5 Signs You’ve Found A Great Corporate Travel Agent

The term ‘travel agent’ is regarded by some as a part of the past, as though the idea is somewhat passé. This, of course, is the furthest thing from the truth, and nothing brings home this point more than the role of the corporate travel agent. This person/entity is pivotal in working with a very different client that needs to top-notch amenities and facilities. For businesses looking to have the upper hand in their industry, having the right corporate travel agent can make all the difference.

Here are five ways to tell that you’ve got not only a good, but a great corporate travel agent:

1. The agent is connected in, and to, your industry. Your agent should have a deep understanding of your business. By knowing how your industry works, your agent has a better way finding venues that work best, what services are essential, and above all else, what makes your company be unique.

2. Your bottom dollar is also their bottom dollar. A great travel agent not only understands your budgetary demands, but he/she tries to find all value available when booking for your company. Their flexibility extends to everything from last-minute travel to relaxing getaways and finding the right price.

3. Your agent reminds calm, composed, and rational regardless of the situation. No matter the chaos, he/she handles the smallest details with ease. Even in the midst of any number of travel scenarios, a great corporate travel agent keeps his/her cool and has a solution at the ready.

4. The right agent operates under your company’s travel policy. Much in the same way that travel experts advise would-be travelers to set a budget and make a plan, great travel agents at the corporate level are able to navigate all necessary travel request while maintaining the integrity of your company’s budget and policies.

5. The agent is able to readily handle every size of client. This day and age requires companies of all sizes to travel so as to make the right connections. Unfortunately, small companies tend to be ignored because they don’t have the larger budgets other companies do. No company wants to feel ignored. At the same time, bigger companies need to know that even though the travel agent accommodates small accounts, their larger needs won’t send the agent into a tailspin. Great agents and agencies do both without dropping the ball.

Bonus Point: A great agent/agency understands your company’s need to maintain privacy. When seeking the right travel agent for your company, always be sure to inquire about their policy and procedure regarding private data. It’s important to keep in mind that not only are you depending on your agent to work with sensitive information with the utmost respect, but your employees are trusting you to do the same in all facets of the business.

Finding the right corporate travel agent takes work and an exhaustive desire to find the best agency for your company’s needs. Ultimately, your hard work will be rewarded with stress-free travel planning.

Why Your Travel Insurance Claims Can Be Denied

Travelling is a good experience one can have in his lifetime. Most travelers opt to buy a travel insurance coverage to be “safe and secured” when something does not go according to plan or something unexpected happens. Before buying a travel insurance, it is very crucial for customers to understand first what the insurance does and does not cover. It is not guaranteed that you’ll be inevitably covered when anything goes wrong. Misinterpretation of an insurance policy can lead you disappointed when your travel insurance claim is denied in time that you most need it.

What if your travel insurance claim gets rejected in time that you most need it? The following are the most common reasons why your claim can get rejected:

Undeclared pre-existing conditions

When buying a travel insurance, state if you have a pre-existing medical condition. Some insurers will cover medical conditions for an additional cost while others may not. If you fail to disclose this info, then your attempt to make a travel insurance claim will be possibly denied when your medical records are consulted. Check and comply with all the rules set by the provider. Remember this particular insurance coverage is intended for unexpected injury and illness only.

Incomplete forms and documentation

Another reason why your travel insurance claim can be denied is simply that of an incomplete form, missing important information or are filled out incorrectly. Always make sure that your form is filled out properly and completely. All the necessary attachments are included before you send off your claims such as doctors’ certificate, police report (for theft or loss of item), purchase receipts for your valuables or even the travel delay confirmation from the carrier.

Participating in adventurous or dangerous activities

Travel insurance policies have different coverage in terms of sporting activities and adventure they cover. Usually, they don’t cover extreme sports which are deemed dangerous but an additional premium may be available for activities such as parasailing, jumping, trekking at heights, etc. Make sure to check the activities your provider covers before you sign up to a certain holiday activity.

Unapproved destinations (against WHO or FCO advice)

Some insurers will only cover for specified destinations and, usually, they don’t cover locations which the Foreign and Commission Office or the Whole Health Organization have advised against travel.

Alcohol intoxication or Drug Use

If you lost valuables, damaged a personal item or have an accident while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, your travel insurance claim is likely to be considered invalid. Though you are travelling to enjoy your life, be responsible and just keep everything in moderation.

