The Upside to Business Travel

Many people abhor traveling for business, while some only hate it when they are consistently on the road as a road warrior. They frequently miss home, having their own familiar place to stay, and home cooking. Still, there are a number of tips for the business traveler that can make the best of traveling for business.

Free Fun Travel
Traveling for business can also help increase traveling for pleasure. While flying, staying at hotels, and renting cars one can be collecting loyalty points for future use. This means that one can be traveling for fun with the rewards of their business travel. It is a liberating feeling to walk to an airline counter and cash in some points for a trip to anywhere in the world- Vegas for the weekend or take someone special to Paris.

Travel Perks
Being a frequent traveler with the loyalty programs will have you an established elite traveler in no time. Pay attention to the requirements and do what you can to get elite status as soon as you can. The perks are tremendous with free and sometimes unexpected upgrades. Preference in the check-in lines will make a huge difference when you are pressed for time or dog tired at the end of the day. Preference in check-in/check-out times will be a perk you will use often.

Be In The Now
Every major town will have its unique flavor and will have some tourist must sees. See them when you have down time. When you are constantly on the road it will seem enticing to stay in a hotel room and relax to some TV, but when you do this day after day, town after town no wonder burn-out settles in. Get out and explore, get to know the town, it will undoubtedly help your business in that town to know more about it. Try the specialty foods of the area, stay away from national chains. And if you do find that you travel the same cities consistently, then make it your town. Find some favorite places to eat and entertain yourself, then you can actually look forward to visiting again.

Being able to travel for business is a wonderful opportunity and should not be seen as a burden. Changing of the attitude may be as simple as looking to the pluses and not focusing on the negatives of frequent travel.

Do Not Let Business Travel Disrupt Your Fitness

You have your ticket, you are packed, and the airport van is picking you up for your next business trip. Leaving Sunday afternoon and returning Friday evening has become routine over the last couple of years. You ran your errands and spent time with the family. You managed a brief workout early Saturday morning so you could attend the kid’s soccer games and birthday parties. Business travel is difficult. Lately you are feeling your clothes tightening around your waste. It has not gotten to the point of buying new clothes, yet. Ask yourself if this sounds familiar. There are more and more business professionals challenged with stressful jobs compounded by stressful travel. Surely, this takes a toll on the family and personal life[1], but even more important it could be destroying your health. When your health is gone, your family and job is in jeopardy.

Health and fitness for traveling business professionals is a serious concern, “But it is also a source of a variety of stresses, often overlooked or denied by both organizations and travelers themselves. The World Bank, studying its own travelers, discovered that both their physical and mental health-care claims were significantly greater than those of nontravelers.“[2] The typical executive travels 3-5 days per week. They eat ninety-five percent of their meals in airports, restaurants, or fast food establishments. They eat late while entertaining clients. Most of them do not exercise on the road even though gyms are available in hotels. In addition, most traveling business professionals do not get the deep sleep they need. Any medical professional, or fitness expert, will tell you this lifestyle is a recipe for disaster.

There are several resources offering ways to eat right and workout while traveling.[3] Videos abound on exercises you can use while traveling.[4] Still with all this information available, the vast majority of business travelers fail to eat right and workout on the road. Why is this? The problem is more behavior than access to good food and workout facilities. The solution is more education about fitness, not more facilities, workouts, and supplements. People who understand “why” about anything tend to accept and change more than those who do not take the time to understand a subject. Think about this principal. Continuing education is designed to make you more proficient at your job. The more you know and experience the more valuable you become to your employer. Your self-worth and self-esteem increases. This is true when it comes to fitness. The difference is you are your own boss. Here lies the root cause of the problem. If fitness is not a priority in your life, you have too many irons in the fire, you are stretched thin, and now your travel time takes up twenty percent of your waking hours, then you will put fitness on the back burner. The next thing you know you are twenty-five pounds heavier, your body fat percent is nearing obesity, and you have little energy at the end of the workday. At this point, your doctor informs you that your blood pressure is elevating and recommends blood pressure medicine.

