School Bus Safety – What To Teach Your Kids

Over 20 million children nationwide ride the school bus every day. While school buses are regulated to some extent by federal law, not all states have the same safety standards. For example, New York, New Jersey, and Florida all have state laws in place which require school buses to have lap belts installed for student use. No federal law exists, however, which makes this a national standard. In fact, the debate over seat belts in school buses has been going on for years.

That being said, school buses do not have a bad safety record. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, school buses have some of the best safety records on the road in terms of deaths per distance traveled – just 0.2 deaths per 100 million miles. Furthermore, while some 30,000 people died in passenger vehicles crashes during 2004 alone, only 71 school bus passengers have died in accidents in the past eleven years combined.

Of course, as scintillating as the statistics may be, no one can argue that they are perfect. Children are society’s most valued resource, and it only takes the death of one child to make a significant impact on a family and community. One must also consider that many more children die as a result of being hit by buses than do while passengers on a bus. Even though bus drivers are required to undergo safety training and to take extra precautions due to the nature of their job, accidents happen. Nearby drivers may also be at fault. Despite laws which require motorists to stop for school buses, thousands upon thousands of irresponsible drivers ignore these laws daily, creating a serious safety risk for children getting off the bus.

As a parent, one of the best things you can do is reinforce bus safety guidelines with your child. Even though such rules may already be communicated in school, children often look to their parents to give the final word on issues. Be ready to answer questions your child may have, and make sure he or she understands how to be safe around buses.

– When waiting for the bus, stand several feet away from the curb. Do not enter the street or attempt to board the bus until it has come to a complete stop and opened its doors.

– While riding the bus, do not distract or otherwise aggravate the driver. Keep backpacks, lunchboxes, and other objects out of the aisle, as these create tripping hazards.

– When getting off the bus, use the handrail and watch your step. Try not to cross in front of the bus. If you must do so, walk several feet ahead of the bus and wait for the driver to signal for you to cross. Watch out for passing motorists when crossing the street.

– Never, under any circumstances, crawl under the bus. Not even to retrieve lost property.

Teaching your child to respect these safety guidelines can reduce the chance of a devastating accident on the bus, at the bus stop, or at school.

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.

Checks should be made out to the host agency or the travel agency. Even if the travel agency says its OK for your clients to make the check out to you, don’t do it. Get you commissions from the host agency, unless you have a Seller of Travel license. One you turn in your deposits and payments, the host agency or travel agency, will provide you with your commissions, based on your agreement.

Outside travel agents usually work under an Independent Contractor Agreement and are issued a 1099-MISC at the end of the year.

Improving Travel In Our National Parks: The Transportation Scholars Program

As the population of the United States continues to increase, so do transportation issues in our national parks. In the past three decades, park visitation has jumped more than 83 percent; almost all of these additional visitors have traveled to and through the parks in privately owned vehicles. Roads and parking facilities that were once adequate are now overwhelmed, especially during peak travel seasons.

The resulting congestion both degrades visitor experiences and imperils the natural and cultural resources the National Park Service (NPS) is committed to protecting. The result is further strain on an agency already stretched by small budgets and over-worked staff.

In 2001, in an attempt to help the NPS find innovative solutions to this problem, the National Park Foundation (NPF), the Ford Motor Company Fund, and Eno Transportation Foundation teamed up with the NPS to establish the National Park Transportation Scholars Program. Today the program continues under the guidance of the National Park Foundation, the National Park Service, the Federal Highway Administration, the Paul S. Sarbanes Transit in Parks and Technical Assistance Center, and the Eno Transportation Foundation.

The Transportation Scholars Program provides parks with transportation professionals who assist in developing transportation systems to help parks reduce traffic, congestion, and pollution while improving park visitor experiences. The Scholars Program pairs transportation professionals and graduate students with NPS staff seeking expert assistance with projects involving transportation planning and analysis, public outreach, intergovernmental coordination, environmental impact assessment, and other transportation-related tasks. Assignments generally begin in early summer and last either six or twelve months.

The Transportation Scholars Program provides the Park Service with much-needed transportation expertise at a fraction of the cost of hiring consultants or bringing on full-time staff. The Parks derive significant advantages from having Transportation Scholars located on-site versus using off-site assistance, and Scholars benefit parks by serving as single points of contact on transportation matters for consultants, contractors, and local communities. Scholars also bring a fresh perspective to the Park Service, while taking away valuable personal and professional experiences.

