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Trends in Travel for 2014

by Lux Joseph 27. December 2013

As 2013 comes to a close, we begin to look at 2014 and what is to be projected for Commercial Medical Escorts and the travel industry.  Understanding your customer is important to success as a business owner and especially a business that is focused around customer service. Our customer base changes each and every year. Many businesses categorize their customer base by demographics, but travel is more than just demographics.

Every traveler has preferences and those preferences differ among demographics, psychographics, and the current desires of the traveler. Most people have a bucket list of the things they want to accomplish during their lifetime. Within that bucket list people have a travel bucket list that is forever growing and developing. At Commercial Medical Escorts (CME) we are moving patients from different destinations around the world every week. As travelers add to their bucket list for travel, they add new possible opportunities for CME. Want to go to the Neptune Islands in Australia to cage dive with Great White Sharks? Or maybe you have zip lining in Costa Rica to check off? While we do not wish the worst to happen to people when they travel, we do know our service is desired during a time of need.

Travel Leaders Group agents, the division that our travel department is part of, state that 94% of their clients will spend the same or more on travel in 2014. In 2013 that percentage was 92.2% and in 2012 it was 91.3%. Seeing positive growth in the beginning of 2014 establishes a level of confidence among travel professionals. Even with the economy not being on a positive growth it is great to see the industry that CME works alongside with optimistic trends for 2014. The data is representative of 1,358 U.S. based travel agency owners, managers, and front line agents from the Travel Leaders brand.

 

People will always be traveling. Whether they are traveling for business or pleasure, people are always on the run. During times when our economy isn’t as strong we see trends towards slower growth or decline in business, but every time a business sees or projects a decline in revenue, it is an opportunity to explore different avenues for profit. Airlines took advantage of this with the additional perks they add to purchasing an airline ticket. Ancillary fees exist for checking your bags, priority boarding, changing your flights, special seat assignment, and even special snacks on board the airplane. In 2014, we wonder what additional fees or perks may be new to the business traveler.

 

From a global perspective, 2014 brings changes to the travel world as well. Sabre Travel Network states that China will overtake the US in total business travel spent in 2014. Russia is also working on making visa free travel to the EU. At the same time many countries are working on evaluating their entry programs to increase visitors and provide entry requirements that are not as strict. Some tips to consider when booking travel in 2014:

·         Mondays appear to be the most expensive day for air, hotel, and car bookings

·         Avoid travel consumption on Mondays, followed by Fridays

·         For cars, the cheapest day is Saturday

·         For hotels, the cheapest day is on Tuesdays

 

Look at 2014 as a fresh start. Become organized when making your travel arrangements. Think ahead and anticipate things before they happen. Commercial Medical Escorts looks forward to what 2014 will bring. These trends are only a projection as to what will happen. Safe travels around the New Year and should you need assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are available to bring your loved one home for the holiday.

Cell Phone Usage In-Flight

by Lux Joseph 14. December 2013

Each and every day technology is evolving and improving as the tech world discovers new and improved ways to help us live our daily lives with the use of technology. Twenty years ago the form of communication was primarily US Mail, home telephones, and in some places, dial-up internet. Today consumers all around the world are communicating via cell phone, high speed internet, mobile hotspots, tablets, etc. to share their stories, build their companies, and build relationships. But how much of your time is spent on your cell phone instead of conversing with the person beside you? Are you able to spend two hours without access to making a phone call? Some consumers say yes while others say no. This topic was introduced after a recent vote by the Federal Communications Commission to consider lifting its ban on in-flight cell phone use.

Technology will continue to improve and enhance as new things are discovered and as time goes on. For years travelers have been aware of the rules and stipulations of cell phone use during flight. As travelers board their departure flight they hurry to make that last minute phone call to a loved one, finish up a business proposal, or follow up on something they forgot before the announcement “At this time, we request that all mobile phones, pagers, radios and remote controlled toys be turned off for the full duration of the flight, as these items might interfere with the navigational and communication equipment on this aircraft.” Many travelers thought it was a way to reduce the number of distractions on the plane and reduce the nuisance to other passengers caused by someone talking on a mobile phone near them. With the recent news from the FCC that doesn’t appear to be the case, but it is the reason that many customers wish the FAA to ban in-flight calls. New technology has developed and cell phone calls in-flight no longer create an interference with cell towers on the ground. From a medical escort perspective, this would allow our nurses to have 24/7 contact with our operations center and medical director while in-flight. However, we must also recognize the anxieties and stressors of flight that exist for many patients and how having other passengers around a patient talking on the phone may add to this stress level.

