitively priced, flying plenty of direct routes to many major hubs, and offering a quality of service that is much better than any other North American airline. Oh and lots of nice new aircrafts too! On top of this, they have a great frequent flyer program aptly called Air Canada Corporate Rewards (I’m saving my points for Hawaii!). The inclusive Maple Leaf Lounges are a welcomed oasis to relax and get space to get some work done while waiting for your flight. I’m always confident when recommending my clients to Air Canada.

One of the first travel solutions I always discuss with new clients is Air Canada Corporate Rewards (ACCR). It’s an easy way to access near-instant benefits, with no effort on our clients’ part. ACCR is a FREE program that offers perks to businesses and their travellers for travel booked with Air Canada and other Star Alliance airline partners. Depending on the spend threshold your company reaches, you could be eligible for discounted airfares, free seat selection, eUpgrade credits to use to upgrade to business class, Maple Leaf Lounge passes, meal vouchers and much more. All for booking travel on the same Air Canada flights you were already booking.

Many Canadian business travellers already prefer to fly with Air Canada because of their robust frequent flyer program (Aeroplan), good direct flight options, and their many connections within Canada and around the world. ACCR enhances their experience by giving them access to more perks while allowing them to collect miles and status as they already had been before. It’s also a great way to introduce new travellers to Air Canada and their frequent flyer program, and get them earning rewards and enjoying perks much sooner!

Air Canada Corporate Rewards is best suited to companies that travel frequently using Air Canada and their partner airlines. The company must be based in North America. There’s no minimum spend to qualify, but I recommend it for companies that spend at least $20,000 per year as that is the threshold at which discounts and other rewards kick in.

TOP 3 BENEFITS FOR YOUR BUSINESS
• Savings of up to 5% off airfares in flex class or higher
• Complimentary Maple Leaf Lounge memberships to reward employees or for executive use
• Air Canada’s reporting which complement’s those provided by your travel Manager

TOP 3 BENEFITS FOR YOUR TRAVELERS
• Earn Aeroplan miles and Altitude status by flying Air Canada & partners
• Receive discounted or free preferred seat selection, for better seats
• Receive eUpgrade credits for additional ways to upgrade to business class

HOW DO I SIGN UP?
Your Worldgo Travel Manager can easily enroll your company so there is no extra work to be done on your part. To reach out to us today, click here.

Your trusted Travel Manager,
Jessica Bentley

 

Dual Citizenship Holders Must Have Valid Canadian Passport

Effective September 30, Canadian citizens with dual citizenships holders will only be allowed to fly into the country if they have a valid Canadian passport. Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada spokesperson Lindsay Wemp said that is the only acceptable travel document for the purpose of air travel.

“What is changing is that the Government of Canada is implementing a new electronic system to assist airlines in verifying that all travellers have the appropriate documents to travel to or transit through Canada by air,” she said.

“Air carriers are obligated by law to confirm that all persons seeking to travel to Canada carry both proofs of citizenship and proof of identity. A valid Canadian passport satisfies these requirements for Canadian citizens, and is the only acceptable travel document for the purpose of air travel.”

Presently, Canadian citizens with dual citizenships can use the passport of the other country to enter Canada by air if they can provide proofs of residency in Canada, such as a driver’s license and Canadian citizenship card.

Last year Ottawa introduced the Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) an entry requirement for all visa-exempt foreign nationals who fly to or transit through Canada. US citizens are exempt.

However, starting September 30 dual citizens may no longer use the passport of the other country to return to Canada.

A handout has been distributed at airports of entry, along with a media and social-media blitz via Canadian overseas missions since March of this year.

Global Affairs Canada officials have also notified registered Canadian citizens abroad of the upcoming change by email by email and through their websites.by email and through their websites.

 

Inside Your Travel Policy & Understanding Hotel Rates

For clients who frequently require accommodation for travelling employees, having a well-negotiated travel policy that factors in hotel pricing rates, will translate directly into measurable savings for your business. While Worldgo has access to exclusive globally negotiated hotel rates, it’s important to understand how hoteliers set their room rates, as well as what they mean, so you can work with your travel manager to develop a high-performing travel policy.

