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Archive for July, 2011

Business Travel Made Simple, Despite Tight Budgets

Monday, July 25th, 2011

 
 

There are many unanticipated consequences when governments experience budget difficulties. Case in point: who thought about interstate rest stops closing as a result of government shutdowns?

That’s what happened in Minnesota during that state’s government shutdown starting July 1. Compounding the problem were severe storms that raked the state in early July.

But according to Landline magazine, the publication for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) all but one of the state’s 83 Class 1, Class II and Class III rest areas are open as of July 25. The only exception is the Goose Creek stop on Interstate 35, which sustained storm damage.

Consider this another example of “you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.” Any driver depending on highway rest stops for convenience, speed or expansive truck parking certainly was inconvenienced during the three weeks the rest stops were closed.

That’s a hassle anyone who must travel for a living doesn’t need, particularly workforce travelers whose livelihood takes them up and down the nation’s byways constantly.

Simplify life for your company’s travelers with CheckINN Direct, which cuts your hotel costs, cuts time spent on expense reports and provides an easy way to track all lodging stays.

 

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Manage Hotel Costs As Fuel Prices Increase

Monday, July 25th, 2011

Check out the government’s weekly posting of gas and diesel prices across the country and you’ll see prices are up across the board. Any hopes of continued reductions in gasoline prices this summer appear to be dashed.

Fuel prices are up compared to both a week ago and a year ago. The national average for a gallon of gasoline, as of July 25, is $3.699. For diesel, it’s $3.949 per gallon.

That’s bad news for any companies with workforce travelers whose jobs put them on the road frequently.

If those prices – and the “heat dome” covering much of the country this summer – have you hot under the collar, there are some ways you can make your fuel dollars go further.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you’re losing money whenever you push your vehicle’s speedometer past 60 mph. That’s when gas mileage typically drops dramatically.

Think of it this way: you’re paying an estimated 29 cents per gallon extra for gas for every five miles per hour above 60 mph when you’re on the road. If you and your fellow company drivers slow down, you’ll save money.

You’re burning gas money when you idle, too. That practice uses anywhere from one-quarter to one-half gallon of gas or diesel per hour, taking engine size and use of the air conditioner into consideration. The Dept. of Energy advises it’s smarter to turn off your engine whenever your vehicle is parked since restarting the engine takes just a few seconds of fuel.

Don’t forget the cruise control when you’re traveling for business. Taking advantage of that device helps you maintain a constant speed, which aids fuel efficiency.

And when you’re ready to make your company’s travel budget go further, too, make sure you and your employees are carrying the CheckINN Card from CLC Lodging. Signing up for CheckINN Direct lets pay 20 to 40% off hotels’ lowest published rates at more than 10,000 hotels across the country.

 

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Hotels Offer Business Travelers Healthier Snacks

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

Here’s good news if you’re a workforce traveler tempted by high-calorie snacks when your work requirements put you in hotels overnight.

Typical salty and sugary snacks featured at in-room minibars at higher-end hotels are being replaced with healthier choices. That’s the word from a recent MarketWatch report.

Now minibars are starting to feature energy bars, vegetable chips, trail mix and honey-wheat pretzels in some hotels owned by Hyatt, Four Seasons and Loews.

The MarketWatch story by Anya Martin noted that some hotel lobby snack shops also are starting to take a similar approach. You soon may find the same at your economy or mid-scale lodging.

The trend offers a healthier alternative to workforce travelers who travel frequently, something a recent study found is necessary. According to a Columbia University study published in May, frequent business travelers (more than 20 trips a month) are more likely to be obese and suffer other health-related issues.

Of course, if you’re a workforce traveler, the smartest choice is to pack or buy your own healthy snacks. That strategy can be a lifesaver that helps you resist the cookies, candy bars or chips frequently in front of business travelers. Snack calories do count, and your waistline may quickly show it.

Here are some ways you can snack smart when your job requirements take you away from home:

Pick up a few healthy granola bars or other low-sugar/low-salt energy bars and stow in your vehicle or luggage.