With every decision there are positive and negative results for all parties involved. As I just mentioned, this new technology would allow our medical escorts to have access to our medical director and operations team 24/7, but if we look at the statistics of our transports this positive change may not be strong enough to outweigh the negative effects that this policy will create for our patients. According to the FCC website, the role of the Federal Communications Commission is: The Federal Communications Commission regulates interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories. An independent U.S. government agency overseen by Congress, the commission is the United States' primary authority for communications law, regulation and technological innovation” (www.fcc.gov). The vote that was made by the FCC was true to their responsibilities and role within our country, but it will still take months before they are able to lift the ban. After that it will be in the hands of the FAA who will make a decision as to how this vote will affect commercial airlines and whether it will be up to the airline to decide or become an established policy in which all carriers will need to abide by.

When we transport passengers, it is primarily always in business class or first class unless the medical recommendation from their physician states otherwise or if the patient is able to tolerate a flight in economy class due to the remote location in which they are going to. Many airports throughout the USA and around the world are small and limit the airplane size that can land. This limits the cabin possibilities among carriers and many times only economy class seating is available on the small aircraft. In economy class the passengers are confined to a small personal space. If you are lucky to be able to choose an aisle or window seat you may be able to sit more comfortably then if you are stuck in the middle and confined to Boeing’s standard seat width of 17.5”. Boeing has patented what they call the Personal Space Model, a formula that accounts for seat pitch, width, and similar quantifiable measurements, along with more subjective elements of passenger perception of space. But even their Personal Space Model isn’t going to help when you have a person on each side of you conversing in a telephone conversation throughout a flight. Most people when speaking on the phone are not always aware of their surroundings and how loud they sound to the peers around them. We foresee this being an issue should the FAA allow the cell-phone calls during flight. Many individuals have debated about the cost per minute in the sky being a factor to reduce the number of phone calls, but even when cost is a factor there are always consumers willing to pay.

As this story continues to develop and we see changes in the future, we will continue to follow the developments. Travel by air will always be changing in terms of equipment, technology, policies, and procedures. CME looks forward to these developments so that we can deliver our service at only the highest quality.

 

Travel Expansion in Canada

by Lux Joseph 6. December 2013

Travel is changing each and every day. These changes range from new airline routings, new equipment, new hotels, updated airport terminals, travel advisories for certain destinations, new cruise lines, and new and improved frequent flier programs. Each of these changes can be viewed as transformations to not only the travel industry, but they also provide new and exciting opportunities for Commercial Medical Escorts. Our company works closely with a variety of different industries including healthcare, travel, transportation, customer service, and travel insurance. Changes in any of the industries can have an impact on CME and so it is important to keep up to date with these changes.

When traveling in/around Canada many people are familiar with Air Canada and Westjet; the two major players among airlines within Canada. However, recent news shows that a Vancouver-based trio is looking into launching a budget carrier within Canada. Budget carriers within the United States include Southwest, Air Tran Airways, Spirit, Allegiant and JetBlue.  Over the past three years the profit margins for JetBlue have continued on a positive track. When individuals, like this Vancouver-based trio, see other low cost carriers showing leading margins year after year in the USA, it provides insight for a program to be modeled after. This new competitor within Canada will not necessarily take business from the two major players, but provide a service that is not currently being capitalized upon: low cost, no frills flights. With that being said, West Jet is not going to just sit and watch it happen.

WestJet currently offers service across Canada, United States, Mexico, and the Caribbean. In the near future (Summer 2014) we can expect to see a daily flight between St. John’s Newfoundland and Dublin, Ireland. Currently WestJet does not offer any transatlantic routes, but this is just the beginning of that type of expansion. As with any new plan, expansion, improvement, or addition to a company, there is a process that takes place before launching something new. This process includes brainstorming, screening the idea, testing the concept, understanding the business analytics, conducting beta and marketability tests, technicalities and product development, commercialization, and post launch review and perfect pricing. The new routing will introduce the first nonstop service from St. John’s Newfoundland to Dublin, but it will also open up new routings to Dublin starting at other connection points within the WestJet service hubs. Should this service be successful, I believe we will see WestJet entering into our European markets including London, Frankfurt, Paris, and Madrid. Dublin was the first choice due to the airport authority offering incentives to attract new carriers like WestJet.

With new routings being introduced, carriers are also evaluating their current routes and determining if service should continue. Recently SouthWest has announced plans to discontinue service to Branson Airport, Key West International Airport, and Jackson-Evers International Airport. A date at which this will occur has not been determined, but Southwest states it will not affect travel within the next six months. American Airlines also recently discontinued service from New York JFK Airport to Tokyo Haneda International Airport on December 1, 2013. All of the services that are discontinued or canceled are done primarily because of limited profit on the routing. For American Airlines, they were allowed to only operate during restricted hours that limited their ability to offer connecting service to other Asia destinations. With all airlines, one canceled service, just opens up new opportunities for them to explore.

For each and every patient we transport home, we strive to find the most direct routing for the patient. Since we are working with commercial airlines, we are restricted to their availability and routings offered. Some flights are daily flights and other flights only operate on individual days. Our inside travel department provides us weekly updates with new information and this allows for only the most up to date travel information. The itinerary for a patient is very important to ensure a safe transfer home and delivering a variety of options to our clients allows flexibility and choice for the client.


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