Jacqueline Lowey, Deputy Chief of Staff at the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) from 1996 to 1997, and Deputy Director of the NPS from 1997-2001, conceived the idea for the Transportation Scholars Program. “I think that transportation is absolutely key to protecting park resources,” said Lowey. “Transportation is the nexus of how you preserve parks while enabling visitors to experience the parks’ incredible natural and historical treasures now and in the future.”

To be eligible for consideration, parks must have a specific transportation-related project ready to begin or already underway. A committee made up of representatives from the NPS, the NPF, and the Eno Foundation reviews park applications that meet these basic requirements; final park selections are made by the NPF’s Board of Directors.

Parks with projects connected to well-developed, long-term transportation plans and involving innovative approaches to addressing park transportation issues are given priority. Examples of such innovative approaches include projects incorporating alternative transportation systems, community involvement, sustainable transportation, transportation master planning, multi-modal access, and non-motorized transportation. The scholar selection process is administered by the Eno Foundation, which assembles a selection panel with representatives from the NPS, the USDOT-Federal Lands Highway, and other organizations with a transportation focus. The panel reviews the project proposals of parks selected by the National Park Foundation, and matches the best qualified candidate with each project.

Transportation Scholars have come from a diverse range of educational and professional backgrounds; several have been working professionals in transportation-related fields. Others have been graduate students pursuing PhD or masters degrees in civil engineering, landscape architecture, urban planning, public policy, and business administration. Most Scholars are given assignments of between 3 months and 1 year, though some have worked for the same park for multiple years.

At the end of their term, the scholars are required to submit a report to the NPF detailing their accomplishments, providing guidance to NPS decision makers, and describing the significance of their findings for other park units and the larger transportation community.

Group Travel Planning and Traveling Tips

Thinking about traveling with a group? Group travel can be one of the most rewarding ways to see the world and visit popular destination sites; not only is the vacation care free, but you can make lifelong friends on the way! If you are planning on experiencing group travel for the first time soon, here are some traveling tips to help you have the best group vacation experience.

Have Group Will Travel

Did you know that many group travel companies love it when you already have an established group to travel with? If your church society, school class, hobby club, social group, or extended family and friends want to take a vacation to an exciting destination together, tour operators are happy to handle all the details so your group can travel simultaneously without the hassle of planning the vacation, gathering payments or handling travel documents. This is one of the best ways to travel with a group since you already know the members of the organization, share a common interest and nobody in the group has to handle the tedious details!

Finding the Best Group Travel Services for You

The best group vacation company is the one that meets your needs and provides you with the vacation experience you were looking for! There are all types of tour operators such as adventure travel services, group travel for singles, and senior group travel companies. First, pick a travel company that is specialized in the type of travel you want (unless you already have a group of people to travel with). Then make sure the tour operator is respected and well established in providing escorted vacations. Just because a company claims they have led groups before does not mean they are an established tour operator! Just think, you are leaving all the details and traveling plans up to someone else; that is a lot of responsibility and your happiness is on the line! Make sure you pick a respected, established travel company that is specialized in the type of travel you are looking for and has built relationships with its travel partners from years of doing business together.

International Traveling Tips

If it is your first time traveling overseas then learning about the country you are going to visit is important even when traveling in a group! Simple things like charging your phone might be challenging if you are traveling overseas. Escorted travel companies will try and alert you about native customs and give you international traveling tips, but you might also want to learn the basic “hello” and “goodbye” greetings as well as how to say “yes,” “no” and “thank you” in the native language of the countries you will visit. Don’t forget to pack your passport and any additional documentation you might need for medical purposes; it is good to bring the phone numbers of your home physician in case your medical history needs to be accessed while on vacation.

Unfortunately, going on vacation is a treat that most people only get to do once a year! Group travel can be very rewarding and allow you the comfort of experiencing a foreign land without the feeling of being alone. Tour operators also make sure you have the best travel experience possible so that your escorted vacation becomes your dream vacation.

Why the Timing is Right – Become a Travel Agent

Why the sudden surge in interest for the travel industry? Here are a few facts to consider when looking at a travel career as a career option.

