Five Reasons To Attend The Business Travel Conference 2017

The Business Travel Conference (TBTC) – happening in London between September 19 and 20 – is an unmissable opportunity for travel managers looking to make new connections and get some insider tips from those in the know.

Previous delegates describe TBTC as the only conference to attend if you’re in the industry! Here are five reasons you should come along too…

 

1. Learn the Tricks of the Trade

TBTC is a chance for anyone tasked with organizing company travel to absorb new information and gain the skills and knowledge needed to help them overcome the hurdles they face in their day-to-day roles.

This year’s program includes sessions on getting to grips with travel technology; how to get the best accommodation rates; negotiating airfares; and getting your rail fare spend under control.

 

2. Network!

Ok, so it’d be strange if you went to an event like this and didn’t expect to mix with other delegates and exhibitors. But the key difference with TBTC is that there are specific networking opportunities throughout the event; held in smaller and more friendly settings. You’ll be able to meet all the suppliers from the exhibition – including airlines, hotels, and travel technology specialists. Oh, and don’t forget: there’s also a free lunch and evening drinks reception (if that sort of thing appeals…!)

 

3. Over 60 Leading Business Travel Suppliers

Whatever kind of travel booking you’re responsible for within your company, you’re guaranteed to find plenty of leads to follow up on from the exhibitors at this year’s conference. Take a look at the exhibitor list here. You won’t get hounded or be given the hard sell, just the opportunity to walk around the exhibition and meet with the suppliers you want to connect with.

 

4. It’s Free!

A two-day pass (or one day if you can’t tear yourself away from the office) for the entire event is free for anyone who works in business travel planning. Last year more than 80% of attendees said they would be able to save their company more money as result of attending TBTC – and more than 90% said they took away ideas and knowledge that they could put into practice when back at work. Not bad for a free pass!

 

5. Come and Meet Arbitrip!

You’ve been reading the blog – maybe you’ve even learned a thing or two from us (!). But now we want you to come meet us in the flesh. Yup, we’re gonna be at TBTC too, so don’t be a stranger! Come talk to us and find out how we can help you manage your travel, save your company money when booking online and increase your travelers’ satisfaction.

We can talk you through how our technology works (if that’s your bag), give you advice, and explain the benefits using us will give your company. So do stop by and say hi: we look forward to meeting you!

You can find out more details about the conference here.

 

Leave Your Heart in San Francisco

SF, Frisco, San Fran, City by the Bay, Golden Gate City. What makes this Northern California city unique is its mix of old and new. Home to tech giants like Twitter, Uber, Airbnb, and Fitbit (to name just a few) as well as some of the West Coast’s most historic sites, the city manages to effortlessly manage the vintage and the innovative with flair and style.

Unlike many other US cities, San Francisco is compact enough to explore on foot. Its easy-to-use grid system means that even the most geographically-challenged amongst us will be able to get around. Don’t underestimate those hills though: even the gym bunnies amongst you will struggle. But hop on one of the famed red cable cars for the steeper climbs and you’ll be rewarded with some astounding views.

If you find yourself in SF on business with a few hours to spare, be sure to get those calf muscles pumping and take in everything this cultural gem has to offer.

The ‘Abridged’ Version

So where else to start but the famous Golden Gate Bridge? The 2.7 km icon connects the City with Marin County and there really is no other way to cross the bridge other than on foot. Or if you’re feeling ultra sporty, hire a bike. Stop at the many viewing points en route and take in the gorgeous views. Be warned, it gets windy up there!

Prison break

You know you want to! I’m talking about Alcatraz. Don’t question why you want to see it, just do it. Jump on a ferry at Fisherman’s Wharf and take in the most famous former prison in the world. Once home to Al Capone, a visit to ‘The Rock’ has a tendency to linger in your imagination.

Pier-to-pier

Once back at Fisherman’s Wharf, immerse yourself in tourist hell (or heaven!) and soak up the atmosphere. Purchase at least one item of tourist tat then head out to Pier 39 and eat seafood and visit the sunbathing sea lions.

