Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Travel Tuesdays: Hurricane Sandy

In the wake of the destructive path of Hurricane Sandy, thousands of flights coming out of the East Coast, and especially New York's JFK and New Jersey's Newark, have been cancelled for safety purposes. As New York's JFK International Airport is a hub for many domestic and international flights, this has caused about 50,000 people to have to cancel travel plans or change them.

While all European, Asian, and U.S. airlines are prepared to take an financial hit, it will be most costly to many European airlines who have a "duty of care" to put up their travelers in hotels and pay for accommodations during this time. There are no laws for this for U.S. airlines. Above everything, all airlines are making the safety of their passengers their highest priority. Some airlines are offering the opportunity to rebook their flights at no cost.

Airlines are hopeful that once the storm subsides, it will not take long to get the stranded passengers to their destinations. CNN's Richard Quest explained that airlines have "sophisticated recovery programs" which are already in the works and working out schedules for the next few days to restore the schedule.

If you are traveling during this time, we wish you safe travels. For those on the East Coast, we hope that you are safe!

For more information, please visit: http://www.cnn.com/2012/10/29/travel/hurricane-sandy-flight-cancellations/index.html

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Tasty Thursdays: Bacchanal at Caesar's Palace

Las Vegas Boulevard is one of the most famous strips in the world for many reasons; lavish casinos, high stakes gambling, and last but not least, world renowned restaurants are the major components that make Vegas the envy of other cities. As if this weren’t enough, Caesar’s Palace has added a new addition to the many lavish, jaw dropping, and belt-busting buffets out there- the $17 million Bacchanal Buffet has opened its doors to the public.

The over the top feast features nine kitchens and chefs cooking up more than 500 dishes, many prepared as guests watch. Multiple trips around the restaurant would be necessary to try just a fraction of the offerings. The Bacchanal left nothing out of their menu, with options including: prime rib, king crab, dim sum, wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas, lasagna, sushi, enchiladas, and roasted South Carolina shrimp and grits.
The Bacchanal hopes to draw a big number of visitors with its great food and décor. The 25,000 square foot buffet can accommodate 600 guests in sections that feature glass, wood and steel and offer views of the Garden of the Gods pool complex at Caesars. Prices in the new Bacchanal Buffet will be $19.99 for breakfast, $31.99 for weekend brunch, $24.99 for weekday lunch, $34.99 for dinner Sundays through Thursdays and $39.99 for dinner on Fridays and Saturdays. For your next meeting in Las Vegas, make sure to consider buffet options on the strip when selecting a site. Voilà!

For more information visit: http://itineraries.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/09/10/13708454-caesars-palace-bets-big-on-new-17-million-las-vegas-buffet?lite

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Travel Tuesdays: Affordable Travel

Everyone wants to travel, but there is one big question that makes people hesitate: How much is this going to cost?

Whether you’re trying to plan a vacation on a budget or travelling for business, here are some great tips to keep your trip from breaking the bank.

Getting to your destination:

-Use sites such as airfarewatchdog.com to send you fare alerts. This allows you to buy tickets when prices are low. On that note, don’t wait forever for the perfect price- if you see a good deal, go for it!

-Try to go during the off season if possible, or be flexible within the region that you’re wanting to stay in.

-Be as flexible as you can with dates 

Where to stay:

-Check out the many discount sites, such as Groupon, that offer travel deals daily. However, make sure you read the fine print before purchasing!

-Try to find something outside of the city center.

-Pay attention to the value you are getting in terms of amenities, meals, etc.

-Check out sites like Tingo.com, which promise that if hotel rates lower before you arrive, you receive the new rates.

-Use sites like homeaway.com or vrbo.com to rent a home- this saves you money by getting rid of the middleman and doing business straight with the owner.

Eating there:

-Pack lunches from the grocery store to eat outside, or cook if you have a kitchen.

-If you want to go out for a high-end meal, go for lunch instead of dinner. You’ll save money but have the same restaurant experience!

What to do:

-Avoid cabs, and walk whenever possible.

-Try to find local transit passes for the week or the month

-Shop around online or find promo codes for car rentals

-Check out package tours, they can save you money on every part of the trip!

