Work From Home in the Home Based Travel Business

There are essentially 3 types of travel home based business opportunities.
1. Becoming a licensed travel agent.
2. Marketing and reselling promotional vacation certificates.
3. Marketing travel membership clubs.
1. Becoming a travel agent requires licensing. You can book travel under the umbrella of a registered travel business using their travel agency IATAN number. After a certain amount of sales and commissions earned you can apply for your own IATA number. As a travel agent you can book your clients’ travel using travel consolidators and marking up the price to earn a commission. Travel agents are required to be licensed and bonded. Some hotel chains require the travel agent to complete their own travel agents exam online in order to claim travel agent benefits. Becoming a home based travel agent has become a sought after home based business within the travel arena. Not all work at home travel agent businesses are created equal. Some members are unable to utilize travel consolidators and can only use their own replicated travel portal websites to book travel. The commissions here are very low and the main income comes from recruiting other members. Other travel agencies train the members to become fully fledged travel agents, where potentially the commissions on bookings can be much higher.
2. Marketing promotional travel certificates has become a popular business. The certificates can be resold to businesses or companies but generally can not be sold to the end user. Promotional items have become part of the marketing arena and create customer loyalty. If the promoter sells the certificate to the end user a license is required in most states and provinces in Canada. Everyone loves a good deal but many certificates have black out dates and require the spouse or partner to travel with the person registering the certificate. Some certificates require a timeshare presentation. As a work from home business, the promotional certificates generally generate smaller commissions.
3. Travel membership clubs have been the staple in the home based travel arena for over 14 years. They have progressed from those selling just promotional vacation certificates and discounted last minute travel to becoming full fledged travel agencies. Some even offer concierge customer service, have access to huge databases of resort vacations, cruises, flights, car rentals and more. Some home based travel businesses have the added bonus of earning rebates on travel booked from company portal websites. In order to resell travel, the home based travel company is required to be a licensed re-seller of travel and should have their license number visible on their website. These discount travel memberships are popular not only as a way to earn money from home for many thousands of members, but are also popular as a real way to get deeply discounted prices for the savvy and frequent traveler. The commissions on travel memberships can be very high, many companies offering direct sales bonuses of over 50%.
Unlike other home based businesses and work from home opportunities, the travel industry offers a product with market recognition. Everyone knows what a vacation is and what a cruise might entail. Travel is a $7Trillion industry and continues to be a growing market with no signs of losing steam. It is also packaged as a fun industry. When asked, a dream vacation is one of the most wanted items atop a wish list.

Helpful Notes When Preparing A Taxi Driver Accounts To Save Money

Self employed taxi drivers in common with other self employed businesses are required to submit a self assessment tax return form each year reporting the main totals from the taxi drivers accounts. The final submission date for these accounts to enable the tax authorities to calculate the tax payable is 30th September while the final deadline for submission of the self assessment tax return is 31st January. Miss the 31st January deadline and the penalty fine is 100 pounds.
The simplest solution to preparing the taxi driver accounts is to collect all the taxi receipts and expenses together, hand them over to an accountant who will prepare your self assessment tax return and might charge between 150 to 450 pounds for the privilege. That is taxing. Taxi driver accounts does not have to be that taxing. You can prepare your taxi driver accounts and self assessment tax return yourself but do something.
These taxi driver notes in preparing the taxi driver accounts and completing the self assessment tax return are to assist that process.
Mileage Allowances
Taxi drivers can claim as an alternative to vehicle running costs mileage allowances of 40p for the first 10,000 miles and 25p per mile thereafter. You may not claim mileage allowance and vehicle running costs. Should you choose to claim the mileage allowance then keep good records of mileage covered, purpose of journey.
Taxi Capital Allowances
If you bought a vehicle in the financial year 2007-08 and used the vehicle as a taxi you can claim a first year writing down tax allowance of 25% of the cost of the taxi, restricted to 3,000 pounds for vehicles costing over 12,000 pounds. On vehicles purchased in previous tax years you can claim 25% writing down allowance on the balance not yet claimed. Many taxis are bought and sold each year and where a taxi is sold the capital tax allowance that can be claimed is the difference between the written down value for tax purposes and the amount of sale proceeds. First year allowance on non vehicle assets in the current tax year 2007-08 is 50% for small businesses.
Taxis bought on Hire Purchase
Claim capital allowances on the original cost of the vehicle, interest and other charges count as business expenses and go in the self assessment tax return box 3.61 Other Finance Charges
Taxi Running Costs
When completing the self assessment tax return taxi drivers should enter fuel costs in box 3.46 cost of sales not motoring expenses. A standard check carried out by any competent inland revenue inspector inquiring into a self assessment tax return would be to check when the taxi driver was on holiday and examine if fuel receipts had been included for this period. Not many tax returns are inquire into as the system is based upon trust but taxi drivers should ensure their accounts do not contain this fundamental tax fiddle. Taxi running costs also include repairs, servicing and parts including tyres, road tax, taxi insurance and AA/RAC membership. Include radio hire and taxi office costs in general administrative expenses.
Household expenses
If you run your taxi business from home you can claim a proportion of household expenses as business expenses in the taxi accounts. Household expenses are likely to be disallowed unless they are either specific to the business or a specific area of your home is devoted entirely to your taxi business. Using part of a room part time would not be sufficient to include the household expenses in the taxi driver accounts.
Spouse Costs
You can claim expenses for partners who work for your taxi business and payments up to 100 pounds per week would not attract income tax or national insurance however any payments claimed in the taxi driver accounts must be real payments for real work done. The Revenue naturally adopt a strict view on taxi expenses claimed for partner work as it is an area some people might use to reduce the tax liability. Care is required to justify the partner as an expense.
Other Expenses
Enter all business expenses in a named expense box on the self assessment tax return. Avoid entries in box 3.63 Other Expenses if possible as any significant amounts in this box may give rise to an Revenue inquiry into the self assessment tax return.
The best method of ensuring the taxi drivers tax bill is as low as possible in the future is undoubtedly to meticulously maintain good records of all taxi receipts and expenses and mileage covered which offers the opportunity for taxi drivers to compare the taxi running costs against mileage allowances and choose the most tax efficient option. The decision to claim mileage allowance or taxi running costs can and often does change during the financial year. In general when a more expensive taxi cab is purchased then the capital allowance of 3,000 pounds will often outweigh the potential mileage allowance although if the vehicle is low value the mileage allowance might be the best option and a method of saving valuable tax pounds which you are entitled to. The best taxi accounting software will automate the comparison of taxi mileage allowances with taxi running costs doing the taxi accountants work for you.