Illegal/reckless behavior

Fraudulent, dishonest and illegal behavior such as going to restricted locations and unauthorized use of facilities are not covered by any insurance. Always abide by all the rules and regulations to avoid any problem during your trip.

Unattended baggage

Take note that unattended items will not be covered unless they’re in a locked hotel safe or in a secure car boot. When you claim for a lost item, always get a police report regarding the incident or ask the hotel or travel operator to give you a written statement – this will help with your travel insurance claim.

Events that happen before buying the travel insurance

Events that already happened before you bought an insurance, apparently, won’t be covered. If you claim for it then it will be rejected and could even be considered as fraudulent.

As much as possible, we want everything to go as planned: before, during and after our trip. But there are really some instances that something would go wrong and a stress-free and straightforward processing of a claim can ease the situation.

7 Best Online Travel Communities

True, Tripadvisor, Frommer’s and the Lonely Planet are some of the best online travel communities going, but they’re far from the only ones amongst the greats. So go on, expand your travel community horizons and check out our 7 Best Off The Radar Travel Communities:

1. Travelistic

From YouTube to Hulu to Yahoo, were a video obsessed bunch. Travelistic has cleverly taken this to head and created a travel community wholly centred around video.

Log on and you’ll find over 10,000 user submitted travel videos, to view, comment on and inspire your future travels. Want to visit the Great Wall? Journey to the top of Everest? You can do it all on Travelistic, without ever leaving home.

2. Igougo

A masterful all in one travel community, where you can plan your trip, compare flights and hotels and share your travel experiences with the world.

Just type in a destination and you’ll be instantly connected to a plethora of photos, reviews and users who have traveled or reside there. When you’re ready to go, create your very own trip journal and give back to the community by sharing your own travel experiences.

3. Trip It

Less of a travel community and more a travel service, Trip It is perfect for the organization nut in all of us. Just enter your flights, hotel stays and destinations and let trip it create an optimized travel itinerary for you in seconds. Never miss another plane or train again.

For those who truly want it all, upgrade to the pro version and Trip It will automatically alert you if there are changes or delays in your travel plans. That means less time at the airport, and more time at the beach.

4. Dopplr

Create a map with the dates and location of your travels; share it with the Dopplr community, check out other’s maps, then meet up with those whose travel plans overlap with your own. If you’d like to keep your location a secret from some (mom, dad, a raging x), don’t worry, you can control who can and can’t see where you are.

Along the way you’ll get a wealth of location specific travel information, so you’ll always know where to stay, where to eat, and what to do. Taking the thinking out of traveling, we like that.

5. Travbuddy

Travbuddy’s got all the ingredients that make for a killer online travel community; helpful forums, honest reviews, stunning travel photos and a dedicated membership 1.5 million strong.

Travbuddy ups the ante by giving you your very trip blog, allowing you to easily post your stories, pictures and reviews as you go. There’s even a built in mapping feature that builds a map of your travels as you venture across the earth.

Wherever, you’re headed, this is one buddy you don’t want to leave behind.

6.Travellers Point

Besides being a great place to plan, book and share your next trip, Travellers Point has hands down one of the best travel resources on the web; wiki travel guides.

These 100% user created and edited travel guides, give you the collective wisdom and travel experiences of over 250,000 members, right at your finger tips. From country and city guides, to travel health and safety information, you’ll find everything you need to get in the know, before you go.

7. Travel DODO

Travel DODO takes travel reviews and puts them into a fun, easily digestible format, Travel Do’s, and Travel Don’ts.

Want to find out which restaurants, hotels and attractions are best avoided in France? Just click on the location on the interactive map, and you’ll be given a list of places to cross off your list (travel don’ts), so you spend your valuable vacation time wiser.

Frankly, you’d be a DODO, not to check up here before you GOGO.

-Sam

At Your Own Risk – 10 Countries Where Travel Insurance Won’t Be Able To Help You

The foreign and commonwealth office draws up an extensive list of countries that should not be travelled to quite regularly and it is from that our, and other global travel insurance providers’, underwriters decide which countries travel insurance should be provided for. We look at the government travel advice and decide from that whether or not we can provide insurance to travellers.

Although global travel insurance does, by its nature, cover the majority of the world, the current climate ensures that there are some places where the likelihood of incident means that UK travel insurance providers are unable to offer protection. Thankfully, the list is clear of the majority of popular holiday destinations, and you’re unlikely to have your big holiday plans affected. The most likely group to have their travel plans altered by the foreign office’s travel advice are business travellers.