For more information check out: http://www.latimes.com/travel/la-tr-money-20120902,0,2853395.story. Bon voyage!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Travel Tuesdays: Castles of North America

Think you have to travel to Europe to explore Cinderella-style castles?  Think again!  Here’s a photo tour of 7 castles right here in the USA waiting to be explored.  The pictures don’t do them justice- you’ll have to check them out yourself!
1.      Boldt Castle
This beautiful destination resides on a heart-shaped island in the Thousand Islands (near Alexandria Bay, NY).  Built by industrialist, George Boldt, the castle took 300 stonemasons, artists and carpenters to build and is home to Italian gardens, a dove-cote and a turreted powerhouse.
2.      Hammond Castle
     John Hammond, credited as the ‘father of radio control’ (like tanks, airplanes and remote-     controlled cars), built this stunning castle to showcase his medieval art collection.  Residing on the      Massachusetts shore,
3.      Castello di Amorosa
4.      Bishop’s Palace 
5.      Fonthill Castle
      6.      OHEKA Castle
7.      ‘Iolani Palace
Which one is your favorite?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

MCAS Miramar Airshow

After the Vietnam War, the navy needed a school to train pilots in dog-fighting and in fleet air defense and established Top Gun school in 1969 which is now known as MCAS Miramar.  The award-winning, world-class air show features the best military and civilian pilots in the world.  The 2012 Airshow will take place from 10/12-10/14 featuring the Navy’s Blue Angels, food, entertainment, novelty booths, children’s activities, military displays, a trade show and more!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Tasty Thursdays: Eating Healthy While Traveling


You don’t HAVE to be in a rush at the airport.  Get to your gate, check the status and boarding time for your flight, then take a look around.  Because of current trends, healthy options are becoming more readily available- even in airports, believe it or not.  You don’t have to settle for a greasy burger when sandwiches, salads and wraps can give you lean meat, veggies and grains all in one delicious meal.  For a bonus, consider swapping chips for low-fat yogurt or fruit.
A little bit of planning ahead can go a LONG way if you grab a few easy and healthy snacks at the grocery store and stash them until your next trip.  Nuts, granola bars, trail mix, low-cal popcorn packs are all great options.  If you have time to grab pre-sliced veggies, apples, bananas or baby carrots, either on your way to the airport or on your way to the hotel, you’ll be less likely to indulge in the unhealthy stuff.  Your body will thank you!
There are tons of options for powders you can add to water, chock full of protein and vitamins.  These great, in-between-meal snacks will keep you energized.  Plus they take up almost no room in your suitcase.
You NEED lots of water- especially when traveling.  Water will keep you energized and will leave you feeling more fulfilled.  Dehydration leads to headaches, fatigue, muscle cramps and reduced concentration.  Let’s face it, you don’t have time to deal with all that! Coffee, tea and sparkling water are also great alternatives to sodas and other high-calorie drinks if you tire of water quickly. 
There’s a reason mom tells you to eat your greens- mother knows best.  While greens are preferred, it’s a good idea to incorporate any and all veggies into your meals.  Start with a salad or pick vegetables as your side dish. Your goal should be a full serving of veggies (or more!) for at least two meals each day. The fiber provided by vegetables will make you feel more full and keep you from over eating. 
We know this is easier said than done while traveling, but we all know breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  If your hotel offers a complimentary breakfast, go for high fiber and protein.  Anything from cereal to whole-grain toast with peanut butter and more. No continental waiting for you when you wake up? That’s why you packed healthy snacks, remember? 
We all give into temptation sometimes; it’s good for morale.  Boost your morale even more by sharing your dessert with your travel buddy.  You still get that sweetness you crave but you don’t have to overdo it. 
Do some research- contact your concierge or get some help from UrbanSpoon, Yelp or even Google Maps.  Local restaurants are more likely to offer local produce and are more likely to cook for you like a guest in their own home than a large chain or a fast food restaurant.  Not only will you eat a little healthier, but you’ll get to experience the local flavor!
So you may consume a few cocktails during your travels.  Sub high-sugar, high-calorie margaritas for wine, something on the rocks or something mixed with club soda.  You can still enjoy the night out just as much without all the calories.
You know you don’t want to be sluggish or get an upset stomach, so eat healthy while you’re away.  Pay attention to what your body is telling you and do what you think is best.  With that said, you’re out of town (working or vacationing) and you should enjoy what your destination has to offer.  Don’t obsess about what you’re eating because that will make you sick as well.  You are allowed a few indulgent meals here and there. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Wonder Wednesday: How The Economy Is Affecting Travel

Despite the current economic uncertainty, a new report from PKF Hospitality Research shows that travel in the US is still going strong.  On an average night in 2012, hotels across the country are averaging approximately 63% occupancy rates (3 million of the country’s 4.8 million hotel rooms are occupied on an average night). 