Save and Profit From Your Own Online Travel Booking Engine

Now is your chance to finally profit and save big from the largest market shift in history. That is the Travel Industry Shift from the Brick & Mortar to the online Click & Mortar.
Are you ready for a good time off rate for your next vacation? If you are watchful for the cheaper prices, mull over using the internet and booking online using an online travel website. These online travel websites are becoming in demand with holidaymakers and travelers nationwide.
Usually, you will come up with cheaper rates, cheaper prices in airline and traveling fares. Online travel websites are qualified to accommodate their clients with cheaper pricing because their over-heads are normally less than your standard travel agency who maintains a big staff, have to pay a lease for their office space and have to furnish equipment for the travel industry. Utilizing the internet, travel entrepreneurs can cut their expenses by spending exclusively over the internet or by telephone.
Online travel websites are providing instant communication over the internet, where conventional travel agents have to check and research travel information. So, travelers are benefiting from instant travel information, services and the convenience of booking all travel online and not needing to leave the home or work place to book their travel.
Now travel enthusiasts can use these online travel websites to select their own vacation destinations, stops, routes, dates, and basically plan their own vacation to fit their particular needs. As you continue to read this article, you will find my resource box at the bottom with a link that will show you how you can profit big from this huge market shift in the travel industry. This is made possible with your very own online Booking Engine website.
So, there are numerous advantages for travelers to use online travel websites instead of a conventional travel agency. Online travel websites will allow you to plan and select your vacation or destination and then select the most affordable flights or passage to your selected vacation destination. Select an online travel agent with industry experience, this means that they will have sufficient expertise and knowledge, contacts and additional to guarantee you get the least expensive deal possible.
Use the internet to set up your next vacation, save yourself time, money and gain from the convenience of online shopping and booking. Online travel websites are becoming a big business in the travel industry. These online websites have practical, informative and helpful websites for their patrons to compare prices and find useful information on their vacation destination and their selected online travel website’s choices and services in the travel industry.
Join the travelers of the world and originate your plans and bookings for travel and vacations by using an efficient, professional online travel agent. Save money, time and take advantage of creating your own vacation structure. Decide on the best vacation for you, and let professional online travel websites get the cheapest travel rates available.
I hope you have gotten some good ideas from this article and are able to use them.

