Thursday, January 31, 2013

Tips for Saving on Airfare Cost

As we all know, flight costs vary greatly depending on how early you shop for your flight, where you’re from and where you’re going, and your arrival/departure dates and times.  The costs change so much and so often, it makes it nearly impossible to gauge how to scout out the best deals.  Luckily, airfare expert, Rick Seaney, CEO and Co-Founder of www.FareCompare.com, has devised complex software that searches fares for 500 airlines and 270,000 markets around the globe for over a billion combinations of flights per query.  Now we can all become travel experts!

So what's the best cost saving strategy?
FLY ON TUESDAYS AND WEDNESDAYS! It boils down to the popularity contest we call supply and demand.  Vacationers are looking to max out their trip by leaving on Friday and returning on Sunday.  Alternatively, business travelers want to max out their time at home by departing Sunday night or Monday morning and returning Friday.  Airlines still have to fill their seats, so the do so at a reduced price, making Tuesdays and Wednesdays (and sometimes Saturdays) your best bet.

What other tips does Rick have for us?

Fly early February. This timeframe is not a popular vacation or business travel period.  However, avoid the host city for the Super Bowl (this year New Orleans) and Las Vegas (the next best destination for the big game).  Also avoid flying on or near Valentine’s Day especially in years when it lands on a weekend.

Fly late spring to Europe. The weather is beautiful but peak pricing does not kick in until May 15!

Fly on holidays. We already know you can get a cheap seat on Thanksgiving or Christmas Day, but the same is true for July 4th, Memorial Day and Labor Day while everyone is out barbequing.

Fly the “dead weeks” of November and December. All the holiday travel around Thanksgiving and Christmas leave so called “dead weeks” during November (the first two weeks of the month) and December (the two consecutive weeks beginning the Tuesday after Turkey Day).

Shop on Tuesdays at 3:00 PM Eastern Time. Airlines run specials from Tuesday through Thursday so avoid shopping on the weekend.

Shop individually when flying together. Online reservations systems have to sell everyone in the group at the same, higher price.  If you shop for each ticket individually, you stand a much better chance of scoring the one-off pricing airlines use to fill as many seats as possible.

Don’t forget to check Southwest. This low cost airline does not allow its prices to be advertised on flight comparison sites like Kayak, Expedia, Travelocity, etc. so it is easily forgotten when searching for the best rate.

And if you’re really interested in scouting out the best deals, follow Rick and the FareCompare team on twitter.  Use ‘FlyFrom’ + your nearest airport code (e.g. FlyFromSFO for Bay Area travelers) and let the experts tell you the best deals around the country originating from your airport.
Safe Travels!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Up & Coming Meeting Destinations

As the meetings and conventions industry makes a comeback in the economy, many companies are looking to find affordable but attractive options for their corporate events. Here are some new rising stars in the world that can ensure an economical but unforgettable meeting.

Austin, Texas:
Austin has growing popularity as a meeting planning location for its balance of affordable and ample meeting space with a thriving nightlife and culture that visitors can enjoy. Austin is also well-known for flagship city-wide conventions, so be sure to keep those in mind when planning your event.

Northwest Costa Rica:
New access to air transportation in Costa Rica’s airports has made this a popular option for beaches, volcanoes, and outdoor adventures. Tourism rates stay affordable with all-inclusive resorts and meeting deals, particularly from August to October.


Israel:

Although companies may see Israel as controversial, it is very safe and has a vital economy dependent on tourism. Its rich history, bustling city, and an English-speaking business world, corporate meetings become very accessible and affordable.


South Africa:
South Africa has a young but quickly growing meeting industry. Setting itself apart with Africa’s rich natural landscape, beautiful weather, and welcoming people, this can be a completely different and unique meeting destination.


For more details and similar articles, click here.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Travel Tuesdays: 2013 Inauguration Hotel Packages


Yesterday was President Barack Obama’s 2nd Inauguration and the turnout was more than half a million people to see our president getting sworn in for the 2nd time. In anticipation of the overwhelming influx of people coming in to see the Inauguration, hotels in the Washington D.C. area came out with various hotel packages to attract people to stay with them. Below are some examples of the hotel packages that were offered for this momentous day.
Hotel Madera, a Kimpton Hotel
If your company were looking to make a companywide trip to the Inauguration, this may be a deal that would have been ideal. The Hotel Madera was offering a buyout package that consisted of reserving the 82-room boutique hotel as well as specialized events with the hotel restaurant, Firefly Restaurant. It is priced at $320,000 and includes a 4-night stay.
Fairfax at Embassy Row, Washington D.C.
The Fairfax offered two different packages for the Inauguration, the Fairfax Presidential package and the Historical Inauguration Package. Both were for 4 nights as well starting on January 18. The Presidential package started at $3,999 and is available for two guests. The Historical Inauguration package comes with the Presidential Suite at the Fairfax and packages start at $6,999. Each comes with various amenities making them an ideal package for your time in Washington D.C.
Check out each hotels full packages on their websites.