A CEO who has all the distractions mentioned earlier recognizes the problem, does not drop everything, and still attacks the specific problem. They would contract a professional, e.g. lawyer, CPA, or consultant to help them filter through all the information and establish a good plan to attack the problem. These professionals allow the CEO to attack the problem while dealing with all the distractions, and still achieve his/her goals. The traveling businessperson should have the same approach to solving their fitness problem. Their professional is a private personal trainer, or fitness consultant.

Private personal trainers have the ability to provide you the right amount of information you need at the time you need it without you spending large amounts of time researching nutrition or exercise routines. They have the ability to assess your current fitness level then design a nutritional and exercise program that works for you. In addition, they can continually assess you, and make changes that will allow you to progress. Good private personal trainers have the ability to council behavior as well as design programs. They hold their clients accountable the same way a CEO uses a consultant to help them maintain accountability for a strategy. In most cases, a private personal trainer is more expensive than a gym personal trainer, but offer services that are more customized and personal. They are normally much less expensive than business consultants. You should consider a private personal trainer as an investment not an expense, the same way a CEO considers a consultant as an investment. So if you are traveling how can a private personal trainer help? You sure are not going to pay them to travel with you. The good news is technology helps to solve this problem.

Today private personal trainers have a wealth of technology available to them to help resolve the two biggest problems preventing fitness while traveling, i.e. education and accountability. Private personal trainers normally have their own web site. This web site provides the tools necessary to help their traveling client. Let us review a few tools that provide a near personal training experience on the road for a fraction of the cost.

 

  1. You have access to articles, other web sites, and educational material on your personal trainer’s web site. Your personal trainer can provide information based on your level of fitness. In other words, they provide the right information at the right time. You are not wasting time.
  2. Your personal trainer can provide a private login on their web site that has all your information, e.g. measurements, training schedule, exercise videos, meal programs, etc. This section of their web site is password protected for your privacy. Google documents offer great tools for this type of interface.
  3. Accountability is available with the use of Google’s calendar and SMS notifications. SMS messages are pre-assigned via the Google calendar for clients. They receive alerts on their phone saying to snack, complete a workout, etc. Business travelers have the ability to respond through SMS text messaging, email, or a phone call letting the trainer know what they have eaten, or that they completed their workout routine. If not contacted the trainer will follow-up. This happens no matter where the business travelers, or the trainer, are in the world.
  4. Clients can sign-up on
  5. It is less than $10.00 per month and offers the ability to track and monitor nutrition, activities, journals, and moods. By providing their trainer access, the trainer can track all activity 24/7. This combines nutrition, exercise, and behavior extremely well. This provides the trainer the information needed to council clients through a variety of virtual techniques, e.g. SMS texting, web site response, email, phone call, or SKYPE.
  6. Skype, Google Video Talk, and other video conferencing tools allow clients to schedule times with their trainer in order for the trainer to view the business traveler’s workout. This is convenient if they are working out in a hotel room.
  7. Finally, it is important to meet at least once a week when possible with your personal trainer face-to-face to celebrate your progress, establish new measurements, and set new goals.

This type of professional and private personal training is available to travelers. One company providing this service is Strategy for Fitness(TM). Overcoming a lack of education and accountability will be a big step to improving your fitness level. These services are an investment in your life. You have someone who is interested in your health and wellness and can counsel you on an ongoing basis no matter where you are. Using technology reduces your overall cost for personal training. Accountability is a powerful motivator. Trainers can hold business travelers accountable through advanced technology services. Do not let excuses become a barrier to improving your fitness while you travel. There are no excuses.

[1] Espino, C, Sundstrom S, Frick H, Jacobs M, Peters, M, “International Business Travel: impact on families and travelers”. Occupational and Environmental Med Medicine. January 11, 2010 .