Top Travel Trends in 2010

The holidays next year will be to a great extent affected by the economic recession most countries suffered this year. That however does not mean that people will not go on holiday, but that instead they will be more careful with how and on what they spend their money. Holiday makers will spend more time searching for great deals, such as exploring new travel destinations to find the best bargains and joining Online Travel Agencies (OTA) to gain good discounts. Below are some of the predicted top travel trends for the year 2010.
1 – Looking for budget options
Economical holidays will the key deciding factor this year, with holiday makers searching out the best budget details and discounts. Make sure when you plan your holiday this year, not to just go for what looks like the best rate, but hunt deeper for complementary give-aways, such as a free night’s stay on a multiple night stay, gift cards, spa credits, coupons and free dining etc.
2 – Eco Travel
Humans are slowly but steadily becoming more aware of their impact on nature. Think ‘green’ is the trend these days, with its effects being felt even by the travel industry. Most travelers look for Eco friendly holiday options, holidays that cause minimum damage to nature. Eco travel was born out of this need and is a continuing trend for 2010.
3- Mixing business with pleasure
The world is always on the go, with most travelers finding it more economical and viable to mix business with pleasure. Nowadays business travelers look for accommodation options that cater to all their business needs while providing leisure activities as well, so they can enjoy the best of both worlds.
4 – Latin adventure
Latin America is finding itself growing more and more popular with travelers as a luxury travel destination.
5 – Train Travel
Rail travel in Europe has grown popular, as this is an economical way of traveling while enjoying the wonderful scenery on the way. This has become even more popular with the new high speed rail links into Spain and Italy.
6- Going Mobile
With the growth of mobile applications and capabilities, it is now even easier to plan your travels, such as tracking flight information and planning itineraries. Mobile phones now play a very important role for travelers in helping them with their travel planning. They are used to receive information from travel agents etc and are fast proving to be invaluable to travelers.
7 – One platform for travel plans
With the busy schedules most of us have, it is easier to have one central platform from which to plan your travel details. This way you can keep track of everything happening in the travel industry, be up to date on the latest happenings and not just make one off purchases. The Internet offers strong travel centrist sites where such central services are offered, so that people can plan every aspect of their travels, from creating the trip, to searching for accommodation, getting advice about the intended trip, finding the best deals down to updating profiles so as to keep friends and family informed.
8 – Adventure Travel
The year 2010 will find people looking for holidays with more action. Most now look beyond the standard and look for adventure such as jumping out helicopters, skiing, safaris, bungee jumping as well as more personalized holidays with private tours of museums and art galleries. For the more adventurous a growing trend is to take a high-speed car tour around major cities!
9 – Seeking out new hot-spots
As with everything in this world trends change. As travelers expand their travel horizons, China, India and the Gulf States find themselves growing into the latest hot-spots. This trend will grow more in 2010 as travel to the ever popular European destinations at the moment for most, is not economical. So traveling to China, India and the Gulf States gives the traveler an exotic holiday while being easy on the purse, with favorable exchange rates and low travel costs.

Monsters on a Bus

When I finished my drivers test last week, I was welcomed aboard as a new full time driver for Lisa Motor Lines and given a choice: if I wanted to start trucking that very afternoon I could have an International tractor right there in the yard in Fort Worth. If I didn’t want to drive the International (and who does?) I could have an older, five years, Freightliner tractor…
…but…
…The Freightliner was in Tampa, Florida, another reason to opt for the Freightliner. March in Florida, how bad could that be? I’d have to go to Tampa to retrieve the truck…
…but (and this was the really BIG BUT!)…
…Lisa would only send me to Florida by bus, a Greyhound, thirty hours from downtown Fort Worth to Tampa. The bus left at 6:00 a.m. the following morning and, God willing, would arrive in the Sunshine State around noon the following day. I hadn’t been on a cross-country bus since I was a kid. It might be kind of fun in a weird sort of a way, I thought. Besides, what could possibly go wrong?
I presented myself with all my gear (a lot of it) at the Greyhound station in downtown Fort Worth at 5:45 a.m. and was immediately assailed by the driver, a big man who threw his considerable weight around like a wrecking ball. He would not answer any questions from passengers, shouted orders like a drill sergeant and cussed and griped under his breath the rest of the time.
He yelled orders; passengers had to line up inside the terminal behind a specific door (we were all standing outside at the bus door). When a woman asked him to repeat the door number he dismissed her. “I already said the door number and I ain’t going to repeat it. You better learn to listen better.” He walked off. Later as we were boarding, a young man stepped out of line to throw a piece of paper in a nearby trashcan, the driver yelled, “Hey! When I say ‘all aboard’ I mean get on the bus! Don’t you get out of line again or I’ll leave you here!”
This bullying of the passengers continued all the way from Fort Worth to Dallas (what, a half an hour?), but I was so furious by the time I arrived at the Dallas terminal I was ready to chew through anything that got in my way. I found the station supervisor. “You need to fire that driver! You need to fire him off this job right now! He’s the meanest son-of-a-bitch I’ve ever met!” The words spilled out of my mouth like too-hot soup, but it was obvious this was not news to the supervisor who just turned and sauntered away.
The attitude of all the Greyhound employees I encountered, be they drivers, counter help or baggage handlers, was the same. Their sarcasm, condescending attitudes and aloofness were unconscionable! The drivers had all the warmth of vengeful prison guards. When a black woman, just as angry as me, deigned to ask still one more question, the driver retreated to an almost identical tirade about. “I already said it once, I ain’t going to say it again…,” like he had memorized it out of the company handbook, doubtless the very short chapter on Customer Service. But this brave woman wasn’t taking any more lip from the driver. “When I want a lecture I’ll call my mama!” she yelled back, overpowering the driver. “What I want from you is a civil answer to a simple question!” I joined in the applause the woman had earned. The driver was not moved.
The problem facing Greyhound is not merely one of escalating fuel prices, expensive equipment in poor condition and spotty passenger counts, but one of attitude and if it’s true that ‘manure’ roles down hill, Greyhound’s front line employees are standing in the cesspool created by distant, insensitive and uncaring management. The bad eggs need to be rooted out and fired. If there are any employees left after that house cleaning, they need to know that they’re going to be next ones thrown ‘under-the-bus’ if customer service doesn’t improve.
The ride was interesting. The bus was sort of clean, kind of like a football stadium right after a big game. It ran well when it was running (it quit three times, once in traffic and the police had to come and stop cars while the driver [a different but equally rude one] rummaged around in the engine compartment).
The day wore on into night and the array of odd passengers made the trip surreal. It was just as weird to see a well dressed, refined woman with coiffed hair and stylish clothes, as it was to see the grizzled old man in three different plaid pajama pieces, a bathrobe, slippers and a cowboy hat.
But in the hours when you can only see another passenger in the headlights of a passing car or truck, everybody looks weird. At that hour of the night we are all refugees, monsters who don’t know, don’t want to know, or don’t want anyone else to know where we are. It’s a grim parade with vampire overtones, one that kept us all from restful sleep.
Tampa came into view as the sun was hovering over the bay in the western sky. Only six hours late – not bad, I was told. I didn’t make any lasting acquaintances, you don’t on a trip like that, only momentary relationships that serve to wile away the daylight hours or to keep the monsters – the other monsters in the night – at bay.
But unlike our Greyhound drivers, when the sun came up, we passengers turned back into human beings.

