Editor's corner - Travel tips

If you are new to our Leisure eNewsletter, I travel extensively to visit our clients and projects, both in America as well as internationally. During the past few weeks I was in Reno, NV; Burbank, CA; and Chicago, IL. Within the next few weeks I will be making a trip to Beirut, Lebanon where we are working with a major shopping center mall developer on space selection and concept development for entertainment centers in two different malls. And then I will be making my 6th trip to Vietnam for our project in Da Nang City (see story in this issue). Needless to say I rack up a large number of flights, hours in airplanes and miles (125,000+) each year. Over my years of travel I have learned a number of lessons, some the hard way. I thought I’d share a few with you:

  • I never expect to get there, so I am never disappointed and most of the time the airlines exceed my expectations. It’s all about having the right attitude, as things will go wrong occasionally, so just expect them to go wrong and you won’t get upset and stressed out. Fortunately, the travel gods will be good to you most of the time.
  • Don’t check luggage. Carry it on. That saves you time as you don’t have to wait for your luggage and your luggage always arrives when and where you do (When things go wrong on flights, you can sometimes get stuck overnight somewhere without your checked luggage). I can travel for four days with just my carry-on.
  • And speaking about expecting things to go wrong, on domestic trips I always have an extra day’s clothing in my carry-on. On international trips that are long where I have to check additional luggage, I always carry on essentials for my first three days’ meetings and three days of clothing. If your luggage gets lost on an international trip, it can easily take at least three days for it to get to you.
  • For international trip hub airport connections, make sure you have at least a two, and preferably a three-hour or longer layover, as if a flight is delayed, you could miss you international connection, meaning you probably will have to wait for the next day’s flight. And if the connection time gets real tight and you still make the next flight, your luggage may not.
  • Buy four-wheeled (spinner) luggage. You can push it or have it wheel next to you. All the weight is on the wheels rather than pulling your shoulder when you have to pull a two-wheeler behind you. It is easy to maneuver a carry-on down the airplane isles, as you can turn it sideways.
  • Buy a computer bag for your computers and other electronics and papers that has a flap so it will fit over and hook onto the handle of your four-wheeler carry-on. That way it supports all the weight and you are only need to maneuver one piece of luggage.
  • Buy a computer bag with a lifetime warranty. They are much more expensive, but worth it in the long run as they are better made. I have a Briggs & Riley. They have repaired it for free twice over its about 5-year life as it really takes a beating with all those miles of travel. Before I bought it I was replacing by computer bag about every six months.
  • I keep my computer bag always packed with everything (such as chargers and accessories) so when I am running out of the office to catch a plane, the only things I need to remember to put in it are my computer, reading material and client file. It’s real easy to forget things like chargers and cords for all the electronics, so that is why I keep duplicate chargers permanently packed in the computer case.
  • Seats over the wing are the least bumpy. The airplane flexes front to back in turbulent air (planes are designed that way, like a tree bending or a skyscraper swaying, so it won’t break), so the center over the wing moves the least.
  • Go for status on at least one airline by concentrating your flights on members of its Alliance. For example, if you fly Air France, it is a member of the SkyTeam, so you can use your Delta frequent flyer number to accumulate points. Just 25,000 miles a year earns Silver status. Once you accrue 50,000 miles, you get Gold status that has some significance for perks such as early boarding so there is room in the overhead bin for your carry-on, free checked bags, extra legroom in coach, etc. Each airline’s frequent flyer program is a little different. You can also get status by signing up for some of the airline credit cards. For me status is just as important, if not more important than earning miles, for its better customer service, as when there are problems or you need to make changes, you get better treatment, even by the airlines’ automated computers. Use the special 800 phone numbers they will give you for your particular status level when there is any type problem. You will get some of the airline’s best and most helpful customer service representatives.
  • When you can’t get direct flights, choose the hub airport carefully based on the time of the year. Chicago and the three New York area airports operate at peak capacity, so I avoid NY all the time unless I don’t have a reasonable alternative and avoid Chicago at all costs in the snow and thunderstorm seasons.
  • Stick to one or maybe two hotel chains to get status. I have status at Hilton, so I don’t ever have to pay extra for breakfast and there are a few smaller perks.
  • Sign-up for one of the car rental programs such as National Car Rental’s Emerald Isle program, so you don’t have to waste time in the rental line. At Emerald Isle, I just go direct to the Emerald Isle area and pick any car I want. Avis and I think other rental companies have comparable programs.
  • And I try to always pick the same model rental car so I know where all the controls are located. There is nothing worse than getting into an unfamiliar car at night and not being able to find the controls you need.
  • I travel with my own pillow. Makes a big difference for getting a good night’s sleep (It’s a feather pillow, so it squishes up and fits in my carry-on.)
  • Signing up for Global Entry and Trusted Traveler status allows you to breeze through customs and TSA screening at many airports. It is well worth the $100 application fee.

So there’s my advice to make traveling less a hassle and even half enjoyable. 

We have lots of great information in this issue of our eNewsletter including:

  • A nascent trend that is bringing back retro arcade games
  • Some interesting data about family incomes and their entertainment spending
  • Progress on our Da Nang, Vietnam project
  • Why food and beverage is so important for entertainment projects
  • Our most popular upcoming Foundations Entertainment University
  • Understanding the differences in the two genders is important

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Baby Bust Continued into 2012

Social Stratification of Location-Based Entertainment Spending Continues

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Randy White