Pack your own popcorn without salt or butter. Carry a small jar of peanut butter and crackers or rice cakes.

Grab an apple or banana for later snacking if your hotel sets them out as part of free breakfast offerings. Or swing into a grocery store on the road to buy some fruit.

A handful of nuts, like walnuts or unsalted almonds, also is touted these days for an energy boost that is full of “good” fats.

Bag small portions of breakfast cereal or trail mix so you can enjoy it when you need a snack. Low-fat yogurt also gives you a cold, sweet treat when you’re really craving ice cream.

Taking the time to put together your own snacks also saves you money, just like CheckINN Direct saves you on hotel rooms (20-40% off hotels’ lowest published rates when you show the CheckINN Card at check-in).

 

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Accessing the CheckINN Direct Advantage for your Company

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

With Q3 now under way, company travel budgets are under mid-year review. If your business is looking for ways to cut its workforce travel costs, here is what you should know.

Hotel discounts are getting tougher to find and many hotels are raising rates. As the lodging industry recovers from the economic downturn that forced prices down in recent years, the trend is toward higher hotel room costs.

When your company puts a hotel savings card like the one from CheckINN Direct in the hands of your drivers, crews, field reps and other employees who travel, you can cut costs by 20-40 percent immediately.

The cards are accepted at 10,000 locations across the U.S. and Canada, most often at economy and mid-scale hotels. Hotel savings cards are ideal for per diem travel and employees who typically don’t travel on company credit cards.

Thousands of companies already save with business lodging cards. A bonus is that any company can take advantage of these savings, no matter if they have lots of employees or just a few (it works for sole proprietors traveling on business, too).

CheckINN Direct also provides your company with an online account where your travel administrator can check hotel stays, track invoices and quickly reconcile credit card statements.

Hotel savings cards also provide immediate savings. With CheckINN Direct, your company can sign up today so your company’s workforce travelers can start saving tonight.

 

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Posted in CLC Workforce Lodging, Workforce Travel | No Comments »

5 Tips to Save Business Travelers Time, Space

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

 

CheckINN Direct members know it’s smart to pack your CheckINN Card when traveling for business. It’s the key to accessing deeply discounted rates at more than 10,000 hotels across the U.S. and Canada.

So today we’re offering you something else to make your workforce travel a little easier – tips to simplify your packing chores before every trip, courtesy of USA Today.

Tip 1: Pick up some vacuum-sealed storage bags, which can be found at discount and home improvement stores. Available in various sizes, the bags allow you to squeeze the air out – providing more room in your suitcase or duffel bag. As a bonus, one of the bags can be used for your dirty laundry during the trip.

Tip 2: Protect any fragile items by surrounding them with clothing as you pack.

Tip 3: Roll your clothes instead of folding them to get more items in your bag. A bottle of wrinkle-release spray, available in any grocery stores, comes in handy when the clothes are unrolled.

Tip 4: Carry or wear bulky coats, sweaters or sweatshirts rather than stuff them into your luggage.

Tip 5: Consider re-packing your travel bag with clothing and other essentials after you’re home so it’s ready at a moment’s notice for your next trip.

If you have room, toss these handy items into your bag, too: nightlight, flashlight, surge protector for your laptop or smart phone, your favorite coffee or tea, and a few good books.

Remember: Your CheckINN Card saves your workforce travelers 20-40% on hotels’ lowest published rates. Sign up your company today to start saving, no matter if you have 2, 20 or 200 hotel stays coming up.

 

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Posted in CLC Hotels For Workforce Travelers, CLC Workforce Lodging, Tips for Workforce Travelers | No Comments »

What is the CheckINN Direct Hotel Savings Card program?

Monday, July 18th, 2011

 

CheckINN Direct offers small and medium size companies deep discounts on hotels for business travelIf you’re opening this blog for the first time, you may have questions about CheckINN Direct. So what is this hotel savings card that can help your business reduce business travel costs?

