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Winter Travel Season-- Top 10 Ski Resorts

by Lux Joseph 3. September 2015

Summer is coming to an end and winter will be just around the corner. Individuals choose to go on vacation and holiday year round. Whether it is a weekend getaway or a weeklong exploration, vacation is an opportunity for people to relax and do some of their favorite activities. The winter season brings opportunities for snowshoeing, snowmobiling, ice fishing, snowboarding and skiing around the world.

Vail, Colo., is the top ski resort in the U.S., according to members of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), while Whistler in Canada is the best for skiing outside of the U.S.

Vail was chosen by 23 percent of those surveyed mainly because it is a large ski area with plenty of accommodations, has different skill levels and has the right ratio of social activities to skiing to keep clients happy. Several agents said their choice of Vail was based entirely on the feedback from their customers, with one saying “my opinion doesn’t matter; my clients ask for Vail and return to Vail more than any other ski resort.” 

Following Vail were:  Aspen, Colo. (15%); Park City, Utah (10%); Breckenridge, Colo. (9%); Steamboat Springs, Colo. (6%); Beaver Creek, Colo. (3%); Snowmass in Aspen (2%); Telluride, Colo. (2%); Keystone, Colo. (2%); and Jackson Hole, Wyo. (2%).

Whistler, Canada, was chosen by 18% of respondents for its proximity to the U.S., beauty and good accommodations. Said one agent: “It is easy for Americans to reach and the village has lots of things for families to do.”

Rounding out the top 10 international ski resorts are: Zermatt, Switzerland (15%); St. Moritz, Switzerland (11%);  Innsbrook, Austria (8%); Chamonix, France (4%); Banff, Canada (3%); Davos, Switzerland (3%); Val d’Isere, France (3%); Kitzbuhel, Austria (3%); and Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy (2%).

As you start to plan your winter vacation, consider some of the key winter locations that boast 300+ inches of snow a year. Many of our nurses will travel to these winter destinations to bring your loved ones home via commercial airline. Our escorts sometimes will pick up a patient in 80 degree weather and return them to a climate in which the weather is below 20 degrees.  This is the nature of the business and their suitcase is always packed for dramatic climate changes.

We encourage you to engage in those winter activities that you love the most, but please ensure you consider safety when going down those triple diamond trails. We suggest all travelers purchase travel insurance and be aware of your surroundings. Safe travels this upcoming winter season.

Beware of Tourist Scams When Traveling Abroad

by Lux Joseph 22. July 2015

Summer is the season for our medical escorts to be traveling to/from Europe on a weekly basis. Although Commercial Medical Escorts moves patients in and out of Europe throughout the year, summer is the most favorable time of year for travelers to see the Amalfi Coast of Italy, the heart of Paris, and the other magnificent destinations throughout Europe. Pictures and stories depict Europe as a great place to visit, but as a tourist CME reminds you to be cognizant of your surroundings and stay away from “tourist traps”.

U.S News reports the top ten European cities as:

  1. Rome
  2. Paris
  3. London
  4. Florence
  5. Barcelona
  6. Amsterdam
  7. Prague
  8. Berlin
  9. Venice
  10. Vienna

Of these top ten destinations, three of the cities are in countries where tourist scams are most prevalent. Spain is the number one ranking country in Europe known for tourist and holiday scams. Italy and France follow close behind. Every day travelers to these areas have a high chance that they could become a victim of one of these scams. Some of the most common scams include pickpockets, over-charging taxi drivers, charging a hidden tourist tax at hotels, street vendor tactics, and street crime.

In an article written by Hugh Morris from The Daily Telegraph, he provides statistics from a study which travelers were scammed:

Rank

Country

Percentage of Individuals scammed

1

Spain

21.5

2

France

14.8

3

Italy

10.2

4

Turkey

8.4

5

Austria

8.1

6

Greece

7.5

7

Belgium

7

8

UK

5.4

9

Armenia

4.4

10

Cyprus

4.4

 CME strongly encourages our nurses and physicians to take necessary safety precautions when traveling abroad. Our operations team does a full safety review of each destination to ensure our escorts are aware of the safety protocols and current social environment at each location.

 The USTIA provides the following tips to prevent common scams when traveling:

Once you have arrived, here are some top travel scams you want to be on the lookout for:


1. Credit Card Confusion – You’re relaxing late at night in your hotel room after a long day. The phone rings, and the clerk at the desk explains there has been a mix-up on your paperwork and credit card number information.  They would like to read the credit card number to you to verify that it’s correct.  They provide you with the last 4 digits of your card number and ask you to verify that it’s correct (it won’t be).  After you explain the number is incorrect, they sound confused and ask you to read back the entire number. Once you read the entire card number they claim to have found the form and all is well. You’ve just been scammed!

What to Do When The Phone Rings:

  • Never give your credit card information over the phone from your hotel room. 
  • Go downstairs to the hotel registration desk in person should any “questions” arise in regards to your reservations or payment details. 

 

2. Taxi Cab Scam – You’re standing in the hotel’s official taxi line waiting. Suddenly you hear “taxi?” and turn to see a nicely dressed person motioning for you to leave the line. You notice the 15 people waiting in front of you and think bypassing the line might be a good idea; after all, you’re in a hurry!

Do not take the offer! Scam artists are known for posing as taxi drivers. Accepting a ride risks more than your wallet, and you might become a victim.  Once you are in the car, these con artists may take you to a deserted area and then assault and/or rob you of your luggage, money and other valuables.

