Meetings, Events and Hospitality Industry Spotlight: Staying Current with Technology

It was earlier this month that Starwood announced that they were introducing smart locks, known as the SPG Keyless program, to some of their key properties. This will allow guests with the corresponding SPG app on their Smartphone to gain access to their hotel room without stopping by the front desk to check in and get a physical key. This new technology was spurred by the loss rate of the current plastic room keys and to accommodate the demands of time deprived individuals.

Starwood has completed pilot testing of this program and these Bluetooth locks will be available in ten of its hotels this year, before rolling out to more in early 2015. Starwood has stated that this program is “the hospitality industry’s first truly mobile and keyless entry system”.

Over the past few years, the meetings, events and hospitality industries have seen key players adopting innovative technologies to stay current. Last month we shared an article highlighting the large number of participants and planners that see a need for social media and event apps to have a presence in meetings and events. Examples of these innovations include apps that connect the audience members’ smartphones to the room’s sound system.  This tool allows each person to have a microphone in his or her phone for a more engaged Q&A session.  Additions to the Google Calendar app that allows you to track events, flights and dinner reservations in real time and meeting manager apps that allow documents to be shared with all connected devices are a few of the more popular trends.

Along with these innovations, we have seen these industries adopting mainstream technologies that have been previously used elsewhere and now adjusted specifically to enhance attendee and guest experiences.

It is not uncommon for planners to source gifts for attendees that reflect the latest and greatest gadget. These include items such as the Selfie Stick that give people the added length in their arm to capture the perfect selfie. While participants are generally excited to receive these fun gifts, they can also enhance event and help with the “viral” effect. A gift that encourages a guest to take, share and tag photos of themselves while in attendance results in free, or relatively free, publicity. This item and these photos can then go a step further by becoming interactive with the event on a continuously updating Social Wall.

Finally, by embracing technology Meeting Planners open up the opportunity to collect data. This trend is useful to planners if they know how to turn the information into insights through analysis and partnership with their Marketing departments to enhance their programs year after year. The bigger the data set, the longer and more expensive it can be to reveal patterns, trends and associations relating to participant behavior and interactions. The payoff can be extremely beneficial however and make the cost for the learnings worthwhile.

While we are coming towards the tail end of 2014, we are sure that we will see the meetings, events and hospitality industries continue towards technologies and innovations that enhance the experience for attendees and guests but also allow for the planners to receive the benefits of its “shareability” and the insights that can be gained through big data.

To learn more about the changes to expect from these industries and expected trends of 2015, please call us at 949.476.2788 or email us at jnrinfo@jnrcorp.com.

By JNR Incorporated

Written by Stephanie Thomas

______________________________________________________________

JNR Incorporated is a results-based, globally recognized leader that specializes in creating custom travel, meeting, event, prepaid card and merchandise programs that motivate, engage and inspire the employees, customers and channel members of our clients. We have over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies of many diverse industries. Our programs are tailored to fit the specific needs of marketing, sales, management and human resource professionals. The unique solutions we apply are measurable and proven to increase performance, loyalty and revenues.

Mexican Travel Spotlight: Top Destinations

Few locations rival the country of Mexico in the realm of incentive travel and corporate meeting planning. With an abundance of world class resorts offering thousands of square feet of meeting space and services ranging from renowned spas and championship golf courses to crystal clear waters along private beaches, Mexico is truly an enticing destination for any company to consider for its next reward trip.

Mexico is an ideal locale due to its close proximity to the United States, easing the hassle of transportation and facilitating a worry free trip for a firm with an inclination for organizing an international program. Throughout the years, JNR has enjoyed several successful incentive trips to Mexico, and with its hospitable accommodations and excellent weather, it is a destination that is continually on the radar for an increasing number of clients.

One of Mexico’s most outstanding benefits is its privileged coastline on both the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean, providing multiple options for 5-star lodging for both west coast and east coast companies with an eye for this beautiful country. JNR has been fortunate enough to operate programs in some of the most exceptional Mexican locations, highlighted by Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas, Cancun, and the stunning Riviera Maya.