On a Mission

For the literary buffs amongst you, head over to the Mission District where you’ll be rewarded with a plethora of independent bookshops. A great (and far less taxing) way to spend a couple of hours browsing if you want something less energetic.

Worked up an appetite?

Whatever you have a taste for, you won’t be disappointed. Looking to impress clients? Book a table at Michelin-Starred Commonwealth in the Mission District, a neighborhood farm to table restaurant that won’t fail to excite your taste buds.

If that’s not your thing, line up for Burma Superstar, close to Golden Gate Park. Take advantage of the free hot tea as you wait in line for traditional Burmese family cooking.

The food truck religion is strong in SF. Enjoy cheap but delicious eats from just about every corner of the globe.

The City by the Bay is all about mixing business and pleasure, go with the same mentality and you won’t be disappointed.

 

Vancouver, Eh?

Vancouver is a place of contrasts. Frequently referred to as one of the world’s most livable cities, it’s definitely got a lot going for it. It seems to have everything in balance: urban life with rural tranquility; a diverse ethnic mix; upmarket tastes without being pretentious or snobbish.

 

No surprise then, that it’s becoming something of a tech/startup hub. Hootsuite is based in the city and Slack was founded here, plus more and more companies are looking to set up a base here as talented people gravitate towards Vancouver’s mild climate, outdoor lifestyle, and Canada’s more relaxed immigration laws.

 

However, let’s not be coy: Vancouver’s expensive. And while the Canadian dollar’s relatively weak against the £, €, and US$, things aren’t as cheap as you’d imagine. But for work travelers, it’s a great city to visit clients, network, and socialize in. If you’re working remotely for a few days, you’ll be spoilt for choice given the number of cafes and coffee shops there are.

 

Vancouver’s neighborhoods are, as in most North American cities, well-defined. There’s Chinatown, which is about as authentic a place you’ll find outside of Beijing; the neighboring Eastside, which is one of the poorest places in Canada; trendy suburbs like Yaletown and Kitsilano; and well-to-do Gastown, right in the heart of the city. Here, aside from tourist traps like the much-admired Steam Clock, you’ll discover some great coffee shops like Timbertrain and fancy-yet-unfussy eateries like The Greedy Pig — perfect places to grab an artisan sandwich or a nitro cold brew coffee with clients when they want to get out of the office.

 

Downtown itself, as you’d expect, has everything from shopping malls to convenience stores and fast food joints to fine-dining. If you’re looking to drop some serious cash, head to the Pacific Centre mall. But if it’s food and drinks you’re after, try Malone’s Social Lounge and Taphouse. A nice informal setting to enjoy a beer or two with colleagues or more relaxed clients. There’s an extensive menu of craft ales, lagers, and cider — including some exotically-titled delights such as ‘Electric Unicorn’ (!).

 

You’ll also see Tim Hortons everywhere in Vancouver! This coffee chain is something of an institution in Canada: one that you’ll find (literally) on every street corner. While Tim Hortons is held dear to Canadians (apparently it’s where kids are taken for a post-hockey practice treat), to the outsider, the hype may seem a little farfetched. But it’s a great alternative to fancier coffee establishments. Its main staple is ‘coffee with cream and sugar’ — though it has branched out to lattes. And there are few other places you’ll get a filling breakfast for less than $7 (Canadian).

 

And while you’re in Canada, you have to try ‘poutine’. While the prospect of French fries smothered in cheese curds and gravy may not be the healthiest option you can have on a work trip, put it down to a ‘cultural experience’! Smoke’s Poutinerie is an established chain, but you’ll dig its quirky humor and the bewildering array of toppings. Get a medium size box and you’ll still be too full to eat for days after. You travel manager will no doubt praise your dining choices: but it’s not one for schmoozing clients.