What to Do If Approached:

  • All official taxis should have the car number and company plainly visible on the outside. Check for it – if you don’t see it, don’t accept a ride.
  • Visibly examine the rate “sheet” and/or the meter when you get into the car. This may keep the driver from getting any ideas about hiking up the per mile rate after you’ve started toward your destination. 
  • If you’re unsure about where and how to catch a proper taxi, check with your hotel concierge for a recommendation.

3. Helping Hand – Walking in a crowded tourist attraction, you suddenly find you’ve been bumped and food or drink spilled on your clothes. The kind stranger who jostled you offers to lend you a helping hand to clean up. While helping you, the stranger also helps him or herself to your wallet. 

What to Do:

  • Stay alert in a crowd! Any attempt to divert your attention or jostle you should be treated as a pick pocketing attempt.
  • Divide up any money that you are carrying between your pockets, socks, shirt, wallet and any other areas you can think of. It is unlikely that a thief will be able to reach all the different areas where your money is stored should you be targeted. 

4. The Deal of a Lifetime – This one may happen prior to departure!  These scam artists will offer you hotel or other accommodations in a travel hot spot for a ridiculously low price. The goal is to relieve you of your money as quickly as possible. To do this, they might offer you a “bonus” or a “prize” for purchasing. Typically the prizes sound great, but are not as advertised.  


What to Listen For:

  • Time sensitive Offer – “only good for next few minutes…”
  • Warnings - “you can’t tell anyone about this!” or “only one package is available...”
  • Verbal pauses - “ahs” and “ums”

If you are approached, do not agree to purchase without first verifying that the company is legitimate. In the U.S., you can do this by inquiring about the company’s liability Insurance. Any legitimate company should have liability insurance. If not, it should be a red flag that things aren’t on the up and up. Remember, if a trip seems too good to be true, offers too many prizes or bonuses or is below market cost, then it probably isn’t a legitimate offer.

If possible, use a credit card when paying for your tickets, hotel, car rental and attraction fares. This ensures you can dispute any charges if you do get scammed without actually being out money from your bank account.

Be smart when you travel. Make sure you purchase travel insurance and always know your surroundings. Commercial Medical Escorts believes safety and security is the number one priority and so should you!

The New Travel Protection: AirCare

by Lux Joseph 30. May 2014

A large percentage of the patients that CME transports with a medical escort are travelers that have travel insurance.  Travel insurance can save a traveler several thousand dollars all the way up to hundreds of thousands of dollars depending on the type of plan they purchase and what type of assistance they may need. A medical escort ranges in cost depending on the location of the patient, destination, and the type of arrangements, but it definitely saves a family a significant amount of money to have travel insurance. It is important to understand and recognize the different travel insurance and protection products that are available and their scope of coverage. We encourage you to contact your travel agent to discuss the different options available.

In this article, we are sharing with you one of the newest products to the industry provided by AirCare. While Commercial Medical Escorts works with the travel insurance and assistance companies in providing a medical escort for medical claims, many insurance products offer other travel protection services. AirCare is delivering a product to the market that will benefit a traveler somewhere every single day. Delays, missed connections, and canceled flights happen every day somewhere in the world. We all hope that it doesn’t happen to us, but you never know when it may and it is important for you to be covered and protected. That is what this product does. It isn’t insurance, it is protection.

AirCare is a product of Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection. This plan will compensate travelers for many of the travel inconveniences that occur on a daily basis and most of them require no claim forms to be submitted. The focus of the program is not only to provide protection, but to require minimal effort of the individual that is insured. The next time you are experiencing one of the following travel inconveniences see what AirCare is going to cover you for:

·         Lost or Stolen Luggage

·         Flight Delay Causing a Missed Connection

·         Luggage Delayed 12+ hours

·         Flight Delay 2+ hours

·         Tarmac Delay 2+ hours

Each of these unfortunate travel issues are all covered by AirCare. If your luggage is lost or stolen, AirCare will pay you $1000.00. If your flight is delayed so long that you miss a connection, Air Care will pay you $500.00. For those who check baggage to your final destination and your luggage is delayed more than 12 hours; AirCare will pay you $500.00. A flight delay more than two hours will result in a $50.00 payment and a tarmac delay more than two hours will result in $1,000.00. The compensation model that AirCare has developed is beneficial to the travelers especially considering it only costs $25 per trip. Even if travel goes perfect, the small amount the travel pays for the protection seems well worth it.

One of the great features of this protection is that you can purchase the protection up until one hour prior to the original scheduled departure. At the current time this program is only available on domestic travel, but I think we can expect to see the program expanded in the future. The program is designed so that a traveler could get multiple payouts from AirCare. If they have an unlucky travel day that is faced with a fly delay, that then results in a two hours on the tarmac, followed by a missed connection; the traveler would be looking at an automatic payout of $1,550.00. The team at AirCare monitors the flights and tracks each flight. They will know if a connection is missed, or if you are stuck on a plane and before you know it the funds are deposited into your bank account or PayPal.

Choosing the right travel insurance is never easy and that is why Commercial Medical Escorts recommends you speak with a trusted travel agent that is knowledgeable about the different products and what they have to offer. Many travelers are uneasy about travel insurance because of the complexity and AirCare is trying to remove that anxiety by providing a product that is simple to understand and manage. On March 3 Chris Isidore from CNNMoney reported that since December 1, there were over 1 million canceled or delayed flights. Just in January 2014, MasFlight reported 300,000 weather-related delays.

Consider protecting your travel for $25. Keep in mind this is not insurance and will not help you in the event you need a medical escort or air ambulance, but hopefully it will appease travelers who tend to run into travel inconveniences. If you are interested, you can purchase your plan today by visiting: https://www.bhtp.com/travel-protection/aircare.


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