Here are some key facts that will help you determine if this program is right for you:

It is for business travel, not vacations or leisure travel hotel stays.

It’s for small and independent businesses, helping them get the deeply discounted lodging rates that larger companies enjoy.

It’s offered by CLC Lodging, one of the largest negotiators of hotel rates for business. CLC clients book 9 million room nights annually, adding up to nearly $500 million. CLC’s contract negotiators leverage that purchasing power to get the lowest rates for CLC business clients.

The program is particularly suited to companies with “workforce travelers,” those crews, field reps, sales teams and others who frequently travel by car, truck or van to reach job sites, clients, shows and festivals.

Any small or independent business can sign up for CheckINN Direct. Enrollment requires that the business register a credit card. CLC will bill that credit card whenever your company travelers present the CLC CheckINN Card for a business travel stay at a participating hotel.

When your employees carry a CheckINN Card, they don’t have to use company or personal credit cards to pay for lodging. They show the CheckINN Card at check-in, then the hotel invoices CLC, which bills your credit card.

There are more than 10,000 participating hotel locations that accept the CheckINN Card. Your company travelers can stay at familiar brands and leading independents ranging from Best Western and Super 8 to Ramada, Holiday Inn, Hyatt Place and Hilton Garden Inn.

Does it sound like the CheckINN Direct hotel savings card program will work for your company? Find out more at www.checkinndirect.com.

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More Savings As Your Company Beats Summer Heat

Saturday, July 16th, 2011

 

As the dog days of summer continue their relentless pace throughout the U.S., make sure your office ceiling fans are providing the maximum cooling available.

Many fan aficionados forget the little switch on the fan that should be adjusted as the seasons change. The switch controls the direction the fan blades turn, helping keep you cool in the summer and circulating warm air during the winter months.

If you reverse the directions that the blades turn twice a year, you’ll contribute to the fan’s efficiency.

So, how do you know which way is the correct one? Here’s what you need to remember, courtesy of the Minnesota Energy Smart online blog:

In hot weather months, the fan blades should turn counter-clockwise as you look up at the fan. Put the fan speed on high to provide downward column of circulating air that will help cool you off during office hours. You will know you’ve got it right if you feel a cool breeze as you stand underneath the fan.

But in winter, the fan blades should move clockwise as you’re looking up at the fan. Put the fan on low speed to ensure circulation of the warm air. Since hot air rises, using the fan in this way will move the warm air back toward you.

With the ceiling fan in your business helping you stay cool now – or warm in the cool weather months, you may be able to adjust the office thermostat, too. That can add up to savings, reducing your office overhead.

When you’re ready to save on hotel lodging, use your CheckINN Card every time you and your employees travel. It saves you 20-40% off hotels’ lowest published rates. Members are protected by a lowest rate guarantee to ensure you’re getting the best lodging deal possible.

Don’t believe it? Check out the details at www.checkinncard.com.

 

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Scorching Hot Hotel Discounts Help Your Company Beat the Heat

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

No doubt your company’s workforce travelers are complaining about this summer’s record heat, and for good reason. Many states are gripped by extreme temperatures typically reserved for the desert Southwest this time of year.

It’s no surprise that the metro Phoenix suburb of East Mesa, Ariz., recorded the country’s high temp of 118 on July 2. But 112 in Hutchinson, Kans., on July 10?

Or Fort Smith, Ark., and Stillwater, Okla., tying for a record of 107 on July 11? That’s unexpectedly HOT, and there’s little promise of relief on the way.

So make sure your traveling employees know how to keep well-hydrated this summer.

There can be a cumulative dehydrating effect over several days of extreme heat. It’s important to stay ahead of the symptoms.

According to the Mayo Clinic, anyone out and about in the hot and humid weather like much of the nation is experiencing right now should be drinking additional water. That helps reduce body temps and replace fluids lost through sweating.

Signals that you may be getting dehydrated can start with headaches and impatience. As dehydration continues, dizziness or light-headedness may occur. If urination isn’t occurring, you are seriously dehydrated.

