Business Travel View – Rome, Italy

Rome, the capital city of Italy is widely regarded as a major tourist destination. This Eternal City, which appears to be timeless, has been in existence for over three thousand years and is characterized with streets that are littered with ruins of its rich cultural past. These ruins date back to the Imperial times when Rome was the seat of power for the mighty Roman Empire that ruled over Europe, North Africa and the Middle East for over 400 years from the 1st century BC to the 4th century AD. Today, these ruins like the Coliseum, the Roman Forum and the Pantheon are Rome’s prime historical attractions which draw thousands of tourists from all over the world.

The Vatican City, an independent city state which is the home of the Roman Catholic Church also lies within Rome’s borders and contributes to its importance on the world stage. However apart from functioning as an important tourist destination, Rome which is one of Italy’s fastest growing cities is also one of its most important centers for business.

The thriving economy of Rome is not solely dependent on tourism, for the economy of the city is also based on a strong services industry as it is home to several high-tech companies that specialize in IT, aerospace, defense and telecommunications. Further, the headquarters of some of Italy’s largest companies like the Bank of Italy which is the central bank of Italy, Enel which is an important energy producer in Europe, Eni which is Italy’s largest oil and natural gas company and Telecom Italia are all located in Rome which is often referred to as ‘the cradle of the western civilization’ as the culture of Rome has played a significant role in shaping the art, architecture, law, and language of the western world. Additionally with the opening of the futuristic Fiera Roma trade fair grounds in 2006, the city has also become an important locale for global and European congresses, meetings and trade fairs.

Rome also functions as the epicenter of the Italian film industry and it is home to the famous Cinecittà studios, which have been in business since the 1930’s. The International Rome Film Festival which debuted recently in 2007 has now become an important member of the international film festival circuit. All these factors have contributed to the growth of Rome as a well known and popular business travel destination.

In order to cater to the growing influx of business travelers the city is well served by the Leonardo da Vinci (Fiumicino) Airport which is the largest airport in Italy. Moreover Rome is also equipped with several fine hotels like the Hassler Villa Medici which is located at the top of the prime tourist attraction of the Spanish Steps and the distinctly old-world St Regis Grand Hotel which is located near the American Embassy. Rome is also world famous for its indigenous Roman cuisine and accordingly boasts of a plethora of fine dining restaurants like La Pergola which is a Michelin three star restaurant that is touted to be the ‘best restaurant’ in Italy, Mirabelle, which is another Michelin star restaurant that is located at the Splendid Royale Hotel and the Al Foro restaurant which is located near the historic Trevi fountain and is a popular haunt of the international film fraternity

If your business frequently happens to take you to Rome, you might want to consider availing of the highly efficient and cost effective services of the New York based travel management company, Fare Buzz. Fare Buzz specializes in business travel services as it is a leading supplier of cheap business class tickets. Through its exclusive contracts with more than sixty domestic and international airlines, Fare Buzz manages to procure wholesale cheap business class flights which it then offers for sale to its clients. Satisfied clients aver that booking business travel through Fare Buzz provides savings of over 70% as compared to tickets booked through regular channels like web based suppliers. It is also necessary to mention that these cheap business class airline tickets are not lacking in any way as they come loaded with all the perks of full priced tickets like mileage accrual and pre-assigned seats.

Moreover unlike other impersonal web based services, Fare Buzz’s customer service department offers personalized services manned as it is by experienced ‘live’ travel consultants who are on hand seven days a week to help you find the best airline business class fares and hotel deals for your complete business travel package to Rome.

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4 Travel Tips for Couples Traveling Abroad – Part 2

A romantic getaway is an exciting way to fan the flame of romance in any relationship. Before you can stroll hand-in-hand in the moonlight, you need to properly prepare for your trip. In this article, I’ll share four travel tips to get your vacation started on the right track to ensure your romantic getaway is smooth sailing.

Tip #1: Be sure to make copies of your important documents. If you’re using traveler’s checks make sure you keep the copies with the serial numbers separate from the originals. It also wouldn’t hurt to email the serial numbers, credit card numbers and your passport number to yourself. That way you can access the documents easily via the internet should your luggage or purse be lost or stolen. You can access the internet in almost every country. You can also leave a copy in your safety deposit box or with a trusted relative.

