Business Traveller

Travelling through the cloud on a tablet

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John McHugh, VP and Chief Marketing Officer, Brocade

As technology and business travel become ever more inextricably connected, I talk to a man whose life is a symbiosis of both worlds

John McHugh, VP and Chief Marketing Officer of networking infrastructure firm Brocade, proudly sits on both sides of the buyer-seller fence. On one hand, a WiFi-less or WiFi-jammed hotel will not be seeing his custom again in a hurry; on the other, his company offers hotels WiFi deployment.

He knows how tricky it is to design a network where, from “6am to 8.01am and 8pm to midnight” every business traveller downloads their email, watches streamed media or lets their kids use the Xbox.

“Hotels don’t want to spent a lot of money and invest in a lot of infrastructure if they don’t have to; they’re trying to get by on the absolute bare minimum so the system is normally massively oversubscribed at the very time when the user wants to use it.”

In to Africa: Travel security

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(This is the second part of a column on business travel to Africa. To read the first part, click here)

Securing Africa
It is hard to generalise the security situation in Sub-Saharan Africa. Tim Willis of Travel Security Services (TSS) points to the criminality concerns in Nairobi, Freetown and Johannesburg, separatist activity in Nigeria and various political situations in others. For many, going to the continent for the first time, fear of the unknown will be the pressing factor. The key is to keep abreast of current situation in countries where events such as elections can have a significant bearing on the security situation.

In to Africa: The road more travelled

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The road less travelled
Early last year, when John Lovejoy, 31, bisected Africa from north to South by car, he found the continent’s roads to be much less welcoming than the Africans he met along the way.

The intrepid American was on a test-run for a charity rally he was organising to coincide with the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. A low point on the 11,876-mile ride from Barcelona to Cape Town came on the 217-mile Pointe Noire-Brazzaville dirt road in Congo; it took Lovejoy and his younger brother a week to cover a distance that should have taken a day.

How much is that hotel room?

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UK hotels are too expensive, says a travel guide to Great Britain that came out last week. A hotel survey agrees.

In Lonely Planet’s new UK guide, lead author David Else writes: “Public transport, admission fees, restaurants and hotel rooms all tend to be expensive compared with their equivalents in many other European countries.”

The business of private aviation

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Visitors attend the Shanghai International Business Aviation Show at Hongqiao International Airport in Shanghai April 13, 2011. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Businesspeople choose private over commercial aviation for a number of reasons. But should they buy, charter or fractionally own a business jet?

Ancient wonders, all to yourself

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Tourism at Egypt’s Red Sea resorts, we read, has plummeted. At the Giza Pyramids, not one Western tourist could be seen by a Reuters correspondent as the sun set on an April weekday. Surely this makes it the perfect time to visit?

Egypt’s tourism minister has forecast that 2011 revenue will be 25 percent lower than the previous year, but even this may be bullish; many travel companies are offering large discounts. This has dealt a devastating blow to the millions of Egyptians (one in eight) whose livelihoods depend on the 14 million or so visitors who until this January visited annually.

Fear of flying

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Seventy-four percent of UK citizens believe that airports and aeroplanes are vulnerable to a malicious or terrorist attack.

So finds the latest Unisys Security Index*, announced today, a global survey that seeks to provide insights into consumers’ general perception of security. Unisys says that UK public anxiety has reached its peak since they began the bi-annual review in 2007, and it is driven by concerns about terrorism, financial issues and identity theft.

The right type of travel writing?

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Travel writer and newspaper columnist A.A. Gill told listeners of BBC Radio 4’s Excess Baggage programme last week that he doesn’t do research, doesn’t take notes and considers himself a rather superficial traveller, a tripper.

Whatever his methods, not many writers can so succinctly drill down into a destination simply using well-honed observational skills. Gill seems to know by osmosis who best to chat with while dashing around a destination – and somehow plans his visit at a particularly prescient moment in time.

How fare’s thee?

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Here’s what we know. Air-passage demand is rising, along with airlines’ costs as $100-a-barrel oil erodes bottom lines (U.S. crude hit $112.05 yesterday). As a result, air fares continue their upward journey. Leisure travel this summer will almost certainly be affected, but at what point, if any, will business voyagers start to baulk at fare increases?

This week and last, U.S. airlines have been releasing their quarterly results. Losses among the larger carriers were substantial, though smaller than expected.

Travel without the budget

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Backpackers were once happy to slum down in derelict dormitories. Now, to the delight of hoteliers, they demand “flashpacker” accommodation with iPod docks and hygienic loos during their designer-shoe-string travels around Australia or South-East Asia.

New research from American Express (1) this week suggests that the mass-market now also prefer added frills. The survey found that 83 percent of British holidaymakers are willing to pay as much as 20 percent extra for holiday upgrades. This is quite a leap from five-year figures to date, which show that only 39 percent of travellers paid to upgrade.