Don’t delay in getting assistance with these symptoms, as they can quickly progress to heat stroke or heat exhaustion. Both can be very serious, and in extreme cases, fatal.

Encourage your travelers to keep a bottle of water with them as they are traveling or working at job sites. Drink by the clock, every half hour or hour, for example, if that helps you stay hydrated.

Stay cool on the road, and keep your hot deals to the low, low hotel rates that CheckINN Direct provides at more than 10,000 hotels nationwide.

 

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Hotel Occupancy Up; Business Travel ‘Deals’ Fade

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

The hotel industry saw stronger performance in occupancy, average daily rates and revenue per available room as Q2 2011 came to a close. That’s according to data from Smith Travel Reports (STR), which tracks lodging stats across the U.S.

What’s that mean to your company and your workforce travelers? It means that if you don’t have a way to access negotiated hotel room rates, you’re likely to continue to see your travel budget costs go up. Discounts, coupons and front-desk deals typically disappear when hotels are seeing higher occupancy and higher average daily rates that are becoming the norm today.

If your company is large enough to generate a significant number of hotel stays per month, you may have the necessary leverage to negotiate a lower rate at the hotels where your travelers stay on the road.

But if your company doesn’t fit that requirement, you may want to take advantage of the consolidated purchasing power of CLC Lodging. When you put its hotel savings card in your employees’ hands, your company immediately gains access to the deeply discounted hotel rates that larger companies enjoy.

STR’s year-over-year comparisons for the week June 26-July 2 indicated occupancy was up 5.8 percent to 67.1 percent. The average daily rate increased to $100.77, up 3.9 percent from the previous year.

Some areas of the country had even higher occupancy, including Denver at 86.5 percent, San Francisco at 83.6 percent and New York at 82.9 percent.

No matter where your workforce travelers’ jobs take them, they’ll save 20-40 off the lowest published rates with the CheckINN Direct hotel savings card program. Our rates are backed by a lowest rate guarantee, too, and there are no minimum usage requirements.

Check it out to find how your company can benefit.

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Enjoy Travel Savings – Not Cell Phone Fines

Monday, July 11th, 2011

 Better put down your cell phone whenever your workforce travel has you driving through Nevada. That state recently passed a new law with fines and penalties for texting or talking on your cell phone while driving. The new law takes effect Jan. 1, 2012, although warnings will begin being issued in October.

Even though CheckINN Direct saves workforce travelers lots of money on hotel rooms when on the road for business, you don’t want to risk the fines Nevada will start to impose.

Being caught the first time will cost you up to $100, and that doubles the second time. If you push it and become a three-time offender, you’ll pay up to $250 and you may get your driver’s license suspended, too.

 With Nevada becoming the 34th state with a ban on texting for anyone behind the wheel, it might be smart to set aside your cell phone wherever you’re driving. It’s also the 9th state prohibiting all hand-held cell phone use if you’re driving.

Why the big deal? Many states across the U.S. are paying attention to the hazards of distracted driving, which is what happens when drivers take their eyes off the road for text messages or lose their focus during a cell phone call.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood launched a national anti-distracted driving campaign in 2009 to draw attention the issue – and the serious consequences when accidents result.

 Now that CheckINN Direct’s hotel directory is optimized for members with smart phones, here’s a reminder to pull over before you start to look up a hotel. Better yet, check out your route before you start your trip or daily.

Simply log in to your account, go to the Hotel Search page and enter the information on where you’ll be traveling. You can generate a list of CheckINN Direct hotels, see them located on a Google map, or print out a statewide directory of participating hotels for reference.

Don’t forget: there are more than 10,000 hotels across the U.S. and Canada where your hotel savings card can save you 20-40% on hotels’ lowest published rates.

With chains like Best Western, Ramada, Holiday Inn, Super 8, Hyatt Place, Comfort Inn and more included, there’s no reason for your company not to take advantage of the great hotel discounts.

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