The foreign office’s travel advice is not to travel to the following countries, even if it means losing business – the risk from the warzones listed below is just too great to make the reward worth the danger:

Here’s our top 10 countries to avoid travelling to, and the reasons for the high risk factor! The risk is far from conclusive (the foreign office’s travel advice lists many more countries), but to me, these are the ones that all travellers should avoid like the plague:

10) Liberia

Economic hardship in Liberia is currently making outbreaks of violence common, and foreigners (especially westerners) are at risk targets due to their affluence. This extra likelihood of incident ensures that no UK travel insurance provider would risk offering you cover if you choose to visit Liberia

9) Nepal

Occasional acts of terrorism and political violence in urban areas make Nepal off-limits for those who want to get travel insurance. In September this year, three nearly simultaneous bombs went off in the capital of Kathmandu, killing 3 and injuring many innocent bystanders.

8)Haiti

Haiti is considered off limits to many travellers on account of the high risk of kidnappings and civil unrest that is prominent. At the time of writing, there have been 12 kidnappings of American travellers in 2007 – mostly criminal in nature. In the past, these kidnappings have ended in physical and sexual assaults and shootings. The potential for spontaneous protests and demonstrations has also been known to result in unexpected violence, day or night. It’s no surprise that the government’s travel advice is not to travel here!

7)Yemen

Due to the high levels of terrorist activity in Yemen, westerners are advised to steer clear of Yemen. If this is not possible, then all travellers are encouraged to stay vigilant and to keep a low profile to avoid attacks or kidnapping. The situation is so grave that the US Embassy often restricts American citizens from certain hotels, restaurants and shopping areas.

6)Israel

The Gaza Strip and West Bank has seen immense violence in recent months between Israeli and Palestinian factions, and shootings, kidnappings and violence demonstrations have occurred in each. The region’s continued instability makes travel to Israel widely recommended against – the risk of abduction or worse makes travel insurance impossible to obtain.

5)Democratic Republic of Congo

The democratic republic of Congo remains one of the most dangerous places to travel in Africa, where violence, neglect and corruption has left the country distinctly damaged. Fighting erupted in the streets of Kinshasa in March this year, and the situation remains volatile despite the immediate threat of violence calming down. Travel outside of Kinshasa is difficult and dangerous with security, especially in the north and easy, being unstable. Any traveller brave enough to travel to the Congo should be extremely cautious, avoid the North Kivu district which is the backdrop to armed conflict between government troops and army rebels, avoid crowds and keep a close eye on local media.

4)Burma (Myanmar)

While the human rights situation makes Myanmar an ethically uneasy place to visit, currently there is a lot of personal risk involved as well. Throughout September, the anti-government protests sparked a violent crackdown from the authorities and made international headlines. Although the dusk-til-dawn curfew imposed in some of the towns has been lifted, it still remains an uncertain time to visit the country and you’re unlikely to find any global travel insurance company who will insure you.

3)Colombia

Colombia remains one of the most dangerous places to travel in the world thanks to the crime the country suffers from. The illicit drug trade in urban areas such as Cali and Buenaventura means that there is often a high risk of violence, while the more rural areas expose visitors to the country at risk from narcoterrorist groups who will often kidnap civilians to use for ransom or to gain media attention. Naturally UK travel insurance companies are loathe to insure travellers who choose to ignore these warning and travel to Colombia anyway.

2)Afghanistan

With the war on terror in Afghanistan still fresh in the mind, it’s no surprise that the country remains a big no-go area. Western tourists are obvious kidnap and assassination targets, as many of the disbanded Taliban and Al-Qa’ida forces remain at large and hostile to the new regieme. Additionally, the country remains unsafe due to tribal groups, explosive devices, landmines, military operations and acts of terrorism. Unsurprisingly, the government’s travel advice is to avoid travelling here at all costs!

1)Iraq

Given the high profile nature of western kidnappings by various insurgent groups, and the regular acts of terrorism and hostility to Western troops, it is no surprise that no travel insurance companies will insure travellers to the troubled country. The instability is caused by various groups – Ba’ath regime remnants, transnational terrorists and criminal elements have been known to attack convoys en-route to venues, hotels, restaurants, checkpoints and police stations.

While holidaymakers are unlikely to be affected by these less touristy locations, their riskiness means that business travellers will have to forgo their travel insurance if they are unable to cancel their trips.