Archive for March, 2012

“Did you know…Amex biz travel moves agents to home offices?”


Working from home cartoon

Working from Home

As of 2010, more than 2% of the U.S. workforce telecommutes a majority of the time.  This, according to the Telework Research Network, amounts to roughly 2.8 million employees, and that figure does not include self-employed workers or unpaid volunteers.

Cost-cutting and a desire for great flexibility and work-life balance are big contributors to the growing trend of telecommuting. So, it shouldn’t come as a big surprise to hear that large enterprises, like American Express, are announcing plans to move groups of employees out of traditional offices to a home-based model.

Value Travel Series — Part 4 of 4: Portugal, Europe’s Bargain Travel Gem

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics – Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

Portugal, the bargain travel gem of Europe, is the final theme of our Value Travel Hot Topic Series.  Jayme Simões, Communications Partner for the Portuguese National Tourist Office, shares offers that are hotter than a plate of Chouriço sausages. Check out our previous Value Travel installments on Good Dollar Destinations; Grand Golf Getaways for Not a Lot of Green; and Luxury for Less.

Jayme Simoes, communications partner, Portuguese National Tourist Office

Jayme Simões, Communications Partner, Portuguese National Tourist Office

Portugal Offers Top Travel Value

For travelers looking to get the highest rated room for the least amount of money, Portugal is the place to look.  With an average of 84 euros per night, Portugal is the sixth most affordable country in Europe. With 5-star properties averaging a daily rate of less than $200, Portugal’s capital of Lisbon is the ninth least expensive city in Europe.

According to the New York Times, Lisbon has been seen as the charmingly faded city in which tradition dominates the tourist scene, but Lisbon is getting fancier every month.  By day, ambitious startup museums and renovated industrial districts offer an infusion of contemporary art and design.  By night, a beginning wave of neo-Portuguese restaurants, stylish nightspots, and innovative hotels provide places to stay.  And the best part is, the city remains a terrific bargain.

Most of the hotels in Portugal are Portuguese-owned and operated.  The cuisine is Portuguese, the culture is unique, and as the oldest nation in Europe, Portugal offers a wealth of poetry, history, monuments, and events that make the country an authentic travel destination.

Portugal Beach

Beach in Portugal

As an example of the value of traveling to Portugal, here are some current packages being offered:

  • At the Bairro Alto Hotel, take advantage of their “Discover Bairro Alto” package, which includes 3 nights accommodation, breakfast served in the hotel’s restaurant, transfer between the Lisbon airport and hotel, VIP welcome, 1 dinner per person (Chef’s choice), and a 3 hour walking tour with an official guide, prices starting at     €295 (~$393) per night in a Superior room.  Valid thru 2012 – subject to availability (and excluding new year’s eve)
  • The Douro Azul is offering a 7 night/ 8 days cruise on the Douro River, which runs through some excellent wine making parts of Spain and Portugal from €995 (~$1,327) per person.   A shorter excursion of 4 nights/ 5 days is also available for € 449 (~$599) a person.  Departures only occur on July 29, August 5, 12, 19
  • Spring Package – 5 nights at Arteh Hotels and Resorts – Estalagem da Ponta do sol in Madeira Island. Do not miss this opportunity to discover the beautiful Island of Madeira. Enjoy the stunning landscape from Estalagem da Ponta do Sol. From 65 EUR (~$87) per person/night in a double room, valid through May 31, 2012
  • Long Stay Promotion – 3 or 5 nights at Pousada Infante in Sagres, Algarve Region. Take advantage of the special long stay discounts of Pousada Infante to enjoy a short break in Sagres.  Rates from 38,25 EUR (~$51) per person/night in a double room. Valid through October 31, 2012  




Value Travel Series — Part 3 of 4: Luxury for Less

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

In part 2 of our Value Travel Series, golf aficionados scored big with top-ranked golf resort getaways for not a lot of green.  This week, Diane McDavitt, President & Co-Founder of Luxury Link Travel Group, gives us the real deal on “Luxury for Less.”

Diane McDavitt, president, Luxury Link Travel Group

Diane McDavitt, president, Luxury Link Travel Group

Luxury for less. We hear the phrase a lot, but what does it mean?  In most cases it’s code for “distressed” inventory that can’t be sold at regular prices — Last season’s handbag, a whole shipment of designer shoes with scratches on the heel, a spectacular suite at the Ritz…for tomorrow night.  That said, recent economic challenges have changed the definition of “distressed” for many retailers and that’s been a boon for buyers, particularly in the travel sector where the inventory is perishable.  Rooms at some of the finest resorts in the world – in high season, no less – have shown up on sale sites around the web.  But what happens next, as the economy improves, supply tightens up and demand increases, but we’ve all been spoiled into expecting 50% off or more? The good news is there will always be exceptional travel values available, regardless of economic conditions.  Will you have to look a little harder for them?  No doubt.  But they will exist.  Here are a few ways to find them.