Woman’s Travel World

As a woman, it is quite a rare opportunity to get to see and enjoy the world in our own way. There are very few travel opportunities when we drop our worries and responsibilities down and wear the new aura of being ourselves. It is our time that allows us to live from to-do-lists, children’s whereabouts, office tasks and the details of the rest of the world. Ladies travel club is a wonderful opportunity with international and domestic tour packages wholly designed for women.
Domestic tours packages involve auspicious Konark tour packages, unique relaxation special Kerala women tours and Chennai-Puri tour packages that would totally set you free and rejuvenate you. It is the best way to get ready for the life challenges again. From single mothers to home makers to professionals to business owners want to pick these domestic tours for women that offer various itineraries and packages of various sizes. Women from all the walks of life love the travel without any male guardian around. It offers time for gossiping, shopping, relaxation and just the time for your family to miss you at homes. It is the kind of two-in-one deals for women only.
There are so many ways in which women’s lives revolve around our jobs and family. If you continue to carry on your family pressure on your travel, you would not come back refreshed and empowered for the challenges of life. That’s why these packages are successful in domestic and international levels. From a short 3 day escapade to a total refueling package of 10 days, they are created with women in mind. From one night accommodation in Cochin to extra shopping time in the itinerary, from the spa visits in Kerala to sightseeing in Mysore, women are the central focus of all the details.
This is created to be our time. It is completely our time to be spent in gossiping or just laughing aloud, in yapping about husbands to non-sense shopping sprees. These alone travels allow women to heighten their confidence and also make them self-reliant. These qualities make them able to handle crisis situations in much better manner and also give them the kind of monthly group meetings to look forward to.
The international packages involved travels to Sri Lanka, Dubai, Bhutan and China. The explorations create the excellent opportunity to understand the cultural nuances of all these places and enjoy the different experiences. The small groups of 15-20 women give the chance to get to know each other as friends and fellow-travelers in much better and intimate way. That changes the dynamics of the group altogether. Women can here as travelers and leave with some friends of the lifetime and great moments that they would cherish for the lifetime.
Have you ever found a journey that can change you forever? If no, then you must join WTC and luxuriate in the experience because that’s what we enjoy and share with more and more women through WTC. The freedom and duty-free time just for yourself is what would create the most exciting and never-before time for each and everyone if us.