 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

News: Facebook's Graph Search


Facebook has announced their new “Graph search” tool which is going to give Google a run for their money as the top search engine. This new tool is revolutionary in that they are able to search for specifics within their friends. For example, instead of looking for a restaurant review on Yelp by a complete stranger, you can now search to see what your friends have said about the same restaurant. You are able to customize your search using key words to search amongst your friends instead of all the information available on the internet which is how it differs from Google. You’ll be able to search exclusively for the people who like macaroons in the neighborhood you live in amongst your friends. The way this search tool is engineered will change the way people interact with one another and take in information.
How do you think this new search tool will affect meeting planning in the future?
Check out more about it in this article: http://www.wired.com/business/2013/01/the-inside-story-of-graph-search-facebooks-weapon-to-challenge-google/

Friday, January 11, 2013

Pro Tip: Event Volunteers


If you’ve done any work as a meeting planner, you’ll know that event volunteers are a crucial part of onsite event management as you most likely will need to supplement your meeting staff. Here are some tips on making sure you get the most from this invaluable labor force.
Determining needs. First thing you will need to do is figure out what parts of the meeting will need to be staffed by volunteers and how many you will need to recruit. Make sure last minute no-shows or dropouts are accounted for when putting this number together.
Recruit volunteers. Volunteers may be recruited from a number of resources available to you. Oftentimes, universities in the area will have a job board that you can post to, or you can reach out to local convention and visitor bureaus that will usually have a number of volunteer recruits.
Assign tasks. After you have secured your volunteers, figure out how to delegate your work force. Knowing each volunteers skills and strengths will be helpful in assigning tasks. Make sure when you assign tasks, that each volunteer has a clear job description. This description should include information like location, times, dress code, and any relevant contact information they may need.
Provide training. Prior to going onsite, some training should be provided as not all tasks will be as simple as handing out name tags. Figure out which tasks can be done onsite and which should have additional training beforehand. For those that will require a bit more time, bring them the week before and go through what they will need to know.
Other things to think about will be to let volunteers know who the chain of command is, where things are located at your venue, as well as any other information that is relevant while they are working. This will help them seem more professional when interacting with attendees. If it is possible, try to put aside an office space where they may keep their belongings or recharge for a minute. Follow these tips and you should get the most out of your volunteers.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Trending: Event Library


Oftentimes the hardest part about planning an event in a city not your own is finding a reliable vendor to work with on needs such as AV or d├ęcor. Many times we can work with the in-house team if you are having your meeting at a hotel. However, sometimes there are special needs that the in-house team cannot provide and you have to find someone to come in. Finding a vendor is not the difficult part, it is finding one that is reliable since you have probably not worked with them previously.
Lucky for us, there is now the Event Library. It is a website that allows companies to leave peer reviews of the vendors that they have used by city so that should you find out you have a meeting somewhere you haven’t been, you can search the city and find a company that someone else has used and approved or disapproved of. It is like a Yelp but catered to specifically event planners.
It is still in the beginning stages so there are a limited number of reviews, vendors, and cities. However, as word spreads about this wonderful website, hopefully so will the number of reviews and places to review.
Check out the website to take a look for yourself: http://www.event-library.com

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Travel Tuesdays: Hotel La Jolla


Welcome to 2013!!
Meeting Sites Pro would like to say Happy New Years! We hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday season and is now getting back into the swing of things with new goals and a bright outlook.
To start off the New Year we bring you the newly renovated Hotel La Jolla right here in MSP’s very own San Diego. Located right on the coast at La Jolla Shores, this boutique hotel offers a retreat away from the city life while giving you that beach village vibe that you were looking to escape to. Right on the beach, you are minutes away from starting a new kayaking, snorkeling, or surfing adventures. Also located nearby are the scenic La Jolla Cove and La Jolla Village.
If you planned on staying at the hotel and spending your vacation lounging, be sure to visit Cusp, Hotel La Jolla’s wonderful Mediterranean restaurant located on the 11th floor. Other amenities that come with your room rate:
·         Morning coffee and tea service located in the lobby each morning

·         Hosted evening wine hour located in the lobby each day

·         Use of hotel newly-renovated fitness center

·         Complimentary internet access for all Kimpton InTouch Members

·         Complimentary shuttle service is offered strictly to guests that are staying at the hotel and      is based on availability to and from location within a 5 mile radius from the hotel
Meeting space at the Hotel La Jolla is about 950 sq ft. It is ideal for smaller meetings and located on the 11th floor, the meeting space can be split into 2 rooms. Both have beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean so that you can be sure that all of your guests will be awed by the amazing landscape before their eyes.
Visit the Hotel La Jolla website now to make your reservations now: http://www.hotellajolla.com