 

Got a few hours on a sunny afternoon? What better way to while away some spare time than to explore Vancouver on foot. Tip: wear comfortable shoes. This trek covers a good few kilometers…

 

Stroll along the Sea Wall from the Waterfront Skytrain station downtown (right by the Canada Place) heading toward Stanley Park; an idyllic urban oasis that’s loved by both Vancouverites and visitors. As you veer around the Sea Wall you’ll find yourself in Coal Harbour, where you’ll get some great views of upmarket North Vancouver — but take a few minutes just to watch the seaplanes take off and land. Quite quickly, the city high rises give way to towering pine and cedar trees, and as you walk (or cycle — and there are plenty of bikes for hire) on round to the right you’ll soon discover a glade filled with Totem Poles; fantastic examples of a centuries-old First Nations art-form.

 

From this side of the park you’ll have some stunning views of downtown itself, and further on round, you’ll get a better view of Lion’s Gate Bridge; a landmark in its own right; linking the city proper with its well-to-do northern suburbs. Hang a left from the Sea Wall, and deviate on to the lush greenery. You’ll find yourself heading in the direction of the Stanley Park Pavilion, and eventually you’ll stumble upon the Vancouver Aquarium (great if you have time).

 

Keep heading west, skirting the Lost Lagoon, and soon enough you’ll discover Second Beach. A great place to picnic, barbecue, and swim in the slightly salty open air pool (the beach itself is more for chilling and kayaking). Here, you can pick up the tail end of the Sea Wall, which leads you all the way to Inuksuk; a statuesque Inuit monument. From there you can hop back downtown for a little retail therapy or enjoy an iced coffee or a late brunch at Cactus Club overlooking English Bay.

 

If you’re sent to Van City, you’re sure to have a great time. Book an extra day to take in some of the sights if possible. It’s fairly small and all the major sights are within walking distance. Just remember to take an umbrella with you — like other Northwestern cities (e.g. Seattle), Vancouver gets its fair share of rain (!).

Plane Sailing

They say ‘getting there is half the fun’… Really? REALLY?? Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, let’s be honest: air travel no longer holds the exotic appeal that it once did. It really is to be endured, no matter how many bells, whistles, and in-flight entertainment packages airlines try to cram into increasingly shrinking seats. But seasoned travelers have their own air travel hacks to help make your sky ride a little less bumpy.

Here are a few of our favorites:

 

Pack Light

You never know what you’re going to need/want to bring back with you, and airlines can be pretty militant about luggage weight restrictions and will often charge if your checked baggage goes over the limit. So take less than you think you need. Chances are you won’t use half of what you bring anyway. And consider investing in a digital luggage scale. Just to be on the safe side.

 

Stick To Carry Ons

Carry on bags are pretty hefty themselves these days, so while you should always check with your airline what bag size is acceptable as a carry-on; make the most of the opportunity. If nothing else, it’ll save you stacks of valuable time. Because who enjoys waiting at luggage carousels?

 

Hustle (Nicely) For Upgrades

Always ask. It can’t hurt. And don’t wait until you arrive at the check-in desk. Request one when you book your ticket. Or even at the gate. Yup, you can leave it that late. If you’re dressed nicely, polite to staff, and there are spaces left, you’re in with a good chance of getting a decent seat.

 

Pick Your Meals Wisely

Want to get fed first during the flight? Request a special meal. Airlines will pretty much bend to any dietary requirement, and when it comes to doling them out, cabin crew tend to tackle these meals first. Keen to avoid in-flight meals altogether? There are usually stacks of options in the departure lounge, but if in doubt, check out where airline folks eat. Also, opt for protein over carbs (takes longer to digest, so you feel full for longer). And avoid fizzy drinks. Always choose bottled water.

 

Stay As Active As Possible

Being stuck in a cramped seat for hours at a time can stiffen up your joints, so every so often walk along the aisles to stretch your legs (avoiding drinks/meals/clean up/take off/landing). Rolling a tennis ball under your feet is another great way to keep those joints and muscles active. Just resist the urge to throw it at the guy in front of you when he reclines his seat just as you fire up the laptop…

 

Sanitize To The Point Of Insanity

Ever had a bad cold after a long haul flight? No, it wasn’t the air conditioning or temperature controls that did it — it was sharing the same recycled air as 140 other passengers for eight hours straight. It might seem like there’s not a lot you can do to remedy germ-sharing at 10,000 ft, but you’re wrong. Be sure to bring a small bottle of hand sanitizer and a tube of over-the-counter antibiotic ointment: like Bacitracin. Sanitize your hands and coat the inside of both nostrils (!) lightly with a dab of ointment. Sounds weird, but it works really well.