Travelling From Newark NJ to Orlando Florida Via Niagara Falls

The day finally arrived and it was time to set off on our journey to London Gatwick airport for our Month long trip to the US. We had booked to stay overnight at an Airport hotel so that we could be fresh for our trip the next day. I should point out that this trip was pre 9-11.
Our flights consisted of a flight to Newark NJ with Virgin Atlantic and a return flight from Orlando also with Virgin. We booked car hire in two parts, both with Alamo. Because car hire is more expensive in New York, the first leg would be for 7 days and then we would return the car at Orlando and take out another rental for the remainder of the trip.
Our planned itinerary was to stay overnight on landing at Newark in a Holiday Inn close to the airport. Then head off the next day to Niagara where we would spend 2 nights, then journey down to Florida, staying 2 nights on the way.
We took off on time from Gatwick for the almost 7 hour flight. Although we were regular travelers to Florida, we had never been to New York before and as our time would be a bit limited we had not planned on visiting the city across the water on this trip. We arrived mid afternoon after flying quite low along the Hudson River giving us a magnificent view of the New York skyline, to a very busy Newark airport. The airport itself was undergoing some major alterations and it was a bit chaotic to be honest. We eventually, cleared immigration and collected our luggage and at that time the Alamo car rental desk was off the airport so we had to wait for a bus to take us there. In fact from where we were waiting, we could see the rental depot outside the airport across the road. The bus arrived and took us to the depot. We had booked a one way rental and we knew we would have to pay a drop off fee of $300. The clerk tried to talk us into upgrading even though we had booked a seven seat minivan for the 4 of us and had prepaid all our fees and insurances. We paid the drop off fee and the airport collection fee (which she managed to get us to pay) she gave us the keys and told us where the vehicle was located.  Imagine our surprise when we found the vehicle was in fact an 8 seat GMC minivan, obviously the one she wanted us to pay the upgrade for and better yet it had Florida plates!! At that time we were keen to get going so it didn’t much bother us about that. We set off to find our hotel and after a short drive we came to the Holiday Inn. We got checked in and headed to our rooms to freshen up a little before having our dinner. We opted to stay in the hotel to eat and had a few drinks before retiring for the night.
The next morning with our body clocks still being on UK time enabled us to be up at 5am, fresh and ready for our drive to Niagara. We set off around 5:30am and decided we would get breakfast on the way. After a bit of a nightmare trying to get to the interstate we eventually left the Newark area. Daylight had come and we found a Perkins to have some breakfast en route. The rest of the drive was fairly uneventful and we remarked how similar the scenery was to where we lived in the UK. When were nearing Niagara Falls, probably about 30 minutes away, I could see what I thought was steam rising from a cooling tower in the distance. It turned out to be the falls.
We had decided to stay on the Canadian side of the falls and had booked 2 nights at the Sheraton. Once we got to the border we had to go through customs and immigration, we had no problems and were through in about 15 minutes. It was then that we got the first view of the falls, from the bridge, what a magnificent sight it was too. I can say that photos don’t do it justice. We went to our hotel and checked in then set off to discover Niagara. We decided to walk to down to the falls and it only took around 5-10 minutes. The first striking thing that occurred to me was that the spray rises so high, in fact the following morning when we left the hotel I thought it was raining, you know the fine drizzle type but it was in fact the spray from the falls. The wind direction was blowing towards our hotel. We did all the usual tourist things, went to where the whirlpools are along the river. I was surprised to see so many Armish people there, I don’t know if it was a holiday time for them or what but there certainly was a lot. We would see some more of them too later in the journey through Pennsylvania. We did the “Maid of the Mist”, well the men did and it was spectacular. We set off on the boat towards Horseshoe Falls, once the boat get close you hear the engine rev up as the skipper increases the power to get you in close, the only thing I can describe it as, is something like the Arctic, it was just white everywhere and you are being covered in a white spray. Even with the waterproof poncho’s you still find the water getting in somewhere. The trip over, you head back to the dock and take the elevator back up to the top, back on the main road. We also did a tour that takes you behind the falls. We found the Canadian people were fantastic and we felt we had good value for money. We never had to change our currency as you could pay for everything in US dollars. One thing to remember is that you can claim back the GST a sales tax for purchases in Canada. It is restricted to certain things though, so check to see what you can claim for. On our second day we went to Niagara on the Lake, a beautiful place with some lovely scenery. There is a jet boat that you can go for a ride on here which looked like fun. On a clear day you can see the CN tower of Toronto in the distance too. That night we crossed back over to the US side to visit the outlet mall where we got some great bargains.
The next day we checked out of our hotel and began the journey to Florida. We had a little bet to see who the first person was to spot a wild Palm tree but that would be a day or two away yet. We crossed back into the US and headed towards Buffalo where we took the interstate. After New York, the next state we entered was Pennsylvania and we passed through Harrisburg and onto the next State Maryland where spent our first night. We stayed in a motel and were surprised at the difference between, here and other places we stayed at. It was a Sunday and the hotel bar closed at 10:30pm. It just seemed that they were more religious than some of the other places we stayed.
Anyway next day we were off and I must say that the scenery in Pennsylvania and Maryland was starting to get so much better and passing by the towns of PA with their quaint churches and steeples was very picturesque along with the fall colours of the leaves. It is our intention to drive down the Blue Ridge parkway and travel through the Shenandoah national park for some of the journey so we head for Front Royal and in no time we enter the Park. As we enter and pay the small fee, we see a deer crossing the road ahead of us. We thought this was a taste of things to come but believe it or not that was the only one we saw! The speed limit on the twisty roads is only around 20mph so the journey can take some time. Every so often there are overlooks where you can stop and take some photos. This area is steeped in Civil War history and there were many plaques that commemorate the lives lost between soldiers of the North and South. Much of the scenery you are looking at won’t have changed that much over the years and you can just imagine what it was like when you look at the battlegrounds below. You can see how the name Blue Ridge came about as there is a blue tinge to the hills in the distance and this is caused by the trees putting the “blue” in Blue Ridge, from the isoprene released into the atmosphere,thereby contributing to the characteristic haze on the mountains and their distinctive colour. There are information stations along the route and places to buy refreshments. We traveled along the route for about 3 hours and then left to rejoin the interstate and on to our next stop passing by Roanoke, Charlotte and into South Carolina where we stayed overnight at a Howard Johnson. The girl on the reception desk had that southern drawl which we found so nice. Princess Diana had not long been killed and when she noticed we were from the UK she went to great pains to express her sorrow, which we thought was very nice.
The next day we wanted to get to Jacksonville in Florida for our last overnight stop and to visit some friends. We set off early and travelled south on the interstate towards Charleston where we joined the I-95. This interstate runs from the North of Maine all the way down to Miami Florida. We passed by Savannah and it was around here that I won the $10 for the spotting of a wild palm tree! Before long we were entering Florida and Jacksonville was in sight. When we got there we chose a beach hotel and checked in. It was early afternoon and we set off to meet our friends. We met up and we went back to their home for a while and arranged to meet later at the Mandarin ale house for a meal later. After a great night out we went back to our hotel, we had arranged to go to St Augustine the next day. This was a great day St. Augustine is reportedly the oldest US city and is steeped in history with a definite Spanish flavor. We had a look around the Fort and did some shopping. Later that afternoon we were going to go to Orlando. We said our goodbyes and headed off to the land of the mouse.
The temperature now was getting much warmer and we had changed into shorts in SC but as we neared Orlando it was getting very warm. When we got there, we decided to get the car sorted out and during the trip it had been needling away at us that we had paid $300 for the privilege of returning a Florida rental car to Florida! So when we went to the rental office in Orlando we complained to the clerk, she went to speak to a supervisor and came back to tell us that they will refund the $300 and gave us a brand new 7 seat Dodge Grand Caravan. So that was a good result.
We had pre booked our Orlando accommodation and during our stay we did the theme parks and all the other things that tourists do. We also set of for a few days down to Fort Myers, this has always been a favourite of ours. We stayed at Pointe Estero a condominium right on the beach. I can heartily recommend a road trip such as this and look forward to doing it again sometime. You can see so much more of the country this way.

