Archive for the ‘ Travel Safety ’ Category

Tip-Top Laptop

Business travelers have laptops. Business travelers rely on those laptops to keep them connected with their lives. The whole idea of the laptop becoming dysfunctional during a trip can strike fear into the most fearless of flyers. So, here are some tips on keeping your laptop in tip-top shape.

  1. happy-laptopDon’t put it on your lap. I know, weird right? It is called a “lap” top for goodness sake. However, your laptop will be better off on a smooth surface, allowing for that ever-important airflow.
  2. Don’t leave it plugged in at all times. Let’s say you have a stint of non-travel, but you are so accustomed to plugging in while not traveling that suddenly your laptop is never unplugged. Not ideal. Unplug it a few times each week. Think of it as exercise for your battery.
  3. Power down a few times a week. Though it is tempting to keep your laptop on, it is a good idea to shut it down.  Just like you, your laptop needs some downtime.
  4. While traveling, keep your laptop with you at all times. I know you know this, but we have all been in situations where we are just going to “leave it there for a second to go get a latte.” Don’t. Take it with you.
  5. If you have sensitive data on your laptop, encrypt it. For an on-the-go solution, check out TrueCrypt.
  6. Back up your data. You know this too, but do you do it? Buy an external hard drive and back it up once a week.
  7. No updating or installing while traveling. Sometimes those updates and installations do not go as predicted. Save such activities for when you have time to deal with any bugs that may come your way.

If you have any other awesome happy laptop hints, please do share them with me on my Facebook Page!!!

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When Meeting Meets Disaster

Disasters are rare, but they can be so big and devastating. having a bit of upfront knowledge can go a long way when you are called to act quickly. Here are some things for you to keep in mind should disaster befall your meeting.

  • Keep the Lines of Communication Open: Your attendees are privy to the same information you are when a disaster is about to hit, but they still need to know that you are aware of the situation. Make sure to send out updates via email, on your website, and on all your social media channels. Let them know that if the meeting will need to be cancelled or re-scheduled that you will let them know immediately, or even if you are in a holding pattern until additional information comes in.  In any case, let them know.
  • Put Yourself in Their Shoes: There is great comfort in knowing that your organization is on it and watching. They will look to you for information. Recognize that some people have a very difficult time with last minute change; your meeting was in their plans and now those plans are changing. Though they realize you did not actively seek to plan a meeting at the same time as impending disaster is about to hit – how you handle your communications can help to put many a mind as ease. You will also gain their trust.
  • Be in Constant Contact with your Host Property: Make sure you are working with them on a “Just in Case” Plan.  What is their flexibility on dates? Can they help you to find another property for the meeting? Explore your many options. If you were lucky enough to have a site selection manager help you find the property, their expertise will definitely come in handy at this time!
  • Learn about Insurance Now: Depending upon the size and scope of your meeting, it would behoove you to take some time to look into insurance before booking your event. This can save a lot of money down the road and help you avoid a disaster of the financial kind.
  • But We’re Already Here! If the disaster strikes while you are there, be prepared ahead of time. Make sure you have all important contacts easily accessible in both digital and written form; this will be contact information for speakers, your webmaster, your social media manager, senior people within your organization and more. Just like a good Boy Scout, make sure you carry a flashlight, bottled water, battery operated radio, charged back up batteries for electronics, etc. The most basic of items can make all the difference. Also, have copies of your insurance policies and contracts on hand.

You do not have control over disaster, but you do have control over your being ready, to the best of your abilities, if you end up in disaster’s wake. Let Hurricane Sandy serve as a reminder to all of us the importance of being prepared.

*Thank you to PetHub for the image!

Business Travel Minus the Hassle

Hear ye, hear ye! Seasoned or newbie business travelers alike! Here are some hints and tips for achieving a trek with less hassle:

Know the charges: Each airline has put forth its own twist on fees for luggage, meals, extra legroom and the like. Check out this page to find out how much you may be adding on to your fare.

Avoid luggage charges: Say goodbye to your trusty huge roller bag and divide that baggage bounty up between two smaller bags. One carry-on that will fit all your essentials and fit under the airline seat, along with a more flexible bag that will fit in the overhead bin.

Revolve your wardrobe around one color: For men, pack one color pants and jacket, then bring along different colored shirts and ties. For women, think mix and match pant, skirt, and jacket/sweater. Bring along easy-to-pack camisole tops in different colors and interesting, if not bold, jewelry to achieve varied looks. If you need to pack exercise gear, get a pair of the new lightweight workout shoes. Exercise in your undies (stay in your room for this one) with this 20 minute routine.

In your carry-on, make sure you have designated areas for your electronics, cords, notebooks, reading materials, pens, etc. This will help you to know exactly where to reach for what you need while in flight. Also, invest in smaller pouches for protecting anything that may get lost at the bottom of your bag:  vitamins, makeup, glasses, etc.

International travelers, check out Countryplug and know ahead of time the type of adapter you will need for wherever your travels take you. Make sure to have exactly what you need to recharge your electronics! Not taking this important step ahead of time is sure to create many a headache for you.

