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3 posts from November 2009

November 24, 2009

5 Tips for Thanksgiving Travel


This week, the mad rush of Thanksgiving can make travel a headache. Even the most experienced road warriors may be daunted by inflated fares, swine flu threats, and airports more stuffed than your grandmother’s Thanksgiving turkey. Below are some tips to deal with the madness of Thanksgiving travel:

  1. Be flexible with dates. Of course it makes perfect sense to depart on November 25th after work and return on November 29th—that’s why everyone is doing it! And for the convenience of these ideal dates, you may pay through the nose—in bloated airfares and in hectic airports. Departing on Thursday instead of Wednesday may reduce your travel headaches and costs.
  2. Be prepared for a storm. Storms have been predicted across America for the Thanksgiving period. Rain, slick roads, and snow can cause flight delays. You’ll want to bundle up in your warmest winter gear and take an umbrella in case of rain.
  3. Protect yourself from swine flu. With so many people crowding the airports and planes, health authorities are warning that swine flu will rear its ugly head. Check out our tips to avoid getting sick on the plane—and remember to keep disinfecting your hands!
  4. Treat yourself to a vacation. recently reported that hotels across America have seen precipitous drops in check-in rates—and that means deep discounts. While you may not want to vacation in Houston—the number one most-discounted spot—unless you have family there, Miami and Oahu are vacation-friendly and cheaper than ever. 
  5. Carry-on and save. Airlines charge a fee for each checked bag on flights within the United States. These fees can be as much as $20 for the first bag and go up to as much as $100 for additional bags. 
From all of us at WorldMate, safe travels and a very happy Thanksgiving!

November 10, 2009

Top Ten After 10

It’s 10pm; your business meetings have been over for several hours now and you feel like you’re held captive in this foreign city until your business trip ends on Friday. As you look around your lonely hotel room, stare at the single bed & contemplate calling it a night, you wonder “what is there to do in this city?!” With no local friends to turn to for companionship to keep you company, you realize you need to explore the town yourself to stay busy.

We can all relate to the traveling business man/woman who finds themselves at a loss of entertainment after they’ve finished their work in an unfamiliar city. If only they had a list of things to do that are open as late as they are awake! Read below to discover the top ten things to do after 10pm – worldwide.

1. Temple Street Night Market – Kowloon, Hong Kong


Late night shopping is always appealing when you’re traveling abroad and remember your family’s request for souvenirs. The Temple Street Night Market in Kowloon, Hong Kong features rows of brightly lit stalls and a wide variety of money-saving bargains. From clothes to jewelry, electronic gadgets and luggage, this busy night market is the perfect place for bargains – and bargaining. This festive market will keep you entertained from 4pm until midnight with its array of fortune-tellers, Chinese opera performances and busy food stalls that offer delicacies including fresh seafood and hotpot dishes. Absorb this cultural and memorable experience with the Kowloon locals and with your fellow night owls.

2. A Night Out on Sunset Boulevard – Los Angeles, California


Most people know – when you’re visiting LA, a visit-must is to conquer the busy street of
Sunset Boulevard (also known as the Sunset Strip). Filled with nightclubs, hotels, name
brand clothing stores and famous restaurants, one cannot find themselves un-entertained in
this LA landmark. A few stylish venues include The Chateau Marmont (a beautiful, historical hotel and also a favorite celebrity hangout), The House of Blues (a popular bar with live music and concerts nightly), Sunset Plaza (an area full of restaurants – intersecting Sunset Plaza Dr. and Sunset Blvd. – and the ideal place to grab a bite to eat and people watch), The Viper Room (a nightclub famous for being co-owned by Johnny Depp and is also the site of River Phoenix’s unfortunate death) – and the list of nightclubs goes on and on! Feel like a celebrity after working hours when doing business in LA.  