Broadly speaking, there are four distinct types of hotel rates available at any given time.

  1. Best Available Rate (BAR)
    A popular revenue management technique used by hotels around the world, Best Available Rate is determined by expected room demand as influenced by local events, time of year etc. As such, this rate fluctuates nightly and represents the best non-negotiated rate available at the time of booking. BAR is sometimes referred to as Best Unrestricted Rate (BUR) and Best Flexible Rate (BFR).
  2. Last Room Availability (LRA)
    Under LRA, a special client rate has been pre-negotiated with the hotel for all rooms in a specific category group. Therefore, any room that falls within that category up to and including the last room available, will be priced at that predetermined rate.
  3. Non-Last Room Availability (NLRA)
    NLRA is an agreement between a hotel and client whereby the negotiated rate is available to travellers only at the discretion of the hotel. This means that during peak periods, hotels can block NLRA rates and charge a higher rate to maximize revenue.
  4. Dynamic Pricing
    Dynamic pricing is simply a discounted rate off the BAR rate. For organizations that reach a certain room night volume, a fixed discount can be negotiated with the hotel. Under this pricing structure, the discounted rate fluctuates in line with BAR fluctuations.

The Benefits of Contracted Hotel Rates

If your business is a high volume accommodation user, you may be eligible to negotiate a contract rate. While volume targets and spend thresholds vary with local market conditions, generally speaking, if your organization produces 100 room nights per annum, you can negotiate a contracted rate. In certain key global markets, such as New York, minimum room night commitments can be as high as 500 before a hotel will extend contracted rates.
Once a contract is in place, the hotel will offer your firm a rate based on LRA or NLRA. Which rate the hotel offers is based on a variety of factors including volume commitments, market conditions etc.

While LRA is usually a premium rate, it ensures last room availability at your predetermined contact rate within that room category. If your agreement is based on NLRA, the nightly rate may be lower than LRA, however, if the hotel becomes fully booked this rate will be closed out and you’ll be subject to the BAR rate at the time of booking.

With an endless array of third-party websites, you might stumble across a cheaper last minute rate. Before booking through these channels, it’s important to understand the benefit of using your contracted rate, even though it may be more expensive.

Firstly, booking online doesn’t count towards room night targets for your organization. So while booking through a website may save you money in the short run, over the long run, you are diminishing your firm’s ability to garner even better-negotiated rates. Secondly, contracted rates have built-in flexibility ideal for business travellers such as 24 hour or same-day cancellation. Finally, if you’re meeting is cancelled unexpectedly, online rates will often be non-refundable leaving your business on the hook for extra travel expenses.

 

The Benefits of Being an Aeroplan Member

My name is Karen Smythe and I am a Travel Manager with Worldgo Travel Management.  When anyone finds out what I do for a living, the first question they ask is “Can you get me a deal on travel?” and I always answer with an enthusiastic “YES!”

There are many ways to get upgrades, bonuses and freebies that many travellers don’t know about. Do you want to kick back and relax in a business class pod for the price of a discounted economy ticket? I can’t think of a better deal than that! The fastest way to get there is through an airline loyalty program.
The first program you should sign up for is Aeroplan. Aeroplan is a Star Alliance loyalty program. Star Alliance has the highest number of member airlines in the world. What does this mean for you? More flight options, more destinations and more ways to earn points. Not only can you collect points on air travel, but as a member you can also collect on various hotel brands, car rental companies, credit card programs and other retailers.

It’s free to join and with so many places to earn points what are you waiting for! Click here to sign up:http://www4.aeroplan.com/enroll.do we’ll wait … are you signed up? Good! Now that you have all these points, how do you best utilize them? Travellers are constantly complaining to me about flight availability (or lack thereof) when booking with points, especially on popular routes and last minute bookings. If anyone understands your availability struggle, it’s me. I am constantly hitting the availability roadblock. The worst is during peak season; which is when everyone wants to use their points!

