5 Tips for Combining Business and Leisure Travel, Destination Mideast

As summer approaches, I always ask myself how can I run two businesses and still get away. Travel research shows that we Americans are most likely to forfeit vacation days. The best solution I see is combining business with pleasure on every trip abroad.

Having signed up for a conference in Dubai, I was intrigued by the modern-day Mideast while wanting to know more about its ancient cultures. After some investigation, I found a flight to Dubai via Jordan with a few days stopover.

Leaving nothing to chance, I arranged an airport pick-up and booked a 5 star hotel well located in a chic part of Amman with multiple restaurant options nearby and within the hotel. Having studied Arabic, I was pleased to get to practice it even though the Egyptian courses I studied differed substantially from the Jordanian dialect.

As a crossroads, Jordan has a remarkable history from the ancient Nabataeans to Alexander the Great, the Romans, Byzantine and Arab cultures. Beyond its historical monuments, Jordan has a very vibrant present day culture. Shortly after my arrival, I saw this first hand as a local wedding party made its way through the hotel lobby to celebrate with dancing and music.

The following day I headed out on a day tour of the capital exploring Amman’s Roman ruins. I stood transfixed high over the city listening to the muezzin’s call to prayer. With only a brief stay, I made the most of the time taking a driver as local guide for about 12 hours each day. Fortunately, distances were fairly close with the next day’s exploration focused on the Roman ruins in Jerash. Its popular history starts at the time of Alexander the Great but fell to the Romans under Pompey in the first century AD. With the mild October climate, my guide and I then ate al fresco surrounded by vineyards. There was not a tour bus in sight!

The next day’s journey down to Byzantine Madaba ended at the renown Dead Sea. Famous for its spa treatments, I just had time to gaze at the sea before retracing my steps to Amman.

Saving the best to last meant a full day in the rose city of Petra built by the Nabataeans. Featured in Indiana Jones’s and other films and in a mystery novel by best-selling British writer Agatha Christie, it is a World Heritage Site that rivals the Pyramids. Beyond the large Treasury, there are a series of small buildings and conveniently located outdoor cafes and handicrafts for sale. Of course, the tourist route back to the entrance had to be on camel back providing great photo opps.

After an enchanting week, it was time to make my way to Dubai for a conference and brief sightseeing afterwards. Dubai is famous for the unexpected, like air conditioned bus stops, the Palm development and ultra-luxurious hotels. For me, as an “Intermittent Intermediate Skier”, I was fascinated by the indoor ski resort located in a local shopping mall. With limited expectations of a real workout, I knew this would make a great story and the perfect venue for a holiday card photo. After a feast of Southern Fried Chicken in the Mall of the Emirates Food Court, I covered my summer clothes with a colorful ski outfit and was up the escalator ski and poles in hand. After a few runs, it was off for hot chocolate at the adjacent St. Moritz Café and the perfect end to my Mideast odyssey.

As a woman traveling solo in the Mideast, I followed two practices I find work for me globally:

1. I arrange for an airport pick-up before leaving home. In certain countries, taxis may not be safe whether for men or women. Having navigated a low-grade civil war in sub-Sahara Africa, I learned to ask my hotel what they recommended, especially when traveling alone. In major capitals when arriving in day time, I often opt for public transportation, especially trains/subways or catching a cab.

2. I choose a 5 star hotel that has multiple restaurants options ideally both inside the hotel and nearby. Alternatively, when it was affordable as I found in Cairo, I took a driver who waited for me or in Lisbon caught a taxi round trip to try out top restaurants. In any new location, I always ask a lot of questions, especially to get local women’s opinions, before strolling alone after dark.

While in the Mideast, I did also have 2 additional rules of thumb:

1. Although I would be both sightseeing and attending a business conference in very hot desert weather, I wore long-sleeved shirts with slacks.

2. When I was the only woman alone in local restaurants, I always chose a seat/table right next to other pairs, groups of women, couples or families.