Here are the facts:

  1. Travel is a $7 Trillion dollar industry expected to double to $14 Trillion within the next decade.
  2. This lucrative industry is currently growing 23% faster than the global economy.
  3. A key factor in this growth phenomenon is the stream of baby boomers that are retiring, or getting ready to retire.
  4. Baby boomers are retiring at a rate of 1 every 8 seconds.
  5. Travel was rated the number one thing these baby boomers intend to do when they do retire.

When considering a career in the travel industry, there are several options available for those looking to work from home.

There is an increased demand for qualified travel agents, due to the explosive growth of the industry as a whole. To become a certified travel agent, your options are not limited to the traditional brick and mortar setting. Many reputable travel agencies now offer options for the individual looking for a legitimate home based business.

While doing your due diligence in researching whether this industry is a fit for you, consider that there are excellent income opportunities available to work from home.

If your goal is to work as an independent travel agent from the comfort of your own home, consider working as an online travel agent.

Here are some companies that you can research, that offer excellent training. Some of the companies will hire you as an employee, while others offer the freedom of being your own boss, and setting your own hours.

Do your due diligence!

  1. Research each company carefully, and make it a priority to understand the compensation plan.
  2. Know what training is available, and whether the company will offer you the opportunity to become certified.
  3. Does the company have IATA, IATAN, ARC and CLIA affiliations?
  4. What is the initial investment? Are there additional costs associated for licensing, or becoming certified?
  5. If you are considering a work at home position, what kind of support is offered?

Are you a right fit for the travel industry?

Lets break down the qualifications that will determine whether you are suited for this challenging, but rewarding career.

Travel agents should have a minimum of a high school diploma.

Travel agents should have a love for travel. Enthusiasm and a love for working with people are crucial elements for success in this industry.

Travel agents should possess excellent multi-tasking and organization skills.

Great communication skills, as well as computer skills are essential.

Travel agents should possess a professional, courteous demeanor when working with suppliers, and the general public.

Attention to detail and accuracy are very important. Some sales ability is very helpful as well.

Now, the benefits of becoming a travel agent

The benefits of becoming a travel agent are many. I have listed the top three.

Travel agents save up to 80% on travel to many of the worlds exclusive resorts and destinations. These discounts include, but are not limited to:

Complimentary upgrades Hotel room upgrades and discounts

Car rental discounts and upgrades

Cruises

Theme park discounts

Vacation Packages

FAM trips, also known as familiarization trips. Suppliers want travel agents to have first hand knowledge of their facilities, so that the travel agent can make a recommendation based on personal knowledge and first hand experience.

The supplier will offer discounts and other perks, and roll out the red carpet to ensure the travel professional has an outstanding time.

Tax Benefits for individuals who chose to do this profession as an independent travel agent. Consult your CPA or tax professional for more information regarding this benefit.

Summary: How Do I become a travel agent?

In summary, becoming a travel agent can be a lucrative and rewarding career. Should you decide that you possess the skills and abilities needed for success, you can look forward to a promising career.

Get Started: Do a search online using the keywords: become a travel agent, how do I become a travel agent, or online travel agents.

How Cheap Budget Travel Online Experts Can Help You on All of Your Travel Needs

More considerable travel savings are given to the best travel planner. Oftentimes, the best planners are those who hire travel agents. There are lots of cheap budget travel online experts who can help you on your travel needs. With their help, you will be able to obtain the best travel deals, save money and prevent problems in your chosen destination.

A wealth of information on cheap travel deals is available on the Internet. Because of it, you can easily compare different travel deals and prices. Excellent budget travel online experts can not just offer you great perks that can help you save hundreds of dollars but they can also help you save time in planning and booking. They can also inform you which airlines or cruises charge the less and how you can avoid other travel charges.

Consulting and hiring affordable budget travel online experts is truly rewarding, since they could get special hotel accommodation rates and have the skills to negotiate a cheap vacation package that would enable you to save both time and money. Also because of their expertise, you will be able to have a more enjoyable vacation or travel experience. These people often have access to cheap hotel deals, airfares and other travel perks that average travelers cannot simply obtain on their own.

Oftentimes, most budget travel online experts get bombarded with lots of travel promotions that sometimes you can even get travel packages for as low as a hundred dollars. At a minimum, budget travel online experts can book you tickets to your specific destination. Most of them typically focused on air, sea and rail travel as well as on other options available. They may also prepare a car that you can rent along with other services like arranged arrival meals and airport or dock pickups.