 

Whether you’re in-flight for the long or short-haul, try to relax as much as humanly possible. What matters is that you’re suitably refreshed and rested when you reach your final destination.


Ready for takeoff?

Berlin: Alles Ist Gut!

If you’ve never been to Berlin, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. It’s freaking beautiful. It oozes charm, history, diversity, and modernity. Often in the same hundred yards.

 

It’s the perfect fusion of the past, present, and future. A forward-thinking creative city that’s actively courting innovators and entrepreneurs from all over the world. But it’s also making darn sure it doesn’t forget its past.

 

You’ll see remnants of the infamous Berlin Wall all across the central part of the city — the Mitte district. Large metal bars that once supported the divisive monument act as pertinent reminders of more troubled times; though nowadays they’re casually flanked by green spaces, upmarket shopping areas, and ice cream parlors.

 

If you’re lucky enough to go to Berlin with work, plan ahead. There’s stacks to see, do, eat, take in. Try and get a day or two to explore. Seriously, take some leave. You won’t be sorry.

 

Down To Business

Berlin’s fast establishing itself as a startup city, so there’s lots going of innovation happening everywhere you look. Places like Factory Berlin are leading the way in bringing creative, tech, and business minds together, in a former brewery which once stood directly behind the eastern side of the Berlin Wall.

 

This Google-backed entrepreneurial hub opened in 2014 and today houses SoundCloud, Udacity, Zendesk, and TechStars (among others), as well as a co-working space, a 3D printing workshop, and a restaurant. The perfect venue for any trendy tech client meeting.

 

Getting Around

Forget Uber (it’s complicated…) taking a tram (S-Bahn) or underground train (U-Bahn) (or a combination of the two) is a great way to save company cash. You can even buy a travel pass giving you access to Berlin’s entire public transport system for the duration of your stay (you can buy one on arrival at either airport’s tourist information desk).

 

Berlin’s totally walkable too (see ‘Sightseeing’ below). And pushbikes are popular. The city even has its own public bike sharing scheme, which visitors are more than welcome to take advantage of too. What better way to zip across town between meetings?

 

On Expenses

German food by definition is quite meat-heavy and dense. But there are several specialties you should try — namely bratwurst (sausage), currywurst (yup, a variation of the former), and, of course, schnitzel (deep fried pork or veal loin in breadcrumbs). And then, of course, there’s the beer…

 

While there are loads of places you could get a decent version of any of these delicacies, for fun and fast food, check out Charlie’s Beach — an urban oasis, complete with sand, a beach bar, good choice of food trucks (do try the East German Currywurst) right on the spot where tensions between the East and West once ran high — Checkpoint Charlie. It’s very informal so save it for colleague chilling rather than client schmoozing. It even has its own deck chairs; ideal for lounging and sipping some suds in. Feet up.

 

A little further out, in the city’s trendy Prenzlauer Berg district, you’ll find The Bird; a New York burger and steak joint. Don’t worry, it’s not just a home-from-home; this place has a subversive flavor all of its own. And a fantastic meaty menu that rivals any stateside eatery. A great place to dine with colleagues and clients.

 

But, if you want something really local and authentic… go for a doner kebab! Thanks to Berlin’s thriving Turkish population, the city’s the perfect place to enjoy a giant pitta filled with crunchy sweet salad and chargrilled lamb. Add garlic sauce. And chili sauce. Enjoy.