5 tips I have learned trying to combine business with pleasure:

1. To save on airfare, be sure to check out connecting flights allowing for extended layovers.

2. Where possible, take care of business first, especially if complex flights can cause lengthy delays.

3. Arrive over the weekend and make a trial run to locate your meetings’ fastest routes. Even with a GPS, it is easy to run into problems. In one city abroad, I found massive construction in the area surrounding my first meeting. Even walking, it was almost impossible to get through, and street addresses were obscured by the construction scaffolding. In another foreign city, I discovered when I arrived at an appointment that the outside door was locked, and I had trouble reaching anyone inside via my mobile phone.

4. Fly in or carry on a suit or an appropriate business look in case your luggage does not arrive on time.

5. Set multiple alarms on a travel clock, on your mobile phone and with the hotel operator. Even in top hotels, I have had a missed wake-up call or room service error before a flight for a quick day trip. (If you cannot function without coffee or breakfast, have a backup plan, as needed, if room service fails to appear.)

The key is to plan ahead where possible and have some time to survey your destination. Otherwise, a video conference in lieu of a face-to-face meeting may be a better value.

How to Make a Business Trip Run Smoothly: Five Tips to Live By

Business trips are already stressful. Business men seem to be constantly on the phone as they arrange their day around important meetings, struggle to guarantee that they have the proper transportation arrangements to and from every single airport and then they still have to prepare for the actual business meetings. There are quite a few things that can cause unnecessary stress on a business trip, but living by these five tips will help every trip run a little bit more smoothly.

Airport transportation

Some limo services offer worldwide service, which can be a huge relief. No matter where a business person travels, he can rest assured that a reliable limo will be waiting to pick him up from the airport. Most airports also offer shuttle services if they are located nearby the hotel. Having a chauffeur is a nice convenience, but it is not always necessary. Many businesses in the rental car industry offer convenient pick up services as well.

Making sure that reliable transportation from the airport to the hotel may not seem like a big deal, but it can save the day if there is not a taxi service available.

Business Amenities

After leaving the airport and stepping out of a limo, most people on a business trip want to relax. By the time that they realize that the hotel does not offer what they need, it is too late to get a refund, and this will cause some unnecessary stress.

Most hotels offer at least a few business amenities, such as high-speed internet. The less common ones, like a fax machine, may not be available for public use. Individuals that are about to take a business trip can help eliminate this stress by calling to check that hotels have everything that will be needed before making a reservation. If conference calls will be done via Skype or another similar program, it is important to ask about how fast the internet is as well.

A Flight Bag

Right above the importance of reliable limo services is how comfortable the flight itself is. Instead of being one of those people who boards the plane and then has to search around for everything that they will need on a long flight, be one of the people who has everything that they will need in a bag that will fit under the seat.

Make sure to include reading material, headphones, a phone charger and a laptop if it will be used. For those that are going on their first business trip, take the time to do some research about what you should, and should not, bring.

Eating

Eating before getting on a plane will mean that there is more time for sleep. Simply boarding a plane and then drifting away in a peaceful sleep to wake up and only have an hour left to go sounds like pure heaven, and this is what most people should strive for. This can help to drop jet lag, and leave a person ready to go as soon as the plane lands.

Eating is something that should also be considered while on the business trip. Individuals are encouraged to take the time to check out nearby restaurants before they book a hotel room, and call to ask about services at the hotel that they plan to stay at. If there is a current renovation project going on that eliminates room service for guests, it will be nice to know before arriving.

Business trips seem to be known for being stressful and full of eating in a limo while talking on the phone on the way to a meeting. Business trips can be made that much easier by following some of these business tips, like making sure to pick reliable limo services and sleeping on the plane.

Business Travel Agents Tips: Things to Know About Flight Delay Compensation

You arrive at the airport, your flight is delayed or even cancelled? Flight delay compensation is an important topic travellers should know about, especially when it comes to business travel. Whether it is due to bad weather such as snow, a security alert or a strike, there are many reasons for flight delays and cancellations. But whatever the reason, it means you have to stay involuntarily longer at the airport before you can travel to your destination or back home. Plus, you may be entitled to flight delay compensation or a refund. Here are some important rules helping you to make sure you are not left out of pocket and make the most of the involuntarily gained extra time.