Budget travel online experts also have more to offer. They can even provide recommendations regarding immunization and preventive medicine routines that may possibly be required when traveling in different countries. These experts can also be of great help in organizing passports and visas, ensuring that their clients move effortlessly during their trips.

Some budget travel online experts can also suggest and recommend language classes and other travel arrangements, while others may give helpful tips and hints for their clients to make sure their clients will be able to experience an enjoyable trip. A travel expert who specializes on things like business travel may take account of travel itineraries that are customized for business people like well-organized tours and accommodations that include services like Fax machine usage and Internet access.

Budget travel online experts usually sell themselves based on their abilities to organize intricate and enjoyable trips, whether it could be whirlwind tours or relaxing luxury cruises. With lots of websites offering the services of these experts, you can surely find one who is experienced and knowledgeable in all of the eccentricities of the travel scheme and a trip can at times run more slickly with an expert at the helm.

Finding Costa Rica Travel Info

If your wanderlust is pushing you towards the direction of Latin America, then it is very likely that you have looked at Central America. You probably have also looked at Costa Rica travel info for help in planning your vacation. If you are not all familiar with this beautiful tropical paradise then this is the place to start.

Costa Rica is located in the middle of Central America. It has Nicaragua to the north and Panama on its south; while it has the Pacific Ocean on it west and the Caribbean Sea on the east. The main regions of it are: Guanacaste, Nicoya Peninsula, Central Valley, Central Pacific, and Caribbean Costa Rica, Plains of the North, South Costa Rica and Cocos Island National Park.

It has two major international airports that service the country. One is the Juan Santamaría Airport which is accessible to 3 cities: Alajuela, Heredia and the capital city of San José. The other one is the Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport which is located in Liberia in the Guanacaste region of the country.

In addition there are lots of domestic airports scattered all over the country. There is one each in Limon City, Barra del Colorado, Tortuguero, Pavas, and La Fortuna. There is five domestic airports in South Puntarenas namely: Carate, Coto 47, Drake Bay, Puerto Jimenez, Palmar Sur, and Golfito. For North Puntarenas, they have the Tambor Domestic Airport and the Quepos Domestic Airport. For Guanacaste, aside from their international airport in Liberia, they also have domestic airports in Tamarindo, Nosara, Punta Islita, and Carrillo (Samara).

Another crucial bit of Costa Rica travel info is the location of the major cities of the country. There are the aforementioned and well known cities of Alajuela, San José, Tamarindo and Liberia. Cartago is the first capital of Costa Rica and Jaco is one of the famous surfing spots of the country. Other cities worth visiting are Pochote which is across Puntarenas, Parismina which is on the Tortuguero Canals, Puerto Limón which is the main country on the Caribbean side, and Heredia which is famed for their coffee plantations.

Since Costa Rica is well known as a world class ecotourism destinationf, the country is blessed with many splendid parks that should not be missed when visiting. There is the Tapanti National Park, Cahuita National Park, Corcovado National Park, Manuel Antonio National Park, and Chirripo National Park. Tourists can also pave a visit to Arenal Volcano, Monteverde and Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserves and to the Pacuare River and Protected Zone. If you are a bird watcher then you will want to bring your life list and expect to double it in size without much effort.

Last but definitely not the least, the beaches should not be forgotten when in Costa Rica. Many aficionados listed the following as the top ten beach spots that should be enjoyed when in the country: Nicoya Peninsula, Manuel Antonio, Montezuma, Playa Tamarindo, Corcovado, Mal Pais, South of Limon, Jaco and Tambor. Surfing is a major draw on many of the Pacific beaches especially during the winter months when Northern storms send great waves south to be enjoyed by both the novice and expert.

The best way to enjoy Costa Rica is to take your time and enjoy it with a smile. That is the only way to get lost in Costa Rica’s Tropical Paradise. Remember if you miss something on your first trip you can always come back for another visit to paradise.

Travel Alert: What You Need to Know About Travel Safety and Security Risk Management

Introduction

If you want to learn about managing the safety and security of your corporate travelers then you will need to read this report.

Specifically we’ll discuss preparation, analysis, management, monitoring and response as it relates to an active and successful travel risk management program.

After reading this article, you should know how to prevent or predict approximately 90% to travel risks and act immediately to improve your own program.