3. The Empire State Building Observatory – New York, New York


One of New York’s famous historical landmarks in the City is the Empire State Building, and its Observatory is one of the City’s main tourist attractions. Open 365 days a year, day or night, rain or shine, this Observatory shows breathtaking views of Manhattan and beyond. Located on the 86th floor, 1,050 feet above the city’s lively streets, the Observatory offers panoramic views from within a glass enclosed pavilion. Some memorable sites seen from the top include the Brooklyn Bridge, Central Park, Ellis Island, The Statue of Liberty and Madison Square Garden. Operating from 8am to 2am daily, this location is perfect for getting into the spirit of The Big Apple, as admission is only $20 and the Observatory has a variety of activities for its visitors to engage in – including restaurants and coffee shops – so one can spend hours feeling on top of the world overlooking the City. 

4. Tapas, Tapas, Tapas! – Madrid, Spain


Being as the Spanish don’t usually start eating until after 10pm, trying Spanish tapas is easy to
do as a late-night event, and is a must when doing business in Madrid. Tapas – small edible
dishes that come with your beverage – can include anything from paella and croquettes to
marinated cubes of cheese and stuffed olives, and in Madrid, you will get the real tapas deal
as this city is known as the capital of restaurants. With tapas bars and wine bars across the city,
eating tapas has become the sociable way to eat – and a perfect way to meet others when traveling alone on business. Certain tapas restaurants also cater to music lovers, so if you feel like being culturally educated while sipping on wine and eating delicate tapas, make sure to check out certain venues that host flamenco shows or live music. 

5. D.C.’s Historical Memorials – Washington D.C.


A business trip to the nation’s capital in Washington, D.C. is not complete without a visit to some of its historical memorials located in the heart of the District. Walk the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to appreciate the breathtaking view east across the Reflecting Pool and toward the U.S. Capitol and take a moment to remember the many historic moments that took place at the memorial – including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Visit the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, which commemorates the third U.S. president and is the most beautiful during the spring season as the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. Stop by the National World War II Memorial, which serves principally to honor those who gave their lives, their health and their loved ones during World War II. The memorial contains a wall of 4,048 stars, each representing 100 American soldiers who contributed to the U.S. war effort. Visiting these monuments after dark is easy to do, as these memorials mentioned are all open 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Pick up a cup of coffee and grab your camera before you take a night stroll through these historical sites, as locals will advise that the memorials at night provides one of Washington D.C.’s best photo opportunities.       

6. The Eiffel Tower – Paris, France

When traveling in France, one must visit the tallest building in Paris and the tower that has become the most prominent symbol of both Paris and France: The Eiffel Tower. Being one of the most recognizable structures in the world, The Eiffel Tower is the single most visited paid monument in the world, with millions of people ascending it each year. The tower stands at 324m (1,063 ft) tall and was once the tallest structure in the world until 1930, when the Chrysler Building in New York City surpassed it. Visiting the Tower in the at night gives breath-taking views of Paris and a chance for visitors to explore three levels of exhibits and displays, restaurants, shopping and souvenir shops. The Eiffel Tower is open every day, all year long –until late hours of the night (either 11:45pm or 12:45am – depending on the season).From The Eiffel Tower, all your photos of your visit to Paris will be wonderful.

7. The Espresso Capital of the World – Seattle, WA


If you’re a coffee lover and are doing business in Seattle, Washington, you will soon realize that drinking coffee is not just a quick task done on the way to work, but rather a way of life. Seattle has become the espresso capital of America and “Seattleites” are positively fanatic about coffee. You will never be more than a block away from your next “cup of joe”, as running into espresso carts on the sidewalks, drive-through espresso windows, espresso bars and even gas station espresso counters is easy to do in this city. Seattle’s Best Coffee and Torrefazione are two of Seattle’s favorite espresso bar chains and are seen everywhere. Seattle is also the home of the original Starbucks coffee house – located in Pike Place Market – and is the one location where you super-automatic machines aren’t present, as they are still pulling shots of espresso in the artisan fashion. Coffee bars and cafes are as popular as bars and pubs as places to hang out with friends – so bring your book, pull up a chair and have a cup of coffee in Seattle.

8. The TV Tower – Berlin, Germany


The TV Tower in Berlin, Germany, is the symbol of Berlin today and is also the fourth tallest
free-standing structure in Europe, reaching 368 meters (1207 ft) high. You can look out
over the entire city and enjoy scenic views of many of Berlin’s tourist attractions – including
the Reichstag (Parliament building), the Brandenburg Gate, the Main Railway Station, the
Berlin Olympic Stadium, the Museum Island and the Potsdam Square. There is a visitor platform and a rotating restaurant in the middle of the sphere which rotates once every 30 minutes. With almost 1.2 million visitors every year, the Berlin TV tower is one of the most popular attractions for tourists visiting Berlin. Open until midnight daily, discover Berlin 360° with its panoramic views and breathtaking perspectives.