Why the London Riots Created a Greater Business Travel Threat Than a Terrorist Attack

Introduction to the London riots threat
If you have business travel to London, you need to read this article. In this article you will discover why the London riots created a greater travel threat than a terrorist attack. We will examine the threat posed by the London riots and demonstrations, terrorist attacks and resulting travel delays, disruptions and changes. At the end of this article, you will have a specific understanding of the required business travel management response and awareness as to why this will happen again.
The London riots and demonstrations has resulted in one of the largest business travel disruptions of 2011.
London Riots and Demonstrations
The London riots and demonstrations have come as a complete surprise to many. It is not a unique event and certainly not unique to the UK. The scale, violence, fire and failure of the authorities is often something expected in other countries but the lack of preparedness for destinations like the UK is common and widespread. Therefore, the lack of preparedness and last-minute scramble to respond and the inability to avoid major business travel disruptions are widespread as a result.
Due to the footprint of disruption, many routes and modes of transport have been negatively affected. Simple commute from the airport, trains and ports to planned accommodation options have been altered and continuous review of hazard or threat assessment are required. Furthermore, travel support providers such as taxis, hotels, restaurants, emergency services an other basic amenities have also been affected, to varying degrees.
Travel and risk managers need to immediately identify:

  • Affected areas,
  • Degree of threat,
  • Affected and exposed (inbound and outbound) business travellers,
  • Arrival/departure points,
  • Safe and non-affected areas,
  • Mitigation or eradication options,
  • Cost of implementation,
  • Funds available,
  • Emergency support,
  • Accommodation options,
  • On-going or developing events,
  • Social or non-business activity,
  • Insurance claims and compliance requirements,
  • Cancellation criteria,
  • Resumption of travel criteria,
  • Extended event plans,
  • Travel alternatives (domestic and international)