 

Sightseeing

If time’s of the essence, here’s one walking tour you should definitely take — preferably on a warm summer evening…

 

Take the U-Bahn to Brandenburg Gate (stopping to admire its sheer size and imperial exuberance) and saunter slowly through the wide open Unter Den Linden boulevard (literally translates as Under the Linden Trees) bypassing the tourist traps and the open air eateries, all the way to the banks of the picturesque River Spree. Along the way you’ll take in the grounds of historic Humboldt University, the State Opera house, the Lustgarten public grounds, and the Berlin Cathedral — in all their crumbling splendor.

 

Once you’re across the bridge, keep walking. And you’ll soon find yourself with a more modern perspective of the city. Head for the Berliner Fernsehturm — an iconic space age-style TV tower built in 1969 — before veering towards Alexanderplatz, the main shopping and tourist center.

 

Got more time? Begin your walk with a quick trip to nearby Tiergarten park or take a brief look at the Reichstag (the seat of Germany’s government). Or end your walk with a dash around some of Alexanderplatz’s numerous retail outlets.

10 Things You’ll Never Hear A Travel Manager Say

…about upgrades

“Sure you can stay at the Hilton! It’s a *little* out of our normal price range, but what the heck — it’s nearly Christmas after all!”

 

…about flights

“Now, make sure you keep your seatbelt fastened at all times. Even when the stewardess says it’s ok to move around the cabin. Stay strapped in. Or our insurance is invalid.”

 

…about bookings

“You’re on your own with this one. I don’t need the hassle. Just keep it under $1,000. Or $2,000. Tops.”

 

…about expenses

“Look, at the end of the day, you can claim for as much you need. Just make it look like the client wanted it.”

 

…about the company travel policy

“It’s kind of there as a failsafe. If things go wrong, I can use it to say ‘I told you so’. And I will. Believe me, I will.”

 

…about travel insurance

“So let me get this straight — you’re planning on snowboarding each morning? In Singapore? I *think* that’s covered by the company policy…yup — that’s fine.”

 

…about getting around

“You want to use Uber? Fine. Take your chances. There’s always the bus. Actually… use Uber(!).”

 

…when you miss your connecting flight

“Screw it — you’re in Amsterdam! Live a little. There are plenty of flights back!”

 

…to the CFO

“You’re WHAT?? Raising the travel budget by 20%?? Are you in-freakin-sane?! You really expect me to keep that busy?”

 

…to your line manager

“We need to spend it all to keep next year’s budget up. Are you sure you can’t keep him in Pittsburgh for an extra five days? There’s loads to do there…”

London Calling: Pass The Time On Your Company’s Dime

London. It’s an entire nation in its own right (with an 8 million-strong population: about the same as Switzerland). It’s got a truly international, multicultural vibe that’s unlike anywhere else in Britain. Even in the face of adversity and uncertainty, it remains an important global city for all kinds of businesses.

 

If you’re lucky enough to be shipped over there for work — even if just for a few short days — you’re gonna want to make the most of it. Though there’s *lots* to see and do, here are a few pointers to whet your appetite… some ways to balance both business and pleasure.

 

Fancy a stroll?

If you’re in London for work, you’ll no doubt find yourself in or around the city’s buzzing West End area. If you’ve got a little spare time on your hands, why not go for a wander?

 

Start at Trafalgar Square — pose for a pic on a lion and gaze longing up at Nelson’s Column. Then trundle up Haymarket to Piccadilly Circus. Walk from here up glamourous Regents Street to Oxford Circus, then turn right up Oxford Street to get a glimpse the hustle and bustle of London’s busiest shopping area.

 

Walk all the way to Tottenham Court Road, the heart of the Theatre District, and then turn right onto Charing Cross Road, where you can head back toward the Square, or meander off towards Covent Garden for a bite to eat or a drink with colleagues.

 

Here a bridge, there a bridge…

Traversing the Thames is a tactical necessity for most in London — but it’s also a pretty nice (and free) way to get some great views of the stunning skyline; especially if you’ve got a little spare time.

 

Westminster Bridge — Want a panoramic view of the Thames, the Houses of Parliament, and Big Ben? Then you must swing by and take a look.