1)      Flash Sale Sites – this phenomenon exploded on the web a couple of years ago.   Offering  night-only, limited time room sales to a private membership group, the deals on these sites can be amazing though the selection is narrow.  Some of these upstart companies have already shuttered, but the big ones will remain standing because hotels will always have seasonal holes or last minute cancellations.  Tip: Sign up for the top 3 (Vacationist, SniqueAway, Jetsetter) and be prepared to pounce when you see a great deal.  Save now, travel later should be your mantra.

2)      Travel Auction Sites – The advantage here is a shot at an exceptional deal; the ‘disadvantage’ is you might be competing for it.  Nevertheless, the wait and  bitten fingernails are often worth it – Luxury Link offers high-end vacations, including luxury room accommodations, meals, spa services and other extras you can’t find anywhere else; average winning bids are 50% of the best available rate.  The good news is Luxury Link’s deals are offered year round regardless of the economy – luxury hotels use the site for exposure to an affluent audience.  For less fancy fare, SkyAuction and Priceline offer the opportunity to bid for hotel stays in the mid to lower end range.  Tip: Do your research.  Check the hotel’s own web site to verify rates to be sure you’re getting a deal.

3)      Off Peak – Take a serious look at shoulder and off season for the destinations you wish to visit.  Rates are lower, crowds are smaller – you can stay in some of the finest hotels in the world for a relative song if you’re willing to travel off peak.  And let’s face it, regardless of your budget, do you really need to pay double to stand in line?  Tip: Remember “off peak” is not only related to time of year; for some destinations it could mean Sunday to Thursday (Napa, anyone?) or weekends (New York City).

Come back next week when we wrap up our Value Travel Series with a trip to Portugal, Europe’s bargain travel gem.

“Did you know…The nation’s longest serving flight attendant?”

(New York Times – Travel)

Ron Arkana, the longest working flight attendant

Pictured, Ron Arkana, flight attendant (photo by: Jamie Schwaberow for The New York Times)

Mr. Akana has worked as a flight attendant for 63 years, clocking some 20 million miles along the way, the equivalent of circling the globe about 800 times or flying roughly 40 times to the moon and back. Though no one tracks seniority across all airlines, he is widely believed to hold the title of longest-serving flight attendant in the United States. Read more about Ron Arkana’s 63 years of flight attending.


Value Travel Series – Part 2 of 4: Grand Golf Getaways for Not a Lot of Green

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics – Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

In part 1 of our 4-part Value Travel Series, award-winning travel author, Tim Leffel, brought us to Panama, Equador, Belize, Caribbean and Atlantic Islands, where the U.S. dollar’s value is always reliable. In part 2, Kris Fay, founder of Northwest Golf Adventures, takes us to some of Golf Digest’s top 100 ranked golf courses and resorts and tells how guys and gals on a modest budget can take a golf vacation of a lifetime.

Brandon Dunes

Bandon Dunes

Did you know that the Pacific Northwest has nearly a dozen golf courses and resorts ranked in the Top 100 by a variety of golf publications? Sometimes, living here, I forget that that’s the case. However, the number of truly great golf courses scattered throughout Oregon, Washington, Idaho and British Columbia is amazing.

For the average golfer, some of the greens fees associated with these golf courses are intimidating. The average traveler can rarely afford to call and pay the high rates for some of the best destinations.

That’s where Northwest Golf Adventures comes in.

We’ve been working for ten years with resorts and courses in our region to make golf vacations affordable. I’ve always felt that all golfers should have the opportunity to play courses like Bandon Dunes (the top ranked resort in the United States), Chambers Bay (site of the 2015 U.S. Open), and Coeur d’Alene (home of the Floating Green).  Northwest Golf Adventures doesn’t offer tricks or timeshares to bring the price down, we simply offer alternatives to standard golf packages.

Rather than one-size-fits all golf vacation packages, we offer custom-fit golf vacations tailored to just about any budget. Some of our packages feature basic lodging and greens fees packages, but we’re often able to save our clients money by offering them lodging away from the golf courses or finding high-end rental homes.

Many clients have one or two courses in mind when they call us, but we’re able to suggest complimentary courses to round out their vacation. These courses have lower greens fees, but the quality is still high. We’ll never work with or recommend a course before we’ve had a chance to play it.

In addition to packages that average golfers can afford, we strive to make the overall experience a memorable one. That’s why each of our clients are provided with suggestions on where to eat – many times with dining and drink discounts – and what to do after a long day on the links.  For more information, visit us at

Next week we’re going to explore travel auctions with Luxury Link president, Diane McDavitt, and how consumers with rich tastes and thrifty travel budgets can vacation like royalty.