[2] James Striker, Lennart Dimberg, Bernhard H Liese, “Stress and business travel: Individual, managerial, and corporate concerns”. Journal of Organizational Excellence Vol. 20 Issue 1 pages 3-10. January 11, 2010

Why Sound Business Travel Reporting Matters

For any company that has their employees engage in regular travel, it is important to have a good corporate travel strategy. Part of developing and improving on a corporate travel strategy is solid business travel reporting. Business travel reporting provides the company with details about the cost of travel and how the money is being used. This data not only helps to keep track of expenses but it also can be used to identify areas of waste and inefficiency. When this information is tracked and analyzed it can be used to improve upon your company’s business travel strategy. Using the service of a corporate travel agency is an effective means toward achieving all of these goals.

Due to their experience and their connections in the travel and finance industry, a corporate travel firm will be especially suited to provide these services with the highest degree of detail. A corporate travel agency uses a variety of methods to analyze and track a clients business travel expenses. They can use data from banking and credit card records along with the travel records to identify the most and least efficient travelers in your company. They can help to manage airline data to find which carrier is providing the most business friendly service for the most affordable price and they can help to identify waste and abuse of funds.

A corporate booking agency can also help employers to analyze information in a way that can determine how effectively the employees travel and how well they stick to the itinerary and how closely the individual employees stick to the travel strategy. This can be achieved by referencing the data accumulated from credit cards, expense accounts, airline data, hotel bills and rental information. Once all of the data is collected and analyzed, the corporate travel firm can prepare a complete report. The reports will cover a variety of different areas and will often be accompanied by a written summary of the overall information. Clients can also request specialized reporting from a corporate travel agency. These may be to address an area of concern or to see how a new aspect of the travel strategy is working.

Most business travel agencies recommend that their clients schedule regular meetings with their travel manger to go over the business travel reporting and to find ways to improve the corporate travel strategy. The management of a business should meet with their corporate travel manager at least once a year. In these meetings the travel manager can help the client go over the business travel reporting and understand what all of the data means. The manager will help to identify areas of waste and point out parts of the travel plan that are working well. At this time the client can address their concerns about the travel strategy and work to adjust the business travel strategy. A corporate travel agency can also help their client with a plan for implementing the new strategy and addressing the changes with their staff.

Having the services of a business travel agency is a necessity for any company that engages in regular travel. Having a well thought out strategy will not only save the company money, but it will also make sure that the staff is getting the most out of their trip.

The Truth About Business Travelers: I Am Pleasantly Surprised!

Traveling a lot for work recently has provided me with some unique opportunities to observe people. There are lots of stories and jokes and stereotypical characteristics about road warriors – people who travel a lot on business – and I expected to run into a lot of confirming examples. But what I’ve discovered is the few are creating an image to the detriment of the many. Here are 5 debunked myths about road warriors that may surprise you:

1. They enjoy freedom from the office while on the road. Quite the contrary, 80% to 90% of all the business travelers I see are working while traveling. They are talking quietly on the phone with conference calls while waiting in the airport, they pull out their laptops or tablets and start working as soon as we hit 10,000 feet in the air. Most business travelers are quite literally tethered to their offices and they don’t waste time hanging out or lolly gagging around. They are working.

2. They enjoy chatting about where they’ve been and how important they are at work. OK, so there are a few braggarts running around out there, but most of this behavior is seen only in the movies. Sure, rookies may fall into this trap for a little while but the vast majority of business travelers keep to themselves and work. The bad mannered folks fluffing their plumage at anyone who will listen are few and far between. You could be sitting next to a CEO or an Entrepreneur who makes 7 figures and you probably won’t know it. I really believe most business travelers see travel time as their own time to work and think with minimal interruptions.

3. They are rude. We’ve all heard the stories. I’ve witnessed a few business folks behaving in ways that would embarrass the crud out of their mothers, but on the whole the vast majority of business travelers I’ve seen recently have been considerate of the people around them. They talk in low voices while on the phone, they follow the FAA rules about electronic equipment usage, they patiently wait in line for the family with 3 kids, 7 bottles of water, 6 roller bags and a stroller to clear security. They don’t usually push and shove to get in or out of a line. And they don’t demand special attention from gate agents, flight attendants, hotel staff, or drivers. The rudest travelers I’ve observed lately have been folks on vacation.