Implementing a successful travel risk management strategy can be one of the easiest corporate actions but the most difficult to get moving.

Too much time is wasted focusing on the wrong areas for assessment and implementation, that results in minor coverage for the major areas of concern.

Here we will simplify the process for immediate action or comparison.

Preparation

Preparation is the primary and key step for all programs, whether mature or developing. Any-and-all information that is collected, especially data, should be consolidated to ensure consistency and accuracy.

Overcoming a “silo” mentally within the organization is also paramount to consolidating.

Intent, progress and resolutions must be communicated to all stakeholders in the most effective medium possible.

Managers should not limit themselves to the more traditional mediums but also include popular social media offerings.

Key messages or content must be track-able or at least acknowledged to ensure potentially life saving information isn’t lost in the vast corporate email inbox or mislabeled as spam.

Each major milestone and change needs to be documented, rated and followed channeled into the communication plan.

Time spent on effective preparation is rarely wasted and will pay dividends, throughout the course of the program’s life-cycle.

Example-Preparation

A relatively small consulting firm, who understood that they had a significant investment in their consulting staff, was able to develop and implement an effective, world class travel risk management strategy in a matter of weeks.

Through a well-structured phase of preparation and mapping they were able to resolve an issue that had consistently been pushed back because they had always assumed the task was insurmountable.

Analysis

Analysis of all key components associated with corporate travel must be conducted.

Travelers

The first and most pivotal is the travelers themselves.

A profile and rating of each traveler needs to be developed.

Questions around health, experience, knowledge, function and even preparation are basic requirements for each travelers threat profile.

With this information managers will be better positioned to make accurate assessments on the overall risk of any journey.

Location

The location visited is the second element.

The threats vary greatly from location to location and generalized ratings are useless if based on such known vulnerabilities.

Trips to a key, developed city warrant different planning considerations than that of a remote location in a developing economic country.

Different cities within the same country may have vastly differing threat concerns too.

Activity

Next is the activity to be undertaken by the traveler.

A conference, factory tour, expedition or client meeting all have differing threats and planning considerations and are not adequately address by a “one-size-fits-all” approach.

Support

Additionally, the level of support afforded the traveler is considered.

This is not only those organic support options such as internal support and providers but that of emergency services, infrastructure and so on.

The time it takes for an ambulance to respond can turn a “routine” incident into a potentially fatal encounter.

The assessment and access to support should be inclusive of routine and emergency situations.

Threats

Lastly, all the known or prevailing threats need to be assessed.

You can never know everything but an overall list and impact/potential outcomes assessment needs to be conducted to complete the process if consistent and measurable results are to be expected.

Many threat factors may be seasonal or vary over the course of the month or traveler’s journey.

Example-Analysis

Due to changing economic challenges, a mid-sized company was pressured to seek new business in developing countries and emerging markets.

Until this point they had always been reluctant to venture into such markets due largely to their perception of risk.

Following structured and less superficial analysis they were able to fully appreciate the actual threats and separate the more emotive elements.

Following consultation with managers and travelers, they successfully expanded their market and sought new business with less competition as their competitors continue to lack the understanding and preparation to successfully pursue potentially lucrative opportunities.

Management

The greatest threat to preparation and analysis is an unsupervised or not managed program once the traveler commences travel.

Ownership must be displayed and active management of travelers from a door of departure until a door of return is required.

This must be conducted with frequency of effort and communications to ensure the traveler feels supported and management is across the potential for change and intervention.

This phase is a marathon and not a sprint.

The management of successful programs requires consistency in conjunction with frequency.

Relatively standardized approaches need to be applied to like situations/circumstances for the purpose of efficiency, productivity, safety and cost control.

Demonstrable support is required both within the management group but to all identified stakeholders such as travel management, security, the traveler, families, etc.

Example-Management

A company with tens of thousands of traveling personnel successfully manages the risks and demands of travel with only a handful of people.

Their system and support mechanism is adaptive enough to support individual requirements but automated enough to ensure efficiency by keeping headcount at optimal and minimal levels while leveraging technology.

Their overall strategy is not managed by one department but all departments and stakeholders work in collective unison at each and every stage from departure up to return of the traveler to the office or their place of residence.

Monitoring

Monitoring represents the Achilles’ heel for the majority of travel risk management programs.