Tip #2: Check for travel alerts for your destination country. These are usually posted and updated by your country’s foreign travel department. It’s important to be aware of travel alerts to see if there are any health-related medical outbreaks or local political uprisings you need to be aware of. Sometimes these alerts can delay your vacation. I had to visit the airport health department office before I boarded my plane to leave Jamaica. At the time, they had a cautionary health alert.

Tip #3: Read up on the customs in the country of your destination. It also is good to know how to say good morning, please and thank you in the language of the country you are visiting. Learn how to properly greet someone. We tend to informal in the United States. In other countries, it is downright rude to address a stranger informally. If you respect the people in the country you’re visiting by learning a few of their customs, you’ll find that their response to you will be warm, friendly and helpful.

Tip #4: Leave a copy of your itinerary with someone you trust at home. Be sure to let them know of any changes. In case of an emergency on their end or your end, you want someone to be able to contact the authorities. They should know where you are or at least where you are supposed to be.

Keep your romantic getaway safe and fun by using these travel tips when booking your vacation. Don’t wait until the last-minute. Procrastination cost time, money and unnecessary stress. Advance preparation makes for a smooth trip and a fun vacation for you both.

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Travel Expense Management – How to Utilize A Professional Service

There is much more to controlling your company’s travel budget than just allowing your employees and clients to make their own travel arrangements and submit expense reports.
Many companies who are going this route are not only sacrificing service but they are in fact losing money by not implementing a strict travel program that allows them to effectively manage and control their travel budget.

A professional travel service can offer significant advantages.

As I write this article, I am reminded of a colleauge who called was on a business trip in London. While over there, the meetings went better than he anticipated. He subsiquitly wanted to make an imediate change in his itinerary. His return from London back to Los Angeles needed to be a day earlier than it was currently scheduled for. At 8am local time in London England (that makes it 3am EST here in the States) he wanted to speak directly with someone. He didn’t want to risk not being able to get the availabilty for a next day flight as it was already a one day time difference in London. It was very important thet he reach someone right away.

A professional Travel service can offer a management team capable of handling virtually everything that a traditional in house travel department would do. For a contracted cost, your company can partner with a company that operates with efficiency. The “hands on” service is well worth the cost. The simple truth is as professional travel agents they can do an array of things that discount travel web sites cannot.

A professional travel service can utilize their negotiated contracts with the airlines to offer fares that are often less costly than the airline’s published fares. They have at their disposale access to search engines that aggregate all available fare types. Allowing them to be able to virtually guarantee the lowest possible fares across all markets. In addition to being less expensive, in many cases a Travel service can offer less restricted tickets as well, while still maintaining the lower fares – this is critical to the corporate traveler who is often subjected to inflated pricing structures in order to allow flexibility.

A professional Travel service can also offer complete management of all trips, meetings or any travel related issues. The arrangement of hotels, ground transportation, meeting rooms, and other various special assistance requirements are all areas that your professional will take care of.

A professional Travel service offers all of these things and so much more. They do virtually all of the paperwork, and handle all itineraries and invoices. They can submit on a bi monthly basis spreadsheets, updates, expense reports, credit card consolidation statements, and consolidated airline purchase reports. They can offer complete customization based on each account’s unique needs, and work hand-in-hand with their accounting departments as needed.

Going back to my colleuge in London – who else could he call at 3am EST (remember it’s 8am in London)? Would he feel comfortable leaving a message on a voice mail machine and hoping that they get a response in time to arrange an urgent change to an international ticket? His company’s contracted Travel service had assigned an agent to him, and that agent was personally able to gather all of the information from them, in “real time” (and time IS money in these situations!). He was assured that he was able to check availability for his request to change his return flight. He was able to verbally let them know that everything was under his control and that he had already started the change process. He was given his new schedule and everything from the hotel to ground transportation in London and in Los Angeles was taken care of within hours.

Again, I can’t stress enough the importance of having someone who will be there when your clients need to make an adjustment in their schedule. As professional service companies they put themselves in your employee’s shoes and they cater to all of their travel needs. They set up profiles to ensure that your employee’s personal needs are met, with all of their loyalty programs information on file. If someone needs a business class seat and it’s within the company’s guidelines they can provide options. If your employees need to stay in a hotel in Europe or in any city in the USA, they can offer options and service there as well.