Puerto Vallarta: Puerto Vallarta is a coastal town on the Bay of Banderas on the Pacific side of Mexico. Puerto Vallarta is a unique blend of landscapes for visitors to the city.  Hiking through a rainforest or lush jungle in the morning and relaxing on the golden sands  in the afternoon is all possible within the same day. Puerto Vallarta has become a tremendously popular vacation spot in recent years, as the number of gourmet eateries, boutique shops and remarkable accommodations has exponentially risen to accompany the colonial and historic vibe that the city is founded upon.

Cabo San Lucas: Los Cabos or Cabo San Lucas is a lively and energetic resort area on the tip of the Baja California Peninsula. With over 20 miles of white sand beaches, Cabo San Lucas is a wonderful destination for beautiful resorts and water activity aficionados. The turquoise blue waters and famous sea arches are a perfect location for sport fishing, wave running or whale watching, giving any company a plethora of options for its guest’s activities.  For the land dwellers, Cabo San Lucas has a lively night scene as well as multiple old town shopping experiences from vivacious downtown Cabo to the quieter San Jose del Cabo.

Cancun: Cancun is a world famous tourist destination on the Yucatan Peninsula that does not disappoint with its glamorous beaches, first class all inclusive resorts, modern attractions, and exuberant nightlife. Cancun has been on the map as a gorgeous destination year round with its ideal weather and surplus of distinguished hotels and spas. While it is known for being a spring break oasis, Cancun has a multitude of space for higher end travel and a large airport that allows for ease of travel in and out of the United States, as well as its proximity to the luxurious Isla Mujeres and historical Chichen Itza.

Riviera Maya: The Riviera Maya is one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in the entire country of Mexico. Straddling Highway 307 along the Caribbean Sea, the Riviera Maya encompasses some of the most striking locations including Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Xel-Ha, and Xcaret which boast arguably the best beaches in the world.  The Riviera Maya also includes the Island of Cozumel, which is celebrated for its reef where snorkeling and scuba diving adventures abound. The Riviera Maya is a first-rate location for international programs as this shoreline hosts more all inclusive resorts than any other region in the country and is close to the ruins of ancient Mayan civilization.

Mexico is a year round playground for sunshine and adventure, and in recent years it has become a mecca for corporate travel. JNR is no exception and has been going south of the border for both large corporate meetings and action packed incentives as Mexico meets multiple needs when planning any type of program. The international value for the domestic price tag cannot be beat, and Mexico continues to dazzle its guests, leaving any visitor to the country wanting to come back for more of its hospitality. For inquiries into setting up your own corporate program to any of these fantastic sites, visit JNR Inc for more information.

By JNR Incorporated

Written by Andy Tallon

______________________________________________________________

JNR Incorporated is a results-based, globally recognized leader that specializes in creating custom travel, meeting, event, prepaid card and merchandise programs that motivate, engage and inspire the employees, customers and channel members of our clients. We have over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies of many diverse industries. Our programs are tailored to fit the specific needs of marketing, sales, management and human resource professionals. The unique solutions we apply are measurable and proven to increase performance, loyalty and revenues.

Photo: “Puerto Vallarta” by Harvey Barrison is licensed under CC By 2.0

South African Spotlight: The Top 10 Attractions in South Africa

We continue our whirlwind adventure around the world by highlighting the top 10 destinations in the majestic country of South Africa. This multifaceted nation offers a wide spectrum of activities for those who are more culturally inclined to thrill-seekers craving an adrenaline rush. From exotic safari expeditions in one of the revered national parks to shark diving in the chilling waters, the wildlife in South Africa truly cannot be beat.

South Africa lies at the very most southern tip of the continent where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet, creating an awe-inspiring landscape with an abundance of once in a lifetime opportunities for business and pleasure travelers alike. Between the beautiful beaches, modern cities, stunning scenery and colorful cuisine, South Africa will be on anyone’s bucket list once these top 10 attractions are revealed according to Touropia:

  1. Cape Town: This bustling urban jungle set at the base of Table Mountain is the most popular city to visit in South Africa. Its spectacular natural setting and close proximity to white sand beaches and rolling vineyards has made it arguably the most admired destination not only in the country but the entire continent.
  2. Kruger National Park: Covering a wide stretch of bush and savannah in the northern reaches of South Africa, Kruger National Park borders the countries of Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Because of its dense animal population and the variety of its flora and fauna, the park is considered the jewel of South Africa’s extensive park system.
  3. Drakensberg: Meaning “Dragon’s Mountain” in Dutch, the otherworldly landscape is a must see in the rocky range bordering the small nation of Lesotho. The impressive peaks are sure to amaze any traveler with a passion for hiking or rock climbing these sheer escarpments.
  4. The Garden Route: One of the most dramatic and extraordinary drives in the world; the Garden Route is a scenic stretch along the south eastern coast of South Africa. This thoroughfare is dotted with exclusive foliage and diverse vegetation that can only be found in the region. Be sure to take snapshots of the numerous lagoons along the way!
  5. Cape Winelands: The Cape Winelands are a series of fertile valleys not far from Cape Town that produce some of the most sought after wines of the world. The rivers that flow through this region create an ideal landscape for many varietals, and an indulgent journey here is well worth it.
  6. Hermanus: Located on the southern coast of Africa near the Garden Route, Hermanus is a famous area for its shore-based whale-watching. The sheltered, shallow waters attract southern right whales that migrate to the region each year to mate and breed.
  7. Blyde River Canyon: Blyde River Canyon is the second largest canyon in Africa, offering walking treks through the rich diversity of flora and fauna. Visitors can enjoy views of magnificent escarpments, waterfalls and ancient geological phenomena. Guests also have the matchless opportunity to encounter all five of South Africa’s primates here, as well as hippos and crocodiles near the wetlands of Swadini Dam.
  8. Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve: This inimitable game reserve is the only park under the formal conservation effort in the nation where visitors can see the Big 5 categories of animals exclusive to Africa – lions, elephants, rhinos, leopards and buffalo.
  9. Addo Elephant National Park: Located in the Eastern Cape region of South Africa, the Addo Elephant National Park is one of the country’s larger game parks. This particular national park is famous for its elephant population that has a special, brownish skin color due to the red soil. Amongst the elephants, other animals like ostriches, antelopes and warthogs can be seen.

10. Johannesburg: Johannesburg is the economic heart of Africa and the most common entry point into the country of Southern Africa. With more than 3 million people, it is also the second largest city on the continent. In recent years, Johannesburg has put itself on the map as a location of vibrant energy and urban opportunities to find success and fortune.

This exceptional country will leave even a seasoned globetrotter with a sense of wonder, so be sure to check out this one of a kind destination in the near future, you won’t be disappointed!

For more information on how JNR can organize a truly spectacular South African incentive trip for your company please contact jnrinfo@jnrcorp.com.

By JNR Incorporated

Written by Andy Tallon

______________________________________________________________

JNR Incorporated is a results-based, globally recognized leader that specializes in creating custom travel, meeting, event, prepaid card and merchandise programs that motivate, engage and inspire the employees, customers and channel members of our clients. We have over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies of many diverse industries. Our programs are tailored to fit the specific needs of marketing, sales, management and human resource professionals. The unique solutions we apply are measurable and proven to increase performance, loyalty and revenues.

Photo Courtesy of Donna Rohmer

United Kingdom Spotlight: Britain’s Festival Season

After a look at the captivating country of Brazil and the fun of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, JNR now takes a flight across the Atlantic Ocean to explore the United Kingdom. We start with a look at some of the great music festivals taking place over Britain’s festival season.

With Glastonbury Music Festival finishing up over the weekend, the British festival season is truly underway. From May to September the countryside is taken over by green field festivals and music lovers from all over the world. These events are hugely successful and draw both local and international headliners.

This year saw Metallica, Arcade Fire, Kasabian and even Dolly Parton on the main stages over five days of rainy, muddy fun at Glastonbury. Over 100,000 people turned out for the festivities with a large percentage utilizing the campsites at Worthy Farm in Somerset.

Although Glastonbury is one of the biggest and most successful, the UK has a number of other notable festivals that play out annually between May and September.

Reading Festival is almost as well known as Glastonbury and takes place in Reading between August 22 – 24 this year. Headliners include Queens of the Stone Age, Arctic Monkeys and Blink – 182. This year will be the festival’s 25th anniversary and three-day tickets as well as individual day tickets sold out early but can be purchased on the resale market.