Ongoing monitoring of events and activities is required, whether this is carried out by the traveler or higher support function such as HR or security.

Tactical events (those that occur within proximity of the traveler/travelers route) should be scrutinized on a regular basis.

These events are the ones most likely to cause disruption or harm and should constitute the priority of effort.

Wider events or more strategic developments also need to be monitored for change that will impact the traveler or group of travelers.

Tactical events include demonstrations, storms, violence and the like while strategic events include visa changes, political unrest, health crisis and so on.

The actual journey taken by the traveler should be regularly reviewed or automated to report and respond disruption events and threats.

Finally, the individual needs to be monitored outside of the usual performance and reporting requirement to ensure their health and well-being is preserved or unchanged.

Example-Monitoring

Numerous companies have averted crisis and maintained productivity by monitoring developing events.

Changes in weather, strikes, airline delays and even public holidays can occur at short notice and outside of standard policy doctrine.

By keeping “a finger on the pulse” with active monitoring these companies maximize their travel spending and ensure their travelers are highly productive and efficient.

Less vigilant companies who leave the process to static policy and dated knowledge are forced to spend more or suffer unnecessary delays.

Response

Bad things happen to good people all the time.

No plan is complete without a response capacity in support of the affected traveler.

The plan and steps must be painstakingly simple and clear so as to be remembered under the worst of situations.

The plan must be adaptive and simple in implementation so that it can build in complexity and content after the initial activation or call for assistance.

The plan may be infrequently called upon but it should have consistency in application and capability.

All locations, activity, individuals and threats need to be considered and inclusive of the response plan.

Above all, the plan needs to be timely in its application.

A distressed, affected traveler or manager must get the support and collaboration required in the shortest possible time frame.

While the planning and preparation may be measured in days, weeks or months the response should be valued in minutes and hours dependent on the need.

Most companies acknowledge this is not their core competency and therefore part or all of this function is outsourced for maximum return and results.

Example-Response

A “seasoned traveler” from an acclaimed academic institution became unwell while traveling for work purposes.

Despite years of experience and seniority at the institution they had in fact very little knowledge or experience when it came to emergencies or supporting medical services in the location they were when they became ill.

As a result of poor choices, lack of knowledge, no support, limited integration coupled by a litany of local challenges the individual nearly died.

It was only through the swift and successful actions of a concerned spouse, engaging a far more organized process with predictable results, did the individual receive the care and support required to save their life and begin the long recovery process.

Conversely, one company experienced several similar incidents in a single month, however not once were their travelers placed at such grave risk, suffered uncontrolled costs or outright loss of productivity for long periods.

This was all due to a successful and scalable response capacity if and when required.

The Main Travel Safety and Security Threats-Locations and Events

The majority of incidents negatively affecting travelers occur at airports, on the road, accommodation, office/business location, social/leisure locations or result of dynamic change.

Airports

Airports must be included in any action plans or support strategies as it is first/last leg of all journeys and likely to present delays and disruptions ranging from flight delays to targeting by petty criminals.

Accommodation

Accommodation of all kind must be evaluation and included in timely response and advice communications.

Road Moves

Road moves remain the most prevalent and greatest for deadly consequences. Motor vehicle accident rates vary wildly from country to country.

Location

Locations of business activity within the journey plan represent the smallest of impact locations but demand inclusion.

Social and Leisure Activities

Often forgotten with tragic results are social or leisure locations.

This element is likely to be largely unscripted but has a high rate of incidents and events that negatively impact upon the traveler.

Change

The one constant with travel is change.

Elections, violent crimes, attacks an other major news events create change and potential for concern, whether affected directly or not.

Planners and managers need to include this dynamic in the constant monitoring, response and communication plans.

Close

Most agree that travel is inherently risky or laced with threats but far less actually do something about travel risk management as they don’t know where to start or see the task too daunting.

As you can see, it is relatively straightforward to capture 90% of the problem and manage the risk in a few simple steps.

With a methodical and consistent process inclusive of preparation, analysis, management, monitoring and response you too can have a world-class travel risk management program.

Most events and concerns occur in and around airports, accommodation, road moves, office/business locations, change and social leisure locations.

Now you know the key focus areas you have the information and plan to start now.