9. The Tel-Aviv Port – Tel-Aviv, Israel


The port of Tel Aviv is a flourishing area filled with restaurants, bars and clubs, arts and crafts events and beautiful views of the harbor. The port – also known as the “Namal” – offers activities all throughout the day. If you’re only around late night, there is still plenty to do to take your mind off of work. Come to the Namal hungry, as the port is filled with restaurants for every taste bud – from fresh gourmet seafood to Italian to Japanese food. After eating, enjoy a live show at the live fairs outside, have a drink at the local bars overlooking the ocean, listen to live music at a jazz club called Shablol (with live performances every night) or put on your dancing shoes and dance the night away at one of the night clubs like TLV or Galina. If shopping is on your mind, the port area has many name-brand shops – Diesel, Lee Cooper and Comme il Faut to name a few. Put on your experimental hat and tour the port to find the place which suites your liking.

10. The Millennium Park – Chicago, Illinois


When in Chicago, Illinois, make sure to make a visit to the Millennium Park – an award-
winning center for art, music, architecture and landscape design. This 24.5-acre Park
features the work of world-renowned architects, planners, artists and designers. Among
Millennium Park's prominent features are the Jay Pritzker Pavilion – the most sophisticated
outdoor concert venue of its kind in the United States, the interactive Crown Fountain and
the contemporary Lurie Garden. Located in the heart of downtown Chicago, admission is
free and the Park is open daily until 11pm. If you’re feeling inspired and creative and want
to mingle with the locals of Chicago, visit the Millennium Park and get your dose of live music, theater and dance in this beautiful open park.

November 02, 2009

The Perfect Wedding? Will United Airlines and US Airways pull up their socks when Continental joins Star Alliance?

Note: This article is by Darren Dunn, Director of Sales at WorldMate


I love Fall weddings! The bustle of summer is gone and the holidays are still a distant thought. You can relax and enjoy the ceremony letting your thoughts turn to the blissful life ahead for the new couple. Even bridesmaid dresses look good against mesh of Fall colors in the background.

So why am I so disappointed about Continental taking their vows and joining the Star Alliance family on October 27th? It is the one time in my life I want to be the guy who stands up on a pew and shouts.. “Stop the Wedding”.

Star Alliance is clearly marrying up as Continental has the best product and service of all the major US carriers. Customers flying in on carriers such as Singapore and Air New Zealand can finally connect on a domestic Star Alliance Member (Continental) who knows that product, service, and accountability are the cornerstones of delivering on brand promise.

My chief concern about the pending union is the domestic company Continental will be keeping with United and USAir. I can’t imagine a greater disparity in service. I relayed my concerns to a Continental representative at a recent industry trade show to which they responded, “Well, we are hoping that our joining Star Alliance will help bring the level of service up on the other US partners.” Speaking from personal experience, if I had a dollar for every person I know that hoped their partner habits and quirks would change after the vows. I’d be a rich man. As a frequent traveler moving to a United hub, I pray this partnership will be the exception to the rule.

The good news for United customers is they will be able to use their status when flying on Continental. Premier members will find out all the things they are missing like automatic upgrades, the newest fleet of planes, and having your luggage be first off the plane. The commitment to excellence extends beyond the first class cabin to once extinct amenities like free meals at meal time, pillows, blankets, and direct TV. The brand promise begins at check-in, continues to the back of the plane, and onto the luggage carousel before you leave. Like the Virgin brands, they don’t forget their job is to create an exceptional experience.

Great brands create an emotional response and nothing creates emotions better than a wedding. With that in mind, a wise person once shared the following advice with me. “The most important thing to remember about a planning a wedding is that the Big Day isn’t about you. It’s about the people who are experiencing it with you. Focus on making the people comfortable and happy, yes even that embarrassing uncle.. and the day will be perfect.”

(This article originally appeared on