An Executive Director's point of view

 

August 02, 2017: What do travelers want?

Category: Travel
Posted by: David M Patt
Here are some key findings from a study conducted by the American Society of Travel Agents.

Regarding wi-fi: Travelers can live without it in the air, but really want it at the hotel.

September 21, 2016: Traveler pet peeves

Category: Travel
Posted by: David M Patt

August 29, 2016: No airport food

Category: Travel
Posted by: David M Patt
I try to avoid buying anything to eat or drink in airports (including a $4 bottle of water).

Prices are higher in that captive environment. And when an item doesn't cost more than in stores or eateries, it's often smaller.

But sometimes, I have no choice. So it went when I was trapped in Los Angeles International Airport, where I found prices to be higher than anywhere else I've been.

So, having no choice but to starve, I popped for an overpriced sandwich.

I'll try not to have to do that in the future.

August 26, 2016: Free wi-fi

Category: Travel
Posted by: David M Patt
When a hotel offers free internet access, be sure it is through a secure connection.
Category: Travel
Posted by: David M Patt
Associations almost always reimburse staff for travel expenses to meetings. While some large associations handle travel arrangements and most set aside hotel rooms, not all do. And small associations generally don't.

So, employees often have to make their own reservations and wait for reimbursement after the fact.

But many employees cannot afford to "loan" a thousand dollars or more to the association prior to a meeting. They may not be able to carry the credit card debt and some aren't able to add to huge balances they've already amassed.

So, reimburse employees (and independent contractors) as quickly as possible. But also find a way to pay for their air fares and hotel rooms so they won't have to incur liability for those items. You can cut checks for payments, use an association credit card, or even identify a Board member who is willing to charge those expenses.

Just don't force employees to front the money.

April 08, 2014: Sweet home, Chicago

Category: Travel
Posted by: David M Patt
Association meetings have led me through half-empty airports, with limited food vendors, no arrival/departure monitors, and no indoor passageways to planes.

So, returning to Chicago's O'Hare Field was a pleasant homecoming.

Yes it's crowded - and that's great. There are lots and lots and lots of choices for everything. And the place doesn't seem to close.

Airport security is excessive, but that's true everywhere. At least I've passed through pre-check a couple of times at O'Hare. Food and other merchandise is grossly expensive - but it is in other airports, too (and at hotels, too).

The airport reflects the City of Chicago - constant activity, late night hours, a downtown that is never empty (thousands of people live there), and lots and lots and lots of choices for everything.

It's nice to be back home.

May 09, 2013: Stash it under the seat

Category: Travel
Posted by: David M Patt
Airline travelers often fret about waiting too long to be seated on airplanes. They aren't worried about getting to their seats - those will be waiting for them.

They're anxious about being able to fill the limited number of overhead storage spaces with their huge "carry-on" luggage that barely falls within airline specifications.

But all that stuff doesn't need to be stored overhead. There's room for a lot of it under the seat in front of them.

I shove my briefcase and laptop under the seat in front of me and I check my other bag(s). An extra $25 isn't going to break me or my association. The wait at baggage check is usually brief and I've never lost any luggage.

My fellow passengers can scramble madly for space in overhead bins at the back of the plane while I calmly board.

If airlines charged for use of overhead storage space, maybe more passengers would realize how sensible it was to stash some of their stuff under the seats in front of them.

October 25, 2012: Phony hotel charges

Category: Travel
Posted by: David M Patt
Always contest room charges when you check out of a hotel. Many properties will assess you for items that you didn't use, like mini-bars, but will unquestioningly remove them from your bill - if you ask.

Hotels will often try to squeeze some extra dough from folks who just pay the bill without questioning anything.

August 05, 2012: The six-hour rule

Category: Travel
Posted by: David M Patt
When attending meetings within a six-hour drive of my office, I generally opt for a car. From my Chicago HQ, I've driven to Minneapolis, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Detroit.

Advantages?

1. Adhering to my own schedule, not that of the airline.

2. Carrying whatever I want and how much of it I want. My car has no baggage limit or content restrictions.

3. Car seating is far, far more comfortable than is seating on any airliner.

4. No shoehorning myself into tiny airplane bathrooms.

5. No invasive airport security.

6. No airport delays. And I can drive through weather that airplanes won't fly through.

7. Traveling time is not that much different. I can often drive to a destination in almost the same amount of time it will take to travel to the airport, walk through the terminal, pass through security, wait (and wait and wait) for my flight, board the plane, wait for it to taxi down the runway, fly to the destination, disembark, pick up baggage (sometimes), and cab or shuttle to the hotel or meeting facility.

8. Freedom. I like to drive and I can stop wherever and whenever I want for whatever reason I choose.

Also, the cost of parking a car at a hotel is not that much greater than the cost of parking at the airport or paying for cabs or shuttles at either end of the journey.

Disadvantages?

1. I can't work while I drive. But I've found that working in the airport and on the plane is not very efficient. I usually read a book, instead. While driving, I'm in work mode and can think about the meeting and other work-related items (I never listen to the radio or play CDs when driving to a meeting).

Final answer? Car trumps plane.

May 25, 2012: Traveling technology

Category: Travel
Posted by: David M Patt
"Don't access financial data on hotel or other public computers or on public wi-fi networks," advises Sid Kirchheimer, author of Scam-Proof Your Life, in his warnings for travelers.

Remember that when exploring the world from your laptop in an airport waiting room, hotel lobby, or convention center lounge.
 
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