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Passports – Your License to Travel

A passport is very similar to a driver’s license in the United States. It is an globally recognized document, typically used for international travel, verifying who you are and where you’re from. Most countries require a valid passport to enter or exit. All countries issue their own globally recognized passports, the US included. The U.S. Department of State is the division of the government with the authority to grant, issue and verify United States passports.

To apply for a new passport, you’ll need some documentation proving who you are and some time to go apply. Recent changes in the passport regulations require that most applicants must appear in person to apply for one.

US citizens that have never received a passport before should bring a certified birth certificate; current and valid driver’s license, government or military ID; two passport photos that meet the requirements below and fees of $97 plus optional $60 expedited service.

Children under 17 years old are required to hold a passport for most foreign travel. Children under 14 are required to have consent of either both parents’ or guardians’ to apply for a passport. For children born in the United States, a birth certificate, two photos and the fees are all that will be needed. Parents or guardians will need to show proof of citizenship and identity, like a valid passport, birth certificate or driver’s license.

Children or adults born outside the US will need to obtain a foreign birth certificate, report of birth abroad, certification of birth abroad or an adoption decree.

Photos for passports are required to be 2×2 inches. They must be identical, taken within the past 6 months, be in color with the full face, front view showing on a white background. The face must be between 1 and 1 3/8 inches from the chin to the top of the head. Hats, headgear and uniforms except religious dress word daily may not be worn. Prescription glasses (not sunglasses) or wigs worn as part of everyday attire may be worn if they are not obstructive.

To find a passport location near you, visit travel.state.gov and click on “Passports” then “Where to Apply for a Passport”. It typically takes between two and six weeks to receive a passport once it’s been issued. After you received your valid passport, you won’t have to worry about expiration for a full ten years.

Renewal of your passport is easier, quicker and less expensive than the original issuance. You are eligible to renew your passport if you have received it within 15 years, it is not damaged, were older than 16 when it was last issued and still have the same name or documentation for a legal name change.

To renew your passport, you must submit a completed application, two identical passport photos, the fee of $67 and your current, valid, not-mutilated passport. Expedited service is an additional $60. Renewals are usually processed and returned within two or three weeks.

You can check the status of a new or renewed passport by going to travel.state.gov, clicking “Passports” then “Online Application Status Check”. You’ll input your name, date of birth and the last four digits of your social security number.

Electronic passports are in the works in the U.S. The electronic passport, “e-passport”, will be very similar to the current paper passport. The addition of a small integrated computer chip on the back cover and a digital photograph will provide a number of additional benefits. First, the data stored will be much more difficult to penetrate and alter. Second, the digital photo will allow for biometric comparison through facial recognition technology. Additional anti-fraud security features will also be included on the e-passport. Traditional paper passports will still be accepted through their full period of validity.

Regardless of where your travel will be taking you, it is always a good idea to carry your valid, current passport with you. When things go astray, whether in Mexico, Malaysia or anywhere in between, your passport is your ticket to receive protections and rights you are due in that country. Keep it with you as you would your driver’s license in the US.

When are you required to have a passport? If you travel to Afghanistan, Antigua, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Brazil, Cambodia, Chili, China, Cook Island, Costa Rica, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Hungary, Iceland, India, Iraq, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Korea, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mali, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom / Great Britain, Venezuela, Vietnam and the British Virgin Islands, a passport (and possibly a visa) will be required.

For air travel to Aruba, the Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada, the Cayman Islands, Grenada, Jamaica, Mexico, Montserrat, Puerto Rico, St. Kitts-Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the Turks and Caicos Islands as well as the US Virgin Islands beginning in 2007, a passport will be required but hasn’t been in previous years.

Special passports are issued for diplomats or those traveling on behalf of the US government. These are issued for no-fee and are only valid for travel when on official business. Military personnel should contact their installation office. Federal employees should contact their Agency headquarters. Peace Corps officers should contact their travel office and Department of State personnel should contact their Bureau Executive or Personnel Technician.

As you enter foreign countries your passport will be stamped. As you exit, the Customs department of the US will verify where you’ve been, how long you were there and what items you have to declare (for taxation purposes.) The stamps are often considered the greatest souvenir of an international trip.

When venturing outside of the United States, always keep your passport on your person. Even if you are required to check all of your baggage, keep your passport with you. Should you lose your passport while in a foreign country, contact the Travel Department of the US Government at 202.955.0430 or the US Embassy in the country you are in.

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