4. They get to eat in fancy restaurants every night. I suppose some could afford it, but the reality is the fancy restaurants are an exception for the practiced business traveler. The rookies may try this for a while, but they learn pretty quickly that fancy meals and late nights make working on the road miserable. Most business travelers eat at the hotel where they are staying or a local take out. They are focused on getting something to eat, getting work prepared for the next day and getting some sleep. People who don’t travel a lot find it hard to believe but when you are on the road what you get hungry for is a simple meal like you can easily fix at home.

5. Business travel is glamorous. Yes, there are perks like frequent flyer miles and hotel points. But business travel is a lot about waiting to get where you are going, fitting in as much business as you can while you are there, and then going home. Its airports and hotels and offices and meetings. There’s very rarely time for sightseeing. Most experienced business travelers treat the travel as a normal part of their day – just a long commute. Interestingly, I think business travelers tend to be more focused on getting the job done while they are traveling so that they can relax when they go home.

Whether you are an entrepreneur or a corporate exec, your ability to expand your impact in the world is enhanced by business travel. It’s nice to know that most of the fellow travelers you’ll meet on the road are just regular people focused on doing a good job. Sure, there will be the occasional twit and some pretty funny stories to share, but most of it is routine as you join the ranks of the polite, yet focused business travelers.

Business Travel Agents Tips: A Corporate Travellers’ New York Airports Guide

New York City is one of the most popular key travel destinations for corporate travellers worldwide. The city is the center of much that’s great, dynamic and profitable in America. It is home of one of the world’s principal financial centres (i.e. anchored by Wall Street), and a popular business hub for the publishing and entertainment industry at the same time. So, it’s no surprise it features three airports, Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), LaGuardia Airport (LGA) and J. F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK). As a frequent corporate traveller you probably may have flown to one of the three New York airports at some point or another. With JFK being a major international gateway to the US, this city guide aims to provide some helpful travel agents tips for corporate travellers flying to or from JFK Airport.

New York JFK Facts & Figures

Located about 25km away from Manhattan in Queens, JFK Airport is the largest airport in the state of New York and one of the busiest business travel hubs (over 50 million travellers/year) in the US and internationally. It has six operating terminals (numbered 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8; terminal 6 was demolished in 2011, Terminal 3 in 2013). Currently, the 4th runway is under redevelopment to comply with the needs of Group VI aircraft (until December 2015 as planned so far), which may cause delays, but measures are in place to minimise them, so you shouldn’t be too much affected. With more than 90 airlines arriving and departing from JFK, various business travel solutions for flights to New York can be arranged. Points of origin and destinations include places within the US, Canada, Latin America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Pacific, Australia/New Zealand, basically all over the world. The airport offers corporate travellers a choice of non-stop flights to about 100 international destinations which may prove convenient for your next business trip. However, JFK is very susceptible to weather-related delays due to its position. Corporate travellers are well advised to consider and prepare for possible thunderstorms in summer, causing delays across the US, as well as snow, icing and assorted slush throughout the winter season. For the months between June and November the risk of potential hurricanes is increased.

In general, our business travel agents team advise leisure and corporate travellers to allow plenty of time for getting to and from JFK. Serious traffic incidents on the way between the city and the airport left many wondering whether they’ would be able to make it in time or miss their flight. Furthermore, don’t forget that this is America. Therefore, bear in mind that the TSA rules supreme over security checkpoints. So, take a deep breath and take maybe a book with you or something else to keep you busy. Make sure you arrive early.

Useful JFK terminal facilities for corporate travellers

In most public areas within most terminals, corporate travellers will conveniently find that Wi-Fi is available for free for up to 30min. You can get online near the ticket counters, boarding gates, designated work stations and food courts. The Wi-Fi access is provided by Boingo Wireless Company. If you need to use the internet for longer than 30mins., consider the following options: 1) $4.95 (£3.01, €3.77) per hour (pay as you go), 2) $7.95 (£4.83,€6.05) for unlimited access throughout a 24-hour period (day pass), 3) $9.95 (£6.04,€7.58) per month (unlimited access via a monthly subscription, to be used worldwide), or 4) if you already have a user account, simply log in using your user name and password. ATMs, currency exchange options (Lenlyn or Travelex), a rental phone shop, and more than 100 shops alongside various dining options are available at the terminals.