According to the study, the average occupancy rates are almost 6% higher than they were in 2007, when the industry peaked before the recession.  Whether or not this higher demand will bring increased room rates remains to be seen, according to PKF Hospitality Research President, Mark Woodworth.  Woodworth explains that lodging increases generally follow increases in employment, income and gross domestic product, however, this time the lodging increases have come all on their own.  Although hotels are recording and projecting higher profits this year, Woodworth believes this is due to higher demand and not higher rates.
A few of the hospitality and tourism industry’s top destinations are still lagging, despite the overall increase.  Which three markets are lagging the most?  According to the PKF study- Tucson, AZ, West Palm Beach, FL and Atlanta, GA are still renting fewer rooms on average than they were in 2007.  These might be great places to check out for your upcoming meetings if you’re looking for a good deal (and who isn’t?)!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Travel Tuesdays: World's Scariest Swimming Pool

The Holiday Inn Shanghai Pudong Kangqiao’s swimming pool offers an exceptional view, but many are calling it the scariest swimming pool in the world.

The indoor pool tops the 24-story hotel and protrudes from the main building, suspended mid-air.  The toughened glass construction gives guests the sense of swimming in the sky as they watch the street below them.
"We wanted to provide our guests a unique swimming experience, and let them feel they're vacationing even in a bustling city," said a spokesperson from InterContinental Hotels Group, parent company of Holiday Inn.
The hotel along Chan Sau Yan Associates, the Singaporean firm that designed the hotel, worked closely with architects and even aerospace experts to ensure the pool is safe for its patrons.
So, would you dare?
Or take a peek at CNN Go’s other list of top swimming pools: http://www.cnngo.com/explorations/life/worlds-15-most-spectacular-swimming-pools-242465

Monday, October 1, 2012

Meeting Mondays: Event Registration Sites

Choosing an Online Registration Tool

Online registration platforms have done wonders for event & meeting planning- for planners and attendees alike. Although online registration has become a must for any event, the flood of event registration websites that exist today can make the process of choosing a site overwhelming.
Here are some things to consider when choosing a registration site:
What kind of events are you hosting?
Depending on the site and its payment structures, different websites will be more cost effective based on the size and frequency of your events.  A site can charge a small fee per attendee, which is good for smaller or less frequent events, but can add up if your attendee numbers increase.  On the other hand, a site with minimal fees per attendee and a subscription or hefty start-up fee can work well for large-scale conferences or events that happen on a regular basis.
What is the scope of your role as a planner?
If you are just using your registration site to collect payments there are several simple, no-frills sites you can use easily and inexpensively. If you are involved in many steps of the planning process, and want to use the site to also manage program sessions, lodging, and other event details, consider something more involved.
How does your business need to use the registration information?
If you are solely using a registration site to check in attendees, most registration sites will work great. However, most businesses will want to save the information and follow up in order to continue their relationship with the client. In this case, it is important to identify sites that have merging or exporting capabilities. This expedites the process of getting the registration information into your company’s database.
Now that you have a few things to think about, here are just a few different examples of registration websites that meet different needs. Keep in mind there are many more out there! If you keep these factors in mind, you are sure to find one that fits your needs and helps make your events great.
Eventbrite- www.eventbrite.com
Easily manages basic event registration services, but does not offer as much in managing other steps in an event. It uses a third-party payment site; however, the site charges nothing for free events.
Cvent is a great long-term registration tool. With a significant setup fee, it is best for events that are large and occur frequently.   
RegOnline- www.regonline.com
Involved registration system with a payment structure that offers is flexibility in the number of people it can affordably register, but best for events with higher ticket prices.
Happy planning! For more information on different event services and what they offer, check out http://www.idealware.org/articles/few-good-tools-event-registration-updated.