Maximize Your Earning Potential

As a follow up to our previous post on Frequent Flyer Programs, and for those readers who don’t typically get to travel as frequently as they would like, we wanted to share some other ways to help you incur frequent flyer miles.

Many Frequent Flyer programs offer alternate methods to get you closer to redeeming a free ticket. While miles/points earned through affiliate programs won’t apply to reaching an elite status they will apply to your mileage balance. Check out the alternatives below and be sure to read in to them!

Airline Network partners: Almost every major airline in the world is part of a network of airline partners. There are three:

• Skyteam (www.skyteam.com)
• Star Alliance (www.staralliance.com)
• Oneworld (www.oneworld.com).

You are able to receive frequent flyer mileage credit for any preferred program anytime you travel on a carrier within the same network of partners. For example, if you are a Delta Skymiles member, you can choose to receive your mileage credit on Delta when flying any of the airlines within the Skyteam network. Familiarize yourself with the airline network that your preferred airline is a part of so that you can filter your flight options accordingly and increase your accrual opportunities on your preferred carrier.

Hotel Properties and Rental Car Company Partners: Many hotel properties and rental car vendors allow you to select an option through their own reward programs to link your frequent flyer number and accrue airline miles/points. We recommend that you double check your account options for any hotel/car programs that you are a member of and ensure that your preferred airline program is selected as the default for any mileage/points accrual opportunities.

Credit / Debit Cards: Majority of airlines feature affiliated credit cards and debit cards that allow you to earn miles towards their frequent flyer program for every dollar charged. Check with each of airline websites under ‘ways to earn miles’ for a list of affiliates.

Mileage Malls: Larger airlines offer shopping programs with an extensive network of retailers that award you miles/points for purchases made through their designated website. Additionally, they may offer free shipping and other promotions. Take a moment to familiarize yourself with the Mileage Mall for your airline of choice and start earning miles/points for your purchases.

And More: There are many more earning opportunities… either too many to list or limited-time offers for each airline program. We’d recommend that you go to the ‘GET MILES’ section of your frequent flyer program webpage to get familiar with the standard offerings and frequently check back for additional opportunities added. It’s a great way to increase your mileage balance with little effort!

**Special thanks to Michelle Reese, Travel Manager with Integress Meetings and Events for her significant contribution to this post.

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Which Frequent Flyer Program is Right for You?

We have had a couple of readers ask, “Which frequent flyer program is the best?” A lot of people don’t realize that it’s a common question without an easy answer.

Transportation, particularly airline transportation, is a major factor in the tourism industry. Today, airlines have moved toward competing with each other via extra benefits and perks. In part, this takes the form of airline frequent flyer programs. Let’s take a look at four of the major airlines and their benefits, as well as key factors and other information that will be useful in deciding which frequent flyer program is best for you.

There are essentially 4 main Airlines in the US. Below is a comparison chart of the frequent flyer programs offered by each of the 4 carriers:

The key to maximizing your mileage earning potential is to select one preferred frequent flyer program and stick with it. Again, you find yourself asking, ‘Which program is the best?’ Since there are several different airline programs and various determining factors in selecting a program, the best program is essentially the one that works best for YOU. With that said, the best program for you will be the one that provides you with the most opportunities for mileage accrual and the most rewards with the least amount of effort and cost.

Generally, the key factors in selecting a program should be based on where you live and how frequently you travel. Where you live determines your main airport, and since each airport typically has one airline that dominates the share of flight schedules and availability, the program for that carrier will most likely be the best choice for accruing mileage during travel. How frequently you travel will determine your ability to reach different tiers within a program, which determine the additional perks that are available to you. For many program members, the goal is to accrue enough miles to earn free travel. However if you travel frequently, you may want to focus on perks that come with reaching different tiers within the various programs.  Elite status allows you access to preferred seating, priority boarding, upgrades, waived baggage fees, and more!

**Special thanks to Michelle Reese, Travel Manager with Integress Meetings and Events for her significant contribution to this post.

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Finding the Right EMS

Remember how we mentioned that we were building an event management system (EMS)? Do you also remember about how we mentioned that we’d kill to purchase one instead? Well, the event gods have answered our prayers. We have been in the market for a new EMS for the last couple of months, and for any of you out there that think that choosing an out-of-the-box system is easy…we beg to differ! There are many different options out there. Some systems are much more complex than others. Regardless of which vendor we choose, we will be able to breathe easy knowing that this software was built by meeting planners, for meeting planners.

With so many options available, how do you make a decision? We are hoping that you have some personal experience that you’d like to share! What EMS do you use, how long have you been using it, and what are the pros and cons?

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Trash to Treasures

While perusing Pinterest the other day, I came across Special E, a green company devoted to recycling leftover items from all kinds of events, including weddings, conventions, trade shows, and meetings…then repurposes them in ways that help the environment as well as people in need.