Ground transportation services from JFK Airport to New York City

The most convenient, stress-free way for travel from and to JFK Airport is to take the AirTrain. It is a cost efficient and helps you make sure you arrive at the airport in time, whilst avoiding possible traffic jams. You can access AirTrain services via the New York City subway system, which is also connected to the Long Island Railroad (LIRR). The journey from/to the city takes just over an hour. AirTrain is operated 24 hours on 365 days a year. Within the airport area, it connects terminals and also enables you to easily access car rental services, hotel shuttle areas and parking lots. At peak times the trains depart every 7 minutes and at off-peak times they go every 15 minutes. However, be clever in choosing your business travel route, as various routes make different stops within the airport. Good news for corporate travellers is that travel within the airport is usually free of charge. However, travel outside the airport is subject to a fee. AirTrain prices generally start from $5 (£3.04, €3.81). For more details on ticket prices are provided on the JFK Airport website under costs and tickets. If you travel via New York’s public transport network, then it is a good idea to use MetroCard, which is widely accepted and is worth to purchase for travel via subway, local trains, or buses. You can find vending machines for buying a MetroCard at Howard Beach and Jamaica Station. A good alternative for corporate travellers would be to take a taxi (for up to 4 passengers). Simply wait in the cab line for a licensed and insured cab to take you to your destination (about $52, i.e. about £31.58, €39.59, flat rate between JFK and Manhattan, excluding tips and tolls). The time for this trip should be about an hour. However, it can take much longer during rush hour.

Shared-ride shuttle services are a cheaper option than taxis, but can involve a lot of waiting and being driven around New York City to drop other people off first. You can find a full list of providers on the airport authority’s website. But remember to tip appropriately, as tipping (around 20% of transfer cost) is quite common and keep in mind that bridge/tunnel tolls are not included in the shared-ride shuttle services fares. Another option is to ask your business travel company to arrange a shuttle service for your trip from and to John F. Kennedy International Airport as prices can vary greatly depending on location and number of passengers. In this way you can ensure that you are travelling with a reliable supplier.

An express bus service is also available for a nominal fee from Penn Station (reachable e.g. by AirTrain or taxi). The service operates from early morning to late night, with buses running at least every half hour.

The airport is also home to several car rental agencies. Leisure and corporate travellers can choose between a number of car major rental companies including Advantage, Thrifty, Dollar, Enterprise, Budget, Hertz, National and Avis.

So, which mode of transport should corporate travellers choose for a trip from JFK to Newark and LaGuardia airports? Usually the best way to get to Newark Airport from JFK Airport is to simply take the AirTrain. However, if you need to travel to LaGuardia during your business trip, it we recommend to take advantage of a convenient shuttle bus service, using the free Route A (running every 10-15 minutes from 4:00am to 11:30pm) or Route B (running every 10-15 minutes from 6:00am to 2:00am). In any case, more details, also for connections to other airports,

Hotels near JFK Airport

Hotel booking services for corporate travellers flying to New York JFK AirportAlthough there are no operating hotels at JFK Airport at the moment, New York provides corporate travellers a huge choice (from budget accommodation to luxury suites) of hotels and motels, which are conveniently located nearby the airport. Most hotel accommodations nearby offer shuttle services. Alternatively you can take the AirTrain to the Federal Circle station and follow the “Courtesy Hotel Shuttles” signs. There are telephone services for the hotel courtesy shuttles located at the AirTrain Federal Circle Station and in the arrival areas of the airport terminals ($5, i.e. about £3.04, €3.81, Service Charge for making reservations). The range of motels and hotels include the Hilton*, the Courtyard* by Marriott, Hampton Inn*, Sheraton*, Hilton Garden, Comfort Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Fairfield Inn* by Marriott, Days Inn, Best Western and Howards Johnson. The ones marked by an * are also offering conference and meeting rooms for corporate events.

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

In part two of our New York City Airport guide we’ll provide you with some business travel agents insider tips on Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) and LaGuardia Airport (LGA).