 

London Bridge — Despite the name, it’s not the most impressive of London’s river crossings, but it remains the Gateway to the Square Mile (the original City of London) and offers some panoramic views right along the Thames.

 

Tower Bridge — Tower Bridge is most definitely the best of the bunch and well worth a visit if you’re short on time. You can even take a look inside at the inner workings of this marvelous feat of Victorian architecture.

 

Millennium Bridge — A modern architectural marvel, this Norman Foster-designed pedestrian bridge links historic St Paul’s Cathedral to the Tate Modern art gallery.

 

How the other half live

Writer Samuel Johnson, once said that ‘When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.’

 

True. Dat. Though by all accounts, what you can afford in London very much depends on your salary band (!). Yup, it’s expensive once you get there (but hey, you’re on company expenses, right?) and even if the true pleasures escape your pay packet, you can still ‘play tourist’.

 

Head out to West London suburbs like Kensington, Chelsea, and Fulham to see where the real money is. It’s where you’ll likely find the old celebrity, oh you know, sipping espresso beneath Gucci shades (maybe…). The King’s Road is chock full of designer boutiques and nearby Knightsbridge is home to renowned upmarket department store, Harrods, a destination in itself: great for casual browsers as well as serious shoppers.

Green and pleasant

Need some greenery to escape the urban environs? Head for Hyde Park where you’ll find 350 acres of open space and several famous landmarks; including the Serpentine and Speakers Corner. Or if you’ve time, trek down to Richmond Park in the trendy southwest suburbs — where the deer still roam free.

 

Alternatively, there’s Greenwich Park in the southeast corner, near the Millennium Dome/O2 Stadium. Alongside greener pastures, you find this area steeped in history: sights include the Royal Observatory; the Prime Meridian which divides the Earth’s East and West hemispheres; and the world’s sole surviving tea clipper, the Cutty Sark.

 

Food for thought

Britain’s not known for the quality or diversity of its national cuisine (…), but this is London, so you’re pretty much spoilt for choice everywhere you turn.

 

One thing Britain does very well is Asian food (Indian/Bangladeshi/Pakistani) — particularly the eastern part of London around Brick Lane, where you’ll find some of the best subcontinental cuisine this side of Bangalore. Cinnamon comes highly recommended — perfect for a treat or a relaxed evening meal with colleagues/clients.

 

Chinatown, as the name suggests, is full of Eastern promise and home to numerous culinary outlets which vary in price and quality. But if the prospect of standard takeout fare doesn’t appeal, why not try Opium (it’s a restaurant!)? Classy cocktails and delicious dim sum in serene surroundings? Whyever not! Nice for schmoozing a client or two — if that’s on the cards.

 

Taking the Heathrow Express train back to the airport? Get to Paddington Station earlier and swing by a sassy little Lebanese eatery call Ya Hala!, just sprinting distance from the platform. Opt for some tabbouleh, shawarma, and baba ghanoush if you’re stuck on what to have. Reasonably priced too. Great for a light lunch.

Or you could just opt for cheap and cheerful and head for the nearest ‘chippy’. Fish and chips are a British institution. Deep fried cod loin and chunky fries: topped off with mushy peas and a pickled egg. Enjoy in the drizzling rain, huddled under an umbrella. What better way to spend some quality time with colleagues?

Raise Your Game: Travel Management In A High Growth Business

 

Success! Your company’s just raised a fresh round of funding. Things are about to get very busy, right… about…now! When there’s money in the bank, growth can happen very quickly. It goes with the territory. Startups are under an obligation to demonstrate tangible growth to their investors, which almost always means a fresh string of new hires — and even setting up new offices overseas: usually where the tech talent’s cheap and plentiful.

 

For argument’s sake, let’s presume your management team are now going to be traveling back and forth between Toronto and Bengaluru with alarming regularity — and that you, as travel manager, are tasked with making sure things run smooth as possible for all travelers concerned.