Even if you already have a plan and strategy, you can benchmark your own approach with this information gathered from years of empirical data, thousands of incidents and insight from thousands of companies ranging from small startup to some of the largest multinationals around the globe.

Travel alert and you truly travel safe.

Go To An Expert Travel Agent Or Directly To The Operator?

Unless you are comfortable with handling your own arrangements directly with travel operators over their websites or your travel selection is just a simple selection from a brochure you should consider finding an expert travel agent for your travel destination or activity requirements. This is not as simple as it sounds as many travel agents are designated as ‘specialists’ which often does not mean too much, except that they specialize in selling certain destinations, activities or named tour operators.

To obtain a ‘specialist’ designation can also be a very simple test set by a tourism office or tour operator and does not necessarily require an actual visit or experience. Travelers should beware of specialists, simply find out if they are experts by asking “have your been there, have you done that, did you buy the t-shirt?” or some more exacting questions, as you are investing hard earned money in your trip or vacation.

In our lifetimes we hopefully spend more on our travel wants and needs than on any other professional or expert in their chosen fields such as lawyers, accountants, plumbers, electricians, builders, dentists, doctors and we certainly choose them very carefully, so why not use the same quality control when choosing a travel agent. Also, as with our other experts, there may be different agents needed for different destinations and activities, so do not necessary stay with one agent for all of your travel requirements unless of course the agency has different experts for different products and services.

There is an understandable element of extra costs when using these experts called commissions and fees but the extra cost is often worth the investment if you really need travel knowledge, experience and expertise. Many travel experts are dedicated professionals who have spent years gaining knowledge of their products and services, gaining experience by visiting destinations, taking part in activities and gaining expertise in the reservation and search systems for better itinerary planning.

They are out there, but not necessarily in your town, region or even country. With the Internet we have the ability to find experts for anything and to compare and check credentials and product quality before committing our investment.

If you, as a traveler, do not need to use an expert travel agent and are comfortable with handling your own arrangements over the internet you have unlimited choices but not unlimited time to do your searches. You also have probably questioned why, if you do your own bookings directly with the operator, that you have to pay the commissions that are normally built in to travel prices to allow for retailer or wholesaler percentages, and rightly so. Are you getting a fair fare price when you go directly to operators and if not why not?

Not as simple an answer as it seems. Travel Wholesalers and Retailers are needed to market, promote and represent travel products so that travelers have the opportunity to view the myriad travel choices around the world. Without them many of us would never know the choices available to us so, when you have found your expert you should be loyal to them for yourself and also recommend and refer their expertise to others.

Travel Operators often have a predicament that if they show a two-tier price on their websites, one for buying from travel agents and a lesser price for direct bookers, that this could cause a rift in the supply chain and should therefore be protected for the benefit of the industry and the consumer in order to ensure that certain travel selections are available.

To overcome this predicament needed a new and completely different approach to both protect the traditional supply chain and to ensure that direct booking travelers get fairer fare prices and protection from unnecessary costs. The new innovation is Top Travel Vouchers from Top Travel Sites, a system whereby the operator still incurs the payment of a commission but most of that commission is then rebated to the direct-booking traveler.

At present there are hundreds of these vouchers available for purchase from operators around the world and each purchaser is offered a 100% money back guarantee, with some restrictions, but there is also a refund if the traveler is unhappy upon completion of their travel.

This service is in the early days of building a voucher inventory but with the growth of travel by direct bookings it does offer travel operators who want to encourage direct bookings and also to protect their relationships with wholesalers and retailers a new opportunity and method of representation for their products.

For the many thousands of travel providers and operators around the world who are not large enough to get representation by wholesalers and retailers there is now an opportunity to use this service by building an attractive savings incentive into voucher offers to encourage travelers to handle their own arrangements directly with the operator.

The Best Ways To Keep Your Money Safe Whilst Travelling

Most travelers 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 travelers 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 travelers 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 traveling. 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 traveling 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 traveling. 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.

Travelers Cheques

Travelers cheques are not very popular any more with any traveler. 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 travelers cheques. Using an ATM is a lot easier now that they have become universal.

On the upside, if yo lose your travelers cheques, you may be able to contact the nearest office of the issuing authority with the numbers on your not redeemed 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 traveling. You must make sure your ATM card is authorized 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 travelers. You buy this card before you leave home, and place your funds on it, but in the currency of the country you are traveling 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!