How to Delete Index.dat Files – Completely Erase Internet History

For those of you who are concerned about your privacy and don’t want any other users who have access to your computer to know what sites you’ve been visiting online, need to know how to completely erase internet history. You see you do not fully clear your internet browsing history when you clear the private data, cookies, browsing history etc. using your internet browsers lame privacy tools. In order to permanently delete the records of sites you have visited, pictures you have viewed, videos you have downloaded, or even emails you have sent online, you need to know How to delete Index.dat files. These files are hidden system files that keep a record of every single website and action you’ve performed online and if anyone gains access to them they can see exactly what you’ve been online. So by now I think you would’ve realized the importance of clearing index.dat files and since Microsoft doesn’t provide any utilities to delete index.dat files.

I’m going to show you how in this article.

Index.dat files are used by Microsoft to record information about internet sites that have been visited and details of cookies being stored on your PC. Whenever you visit a website on the net; the URL address, images viewed, time of visit, and other web page contents are all saved to your hard drive. There is no clear explanation as to why Microsoft needs these files but the primary reason is that the contents can be opened up quicker from your hard drive if you re-visit the same page again. One example of its use is when you type in the first few letters of an address in the URL bar that you’ve already visited and the full address quickly comes up, now this is great if you can’t be bothered re-typing the address but it’s a huge invasion of personal privacy if someone else is using your computer.

Anyone with the slightest knowledge of fully searching internet history or has heard about the existence of index.dat files will be able to know exactly what you’ve been doing online. So if you are worried about your privacy then you must learn how to delete index.dat files immediately, before someone else gets a hold of them.

Now I’m afraid erasing or clearing index.dat files is no easy task and it is virtually impossible to accurately delete all the files using manual deletion methods. The reason being, index.dat files are critical system files and are constantly being used by internet explorer and Windows all the time so you cannot simply drag and drop them in the recycling bin. You may be able to remove them using MS Dos if you are using Windows Me, Windows 98 or Windows 95 and then find and delete all the index.dat files one-one. However This is method is pretty complicated and vulnerable to errors as Windows usually stores more than one copy of index.dat and finding them all when they are located in hidden directories can be difficult. If you are using Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 2000 or Windows NT this tactic won’t work at all and you will need some help.

Because Microsoft hasn’t provided any utilities to easily delete index.dat files and also considering the fact they are near impossible to erase using manual methods, third party software designers have created programs specifically to erase index.dat files. Usually known as index.dat viewers or index.dat erasers, these programs are easily able to locate all index.dat files and quickly remove them, all at the click of a few buttons. Personally I use a program called Privacy Guardian 4.1 to completely clear my internet browsing history; it is able to fully secure my privacy by ensuring all traces of my online Internet and computer activity are permanently erased and unrecoverable.

So if you wondering how to completely erase your internet history then you must know How to delete Index.dat files. They cannot be deleted easily by manual methods and I must recommend you grab a good Index.dat eraser if you wish to delete index.dat files and fully secure your internet privacy. The good news is that most programs offer a free download so you can remove these files today at no cost. I can guarantee you will feel a lot better and be letting out a strong sigh of relief when you know you actually deleted all your internet browsing history permanently.

Slash Thousands From Your Business Travel

When it comes to your business travel we all know that this comes write out of your bottom line, but in order to keep good customer relations this is something that you must do. One of the most common things to do is to hire a business travel manager to handle all your business travel arrangements.

Did you realize that the median salary for a business travel manager is $73,000.00 per year? (FACT) Where’s the savings?

The best way to slash thousands from your travel expenses is to out source. You can have a travel agency do the same things as a business travel manager without spending thousands doing it. By having a travel agency handle your travel arrangements, you can save anywhere from 80 to 90% depending on how many traveler’s you have. By doing this makes your bottom line more profitable.

Let me ask you, would you rather spend 73,000 or 10,000?

The responsibilities of a travel manager are to choose transportation and lodging for company employees, advise about passport and visa requirements, rates of currency exchange, all things that a travel agent is already doing. Additional perks of hiring a travel agent is they can handle convention planning and group vacation organization for employees.