Bestival takes place on the beautiful Isle of Wight from the September 4th through 7th and involves a ferry ride as part of the adventure of getting there. Outkast, Foals, Beck and Disclosure headline the list this year and a basic ticket for the weekend will set you back $340.

Leeds Festival is one of the newer events having started in 1999 but has matured into one of the leading UK festivals since then. The big tickets acts in this year’s billing are Blink – 182, Paramore and the Arctic Monkeys. This festival will cost around $366.

These festivals give visitors not only a chance to see amazing acts from around the globe in one spot, but also the chance to see the beautiful countryside and old villages the United Kingdom is known for. With the festivals taking part over the summer months, travelers have a chance to enjoy good weather and see these charming regions at their best.

If you would like more information on how JNR can organize a fantastic incentive trip to the UK for your company, please email jnrinfo@jnrcorp.com or visit our website.

By JNR Incorporated

Written by Stephanie Thomas

______________________________________________________________

JNR Incorporated is a results-based, globally recognized leader that specializes in creating custom travel, meeting, event, prepaid card and merchandise programs that motivate, engage and inspire the employees, customers and channel members of our clients. We have over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies of many diverse industries. Our programs are tailored to fit the specific needs of marketing, sales, management and human resource professionals. The unique solutions we apply are measurable and proven to increase performance, loyalty and revenues.

Photo: “Goodnight Glastonbury” by Kris Williams is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Travel Industry Spotlight: Baggage Allowance Fees

What were once viewed as loose guidelines to make travelling easier and keep the customer happy are now tightening as airlines and frequent flyers see the value of unbundled tickets. ‘Baggage Allowance’ – two words referring to airline luggage policies that vary dramatically between different carriers as consistent industry standards are non-existent.

It was once common practice for airlines to encourage tourists to participate in the activities that their countries were known for, including sports. For this reason, the first item of sports equipment brought onto the plane (skis, golf clubs, fishing equipment, etc.) were free or cheaper than an additional bag. Within the past few years, airlines have gradually stopped this practice and passengers can now end up facing exorbitant costs in unexpected fees if they do not research restrictions before heading to the airport.

While strict enforcement of luggage allowance, in both weight and dimensions, has been common in Europe for the past few years, the emergence of similar practices are becoming common place in other parts of the world.

According to the Bureau of Transportation, domestic airlines within the U.S. alone earned $3.35 billion in luggage fees last year, increasing by an estimated 89% in the last three years according to IdeaWorks. These fees result in big bucks for the airlines’ bottom line and it looks like they will continue to increase.

Source: Market Watch

It is time to take a look at the different practices from some of the main airlines across the world.

Air Canada

Checked Baggage: (standard economy fare): One item, 50 lbs limit

Fee for excess baggage: Between $20 and $100
Carry-on luggage: One bag, 22 lbs limit and one personal item, 22 lbs limit
Sporting equipment: Depends on the item. Some have handling fees.
Music equipment: Can be checked if it meets size and weight restrictions

 

Air New Zealand

Checked Baggage: (standard economy fare): two pieces, 50 lbs per piece

Fee for excess baggage: $150 and above
Carry-on luggage: One item, 15 lbs
Sporting equipment: No charge if within permitted baggage allowance otherwise standard excess charges apply

Music equipment: No charge if within permitted baggage allowance otherwise standard excess charges apply. Subject to oversize / overweight charge if applicable

 

American Airlines

Checked Baggage: (standard economy fare): Charges may apply depending on destination

Fee for excess baggage: Overweight baggage $100 per piece, oversized baggage $200 per piece
Carry-on luggage: One bag and one personal item
Sporting equipment: Additional charges depending on the item
Music equipment: No charge if within permitted baggage allowance otherwise standard excess charges apply

 

British Airways

Checked Baggage: (standard economy fare): One item, 50 lbs limit

Fee for excess baggage: Between $150 and $450
Carry-on luggage: One bag and one personal item, 51 lbs limit
Sporting equipment: Between $150 and $300
Music equipment: “Special tariff” not disclosed online

 

China Southern

Checked Baggage: (standard economy fare): One item, 50 lbs limit

Fee for excess baggage: $20 per piece

Carry-on luggage: Limit 11 lbs
Sporting equipment: Not disclosed online

Music equipment: Not disclosed online

 