The London riots have affected multiple support systems related to business and leisure travel. Any leisure travel disruptions will further compound business travel threats such as decreased accommodation options, airport congestion and increased public transport demand. Even simple actions like withdrawing money from an ATM will prove a challenge and compound the hazard/s.
The London riots have had a prolonged affect on UK business travel sector, far greater than the majority of terrorist attacks. Further affects such as planning and preparation for the 2012 Olympics will also contribute to the lingering affects.
A lack of planning and subsequent response capability by businesses could constitute a failure of duty of care, due diligence, corporate social responsibility, workplace health and safety or other related legislation.
Terrorist attacks less of a threat than London riots
With the exception of the Mumbai terrorist attacks, most have limited travel disruption and only affect a narrow band of travelers. Inclusive of the Mumbai terror attack, terrorist attacks typically have clearly defined threat elements (terrorist, bombings, gunfire, etc) whereas the London riots is a constantly changing and unclear threat. Most business travelers will be unprepared for such decision-making demands and lack sufficient experience to make consistent and safe decisions.
Most contemporary business risk management systems focus on location and plausible event threats, then seek to inform or prepare travelers for the best results to mitigate or eliminate the hazards and threats. Therefore, the bulk of business travelers will not be prepared or educated on how to respond in London, with such wide spread disruption and threats. Few will have residual knowledge from information and preparation for such events in other locations, considered more likely to be medium to high risk. Many of the supporting business travel management departments and managers will be equally unprepared and resourced.
A terrorist attack and other similar violent crimes would have a much smaller footprint of disruption, not affected such a wide business travel demographic, not affect business travel support providers so comprehensively or have such a prolonged impact on all exposed.
Routine travel delays, disruptions and changes represent one of the most persistent and probable travel risk management issues.
Travel delay, disruption and changes
Change management and the decision-making involved is one of the most commonly accepted workplace hazard concerns. This is equally relevant to business travel and business travel threats.
The instinctive and guided response of travelers to any delay, disruption or change can significantly affect the outcome of any spontaneous or new hazard as it presents. Particularly when this is the first level of response, before support options and resources can be activated or come into affect.
Travel delays have been triggered due to airport and airline workers unable to get to work, taxi drivers not able to refuel vehicles, hotels and staff overwhelmed, business travelers unprepared and convergence of business and leisure travelers upon all available exit travel nodes.
Access to information, at all levels, the ability to consume and process all the options and explore alternatives is imperative in this and similar travel disruption events. Crisis leadership will succeed more frequently than simple crisis management, to which are dependent upon timely and accurate information from all available resources.
Unfortunately, many will fail to fully understand the gravity of the events, the threats posed and respond or prepare accordingly. While many others exposed will chalk it up to another force majeure or random act that is just part of the rich experience of international travel. Courts, business travelers and peer review increasingly do not share this flippant view.
This scenario and lack of preparedness has been played out numerous times in recent history. Volcanos, volcanic ash affects, Japan’s tsunami, airport closures, airline failure and many others have caught business travelers and managers alike unprepared. This disturbing trend will continue.
Conclusion: London riots threat
You should now see why the London riots have a far greater impact and threat to travelers than you may have originally thought. We have examined the business travel threat posed by the London riots, terrorist attacks and resulting travel delays. You now have a specific plan for this and similar events and the required business travel management and response. This will happen again. Perhaps not in London, perhaps not a city wide demonstration but this kind and scale of business travel disruption event will happen more than once before the end of 2011. Review your plan and make the necessary enhancements now.

School Bus Safety – What To Teach Your Kids

Over 20 million children nationwide ride the school bus every day. While school buses are regulated to some extent by federal law, not all states have the same safety standards. For example, New York, New Jersey, and Florida all have state laws in place which require school buses to have lap belts installed for student use. No federal law exists, however, which makes this a national standard. In fact, the debate over seat belts in school buses has been going on for years.
That being said, school buses do not have a bad safety record. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, school buses have some of the best safety records on the road in terms of deaths per distance traveled – just 0.2 deaths per 100 million miles. Furthermore, while some 30,000 people died in passenger vehicles crashes during 2004 alone, only 71 school bus passengers have died in accidents in the past eleven years combined.
Of course, as scintillating as the statistics may be, no one can argue that they are perfect. Children are society’s most valued resource, and it only takes the death of one child to make a significant impact on a family and community. One must also consider that many more children die as a result of being hit by buses than do while passengers on a bus. Even though bus drivers are required to undergo safety training and to take extra precautions due to the nature of their job, accidents happen. Nearby drivers may also be at fault. Despite laws which require motorists to stop for school buses, thousands upon thousands of irresponsible drivers ignore these laws daily, creating a serious safety risk for children getting off the bus.
As a parent, one of the best things you can do is reinforce bus safety guidelines with your child. Even though such rules may already be communicated in school, children often look to their parents to give the final word on issues. Be ready to answer questions your child may have, and make sure he or she understands how to be safe around buses.
– When waiting for the bus, stand several feet away from the curb. Do not enter the street or attempt to board the bus until it has come to a complete stop and opened its doors.
– While riding the bus, do not distract or otherwise aggravate the driver. Keep backpacks, lunchboxes, and other objects out of the aisle, as these create tripping hazards.
– When getting off the bus, use the handrail and watch your step. Try not to cross in front of the bus. If you must do so, walk several feet ahead of the bus and wait for the driver to signal for you to cross. Watch out for passing motorists when crossing the street.
– Never, under any circumstances, crawl under the bus. Not even to retrieve lost property.
Teaching your child to respect these safety guidelines can reduce the chance of a devastating accident on the bus, at the bus stop, or at school.