One of the best benefits from hiring a travel agent over a business travel manager is that a travel agent is offered reduced travel rates from preferred vendors as to where a business travel manager is not.

By out sourcing and hiring a travel agent over a travel manager, you are not only saving from paying a large salary, but you also save by not having to provide benefits such as health care and retirement. These could easily bring the cost of hiring a business travel manager to well over $100,000.00 a year. That’s Insane!!!

There are so many more benefits from hiring a travel agent over a business travel manager because they are so much more knowledgeable in the travel industry. How, when, and where travel is booked whether online or offline is very important when it comes to saving money on your business travel. These are techniques that only travel agents will know because they deal directly with travel vendors. Nine times out of ten a business travel manager will either call a travel agent or go to a travel agent’s web site for their information.(FACT)

Haven’t we learned in the past couple of years that foolish spending is not the way to go? Look at what it has done to big business. It’s time we get smart and trim the wasted fat. Wouldn’t you rather spend the money growing your business than hiring someone that’s probably looking out for them self rather the company?

When looking for a travel service for your company make sure that they have incentive and rewards programs. Look for a service that has the customer’s best interest at heart.

I understand that customer service must come first in order to have long standing business relations. I want to help you to accomplish this same goal.

How Do Equity Indexed Annuities Stack Up?

Sales of equity indexed annuities (EIAs) have grown considerably in recent years. These products are positioned as simple investment vehicles that enable the investor to participate in market gains but offer protection from market losses. In reality, these are complex investments and because salespeople are paid large commissions for promoting these products, it’s difficult to get an objective opinion on whether they are right for you.

How Do Equity Indexed Annuities Work?

EIAs produce an investment return that is tied to a market index, most commonly the S&P 500. Each product has a minimum guaranteed return (currently, 1% is common) and a cap rate, which is the highest annual return the investment can generate (currently, 8% is common). Consequently, an EIA with these common parameters would generate the same return as the S&P 500 of that return was between 1% and 8%. If the S&P 500 produced an annual return of less than 1%, the EIA would guarantee 1%. Similarly, if the index produced a return greater than 8%, the annuity would be capped at an 8% return.

Further, EIAs have participation rates that commonly range from 70% to 100%. For instance, if the index increased in value by 10% during the year, an EIA with an 80% participation rate would produce an 8% return (80% of the index’s 10% return).Also, it is important to note that minimum guarantees, cap rates, and participation rates can change at the whim of the insurance company.

Other Important Factors

As mentioned previously, salespeople are handsomely compensated for selling EIAs. To protect the insurance firm from paying a large commission to a salesperson only to have the investor sell the annuity, these products have a surrender charge if the investors sells within a certain time frame, which can be as long as 10 years. This surrender penalty can be as much as 10%. Thus, liquidity is severely limited with these investments.

EIAs offer tax-deferral, meaning an investor doesn’t pay taxes on investment gains until the annuity is sold. This tax-deferral is similar to the benefit offered by a 401(k) or IRA. However, unlike investments in a 401(k) or IRA, investments in an EIA don’t reduce your current income or tax bill when the investment is made. For this reason, many financial planners encourage their clients to maximize contributions to other tax-deferred vehicles before considering an annuity.

It’s important to note that most EIAs only count equity index gains from market price changes, and exclude any gains from dividends. Since you’re not earning dividends, you won’t earn as much as if you invested directly in the market. For example, the S&P 500 earned 15.1% in 2010, but 2.3% of that return came from dividends which would not be included in an EIA.

Lastly, the guaranteed return on an EIA is only as good as the insurance company that gives it. While it is not a common occurrence that a life insurance company is unable to meet its obligations, it happens. Information about the financial strength of insurance companies can be found on the SEC’s website.