My First Tip: Book early! I know it’s not always possible and you’re probably sick of hearing it, so…

My Second Tip: Use your points to offset your overall travel costs.

There are many ways to use your points to help you save money on your trip. If your flight is not available with Aeroplan, purchase a travel gift card to offset the cost of your flights.  Buy a lounge pass, so you’re not stuck waiting in a crowded, noisy terminal. Offset your business expenses with free airport parking. Get an AMEX gift card for extra spending money. Departing early in the morning? Get a Fairmont gift card and spend the night before your flight at the Fairmont YVR airport.  The possibilities are endless!

My Golden Tip: Use your Aeroplan points to upgrade FOR FREE to premium economy, business class or even first class on any Star Alliance airline!  If you want to find out how, call or email me before you book!
Stay tuned for my next post coming soon.

Your Trusted Travel Manager,
Karen Smythe

 

Don’t Get Stuck In a Middle Seat Again

It’s mid-July and you finally hear back from the elusive prospect that has been giving you the slip for the past 6 months. He’s ready to hear your pitch, but can only meet you at his New York office on July 31st. This account could make or break your sales year, so you confirm immediately and get your assistant to book your flights.

Middle-Seat1-e1443625722222It’s mid-summer, peak season, and a long weekend to top it off. Needless to say, the flights are packed. Your assistant informs you that she was able to snap up one of the last seats on the Delta redeye but warily advises you that all of the aisle seats have been taken. The only available seat was at the back of the bus, in 42B. A middle seat at that… Your assistant tries to reassure you that she booked with Worldgo, so the automated “Best Seat Search” will keep looking to get you a better seat up until your departure. You’re reluctant, but you don’t have much of a choice if you want this account, so you confirm the flights.

A week later, on this very same packed flight, there is a family of ten going on their summer vacation. They planned it months in advance and snagged the ten best free seats, right at the front of the plane.  Unfortunately for them, little Bobby has come down with the flu and it’s spreading like wildfire through the family.  They have no choice but to cancel their trip! Don’t worry; they bought a Manulife All-Inclusive travel policy and will get a full refund for their flights. Now that they’ve cancelled, those ten seats at the front of the plane are up for grabs, and it’s a free-for-all!   Anyone who has already booked has no idea those seats are available. Lucky for you, the Worldgo Best Seat Search tool is always checking, it doesn’t sleep, it doesn’t take breaks, and it immediately grabs one of the available seats at the front of the plane as soon as it becomes available.

You wake up on the morning of your flight, nervous for your pitch meeting, and dreading the long day ahead of you. Not helping is the daunting fact that you are going to be squished in seat 42B, and the chance of catching a few Zs before your meeting is slim.

While drinking your morning coffee, you get a surprising email from your friendly Worldgo Travel Manager advising you that you have a new seat!  2A, front of the plane, and an aisle! A wave of relief rushes over you. Not only will you have room to stretch out, but thanks to Worldgo’s Best Seat Search tool you will arrive well-rested and ready to rock your presentation!

You arrive back in your office on Monday morning, signed contract in hand. Your assistant is smiling confidently. She knew all along that you have a team of experts working behind the scenes to take care of all your corporate travel needs, no matter what may arise.

Top 5 Ways to Stay Healthy while Travelling for Business

Hectic airports, long flights, dry pressurized cabins, and late night business engagements can leave the executive traveller drained before they even step into the boardroom.  When you’re on the road, staying healthy through exercise and diet should be just as important as your meetings.  Not only is the physical activity and nutritious food good for your body but it also reduces symptoms of jetlag and fatigue helping you to stay on top of your game.

#1 – DRINK LOTS OF WATER!!!

With humidity on planes reaching levels lower than that of the Sahara desert, preventing dehydration, especially on long-haul flights is key.  Stay hydrated by bringing a big bottle of still water on board (make sure to purchase once your past security), keep alcohol and sugar consumption to a minimum and consider boosting your hydration with an electrolyte mixture.  Once you’re off the plane keep up the water consumption to reduce jetlag.  Hydration is without a doubt the most important component of staying healthy when you travel so drink up!