Security lines have become the bane of travel! Before you step up to the closest line, check out the other lines. Look for lines filled with mainly business travelers and less with families. Steer clear of anyone with strangely shaped baggage (think musicians, snowboarders, golfers).

Stay aware! Being aware of your surroundings is a must. When traveling you may not be as aware, you are focused on just getting there. But being aware of where you are at any given point during your travels can make a world of difference when it comes to leaving things behind or being a victim of crime. Make it a point to check in with yourself here and there.

Seasoned business travelers do not party hardy, sleep little, and stray so far from their routine that they return exhausted. Stick to a schedule, eat and drink healthy, sleep, keep up on your emails, stay connected, come back just as sane as you left.

Have safe travels. Be sure to share with me your savvy travel advice on my Facebook page!

Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite (no, really, don’t)

Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite (no, really, don’t)

Recently Successful Meetings Magazine posted an article about the 25 Most Influential People in the Meetings Industry. Happy to note that Roger Helms was amongst the distinguished line up! But I must admit I was a bit taken aback that one of the 25 was not only NOT a person, but a bed bug – ugh! Apparently these little guys are the “most prolific event crashers in the history of the meetings industry.” 

According to the site Raveable, the number of reported bedbug incidents has risen more than 660 percent between 2011 and 2012. The site provides up-to-the-minute information regarding bed bugs and the hotels that they now call home. May not be a bad idea to check out the page before you book your next hotel. For a listing of the most notorious cities with hotel bed bug issues, check out this page.

There are some signs that the little buggers are about and some places you should definitely check out before checking in. Here is a quick list:

  • As their name reveals, they will be found primarily around the bed. Check the sheets for red or black streaks.
  • They hide out in the nooks and crannies; be sure to do a thorough check all around the various crevices in the bed. A small flashlight would come in handy for this inspection.
  • Make sure to check the box spring, especially around the corners and seams.
  • Other possible places to check are the electrical switch plates, behind baseboards, in any extra bedding left in the room and any furniture drawers.
  • A good trick is to use a hair dryer, point the hot air toward any crevices, this will force them out of hiding (and force you into another room or possibly another hotel)!

The good news is that they are not known to transmit disease, but their bites may itch. Antihistamines or creams with hydrocortisone or diphenhydramine (Benadryl) will be helpful in easing the itchiness.

Either way, let’s face it, none of us are too keen on becoming some bugs’ meal! My wish for you is to have a good night and sleep tight and there not be any bed bugs around to bite you.  Have any bed bug stories?

Please do share on my Facebook page.

Safety Travel Tips

Traveling can be fun and enjoyable, and at times hectic and stressful. It can also put us at risk.  Be safe in your travels with these easy tips.

  • Always, always, always latch your hotel door. Hotels are not infallible, sometimes they send another person up with a key to your hotel room, not realizing that you have already been assigned that room. In order to keep you safe, and at the very least from facing an embarrassing situation, latch the door!
  • All important documents should be kept on your person. Do not leave these items in the pocket of your bag where they can easily be snatched up, nor should you pack them in your luggage.
  • If you are going to be traveling abroad, enter information about your upcoming trip at STEP, Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. STEP is a free service that is provided by the US Government. It is designed to be able to better assist you in case of an emergency.
  • Know where you are at all times. GPS may be all the rage, but it you are in an unfamiliar city, make sure to know where you in relation to where you are staying by familiarizing yourself with a map of the city. Maps are usually provided by the city’s visitor center, chamber of commerce or hotel.
  • If you have a stopover while flying and will be changing planes, you can check out where your connecting gate is while in route if you have a airport terminal map handy. Check out this site for Airport Terminal Maps.
  • Keep your important phone numbers on hand. Make sure you have the phone numbers for where you will be staying, the airline phone number, and contacts entered into your cell phone list.
  • You have heard this before, but it is always worth a mention, keep all prescription medication with you in your carry-on bag.
  • Women in particular, watch your beverages; never accept a beverage from someone you do not know, and do not leave a beverage where someone can put anything in it while you are away.
  • Keep a small flashlight with you or download one to your phone. Droid users check out DroidLight and iPhone users check out Flashlight or Flash Light (for iPhone4 only).
  • Bring along a small first aid kit with items like band aids, alcohol packets, Dramamine, Benadryl, mosquito repellant, etc.
  • Be Aware and Listen to your Gut! It is easy to become frazzled and preoccupied while traveling, don’t allow yourself to go there; stay aware of your surroundings. Also, listen to your gut! If something seems amiss or strange, stay away, get out and move on. Keep in mind that there is such a thing as staged accidents, designed to get you out of your car, as well as people who wish to “help” you after something has been spilled on you. At the very least, these people are looking to steal something from you, at the very worst . . . . please be careful.
  • For more information, Kevin Coffey specializes in Corporate Travel Safety and he has a ton of great insights at this site!

Stay safe, my friends. If you have any other good tips to share with us, please let us know below!