Investment Return

Suppose a 45 year old with a 40 year investment horizon was looking for an investment that offered impressive returns with relative safety. Would an EIA be a good choice? Let’s consider a $10,000 investment in three unique options: an investment in the S&P 500, an investment in a conservative diversified portfolio* consisting of 75% bonds and 25% stocks, and an investment in an equity indexed annuity tied to the S&P 500. For illustration purposes, let’s assume the annuity has extremely favorable conditions: a 100% participation rate, a 3% minimum guarantee, and a 10% cap rate. Further, let’s give the EIA the benefit of the doubt and assume it includes the portion of the S&P 500’s return due to dividends, which few EIAs do. All and all, this annuity is significantly more favorable than any real product you are likely to find. Since the investor intends to live another 40 years, let’s look at what would have happened to these three $10,000 investments during the last 40 years, starting in 1970.

As you would expect, the $10,000 investment in the S&P 500 grew the most over 40 years, to $495,551. However, this investment endured significant volatility, losing as much as -37% in one year. Clearly, this investment is too risky for an investor willing to endure only a small amount of risk. Alternatively, the $10,000 investment in the diversified 75% bond, 25% stock portfolio grew to $433,838 — still an impressive return. However, the largest loss this portfolio suffered in a calendar year was -6% (1974), which might be tolerable to an investor with a low risk tolerance. Finally, while the equity indexed annuity with unrealistically favorable terms never gained less than 3% per year, our $10,000 investment only grew to $195,479. What if we consider an EIA with more realistic terms: 100% participation rate, 1% guarantee, and an 8% cap rate? Our $10,000 investment would have grown to only $103,767. Clearly, when comparing an EIA to investing in a diversified portfolio with a conservative ratio of bonds to stocks, an investor benefited of accepting a small amount of volatility in their portfolio.

ity indexed annuity without full knowledge of the product? Annuities have a “30-day free look” that enables you to surrender the product free of charge within 30 days of signing the contract. If you recently purchased an EIA, speak to a fee-only financial planner immediately to ensure the product was right for you. If you decide the annuity wasn’t what you thought, a fee-only financial planner can help you exercise your free look provision and find an alternative investment that is more appropriate.

Business Travel Trends 2010 – Part 1

It’s that time of year again; time to predict marketplace trends. Whether trying to explain the past year’s business ups and downs or preparing for next year’s marketplace, those in the know have begun forecasting, prognosticating and generally gazing into their crystal balls. After having read many of these predictions, including the results of various, pertinent surveys, here’s my take on what we can expect in 2010 and beyond with regard to trends in business travel.

Corporations will gradually begin to concentrate on managing trade and reducing travel. While everyone seems to agree that face-to-face meetings will continue to remain fundamentally indispensable in the way of doing business, most notably with regard to client relationships, corporations will put the emphasis on managing trade and reducing travel. Even so, businesses will carefully study how they may obtain the greatest return on investment from travel, doing away with any needless or excessive business trips.

The competition for employee talent may well lead to a noticeable reduction in limiting travel protocols, balanced by stronger compliance standards. Travel guidelines may also turn out to be less restrictive as businesses increase their attempts to draw and maintain suitable professional individuals. Further attention will be focused on employees’ work-life balance as well as managing productivity and less on accomplishing savings at the expense of traveler comfort and well-being.

Companies will ramp up attempts to control travel-related hazards. Preserving the safety of business travelers will continue to be of the utmost importance to travel managers, especially with regard to high-risk travel destinations. Corporate travel professionals will be looking for the ability to recognize services which will facilitate the improvement of traveler safety.

Consumers will depend upon merchants to become a motivating force in discovering “green” solutions. Fundamentally, businesses will seek to balance environmental issues with economic obligations, putting into practice a holistic, sustainable methodology with regard to travel.

Technology will continue to enhance the business traveler’s experience. Significant concepts will feature self-service, plug and play, one-stop shop and cellular phones. Simply put, from the decision to travel to post trip reporting of expenses, corporations will persist in seeking out technology that is more user-friendly and of worth to employees during their travel process. At the booking stage, additional travelers will make use of on-line tools as companies strive to better accommodate individuals within their travel design.

Believe it or not, this is not the complete outline of significant changes that may impact business travel as a whole. In Part 2 of 2010 Business Travel Trends we will continue to explore the very real possibilities that may play out for the business traveler in the not so distant future.