Rescued items such as balloons, fabrics and linens, centerpieces, notebooks and binders are sent to homeless shelters, women and children’s shelters, schools, hospitals, and disaster relief agencies.  Learning that Special E recycles left-over items didn’t surprise me as much as learning what they actually do with some of them. Items that are not donated, such as broken plates, bottle caps, corks, and can tabs are sent off to artists to be repurposed into things like earrings, necklaces, women’s pocket books, and other decorative items. Check out some of the unique and fashionable items they have come up with:

Fork Necklace made from discarded tableware

Glass Pendant made from discarded bottle of Absolut Vodka

Pull tab purse

 

Share Packages are another very unique and inspiring aspect of Special E’s mission. With the state of our economy, the homeless aren’t the only ones struggling. Many families are having trouble putting food on their tables due to economic hardship, perhaps caused by layoffs or natural disasters. When putting together an event, consider Special E’s Share Packages. Share Packages provide food for the same number of hungry children as there are attendees at your event; they will then deliver this food to a food pantry (or similar location) in your local community. In addition, for every table you have set up at your event, Special E will plant a tree. What a great way to reduce your carbon footprint! The next time you plan a program, consider contacting Special E. There is nothing better than throwing a successful event, while helping the environment AND giving back to the local community.

For more information on Special E checkout their website at http://www.thespeciale.com/index.html, follow them on Twitter @thspecialeco or on Facebook.

**Images used with permission and are © Special E

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Best of AtlAntA

Being that we are an Atlanta-based company, we like to try to bring as many meetings home as we possibly can. However, when trying to convince clients to bring their event to Atlanta, one question that typically arises is, ”What is so special about Atlanta?” Bringing your meeting or event to Atlanta will give attendees a true taste of southern charm! From chicken and waffles to potlikkers and sweet potato pie (complete with a back rub if you visit Mary Mac’s Tea Room), Atlanta offers some of the best in southern cuisine. Atlanta is also home to the World of Coca-Cola, the Braves, and the Georgia Aquarium (the world’s largest!), not to mention 20 hotels and 13 restaurants that have been awarded with a 4 or 5 Diamond status by the American Automobile Association (AAA).

According to AAA, Atlanta is one of the cities with the nation’s highest number of 5 Diamond lodgings. In 2011, less than 1% of the 59,000 AAA approved lodgings and restaurants held this honor (Source: http://newsroom.aaa.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/5D_Facts_2011.pdf). Among those recently honored are the Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta (5 Diamonds), the Grand Hyatt Atlanta (4 Diamonds), the St. Regis Atlanta Hotel and Residences (5 Diamonds), the W Atlanta Downtown (4 Diamonds), the Omni Hotel at CNN Center (4 Diamonds), and the Ritz-Carlton Buckhead (which has maintained its 5 Diamonds for over 25 years). Each of these hotels is not only beautiful, but also offers great meeting spaces and excellent service.

AAA also recently honored 13 Atlanta restaurants with 4 Diamonds each. The Atlanta Grill, Nikolai’s Roof, Canoe, and Restaurant Eugene are just a few of the Atlanta honorees on the list. The exquisite cuisine and private dining options make these establishments great choices for off-site dinners or receptions.

We don’t mean to sound partial, but Atlanta really is a great location for special events, meetings and vacations. We just thought you should know!

For a complete list of  Atlanta honorees please visit http://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/news/2012/02/07/20-hotels-13-restaurants-among-aaas.html

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PIPA and SOPA. Yes or Nopa?

Yesterday morning many of us woke up to our favorite websites participating in the SOPA/PIPA blackout. In case you haven’t heard, the blackout was influenced by two bills proposed by the House and Senate, SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act), in an attempt to cease copyright infringement committed by foreign websites.

Many groups, mainly the entertainment industry, support the bills. The MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) backs SOPA and PIPA citing that it would put an end to piracy around the world. Many claim that they are blaming the internet for decreases in film revenues that may or may not occur when unauthorized downloading occurs. For example, a new film release is leaked out on the internet before it even comes out into theaters, thus allowing consumers to watch it for free in their own homes. Any website along with their companies who are suspected or accused of leaking or linking to that website will have their IP address blocked so that it cannot be accessed by the public. As a result that company would then be prosecuted for copyright infringement. Many companies, including Google and Wikipedia, took part in yesterday’s protest by blacking out all or a large part of their website. They maintain that the Acts will censor the websites, and in turn cause serious damage to the free and open internet that we have all relied on for quite some time.

How did the blackout affect your day? Did your company participate in it? Better yet, what are your thoughts on SOPA and PIPA?

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‘Tis the Season

Spiced Eggnog, decorations, parties, presents and food…all things many of us think about during the holidays. But what about giving? Not gift giving, giving back. There are so many opportunities to get involved in the community, especially during the holidays. This season, we decided to give back in a big way. Recently, a colleague brought Senior Connections to our attention. Senior Connections is a Meals on Wheels agency that provides nutritious meals to seniors in the metro Atlanta area on a daily basis. What a GREAT cause! For many of the seniors in the program, the delivery of these meals may be the only opportunity they get to interact with another person that day. Also, unlike many of us, some of these seniors do not have a family to share a holiday meal with, so delivering these meals with a smile can really make their day. Monday through Saturday, the Senior Connections kitchen in Atlanta prepares, packages and delivers 3000+ meals to seniors around the area. Integress organized a company wide community outreach event over a 2-day period in which our fellow colleagues spent 3 hours helping out in the bustling Senior Connections kitchen. We got to take part in everything from food preparation and packaging, to the clean up afterwards. The amount of food that this place pumps out is incredible! On the menu our first day, country fried steak with confetti corn and mixed veggies. During all of the craziness, we were able to snap a few pictures…check them out!


I think a lot of people forget how good it feels to participate in something that has such a large impact in the community. How has your organization chosen to give back this year?

*For more information on Senior Connections please visit www.srconn.org/

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