Don’t let this sudden surge in activity overwhelm you! Here are a few things to keep in mind when your company experiences a growth spurt:

 

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
Booking flights is simple enough (mostly…) but if you’re tasked with literally getting someone from door-to-door, you need to consider complete transport solutions. It’s not just a case of flying from city to city; think about travel to and from train stations, and weigh up whether it’s to easier to take a taxi or hire a car. It’s also easy to spend hours comparing fares — often just to save a short amount of change. Keep in mind that both speed and efficiency are equally as important as cost.

 

Scout Ahead
Probably won’t happen, but it’d be nice to think you could take a little research trip out to your new offices, right? Just to see what’s going on in the local area? Maybe another time. Your next best bet is to hit Google and figure out what amenities are nearby. Think about the kind of things people use regularly — gyms, restaurants, bars, coffee shops — as well as more practical ‘business’ stuff (printing shops, IT support, meeting spaces). Try not to get too jealous; printing shops are pretty much alike the world over…

 

Home From Home
You’ll also need to find somewhere for your employees to stay when they come to town. Location is everything. If the office is in the city center, then you’ll need to accept that you’ll end up paying more for hotels than if it were out of town. That’s just how it is. But when perusing what’s available, consider the things business travelers actually need. Forget fancy hotel restaurants and 24/7 concierge services; think WiFi, breakfast, desk space in their room. Don’t assume every hotel will offer these things as part of the deal. And while we’re talking about pricing, be sure to ask your preferred hotels if they’re open to negotiating a discounted company rate.

 

Streamline Everything
When attending to the small task of organizing everyone’s travel (!), make life easier for yourself by managing all of your hotel bookings in one place. Use too many self-booking engines and things can get quickly complicated. There are plenty of free tools out there — take our own smart travel platform for example: you can monitor all of your upcoming trips from one easy-to-use dashboard; as well as manage hotel reservations, generate reports, and get immediate activity insights — when you need them.

 

Ultimately, productivity’s a nice problem to have. By making sure you have all the information your travelers need at your fingertips, you’ll quickly raise your game and keep on top of the challenges rapid growth has on your part of the business.

The Big Apple: Squeezed

NYC. And you’ve hit the ground running. You’re there for work. But don’t worry — you can still squeeze some grade A goodness into your busy schedule: even if you’ve got back-to-back meetings, plus lunches and dinners to schmooze at!

Whether it’s your first time in the Big Apple, or your fifth visit this year, the city that never sleeps is always full of surprises. You’ll no doubt find yourself in Manhattan, but every borough or neighborhood has its own characteristics and charm. Wherever you end up staying, rest assured that there will be something *amazing* right on your hotel doorstep.

Here are few bite-size chunks of New York we’d recommend if time is of the essence:

 

Highlights

  • Chrysler Building lobbyThink this iconic skyscraper looks great from the outside? Wait ‘til you step inside! Savor its astonishingly beautiful architecture and learn all about its rich, intriguing, and entertaining history. A great alternative to the Empire State Building — which is usually packed with tourists.
  • Staten Island free ferry Want the very best views of the Manhattan Skyline and the Statue of Liberty? How about for free? Then get yourself on the Staten Island ferry! This five-mile, 25-minute crossing is no tourist trap — it’s genuinely used by commuters. It just happens to be one of the world’s best boat trips too.
  • New York Transit Museum Store Want to take home some affordable-yet-tasteful keepsakes or gifts? Then head to the New York Transit Museum Store (there are two — one next to the Grand Central Station Manager’s office and another in Brooklyn).
  • Chelsea Market The beating heart of the West Village — for shopping, dining, and people watching. Well worth swinging by if you’re visiting Google (who have an office nearby) or arranging a lunch meeting at for, oh-you-know, a good few hours…

 

If you have time some more time

  • Wander into a hookah bar in Alphabet City. Babel and Holace are well regarded. And just to be clear, we said ‘hookah’. ?
  • Fan of Friends? Get an obligatory selfie in front of the apartment block where Ross, Rachel, Joey, etc ‘lived’ (it was actually filmed in LA…). On the corner of Bedford and Grove St in Greenwich Village.
  • At a loose end on a Tuesday evening in the Financial District? Head to Ulysses on Pearl St. for trivia night.