Delta

Checked Baggage: (standard economy fare): One item, 50 lbs limit, between $0 and $25

Fee for excess baggage: Second bag, between $0 and $100, third bag, between $100 and $285, plus special handling and additional fees for bags that do not meet size and weight restrictions
Carry-on luggage: One bag and one personal item
Sporting equipment: Between $0 and $150 depending on the item
Music equipment: No charge if within permitted baggage allowance otherwise standard excess charges apply

 

Emirates

Checked Baggage: (standard economy fare): Two items, 50 lbs each

Fee for excess baggage: between $123 and $175 per additional piece

Carry-on luggage: One piece, 15 lbs limit
Sporting equipment: Not disclosed online

Music equipment: Not disclosed online

 

Fiji Airlines

Checked Baggage: (standard economy fare): One item, 50 lbs limit

Fee for excess baggage: Oversized and special handling fee $100, $120 per extra piece, $50 surcharge for each piece weighing 50lbs to 66 lbs

Carry-on luggage: One piece, 15 lbs limit (not uncommon to have your carry-on weighed and in the Nadi Airport it can be weighed at check-in and again when going through security gates)
Sporting equipment: Additional fees for sporting equipment even if within checked allowance

Music equipment: Not disclosed online

 

Japan Airlines

Checked Baggage: (standard economy fare): Two items, 50 lbs each

Fee for excess baggage: between $60 and $450

Carry-on luggage: One piece, 22 lbs limit
Sporting equipment: between $100 and $150

Music equipment: Not disclosed online

 

Lufthansa

Checked Baggage: (standard economy fare): One item, 50 lbs limit

Fee for excess baggage: Between $150 and $450
Carry-on luggage: One item, 15 lbs limit
Sporting equipment: No charge if within permitted baggage allowance otherwise standard excess charges apply
Music equipment: Not disclosed online

 

Qantas

Checked Baggage: (standard economy fare): Two items, 50 lbs limit

Fee for excess baggage: $175 per extra piece, $75 heavy charge
Carry-on luggage: One item, 15 lbs
Sporting equipment: No charge if within permitted baggage allowance otherwise standard excess charges apply

Music equipment: Not disclosed online

 

South West

Checked Baggage: (standard economy fare): Two items, 50 lbs limit

Fee for excess baggage: $75 for a 3rd checked item
Carry-on luggage: One bag and one personal item
Sporting equipment: Depends on the item

Music equipment: Can be carryon or checked if it meets size and weight restrictions

 

Virgin Atlantic

Checked Baggage: (standard economy fare): One item, 50 lbs limit

Fee for excess baggage: first extra bag $100, overweight $60, 70 lbs limit

Carry-on luggage: One piece, 22 lbs limit
Sporting equipment: One free piece, 50 lbs limit

Music equipment: Not disclosed online

 

Virgin Australia

Checked Baggage: (standard economy fare): Two items, 50 lbs limit per item

Fee for excess baggage: first extra bag $150, overweight $100, 70 lbs limit

Carry-on luggage: One piece, 22 lbs limit
Sporting equipment: Can be included as part of your check baggage allowance, certain sporting equipment is charged at 50% of the full excess baggage rate

Music equipment: Can be carry-on or checked if it meets size and weight restrictions

 

As you can see from this varied group of airlines, there are no industry standards and if you arrive at the airport naive to the baggage policy applying to your flight, you could be asked to pay over $100 to see that your baggage makes it onboard.

  • Before you fly, check your baggage allowance with the airline you are travelling with. Airlines often change and update baggage information.
  • JNR takes no responsibility for incorrect information or the baggage policies of airlines
  • This information was taken from individual airline websites and based on similar destinations

By JNR Incorporated

Written by Stephanie Thomas

______________________________________________________________

JNR Incorporated is a results-based, globally recognized leader that specializes in creating custom travel, meeting, event, prepaid card and merchandise programs that motivate, engage and inspire the employees, customers and channel members of our clients. We have over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies of many diverse industries. Our programs are tailored to fit the specific needs of marketing, sales, management and human resource professionals. The unique solutions we apply are measurable and proven to increase performance, loyalty and revenues.

 

Photo: “Budget Airways @ Changi Airport, Singapore” by William Cho is licensed under CC BY 2.0