#2 – Make a Workout Plan

Not only does exercise assist in the transmission of information from one half of your brain to the other, but it is also a contributing factor to more restful sleeps.  When you’re on the road make a workout agenda to help you stay sharp and well rested.  Start by checking if your hotel has gym facilities.  If it doesn’t, do a little research online to see if there’s a gym near where you’re staying or map out a jogging or walking route.  Even if you don’t have hours of free time, 15-30 minutes is better than 0 minutes, so make it a priority to get some exercise in.

#3 – You are What You Eat

Healthy eating is all about balance especially when you’re on the road.  Have a slice of that deep dish New York pizza loaded with gooey melted cheese and salami, but be sure to mix those indulgent meals with healthier ones as well.  Try and keep two meals a day healthy and one not as healthy and remember to keep an eye on portions.  A healthy sized portion of lean meat should be about the same size as a deck of playing cards, while a serving of cereal or grains should be the size of your closed fist.   Being conscious about how much you’re eating can be just as important as what you’re eating.

#4 – Sleep

According to the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, short term effects of insufficient sleep can range from impaired judgement to inability to learn and retain new information, both of which are valuable attributes to have in a business setting.  If you battle to get a good night’s sleep during travel or from jetlag when you’re at your destination, consider speaking with your healthcare professional about sleeping tablets prior to take off.  Make some time to exercise before your flight and once you’re on the ground but remember to get your workout in at least 3 hours before hitting the hay.  As lower body temperature triggers sleep, exercising too close to bedtime can have the reverse effect, keeping you up for hours into the night.

#5 – Book a Spa Treatment

A relaxing treatment may be just what the body and mind need to prepare for a big work day.  Book in at the hotel spa or find a reputable one close by and indulge in a little pampering.  Whether it is a quick manicure or soothing deep tissue massage, taking an hour or two out for yourself can be exactly what’s needed to get the job done.

The Increasing Value of Travel Management

Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.” – Warren Buffett


In an increasingly interconnected global business environment, expert travel management is playing a growing role in the majority of corporations today.   Measurable contributions to the bottom line realized through cost control, policy adherence, and an efficient travel program, have shifted travel management to become a specialized business function.  This function forms an integral part of a firm’s strategic financial planning, increasing the value of travel management within the corporate structure.  It  has never been more important than today!

Cost Controls

Relationships are the key to successful travel management, and can have a significant impact on cost avoidance and control.  Through the use of globally negotiated rates, preferred suppliers, and volume-based discounts, an expert travel manager is able to maximize their clients’ travel spend.  Furthermore, by gaining an understanding of their clients overall travel needs, as well as analyzing current expenditures, further cost-cutting opportunities and practices can be recognized and implemented.  By striving to cut costs, analyzing and reporting  savings, a professional travel manager can provide endless financial benefits to the corporate client.

Policy Adherence

The development of a sensible travel policy is another way in which a corporate client can reap the financial rewards of using an expert travel manager.  Working directly with their clients’ management team, the travel manager can assist in creating a policy that will optimize travel budgets, while ensuring employees adhere to the policy.  By ensuring corporate employees use only those rates and suppliers set out within the policy, a corporate client will avoid bookings with less value, thus contributing directly to the bottom line.

Efficiency

When a corporate client chooses to work with a travel manager, they eliminate a number of inefficiencies that arise from internal travel management.  With an expert travel manager at the epicenter of all corporate travel arrangements, the corporate client is ensured of a streamlined travel process that maximizes business objectives, increases productivity, and reduces risk.  Employees will no longer spend their valuable time searching for flights and hotels, which ultimately do not capitalize on time away from the office, or travel spend.  Alternatively, this productive capacity can be redirected towards value increasing projects, and business objectives.  Using a central travel management team also ensures greater compliance to travel policies and the financial benefits that flow from implementing such programs.

Lastly, the expert travel manager’s in-depth industry knowledge, and awareness of global events are essential to reducing the corporate clients’ risk.  It is this knowledge that enables the corporate travel manager to extend emergency assistance to employees on the road while working to get them home quickly and safely.