 

Eats

It’s pretty hard to starve in New York City. No matter what your budget you’ll find something decent on every block, but there are a few ‘must-try-once’ staples we’d recommend:

  • Grand Central Oyster Bar An upmarket setting in an iconic location that’s perfect for special indulgences and/or client dinners.
  • Burger Joint @ Le Parker Meridien The plush Le Parker Meridien Hotel houses a secret, no-frills, cash-only burger joint! Take a peek behind the red curtain in the lobby…
  • Russ & Daughters This 100-year-old Lower East Side institution is considered *the* place for authentic New York bagels. Breakfast meeting anyone?
  • Two Boots Pizza A quirky pizzeria that’s now branched out across the city. Head to the original restaurant on Avenue A for sheer authenticity. And the pizza’s pretty good too.
  • (Any) Sidewalk Hot Dog cart – No visit to New York is complete without sampling the city’s most famous street snack. Garnish with ketchup, mustard, and kosher dill pickle. Inhale. Yum.

 

Some final tips

  • Only use Uber/Gett/Lyft! Avoid paying over the odds for trips around town. Ditch Yellow Cabs for a car-hailing app. You’ll have bags more room and will even get to chat to the driver. A great alternative… unless you really need a fresh fix of that famous NY ‘cabbietude’.
  • Walk (like the traffic sign says). New York is a flat walkable city, so if you’re near the center — Times Square — everything’s within easy reach. Step outside and breathe it all in. But as in any big city, keep away from signs of trouble.
  • Forget using the hotel gym. How about an early morning run across the High Line? Since opening seven years ago, this mile and a half mile long elevated garden, built on a disused train track, has become a monument to urban renewal. What better way to see the city wake up and get the blood pumping?

Business Travel: Five Predictions For 2017

Now that the world’s safely made its transition into 2017, we figured it’d be a good time to start looking ahead to what could/might/will happen in the business travel world over the next 12 months.

(Got any other predictions? Let us know!)

 

Mixing business and pleasure

We’ve covered this before on our blog. Millennials are dominating the workplace. The upshot is that this generation typically wants to get more out of every trip they make — work trips included. Consequently, the boundaries between business and leisure travel continue to blur. And why not?

Which leads us neatly onto…

 

‘Sightdoing’ is the new sightseeing

While adding on a couple extra days to a work trip to do some sightseeing is easy enough (and nothing new), it seems many business travelers want to skip the usual tourist traps — opting for sightdoing rather than sightseeing. The rise of Airbnb-style accommodations and Uber taxi services reflect a need for more authentic ‘live like a local’ experiences. We’re almost certain to see more services like these cropping up across the travel sector in 2017.

 

Efficiency over luxury

Business travelers are increasingly willing to forgo access to traditional luxuries like room service, minibars, and a swanky in-house restaurant in favor of add-ons that’ll make their stay more productive. For example, having an on-site gym, a meeting room, or office space can make a difference. WiFi has become a non-negotiable. Considering 75% of business travelers consider it a necessity, WiFi is so commonplace it’s almost a non-issue for hotels, restaurants, and even airlines.

 

Lack of loyalty

Does anyone really collect Air Miles anymore? According to Conde Nast Traveler, points and loyalty schemes continue to be devalued; offering miles-for-money, rather than miles-for-travel. Plus the ascent of price comparison websites (or smart algorithm tools, like Arbitrip…) means that the schemes offered by longer established travel and hospitality brands don’t offer the same value they once did.

A lack of brand loyalty has leveled the playing field, meaning lesser-known airlines and hotels offering better value-for-money can now compete with the big hitters.

 

Travel tech gets sexy(ier)

As the whole Internet of Things space continues to blow up (in a good way), smart and connected devices will get even smarter and, er, more connected (!). Think carry-on luggage with built in USB ports, GPS, and portable Wi-Fi hotspots; taking travel advice from a chatbot; and plugging into VR for a pre-departure teaser. Oh, and expect to book flights via Alexa in the very near future. Yup, even for work trips.