1. Know your rights

From getting refunded for all your food and drink expenses to getting a hotel or some alternative transportation, you should know what you are entitled to. So, if your flight is cancelled or heavily delayed, you’re protected by the Denied Boarding Regulation (EU rule 261/2004 and repealing regulation (EEC) No 295/91). Unless ‘extraordinary circumstances’ apply, you can claim a financial flight delay compensation for cancelled or heavily delayed flights totalling:

€250 (£210) for inter-EU flights of 930 miles or less

€400 (£330) for flights between 930 and 1,860 miles

€600 (£500) for other journeys (long-haul flights)

It applies for EU flights, which includes any flights leaving from or arriving at an EU airport with an EU-based airline. Plus, your compensation may be reduced by 50% depending on flight distance and the ultimate arrival time. This means the reduced compensation applies to short haul flights within two hours, to medium haul flights within three hours and to long haul flights within four hours. But remember, flight delay compensation is only applicable if it is the airline’s fault (i.e. no act of God applies, such as natural catastrophes, incl. earth quakes, volcanoes or bad weather or political unrest). To claim flight delay compensation simply write to your airline stating the flight number, date, length of delay and reason for the claim. Sometimes airlines try offering you vouchers as flight delay compensation, but you don’t have to accept them and can ask for a cash refund instead. If your airline refuses to compensate you, contact the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for support and advice. Note, technical faults, unless they result from events which, by their nature or origin, are not part of the normal exercise of the airline, do not count as extraordinary circumstances.

Your right to reimbursement comes into play, if the delay is a minimum of five hours. You should get a reimbursement within seven days, for the cost of the flight ticket, the part of the trip not travelled and the parts already travelled, provided they are then useless. Where applicable, you may be even entitled to the earliest possible return flight to your departure destination or rerouting along with a refund.

During the travel disruption you should receive assistance from your airline, including food, drinks, two free telephone calls, faxes or emails, as well as accommodation and transport transfers to and from the hotel – where applicable. This is regardless of the reason for the delay/cancellation.

2. Networking

It’s always good to make friends, so why not use the downtime for extending your network. Try to see the positive of dealing with flight delays. Seen from a practical level, you may be able to share costs, e.g. for a taxi into town. Also being friendly towards the airport staff may prove helpful. Especially in these kinds of situations they encounter a lot of stressed and unfriendly customers, although the delay/cancellation is none of their personal fault. If you are friendly they are much more likely to help you, maybe even give you some extra advice.

3. Gate-crash the airport lounges

Those of you flying Business Class or being members of corporate airline loyalty or frequent flyer schemes will already be in the VIP lounge enjoying a nice drink and peanuts. It’s a far quieter and relaxed environment. This may be the best option when having to wait for a delayed flight. But if you are neither flying business class, nor a member of a loyalty scheme, be advised that in some cases these lounges are not exclusive and you may be able to access them for a fee of around £20. This could be much cheaper than getting your food and drink from an airport bar.

Furthermore, desk agents in these lounges are often authorised to make fast, last-minute reservations’ changes and there are usually far fewer people ahead of you in the queue. At least you can enjoy the Wi-Fi and free snacks (or booze!) while you have to wait. In the case of a flight cancellation or major delay, and you are at the airport immediately contact the airline you are travelling with. To change the ticket and get advice on the available options, it is best to go to your airline’s ticket desk, as soon as possible. Your business travel management company should continually provide pro-active telephone support throughout, as Flightline Travel does.

What are your top tips for dealing with flight delays and cancellations?

© Copyright Flightline Travel Management Ltd. All rights reserved. All amounts and prices stated are correct at time of publication.

Flightline Travel Management – Pro-active business travel support services for corporate travellers