The Land of Lost Luggage

I love to travel. Well, I don’t know if I love the travel portion as much as I love arriving to and from my destination safely and WITH my luggage! According to the airlines they only “mishandle” .5% of the luggage;  “mishandled” meaning it is damaged, missing items, or does not arrive at the same time as the passenger.  Still, that means 10,000 bags per day are “mishandled.” Approximately 100 of those bags are lost forever and never re-united with their owners. So, where do those bags end up?

They end up in Alabama.

Yes, Scottsboro, Alabama is home to the Unclaimed Baggage Center, where people can literally go and shop for other’s lost goods. Here the contents are sorted, cleaned and priced for sale – they go through about 1 million items each year. Of course, some very interesting things have been found; a 40.95-carat natural emerald, Egyptian artifacts dating back to 1500 BC (including a mummified falcon and a shrunken head), and a Barbie doll with $500 hidden inside! For more interesting items click here.  You can even take an online tour of the store to check out some of the latest treasures.

The airlines do a 90 day intensive search to find the rightful owners, and if they simply cannot be found, the luggage and all its goods are sent to the Unclaimed Baggage Center. Lots of people, however, find the Unclaimed Baggage Center. The center attracts approximately 800,000 visitors a year. Many come in search of one-of-a-kind bargains, others come simply out of curiosity.  If you want to get a feel for what they buy, check out Peek in the Bag; here you’ll see someone’s actual receipt, including the items they purchased and their costs.

So, how can you avoid your suitcase and contents ending up in Alabama? First of all, make sure to have all your contact information like flight itinerary and travel/hotel information stored securely inside your bag. That way if any of your luggage tags are removed in route, they can find all the information inside and contact you. Also, make sure that the person checking in your luggage has the correct destination on the tag. And keep those baggage claim tags in a safe spot!

Of course, do not put anything expensive in your checked luggage, some rather spend-y items have been found and sold at the Unclaimed Baggage Center; Versace dresses, jewelry, watches, diamonds and more. As well, do not overstuff your bag, if it bursts open, it has a much higher chance of becoming unclaimed.

Losing luggage brings up a most disheartening moment; at the luggage carousel, you watch one lucky passenger after another claim their carefully packed suitcases and once the carousel has been emptied of its baggage bounty, there you stand, wondering where your dear luggage has gone. . . . .

You can always pray. A Catholic friend of mine suggests St. Anthony of Padua, who is the Catholic Patron Saint of Lost Things. If you need instructions on how to pray for lost items, the author of this E-How article shows you how. The author claims that praying to St. Anthony has worked for them about 90% of the time. My guess is that when one of us has lost our luggage, we may well be inclined to pray; may as well go with the saint that has a knack for finding lost things.

Please share you lost luggage stories and hints for not losing luggage with me below!

Superstitions in Industry

How do superstitions affect your industry? In the hotel industry it is well known, for example, that most hotels in the United States do not have a 13th floor. This is due to the superstition around the number 13, otherwise known as triskaidekaphobia.  In Nathaniel Lachenmeyer’s book, 13: The Story of the World’s Most Notorious Superstition, he explains that triskaidekaphobia is “so ancient and its history so fragmentary that no one will ever know the truth” of its origin. None the less, the unlucky nature of 13 is recognized.

Of course, in reality, the 13th floor does exist in many hotels, recognized or not. Sometimes the floor is designated as floor M, since M is the 13th letter in the alphabet. More often the elevator keys simply skip from floor 12 to floor 14. There also exists conspiracy theories around the 13th floor. In government buildings that lack a 13th floor, for example, some believe that it is intentional; the floor is there, but it cannot be accessed by the public – perhaps high level secret activities are going on?

13 is sometimes a suspicious number in various Asian cultures as well, but this is only because it’s separate numbers add up to 4. ( 1 + 3 = 4). In many of the Chinese, Japanese and Korean dialects the word for “four” sounds quite similar to the word for “death.” As a result, numbers with a 4 in them, like 14, 34, 54, etc. are many times avoided due to the presence of the digit 4. In buildings from hotels, offices, apartments to hospitals, you will go from floor 39 to floor 50. As well, table numbers with a 4 in them are often left out in wedding dinners and social gatherings.

In cities where East Asian and Western cultures blend, it is possible that some buildings will simply skip floors 13 and 14, as well as all floor numbers with the digit 4 in them.

The Finnish telecommunications firm Nokia, observes this superstition “as a polite gesture to Asian customers.”  They do not release any phone models that begin with the number 4, except in some rare cases such as the Series 40 platform.

Airlines are not immune to the superstition, on Continental Airlines there is no row 13. The same is true for Air France, AirTran, KLM, and Iberia.

The number suspicion trend is not, by any means consistent; if you pay attention you are bound to find a building that does not recognize the superstition. But it is interesting to note its prevalence.

Has a  superstition ever affected your event and meeting planning? Have you purposefully not held a meeting on a particular day because it was Friday the 13th? Have you ever needed to book an Asian client on a different flight, because the flight number of the one you chose for them had the number 4 in it? Please share your stories with me!