How to Become a Group Leader and Travel Free

If travel is your passion, and you can’t visualize yourself sitting at a desk all day, answering question about travel destinations which you would rather be visiting, becoming a Group Leader, may be your best solution.
The cruise line industry caters to the group sales methodology to fill up cruise cabins. Most of the major cruise companies will provide a free cruise for a Group Leader who sells 8 cabins or 15 full paying passengers. Some cruise companies require the group leader to pay for taxes, fees and upgrades. Smart group leaders, usually will book themselves, into an Interior cruise cabin. That way no one in the group has a less expensive cabin.
The Group Leader can sell his/her cruise or, cruise for free. This option is what makes the group leader’s opportunity so popular.
Experienced Tour Conductors, usually generate multiple methods to market their cruises or group travel events. The most common way is to locate established groups, who want to save money by traveling together. Other successful groups include special interest travel.
Because the majority of Group Leaders are not, travel agents, they may have regular jobs, and belong to social organizations and church groups which puts them in touch with hundreds of potential travelers.
There are a number of ways to get started as a Travel, Group Leader. If you are a junkie traveler, you can use your own experiences to build your confidence and your sales.
If you have a limited travel background, yet travel is a passion, you can take a home study course, or enroll in a couple of classes at your local junior college. There are also courses online, which are extremely affordable. Travel is a billion dollar industry and there are many options for learning different phases of the travel industry.
My own path through this maze was to enroll in a UC Berkeley Extension (Berkeley, Ca) course, on Group Travel. My instructor was one of the most successful group travel professionals in the country, at that time. My next step was to volunteer as a group leader for a social club who was attending an annual ski summit in Vale.
It is not necessary to spend lots of money on schooling be become an effective Group Leader. However, it is mandatory that you learn everything you can about your destination and the travel involved.
Once you have secured a basic knowledge of the type of group travel you want to offer, you can then seek out a host agency. A Host Agency is a licensed, bonded travel agency which allows travel agents or outside travel agents to book travel using their company name. There is a split in the commission, as the host agency is the legal business which allows you to book travel for your clients. Most host agencies charge a fee, and an annual fee, but not all. Fees for joining a Hosting Agency can range from zero dollars, up to $500.
Another option is to contact your local travel agency and let them know you want to work as an outside agent. Be prepared to explain what types of travel you want to offer and to what type of groups you want to specialize in. The agency owner, or manager, will provide you with the commission structure, if any, policies and procedures. Some travel agencies only offer free travel to group leaders, while others offer, free travel, and commissions.
When first starting out, it is almost always better to join a group in process, or, create a fun, 2 day trip, to get experience. My own experience included learning the procedure for a particular cruise ship. For about 5 years, every time a Princess Cruise ship docked in San Francisco, I thought I should further my travel education and be aboard ship when it cruise under the Golden Gate Bridge and out to sea. My efforts landed me in the Captain’s Circle and qualified me as a Platinum Cruise Member.
It is easy to find clients. Below is a list of ways to market your travel events.
1. Informing your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, church members, club members, organizations, friends of friends, twitter pals, and your personal email buddies, is a great way to find new clients.
2. The second best way is to invite friends, neighbors over for a travel party or a cruise party. Ask the cruise line or the resort, for a video tape and free promotional material to share with the guest. Provide guest with snacks and (cheap) wine. Keep the wine coming! No need to be aggressive. Travel sells itself, especially, if the destination and price is of interest. You can provide your clients with a bottle of fine wine aboard ship.
Remember to ask for a deposit. Stay focused, your job is to provide information and collect checks. Ask friends to sponsor a travel party. The more parties you have, the more people you sign up. It’s that simple!
3. Make announcements at your church and your organization. Include the information in the church bulletin or your organization’s newsletter, as many times as possible.
4. Have flyers made up, but not before you have business cards printed, with your name, contact numbers, email address, name of travel event, dates and starting cost.
5. Distribute flyers, at public places or public events.
6. Use classified ads, online and offline to promote your travel event.
7. Pass out your cards, everywhere you go. Doctor’s office, cleaners, grocery store, beauty shop, stores where you shop, your children’s school, your favorite neighborhood bar, and eating establishments.
Paper work is extremely important and without it, nothing happens. Paper work must be completed correctly and forwarded to the host agency or travel agency in a timely manner. Failure to do so could result in an ugly situation, which could escalate into a legal battle.
Checks should be made out to the host agency or the travel agency. Even if the travel agency says its OK for your clients to make the check out to you, don’t do it. Get you commissions from the host agency, unless you have a Seller of Travel license. One you turn in your deposits and payments, the host agency or travel agency, will provide you with your commissions, based on your agreement.
Outside travel agents usually work under an Independent Contractor Agreement and are issued a 1099-MISC at the end of the year.